John Price & Son Funeral Home

John Price was 31 years old when he moved to Penrith in 1855 from the Richmond area where he had previously lived and married his first wife Charlotte. An enterprising man, Price made a living as an undertaker, monumental mason, auctioneer and commission agent. His funeral business was established on the south side of High Street near Castlereagh Street. In later years, John Price’s son John Junius established a picture theatre on the site. The family lived at the same address as the funeral home until around 1862 when they moved into their new home in Henry Street, next door to the Methodist Church. In 1871 Price was appointed Penrith Municipal Council’s town clerk, its first employee. He was also for a time a reporter for the Cumberland Mercury.

Price and his wife Charlotte had eleven children. Charlotte died in 1876 and Price married local schoolteacher Elizabeth Robertson, a few months later. They had four children, Halwyn, John, Charlotte and Leopold. His death in 1893 shocked the townspeople who lined the streets by the hundreds for his funeral from his home in Henry Street to St Stephens Anglican Church and cemetery.

After the death of John Price, his wife Elizabeth continued the funeral business, located in High Street, opposite the Post Office. W. Fragar was her manager. Later her son Leopold joined the business. Relatives Nelson and Arthur Price also established a funeral home in Penrith in opposition around this time. It was located west along High Street on the north east corner with Station Street. Nelson was the son of William Robert Price and Elizabeth Young of Richmond and was a grand nephew of John Price. Nelson Price, a former railway foreman, blacksmith and farrier, had been apprenticed to William Starling and in 1894 they leased land on the corner of High and Station Streets from Francis Woodriff of Combewood.

According to the Nepean Times 15 October 1921, the exhumation of John and Mary Lees took place on 7 October 1921 at Castlereagh General Cemetery. Their bodies ‘had wilted considerably’. They were reinterred in the Methodist cemetery at Castlereagh. Everyone was there, the Constabulary (Constable Donnelly), the Clergy (Rev Samuel Roberts). The gravedigger was George Price, a nephew of John Price. George Price, who died in 1923 aged 74 years, was for many years Kingswood cemtery’s caretaker.

Exhumation of John Lees bones

The present site of John Price and Son, at the corner of Station and Henry Streets, was once the site of a livery stable business and a blacksmith’s shop. The original livery stables were operated by the Priddle family until September 1908 when Louisa Priddle sold the property to Nelson Price. He continued to operate the livery stables and blacksmith’s shop. In 1927, Nelson purchased the property he had leased from Woodriff for 700 pounds. He lived in the cottage and worked the livery next to it.

Price advt 1922
John Price & Son advertisement in the Nepean Times 1922, the year Leopold price sold to Nelson Price

Elizabeth Price died in 1920 and in August 1922 the business, John Price and Son, was taken over by Nelson Price with Leopold continuing on as undertaker and monumental mason. The business remained in High Street (opposite the Post Office) but its second address, Henry Street (the home of Leo and Essie Price) was changed to Nelson Price’s address in Station Street. Price subdivided and sold some of his property in Station Street in 1945. In the early 1940s, he moved his home and business to 480 High Street, next to Penrith Auction Mart. He died there in September 1949. A few days before his death, Nelson Price sold his properties in High and Station Streets to the Rural Bank of NSW.

Price advert 1930
John Price & Son advertisement in the Nepean Times 1930

A few months later the Rural Bank sold the property on the corner of Station and Henry Streets to William Frederick Smith of Penrith Motors. The present building was constructed some time before 1957. The business, John Price and Son was operated by Smith’s brother-in-law and sister Cecil and Vera Tierney from 480 High Street until the new funeral home was completed. Cecil died in 1957 and Vera and her relatives continued to operate the business until February 1973 when it was sold to John Lynch. Vera Tierney lived in Stafford Street and passed away in 1982. The business John Price and Son has continued to provide a service to the people of Penrith well into the twenty-first century.