Bognor’s oldest family business

Reynolds & Co Furniture Repository, Bognor Regis

Reynolds & Co Furniture Repository, Bognor Regis

Opposite Bognor Regis railway station stand two proud survivals of the town’s heyday – the Picturedrome Cinema, built as the Assembly Rooms in 1885, converted to full-time cinema operation in 1918 and still showing the latest releases [], and Reynolds’ Furniture Repository, dated 1911 on its façade.

When King George V came to convalesce at Craigwell House nearby in 1929, his personal effects were transported by Reynolds, who later duly returned them to Windsor Castle.

By that time the Reynolds’ family business was already in its third generation.

It was founded by nineteen-year-old Samuel Reynolds, who set up shop at 13 West Street in 1867, three years after the railway reached the town, and two years after the Pier opened.

His business grew as “auctioneers, appraisers, house agents, cabinetmakers, upholsterers and undertakers.”  It still survives and thrives to this day.

The cabinet-making business developed directly from coffin-manufacturing into a highly respected funeral-director business, which has continued to expand into branches in Chichester and Littlehampton.  They can still provide the horse-drawn hearse which has been in the family for generations.

Dealing in real estate included expanding the company’s own premises, so that their High Street furniture store became the largest in town, and behind its art deco façade the interior was last refurbished in 2005.

Selling furniture to Bognor people led naturally to a demand for storing furniture and other valuables, for which the 1911 Repository still provides an up-to-date service with its wooden cubicles from 100 cubic feet upwards.

The company celebrated its 150th anniversary in style in 2017:  The patriarch is Norman Reynolds, the founder’s great-grandson;  his four sons are all involved – Dominic (furniture), James and Stephen (funerals) and Matthew (finance and accounting).

Dominic’s daughter Freya, Samuel Reynolds’ great-great-great-granddaughter, has now joined the company.

Norman Reynolds himself has fifteen grandchildren and one great-grandchild, which suggests that the family are likely to serve Bognor for generations to come:

Their biggest advertisement is the grand repository building directly opposite the railway station at the gateway to the town.

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