There's what looks like a fascinating series starting on the Beeb tonight, all about family trades and businesses which have survived for hundreds of years. The oldest of all, which I think features in the first episode, is a firm of butchers in Bridport who have been going since 1515. Quite incredible. The current owner was interviewed on Breakfast this morning and said the business had survived wars, recessions, floods, fires, and the Industrial Revolution. Not only that, but many families in earlier centuries only lasted for a handful of generations before dying out, so it's doubly impressive.
There's at least one old family firm in this area too. Nothing that can hold a candle to those butchers, but they were around in early Victorian times which is still pretty good going. Back in the 1840s and 1850s, when the opening of the railway sparked something of a boom in south Cumbria, Pattinsons built many of the houses in the town. One hundred and sixty years later, the company still exists, is still operated by the same family, and still builds houses in the local area. If nothing else, it gives a nice sense of continuity.