Heritage: 1900s - Full steam ahead for brush manufacturers

A Foden wagon which belonged to G B Kent & Sons in the early 1900s
A Foden wagon which belonged to G B Kent & Sons in the early 1900s

In the Heritage section a fortnight ago we looked back to 1777, during the reign of George III, and when William Kent recognised a great business opportunity to establish G B Kent & Sons, manufacturers of high-quality brushes.

Even from those very early days the brushes were all hand-made, exhibiting workmanship of the very highest standard.

Believe it or not, the original method of delivery to their customers was by pack horses!

But thanks to readers Rod Hepburn and Tony Grange we know how they delivered in the 1920s thanks to this great picture which shows one of the firm’s Foden steam lorries.

They can be seen at this year’s Marsworth Steam Rally on June 21, where Mr Hepburn will be entertaining the crowds with tales of all things steam.

Mr Grange said that the photo (right), shows relatives of Jack Rogers, his wife Sandra’s father. Pictured standing are Jack’s father Owen Gaius Rogers (standing).

They are pictured here next to a Foden three tonne wagon number 3700.

Mr Grange said: “The wagon left its works at Sandbach on May 18 1913 and was purchased by GB Kent & Sons Ltd of Victoria Park, London.

“Four years later it went to Henry Kneller, a builder from Woolstone, Southampton.

“Then in 1918 it was brought by Phillips Mills, a waste paper business based in Battersea.

“Then it was sold to S and W Welch based at Ammetsham, Somerset.

“It was brought in 1921 by George Smart and Sons, a coal merchant from Blandford, Dorset, before its last owner was a P Claydon from Blandford in 1922.

“The last record we have of it being licensed was in 1926 and it is assumed scrapped.”

G B Kent & Sons employed more than 600 people by 1882.

They moved again in 1900 to Farringdon Road, and it was then that they became a public company.

They remained there until 1940, acquiring a diverse customer database.

The company are now based on London Road in Hemel Hempstead and they are continuing to thrive after more than 200 years.

They continue to prosper in Aspley in their new modern facilities where they still maintain the skills of the past.