Combing through firm’s history thanks to age-old steam picture

GB Kent Brushes' Foden steam lorry in the 1920s
GB Kent Brushes' Foden steam lorry in the 1920s

Reader’s near century-old picture charts GB Kent Brushes’ delivery method 150 years on from founding of famous firm.

Last week’s Heritage section looked way 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 brushes of the very best quality.

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 reader Rod Hepburn 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 Rod will be regaling the crowds with tales of all things steam.

G B Kent & Sons had grown rapidly, and, by 1882, it employed more than 600 people. They had obtained the reputation as pioneers in the use of machinery, drilling machines and bristle filling machines.

They were employers of both male and female workers, the latter of which were apparently picked ‘for the pleasing feature of comeliness’.

Kent’s moved again in 1900, this time to Farringdon Road, and it was then that they became a Public Company. They remained there until 1940, acquiring a diverse customer database.

Kent’s removed to Apsley in 1901 and had factories built alongside the river Gade, where goods were able to be delivered to their own wharf. It was in 1908 that the Companies’ horse-drawn van was taken out of service and replaced by their first motorised van.