The Bromley boy who made millions by mixing things up in the kitchen
PUBLISHED: 14:50 04 October 2016
Read about the man behind the iconic Kenwood brand
A former Bromley schoolboy who became one of Britain’s youngest millionaires and a household name would have turned 100 today (Tuesday).
Kenneth Wood, who was behind the famous Kenwood brand, grew up in Chelsfield during and after the First World War.
The grandson of sweets company founder Charles Riley Maynard, he eventually left home in 1930, to join the Merchant Navy aged just 14 for five years.
During the Second World War, he sold his first company, Dickson & Wood, to join the Royal Air Force where he worked as an engineer.
Whilst with the RAF, Mr Wood worked at the Admiralty, developing radar and electronic controls.
After the war, his attention quickly turned back to business, and in 1950, the Kenwood Chef was launched, taking the nation by storm.
Step son John Wood is helping people to remember the businessman on what would have been his 100th birthday.
Mr Wood said: “He deserves the recognition, it is still an extremely well known brand.
“It has achieved an iconic status in British cooking.”
“After the war he founded Woodlau Industries, with wartime colleague Roger Laurence, starting production in 1947 in Woking with the A100 turnover toaster, and then the A200 food mixer - the predecessor of the Kenwood Chef which was launched in 1950.
“When Roger Laurence left the company, Wood changed the name to Kenwood Manufacturing Company Ltd. The company moved to Havant in Hampshire in 1961, then employing a workforce of 700.
“Within a few years of setting up the company, he was one of Britain’s youngest millionaires.
“The company later set up factories in many countries around the world.
“However in 1968, then employing 1,800 people in the UK and 400 abroad, Wood parted ways with Kenwood Manufacturing after a takeover by Thorn Electrical Industries.”
A string of business ventures followed, including the development of a 350-acre gold course of his home in Liphook, Hampshire.
In 1993 he was listed in Business Age magazine as worth £24.5million, making him one of the richest people in Britain.
The entrepreneur died four years later on October 19th, aged 81.
A book is currently in the works about the former Bromley school boy, and is expected to be released next year to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the brand.