Mayor unveils new blue plaque to honour father of Kenwood Chef

08 September 2017

A commemorative blue plaque marking the location of the original workshop of legendary culinary industrialist, Kenneth Wood, was unveiled today (Thursday 7 September) by the Mayor of Woking, Cllr Graham Cundy. The plaque unveiling commemorates the 70th anniversary of the workshop’s opening in 1947.

The Mayor was joined by John Wood, step-son of Ken Wood, and Mark Welch, Chief Executive Officer of Kenwood-DeLonghi. Also present were Ken Wood’s widow, Pat Wood, his daughters and grandsons, and many original employees of the firm. The former workshop site on Goldsworth Road is now home to a branch of Kwik-Fit.

During the ceremony, Cllr Cundy, said: “Not many Woking residents will know that the internationally recognised Kenwood brand had its humble beginnings in Woking. Yet from this very spot in Goldsworth Road, Woking, Ken and his business partner, Roger Laurence, would develop a prototype food mixer that would eventually become the iconic Kenwood Chef, which would change the culinary world forever.

“Here, 70 years on from that small workshop opening, we are honoured to be joined by Ken’s family, friends and former employees to mark this very special occasion. We hope that the presence of a blue plaque in honour of Ken will ensure that more people are aware of his achievements and his ingenuity.

“As residents of Woking, we should be proud of the fact that Woking has always been at the cutting edge of manufacturing and engineering innovation, as it continues to do today.”

Following the ceremony, guests returned to The Lightbox, where John Wood delivered an enlightening talk celebrating his step-father’s life and work.

Residents wishing to find out more about Ken Wood’s life and works are encouraged to visit ‘Kenwood in the Kitchen’ at The Lightbox. The free-to-attend exhibition will be on display until Sunday 29 October.

For more information about the exhibition, please visit www.thelightbox.org.uk

Ken Wood and Woking

It was in 1947 at 79 Goldsworth Road that Ken and his business partner, Roger Laurence, started their first workshop together under the name Woodlau (the departure of Roger a few years later would see the firm renamed to Kenwood). Whilst at the workshop they developed the A100 ‘turnover toaster’ – the first production model of toaster sold in the UK – as well as the prototype A200 food mixer.

In 1948 the company expanded to premises on Hipley Street in Old Woking (where Harvey Water Softeners now stand) and production of the A200 mixer was established.

This A200 mixer would be the firms most successful product, later being renamed the Kenwood Chef, and re-released in its most iconic form in 1959 after a redesign by famous industrial designer Sir Kenneth Grange. Sir Kenneth was responsible for other iconic designs such as the Wilkinson Sword razor, London black cab and Anglepoise lamp.

Production continued in Woking until 1961 when Kenwood relocated to Havant and the rest is history.