Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Kaymet Co

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February 1961.

‎‎of 41 Kennington Lane, London

formerly A. Kahn

1950 The business became The Kaymet Company. The range began with spun bowls, soon followed by trays, household trolleys, and other tableware. The classic Kaymet cast aluminium handles were the first tray type, introduced in the first year of trading, followed by extruded handle trays a few years latter.

In 1952 trays were supplied for the SS Gothic when refitted at Cammell Laird shipyard as the Royal Yacht. It is believed that the trays were subsequently used on Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation world tour in 1954. Kaymet was granted a Royal Warrant of Appointment to The Queen in April 2018.

1954 A site just off the Old Kent Road, roughly two miles away from Kennington Lane, was acquired ready for construction of a new factory. Kaymet Works at Sylvan Grove, SE15, was built by contractor Turriff of Croydon. The building was completed in 1957 and boasted 45,000 sq ft of production and storage space, a sizeable yard enabling the largest lorries of that time to deliver material direct to the door, one of the most modern polishing shops in the country, a generous anodising shop, and a well equipped toolroom. A celebratory article in Gifts and Fancy Goods magazine, July 1957, praised the new premises stating ‘this is a manufacturer’s dream of a factory, incorporating modern methods and lay-out with an abundance of space, light, warmth and fresh air: the symbol of great achievement’.

1956 Electric hotplates were first produced.

1960s Pressed Trays were first made.

The business grew rapidly, with 150 articles in regular production by 1956. In that year Kaymet was selling through 64 overseas agents and reported orders from ‘practically every country in the world it is possible to do business in these days’.

Supply to the British Royal Family traces back to 1948, in which year Her Majesty Queen Mary and HRH The Princess Royal visited the Kaymet stand at the British Industries Fair, Olympia. It was reported that Queen Mary bought a Kaymet spun aluminium fruit bowl and Princess Royal a set of Kaymet nesting trays.

1960s At its largest, it is believed that the company employed close to 200 people.

From the 1970s onwards Kaymet's fortunes waned. Diversification into contract fine limited sheet metalwork, particularly following purchase of an Amada CNC punch press in the 1980s, did not prevent steady contraction of the business, resulting in the loss of the Sylvan Grove premises in the 1990s.

From there the factory moved to Parkhouse Street in Camberwell, then on to Trundleys Road in Deptford. While at Trundleys Road the anodising operation became a separate business (that eventually became Star Anodising & Finishing and moved to Erith).

The next relocation was to Bolina Road, South Bermondsey, at which point contract sheet metalwork was abandoned and the product range narrowed to trays, trolleys and hotplates. During this period of consolidation the proprietor was Ken Schreiber, son of the founder (and part of the business since the late 1960s), and he kept a steady focus on the survival of Kaymet and continuing production of its core range of time tested products.

2013 January. Mark Brearley, together with his wife Ivana Milanovic and brother John Brearley, started a collaboration with Ken Schreiber to push Kaymet forward once again. This new venture followed Mark noticing, from a train window, the old logo sign on the former Trundleys Road factory, then the addition of the company to the list of London manufacturers he had been putting together, and after that a visit by Mark and Ivana to buy a tray.

After 2013 Kaymet increased its visibility, refreshed its identity, and began emphasising the timeless design of its factory evolved products, and their London manufacture.

In August 2015 the factory returned to near the Old Kent Road, expanding to fill 4,000 sq ft at 52 Ossory Road, Peckham, the current Kaymet Works, with a workforce increased to 10. In the 3 years to 2018 sales tripled, stockists increased to 150, and the scope of exports expanded to 40 countries.

2017 Kaymet began opening their factory up to the public during the annual London Open House weekend, and the business plays its part in celebrating the capital’s thriving manufacturing scene (see Mark Brearley’s Instagram efforts here:

2018 All products are hand made at Ossory Road, with in-house operations including chopping, guillotine cutting, cropping, graining, pressing, punching, turning, bending, drilling, linishing, polishing, and assembly. Kaymet extrusions are produced up in Cumbria, powder coating is done by a business a little further along the Old Kent Road, and anodising sent out to one company elsewhere in London and another in Crawley. All packing and dispatch also takes place at the Peckham factory.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Mark Brearley 2018/04/28