exploring the history of Kays
Kays was a major employer in Worcester, from the time when W. Kilbourne Kay started the company in 1890, until its eventual closure in 2007.
There can be few families, living in the city of Worcester, who have not, at some time, had one of their relatives work at Kays in some capacity or another. Kays also had offices and warehouses
throughout the country. Leeds, Glasgow, York, Lancaster, Bradford, Newtown, Bristol and Droitwich all had a direct connection with Kays.
Kay & Co Ltd was based for many years in the building, known as St Oswald’s, which situated in the Tything, the historic street that runs north from Worcester city centre. This building is a superb example of the architecture of the early 20th century and was designed by Simpson and Ayrton, a distinguished London firm of architects,
who also designed the Worcester Art Gallery, Museum and Victoria Institute in Foregate Street. This is a view of the St Oswald’s building that was taken in the early 1960s. (see A History of Kays for more details)
The Kays Heritage Group was formed in May 2000 to enable the rich and varied history of the well known mail-order company, Kay & Co Ltd., to be preserved for posterity.
We are always interested to learn about the people who were employed by the company, in whatever capacity, or were their customers (or Agents, as they were known).
It is the social history as well as the documentation of the company’s history through photographs, letters and memories from those who have them, that the Heritage Group seeks to gather and preserve.
We would like to hear from any ex-employees, or their relatives, who worked in the offices and warehouses at Worcester, Leeds, Glasgow, Newtown, Bradford, Bristol, Droitwich, Lancaster and York.
We would also like to hear from any agents or customers who received the catalogue and purchased items from it.
Please contact the group by e-mail, if you have any anecdotes of your time at Kays whether as an employee or customer, and especially if you have photographs that can help us add to our knowledge of Kays.
At present, we are making an effort to present you with as much of the heritage as we can. If you can assist us with compiling the history of the company, then please do contact us. Please visit this site regularly as new information is always being added.
The group is looking forward to hearing from you. You can contact us at our e-mail address: enquiries”at”kaysheritage.org.uk; where the “at” should be replaced with a “@”.
© All images and content in this website are copyright of the Kays Heritage Group unless otherwise stated, as is the trademark, logos and name – “Kays of Worcester”.
© All images from any and all Kays’ catalogues and related publications or photographic work, published up to the end of the year 2000, are the property of the Kays Heritage Group and the copyright to these images is held by the Group.
© Images and content may not be used for any purpose, be that commercial or private, or digitally scanned or reproduced by any means, mechanically or electronically, without first obtaining the written consent of the Group. A royalty fee may be payable for such usage.
Initial Funding was provided though the “Awards for All” scheme of the Heritage Lottery Fund (November 2002)