Kays was a major employer in Worcester, from the time W. Kilbourne Kay formed the company in 1890, until its closure in 2007. There can be few families, living in the city, who have not, at some time, had one of their relatives work at Kays in some capacity or another.
Kay & Co Ltd was based for many years in the purpose built premises, known as St Oswald’s, 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.
The group would like to hear from any ex-employees who worked in the offices and warehouses at Worcester, Leeds, Glasgow, Newtown, Bradford, Bristol, Droitwich, Lancaster and York.
The group 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 “@”.