“Our mission it to preserve the heritage of Kays”


The Kays Heritage Group was formed in May 2000, so that the rich and varied heritage of Kay & Co Ltd, the Worcester based mail-order company, will be preserved for future generations to enjoy.  

Now that the company has ceased to have any of its operations in the city of Worcester it is now more important than ever to preserve the heritage of the company for posterity. 

Membership of the Group, and what is involved

The Heritage Group delivers a variety of talks on various aspects of the History of Kays to groups, clubs and other interested organisations such as Women’s Institutes (WI), Probus, Rotary Clubs, Townswomen’s Guild, historical societies etc. usually within Worcestershire but also within a reasonable travelling distance of the county, when travel expenses may be paid.  

There are two talks currently available:-

“Shopping over 200 years – A Shop in a Book“, which takes the audience on a journey back to the origins of the business in the late 18th century through its growth and development through the 19th and to the end of the 20th century. 

It features an insight into the company, its places of employment and its catalogues.

The second talk, “Kays Catalogues and What we bought”, concentrates on the operation of Kays and the development of the catalogue as a “shop in a book”.  Copiously illustrated with images taken from the Heritage Group’s unique collection of Kay’s catalogues, dating from 1890 to 2000, this talk shows just how fashions and styles have changed over the last 100 years.   

The talks contain many historical photographs, as well as images from the catalogues.  

They are a multi-media experience and each lasts about one hour.

Thanks to the initial support received from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the group has all of the equipment needed to present this fascinating story, so the talk can be given anywhere that has mains electricity available.

The chairman, Bernard Mills, will travel within Worcestershire and the surrounding counties to deliver the talk to interested groups.  Although there is no charge made for the talk itself, a donation towards the work of the group is very much appreciated.

Since starting to deliver the talk in October 2002, the group has delivered over 600 talks to over 10000 people (July 2013).

Membership is open to all who have a genuine interest in the company, its history and its heritage. 

The sheer size of the Kays’ archive is such that help and assistance is always being sought from those with an interest in the company’s heritage or those with an interest in history, in general.  

In these modern times, we realise that not everybody can spend a large proportion of their free time carrying out research or archiving.  If you can spare just a few hours spread over several months to scan some documents or transcribe some letters then that is all we ask.

If you are able and are prepared to undertake some more detailed research into the company either by visiting your local record office, especially in the cities and towns where Kays operated, or are willing to scan some catalogue pages, photographs or documents using your own computer (We will supply the media, such as DVD-RW, CD-R etc), then please contact us.

You may also have personal anecdotes or perhaps you could interview past or present customers or employees and help us to develop a living aural archive of the social history of Kays.  The group has also formed the “Kays Community Multi-media Archive Group”, whose purpose is to gather the personal memories of employees, past and present.  


The group does not receive on-going financial support from any organisation or company and is a totally independent group, which raises its own funds to further the researches into the company’s past.