Blue plaque in honour of Kenwood Chef inventor

THE link between Woking and the pioneering culinary industrialist Kenneth Wood has been officially recognised with a commemorative blue plaque.

The plaque was unveiled by the Mayor of Woking near the site of a small building in Goldsworth Road where Wood laid the roots of his eponymous electrical goods company.

He set up Woodlau Industries with business partner Roger Laurence  in 1947 at 79 Goldsworth Road. The shop, on the land now occupied by KwikFit, has long been demolished and so the tyre chain’s headquarters was chosen as the site of the plaque.

Woodlau manufactured the A100 toaster, which was revolutionary for its time. The company moved for a few years to larger premises in Hipley Street, Old Woking, where it launched its second big product, the A200 food mixer. Laurence later left the company, became Kenwood and the food mixer was further developed into  the Kenwood Chef.

Kenwood later moved to Havant and evolved into the modern-day Kenwood-DeLonghi. Wood left the company in the late 1960s. He remained very active for the rest of his life and died in 1997, aged 81.

Cllr Graham Cundy was joined at the plaque unveiling by several of Wood’s family, friends and former colleagues.

Cllr Cundy, said: “Not many Woking residents will know that the internationally recognised Kenwood brand had its humble beginnings in Woking.

“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.

“This is a proud moment for the residents of Woking.”

Wood’s stepson John,  who is the family archivist and has written a biography of his stepfather, said the unveiling of the plaque was a very proud moment for the Woods.

“Kenwood was at one time the biggest employer in Woking and Kenneth Wood would  have been so proud of this day.”

Mark Welch, Chief Executive Officer of Kenwood-DeLonghi, said that the company still followed the spirit in which Wood conducted business.

“Appliances at that time were very functional and concentrated on the engineering, but Ken Wood believed that ‘eye appeal is buy appeal’ and that design was very important to people in selecting what to put in their homes.

“He considered objects from the buyers’ perspective, and we continue that today.”
Garry Chapman, of KwikFit operations, said it felt a bit bizarre to be having the ceremony on the premises, but said it was a proud moment for all concerned.

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