Delight as memories of Kenwood pour in at Havant arts hub’s 60s-themed afternoon

John Wood, far right, pictured next to Kenwood CEO Mark Welch and a host of former employees. Picture: Keith Woodland
John Wood, far right, pictured next to Kenwood CEO Mark Welch and a host of former employees. Picture: Keith Woodland

SIGHTS and sounds of a bygone era were revived at the weekend as an arts hub launched a £55,900 history project.

More than 140 people united at the Spring Arts and Heritage Centre in Havant on Saturday to reminisce days spent working for the appliances giant Kenwood.

The firm founded by Kenneth Wood began manufacturing in the town in 1962 after a move from Woking in Surrey. 

To see our picture gallery from the day click on the link at the top of the article or the icon on the main picture.

While the pioneering brand’s products are now assembled in China, Havant remains the home of its headquarters, in New Lane. 

And thanks to a windfall just shy of £60,000 from the Lottery Heritage Fund, the Spring is embarking on a scheme to reignite memories of the company’s historical impact on the area – which aptly kicked off with a 60s-themed day for residents and past employees. 

Former Kenwood secretary Rita de la Mare, from Bognor Regis, was reunited with colleagues of old on what was a nostalgic day for many. 

‘I was at Kenwood in Havant from the late 60s until ‘75 and it was a great place to work,’ the 81-year-old said. 

‘It was nice to get to speak to people again who worked there – there  was a real camaraderie with the job.

‘Unfortunately I didn’t stay in touch with too many because I moved to London after I changed jobs , but today brought back some good memories.’ 

Patricia Pearce from Portsmouth painted an equally delightful picture of her time at the firm. 

The 86-year-old from Portsmouth said: ‘I started there in the 1970s in the clock-cards and wages office – there were only five of us and there were quite a lot to get through.

‘I stayed there for about 14 years and it was just a brilliant place to work. 

‘Although a few have died now, the five of us in that office stayed friends for life. That’s the sort of place Kenwood was.’ 

Getting in full-swing from 11.30am, celebrations at The Spring – dubbed Mixing ‘n’ Twisting – boasted offerings from 60s-themed vocalist Lianna Haynes and a make-up station from artists Amy Dolly and Hayley Kitchen. 

Also there to greet revellers was John Wood, step-son of Ken Wood, and the firm’s CE O Mark Welch.  

Steve Murray is the coordinator of the heritage centre’s Kenwood project.  

‘I’ve spoken to people today  who  worked for Kenwood right from the 1940s until the modern day, ’ he said. 

‘People told me about the amazing parties they had as employees, the social club they used to attend near Havant railway station and how highly Ken Wood was regarded as a man. It has painted a fascinating a social picture around the company’s presence in Havant.’    

Memories collected from Saturday’s 60s-themed day – which culminated in a screening of the 19621 drama A Taste of Honey – will be collated in a documentary The Spring is creating as part of its Kenwood project. 

If you were unable to attend the event – but have memories you would like to share as a Kenwood employee – contact the centre on (023) 9247 2700.