The Kent Dragon
The works magazine The Kent Dragon of George Kent Ltd (now TRW Systems or also known by a previous incarnation as “Cam Gears”) gives us a fascinating insight into life in the village in the 1950s. Julie Hicks has found a large collection of these magazines and it is apt to include a portion of an article, describing the early history of the works, written by Capt. V.J. Sankey RN ( Retd) in March 1952.
This is not the place to give you a long history of the firm of George Kent, Ltd. It is a fascinating story of how George Kent, a farmer’s son, started in business of his own account in London in 1838. In 1844 he patented the famous knife machine, followed by a multitude of other devices to save labour in the home. In 1876, his son Walter joined the firm and soon after the domestic water meter became a major product, joined at the turn of the (twentieth) century by Venturi tubes and many other instruments for measuring flow. George Kent died in 1890 at the age of 84 and Walter then became head of the business.
The Luton Works were opened in 1908 and have seen almost constant expansion ever since. From 1914 – 1918 the Works were turned over entirely to War production, before returning to the field of instrumentation in the 1920s. Commander P W Kent was appointed a Director in 1919 and in 1922 the “M” type rotary-piston meter was introduced followed in 1929 by the production of steering gears. Knighted in 1929, Sir Walter Kent continued to direct the firm until his death in 1938, and was succeeded as Chairman by his brother H.H. Kent.
The 1939-45 war brought us back to war production. However following the war a major effort was made to expand instrument sales and develop new fields of application has been extremely successful. The need for further production expansion after the war and the lack of space at the Biscot Road Works, the firm readily agreed to the Government’s request to go further afield to areas needing this type of work. The Ministry of Supply offered the Firm several factories in various parts of the country, including Glasgow. After looking at the prospects the decision was made to come to Resolven and the Metalclad factory Factory was taken over in July, 1946.