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Thomas Kennedy

The Kilmarnock Standard of 12 September 1874 included the following obituary:

Mr. Thomas Kennedy (c1797-1874)

Our obituary this day contains the intimation of the death at the ripe age of 77 of one whose enterprising genius has been the means of adding to the industries of the town an important branch of manufacture which enriches those engaged in it and gives employment to numerous skilled workers. This event, therefore, in association with important benefits, is entitled to public sympathy.

Although not a native of Kilmarnock , the deceased has been so long an inhabitant of it, and has occupied so prominent a position amongst us, that he was very widely known. He was connected by marriage with some of the most respectable families in the town, and has filled with ability several offices, ecclesiastical and civil.

Mr Kennedy was a native of Argyllshire, but settled here fifty years ago as a watch and clockmaker. This trade he had learned in his own county, where he began business for himself, but not meeting with sufficient encouragement he came to Kilmarnock and was for some time employed by the late Mr George Thomson, watchmaker and jeweller. Having married the daughter of Mr John Hunter, saddler, he again began business on his own account, and added to it the trade of gun-making, for which he acquired a great reputation, and through the influence of Mr Wallace of Kelly he received the honorary appointment of gunmaker to Prince Albert.

Mr Kennedy's place of business in Portland Street was well known to visitors to Kilmarnock , and the “Albert Arms” and the “Gold Gun” were never-failing objects of attraction. The rifles of his manufacture were held in high estimation both in this country and in India , where a ready market was found for them and high prices obtained. Not content with his success as a gun manufacturer, and emulous of higher honours, he devoted his attention to another matter, which was still a desideratum – the construction of a water meter of perfect accuracy. In this he was completely successful, and the patented mechanism Kennedy's Water Meter, is used largely in this country, on the Continent and in America . It has been the means of enriching many in connection with it and directly, as well as indirectly, materially benefits Kilmarnock .

Although the late Mr Kennedy has obtained chief credit of the invention, yet it is well known that Mr John Cameron, watchmaker here, had no mean share in the perfecting of the meter. Mr Kennedy was twice married, and leaves a young widow and several of a family, whom his success in business has well provided for. The remains will be interred in the High Church Burying Ground today.

Glenfield and Kennedy

(information from Glasgow University website)

Kennedy Patent Water Meter Co Ltd was formed in 1863 from a syndicate of four partners and marketed the water meter patented by Thomas Kennedy, senior, and a local clockmaker. In 1865 the Glenfield Co Ltd was formed to supply castings and undertake general foundry work. The two companies shared a site in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, Scotland , the derelict printworks from which Glenfield took its name.

In 1899 the two companies merged to form Glenfield & Kennedy Ltd. The major growth period was between 1871 and 1904, under the direction of Thomas Kennedy (nephew of Thomas Kennedy, senior). ‘The Glen' became an important hydraulic engineering concern in Britain , with substantial export orders to most parts of the world. It had several subsidiary companies, including:

Alley & MacLellan Ltd, founded in 1875 in Bridgeton, Glasgow, Scotland, manufactured valves and later compressors, vacuum pumps and steam engines. It was incorporated in 1902 and was acquired by Glenfield & Kennedy Ltd in the 1940s.

British Pitometer Co Ltd, incorporated in 1921 in Kilmarnock by Glenfield & Kennedy Ltd.

Hydrautomat Ltd, later Hydrautomat (1931) Ltd, incorporated in 1924 in London by Glenfield & Kennedy Ltd. Went into voluntary liquidation and reformed in 1931.

Compagnie Francaise d'appareils Glenfield & Kennedy, Paris , France , ceased trading in 1912.

Contact Information

East Ayrshire Leisure Trust
Telephone: 01563 554300