Kemlows, UK

William Arthur Lowe (a butcher by trade) met Charles Kempster (also a butcher) while in the Services during World War II. As there was little work for butchers following the war they both found work as labourers on demolition sites in London. Around 1945 the pair were, with the assistance of their respective spouses, converting scavenged lead into toy soldiers for sale to local toy shops. It as also around this time they met Ray Jackson who had worked for DCMT and had a working knowledge of the diecasting process.

Kemlows Diecasting Products was formed in 1946 with three directors: Charlie Kempster, William Lowe, and Ray Jackson. Jackson did not remain with the company for long and is thought to have moved to the USA or Canada. He was bought out by the other two for the same amount he had invested.

As production expanded, during 1947 and 1948, the business moved, eventually settling at 83 Westbury Avenue where a barn was converted into a foundry and outbuildings were built for use as offices and a fettling plant. The factory remained here for around 10 years, then production moved to 8 Station Road, Potters Bar, London in 1958.

In the same area was Collis Plastics and Kemlows would get them to produce plastic components for use on their items. Following Kemlows arrival, Collis became involved in diecast toolmaking and supplied Kemlows with diecast tooling. Eventually Kemlows bought Collis in 1972 and this allowed Kemlows to move into plastics more efficiently. While still making toys during the 1970s, the production emphasis moved to industrial castings and Kemlows gradually withdrew from toy manufacturing, selling the tools and manufacturing rights to Barton Toys in 1978.

Very few of Kemlows products were marked as being made by them. Some of the early items were marked "Kemlow, Made in England" or just "Made in England" (embedded in a circle). Bertie Ward (the MasterModels distributor) made every effort to eradicate any reference to Kemlows, even going so far as having the word "Kemlows" chiseled off the die used for the windmill toy. Today many people think that MasterModels were made by B. J. Ward Ltd, mention of Kemlows being completely removed from the sales literature that Bertie Ward produced.

While the MasterModels range appears to make up the majority of the Kemlows production, they also produced several other notable items such as the Quad Armoured Car, a Field Gun, a Fleetmaster Saloon, a Caravan, a Builder's Trailer, a Windmill, a Pickfords Guy Pantechnicon, and the Sentry Box Series (Bedford and Antar trucks, Armoured Cars and Tanks), They also produced the castings for the Automec range for Basil and Stan Clark.

Finally, let me recommend Paul Brookes excellent book "The Illustrated Kemlows Story including the Master Model Story", published by Paul Brookes in 2009, ISBN 978-0-9561879-0-1. The book contains many photos of the items, together with information on production period, scale, original price, and quantity sold.