Nostalgia: Looking back at one of Colchester's oldest firms after acquisition

New Machinery - The glass crane at Alderman Blaxill in the early 1960s. <i>(Image: Newsquest)</i>
New Machinery - The glass crane at Alderman Blaxill in the early 1960s. (Image: Newsquest)

Earlier this month one of Colchester’s longest-serving businesses was bought out in a landmark deal.

The family-owned decorating, glass and building product distributors Kent Blaxill, in Layer Road, was purchased by PaintWell.

Here we have a look back at Kent Blaxill's illustrious history.

Kent Blaxill has served Colchester since its inception on March 24, 1838, when it was founded as an oil and glass business by John Kent in the High Street.

It soon became Kent and Sons after business went well and 1868 saw John invite his son-in-law Edwin Blaxill which led to the launch of Kent and Blaxill.

The next decade saw the company expand to buy several High Street properties and after John’s death in 1896, Kent and Blaxill was run by a further four generations of both families.

Kent Blaxill suffered a devastating fire at its High Street premises during a lunch break in 1952.

Despite firemen being on the scene within minutes, the blaze spread quickly through the building which housed highly-flammable oils and paints.

More than 75 firemen fought to tackle the blaze which was one of the worst in the town’s history at that point.

The damage was great but the company opened for business on its other sites within a few days

Kent Blaxill has been known as a leading kitchen and bathroom specialist since 1963, when it first moved from Colchester High Street and opened its purpose-built site in Layer Road.

Since then, it has expanded to 22 sites across the East of England and the Midlands offering paint, timber, glass, landscaping, tools and more.

When Kent Blaxill was acquired, managing director James Park announced the company would be welcoming a new chapter in its history.

He said: “This partnership is exciting and I am confident will deliver great things.

“We are completely aligned in our ambitions for the company and how we achieve them, as well as having a shared approach to product excellence and outstanding customer service.”