1877 - Tribute to Kennedy's Sausages (and Pies) by Alan Edwards - 2007


This excellent "write up" was written by and kindly supplied by Ron and Julia Todd. Julia Todd (nee Kennedy) is the great-granddaughter of John and Mary Ann Kennedy the founders.

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KENNEDYS SAUSAGES 1877 – 2007 by Ron and Julia Todd.

The 22nd December 2007 will be a sad day for many - the last day of trading of Alex Kennedy Ltd of Peckham, bringing to a close 130 years of sausage-making by the Kennedy family.  The Kennedy family originates from the Stranraer area in Scotland and is associated with Culzean Castle.   Andrew Kennedy, a tea trader, moved south to Kent where he married Harriet Bangham in 1835.  The reason for his move is not known.  They lived in Canterbury and had 7 sons and 2 daughters. Their second eldest son John was born in 1837 and in 1869 he married Mary Ann Rolfe, a local girl.  Mary Ann’s parents sold meat and meat products, including sausages.  John and Mary Ann moved to Maidstone where they lived until 1877 and had three boys and one girl.  John worked in the drapery business but in 1877 he and his family moved to 140 Rye Lane, Peckham.  Here he and Mary Ann started up a meat products business, making sausages and meat pies at the back of the shop.  The family lived over the shop and four more children were born there.  They continued to live in Rye Lane until John’s death in 1895.

John and Mary Ann Kennedy

We can only speculate why John and Mary Ann Kennedy decided to move their family to South London.  It is believed that they saw a business opportunity following the arrival of the railways in the 1860s, allowing people to move away from Central London.  Many professionals and other middle class people took up residence in areas such as Peckham and Camberwell and Rye Lane became a much respected shopping district with its own department store Higgins and Jones.  Consequently there was a ready market and business boomed, with a second shop being opened at 85 Rye Lane.  John Kennedy became a much respected trader and an active member of the Camberwell vestry.

After John’s death the business was run jointly by his two eldest sons,  Sion Rolfe and Alexander.  This continued until the death of Sion Rolfe in 1920, and shortly afterwards the business split into two.  The existing John Kennedy business was run by Sion Rolfe’s son Herbert.   Alexander set up a new company, Alex Kennedy, converting an old fire station in Peckham Road into a factory where the sausages and other products were made.  Over the next 20 years or so the business opened up many shops in South London, including those in Beckenham, West Wickham and two in Bromley.  The John Kennedy business, too, moved from Rye Lane into factory premises in Harders Road in 1931 and sold sausages from its shops in Catford, Lewisham, Crystal Palace and Orpington.  This situation lasted until 1974 when the Harders Road factory closed and the John Kennedy shops were supplied by Alex Kennedy Ltd.  Eventually the John Kennedy shops closed and in recent years the sausage-making business has been run solely by Alex Kennedy Ltd.

With the advent of the supermarkets and changes in the population of its core areas, the business has been declining for many years to such an extent that it has become unviable.  Reluctantly the directors – all members of the Kennedy family – decided that they would cease trading at the end of 2007.

One only has to read the local papers to see the devastating effect that this decision has had on people in the Bromley and Beckenham area.  As well as sausages, the company was known for its Christmas puddings, sausage rolls, meat pies, puff pastry etc.  It will be sadly missed.

Ron Todd and Julia Todd (nee Kennedy), great-granddaughter of John and Mary Ann Kennedy, the founders.

The photographs on this page are reproduced here with the kind permission of Ron and Julia Todd.


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