Henry Keat & Sons
Samuel Keat, the founder, was the son of a Customs Officer at Lymington in Hampshire, and was probably born about 1770.
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It is thought he took up his apprenticeship with Richard Woodham who is said to have been a watch-maker near Red Lion Square in London, and who in 1780 established a workshop for brass and copper instruments. He became a workman with R Woodham and succeeded to the business on Woodham’s death in 1795.
Samuel Keat had four sons, George born 1800, William born 1815, Henry also born in 1815 and who died in 1876 and James born 1818. All four boys were brought up in their father’s trade. George Keat, the eldest, married R. Woodham’s daughter and joined his father in partnership as Keat and Sons in 1825.
R. Woodham supplied brass instruments to D’Almaine and on Woodham’s death Keat continued to do so and became trade makers to Key about 1820. This explains why the name Keat is a rarity on instruments of that time, for as trade makers the firms they supplied had their own names on the instruments.
In 1840 the firm moved to 190 High Holborn, London, remaining there until 1866. In 1856 however, they had again started making under their own name as well as continuing to supply other companies. In 1866 they moved to 103-105 Matthias Road, Newington Green, London, although in 1869 they had an address at Keppell Row in Stoke Newington Green. This was, in fact, the same address as 103-105 Matthias Road.
On the death of Samuel Keat, the founder, his interest passed to his son George while William and Henry helped as foreman. James, the youngest, emigrated and settled at Winchester, N.H., U.S.A. where he made instruments for Graves & Co., becoming a partner in the concern. He died having sold his share in the business around 1844.
Henry was both a mechanical genius and a musician. In 1835 he made a cornet-a-pistons, and in 1836 he toured for two seasons in the United States of America with the Covent Garden Opera Orchestra. Although he had not invented the cornet, he greatly improved it by a series of alterations to the valves. In 1856 he became chief director of Keat & Sons, and then in 1860 bought out his brother George.
Henry Keat had three sons, Daniel born 1843, Samuel and George both born in 1846. Samuel was another Keat who settled in the United States but Daniel and George remained in the business succeeding to it on their father (Henry’s) death in 1876.
Daniel had two sons, working with him in 1895, these were Daniel Jr and Henry, the father and uncle of the present Mr. D.H. Keat, and the firm had premises around Newington Green for nearly a hundred years, not moving until after the 1939-45 War. This move was to 59 Curnock street, Camden Town and from here the next move was to Clarence Mews on 3rd December 1963, less than a mile from Newington Green again.
They were particularly famed in the early days for their copper and brass instruments such as the Keyed Bugle, Post and Coach Horns, and early Cornets. They then, while still supplying D’Almaine and Key, began to supply the East India Company’s Army, the British Army, the rest of the British Empire and colonies with bugles, trumpets and military band instruments.
The output from Matthias Road was 50,000 Army Bugles, 15,000 Cavalry Trumpets, 25,000 Horns for coaching and other road purposes, 6,000 Buglets, 25,000 Bicycle Bugles for the fashionable new sport of cycling, over 70,000 Horns for hunting and similar use, and many thousands of smaller horns for every imaginable requirement.
For Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, sixteen sterling silver State Trumpets were made for the State Trumpeteers of the Household Cavalry. They are still in use today as well as some Bugles and some Coach and Tandem Horns.
It is interesting to note however, that every one of these instruments was handmade and involved five different tradesmen to complete each one. They are as follows:-
1. Bell Maker (Skilled)
2. Lathe Operator (Skilled)
3. Polisher (Semi-skilled)
4. Bender (Skilled)
5. Finisher (Semi-skilled)
They have been trade makers all along and have made Coach and Hunting Horns for many of the leading saddlers, such as Merry, Whippy, Wilkinson & Kidd, Cornish & Rogers, and supplied the trade in Walsall, as well as the Army & Navy Stores, and Potters of London. Since Swaine and Adeney took over the business of J. Kohler and Son in 1907, Keat have made all their Hunting and Coaching Horns.
One of their Coach Horns that is mentioned in a catalogue of about 1900 had travelled over 160,000 miles and was still in constant use, and sounding just as good as when it had been issued.
Daniel Keat retired and moved to Ilminster where Messrs Clatworthy and Walker purchased the business from him in 1984.
Ian Compton bought the business from Clatworthy and Walker in 1988, and now the Heny Keat business from Sutton Scotney, in conjunction with Calcutt & Sons Ltd, Saddlery & Riding Outfitters.