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KEMP & DENNING PTY. LTD., TIMBER MERCHANTS, HOBART

The window envelope had an advert for Kemp & Denning Pty. Ltd., 101-115 Melville Street, Hobart, Tasmanian Distributors for Burnie Hardboard, Timber, Bricks, Joinery, Plywood, Cement, Iron. Our Business Motto "NO MONOPOLY." There was a red slogan roller cancel ‘ KEEP TB. AT (BAY)/ HAVE A CHEST X(RAY), as well as a red boxed HOBART/ 18 OCT/ 1953/ 3D/ PAID. The reverse had no significant postal markings (Figure 1).

 

The beginnings of the firm were advertised in The Mercury, Hobart on 27 May 1902 with the heading: IMPORTANT BUSINESS NOTICE. Messrs. A.G. Kemp (Accountant) and V.E. Denning (Machinist) having severed their connection with the business of Mr. Fred. H. Crisp, Melville-street, wish to notify the Building Trade and the general public that they will open business as Timber Merchants in a few days, at Mr. G,S, Seabrook’s late prmises, Brisbane and Harrington streets. Full particulars shortly. KEMP & DENNING. May 26, 1902 (Figure 2).

There was a short delay with several repeats of this advert, when on 4 July, 1902 the following advert appeared in the same newspaper: Kemp & Denning, Timber Merchants, Brisbane & Harrington Sts., have opened business, large stocks, low prices, best quality. Telephone No. 496. Initially the company had problems with other members of the timber industry for the following advert appeared in the same newspaper on 5 August , 1904, headlined : THE TIMBER RING TRIED TO PUT US DOWN – BUT "You cannot keep a good firm down, ‘Tis Truth beyond assail, ‘Twas proven many years ago, With Jonah and the whale." 1,000,000 FT. Super, American Pine daily comes nearer to keen buyers. The arrival of the American schooner, E.B. Jackson will mean money saved to the citizens of Tasmania. Steam Joinery made to order. – KEMP & DENNING, Timber Merchants, Brisbane-st. P.S. – No connection with the Timber Ring. This advert was the fore-runner of the firm’s motto as seen on the cover (Figure 3).

It was initially difficult to find information on the two principals of the firm on the internet, except for the following: Kemp & Denning Ltd, trading today as K & D Warehouse Mitre10 Home & Trade, and K& D Bricks and Pavers, was founded in Hobart in 1902, as a partnership between Andrew Garrington Kemp and Victor Ernest Denning. Both were born in England and migrated to Tasmania. In 1917 Kemp purchased Denning’s interest, and since then the Kemp family has run the business. In 1908 Kemp & Denning had bought an interest in the Hobart Brick Company, and gained control in 1936. Kemp and Denning started business as timber merchants, and gradually extended activities into selling building materials and hardware. Sawmillers from 1940 to 1989, the company built Tasmania’s first tunnell kiln for the production of fired clay bricks and pavers in 1975, and Australia’s first home and building retail warehouse (a new American concept) in 1986. Kemp & Denning became an unlisted public company in 1963, and in 2004 had over 600 shareholders, some of whom were fifth generation Kemps.

These two figures were examples of their timber business in the early 1900s, the first showing the sign above, and the staff within, the building with ‘Enterprise Steam Saw Planing & Moulding Mills, Kemp & Denning, Timber Merchants.’, and the second showing horse-drawn drays, in front of their building with ‘Up-to-Date Lumber, Joinery Merchants, Kemp & Denning, with their slogan ‘NO MONOPOLY’ (Figures 4 and 5).

I have not been able to access the book published for the firm’s centenary in 2002, but found considerable information on Andrew G. Kemp and lesser information on Victor E. Denning in my Tasmanian Cyclopedia 1931 disc, as follows:

Andrew Garrington Kemp was born at London, 1878 and came to Tasmania at an early age with his parents. He was educated at Officer College, Hobart, and early in life he commenced his business career with a local timber firm. He, in conjunction with Victor Ernest Denning (now at Devonport) founded the business of Kemp and Denning in May 1902, and the firm has had an unbroken run of success up to the present time. Mr. Denning, who hails from Somersetshire, England, had previous experience at a large timber firm in Somerset, also in New Zealand, before coming to Tasmania. He retired in 1917, when Mr. Kemp carried on the business for seven years, then floated the present company of Kemp & Denning Pty. Ltd., which he has managed from its inception, and is now managing director of the company. He was actively associated with the executive of the Chamber of Commerce for seven years in the capacity of treasurer, vice-president and president (in 1917). He has also been a director of the Queensland Insurance Co. Ltd., and the Hobart Brick Co. Ltd. for many years. Mr. Kemp has had trips around the world, one in 1925 and again in 1930. During his extensive travelling he has acquired a wide and varied knowledge of every department of the timber trade, having visited many of the largest leading sawmills of the world.

The business was commenced at the corner of Harrington and Brisbane Streets of Hobart and 8 years later moved to the extensive premises at 101-113 Melville Street, being on both sides of the road and running through the square to Brisbane Street. They have one of the largest and up-to-date timber establishments, equipped with the most modern machinery (all British) in the State, and have an enormous output of best quality building material. The firm has gained a reputation for fair dealing and straight business methods. The firm also deals extensively in bricks, both plain and fancy. Mr. Kemp is deputy chairman of the Hobart Brick Co. Ltd. The firm has their own agents in Norway, Sweden, England, U.S.A., Canada, New Zealand and the other Australian States.

Mr. Kemp is actively interested in the Rotary movement, and is a member of the Hobart Club. He has been approached on numerous occasions to enter public life, but has declined owing to the many business activities in which he is engaged.

Addendum (June 2010)  The picture of Andrew Kemp is also derived from the Tasmania Cyclopedia (Figure 6).

 

 
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