Haynes can trace its origins to 1790 when the business was founded as an ironmongery and general store in the Edgware Road, London (now the site of the Metropole Hotel). In 1832 William Haynes took the two or three-day journey to Maidstone and went into partnership with John Gurney who had acquired an ironmongery business in 1817 on the corner of Week Street and Kings Street in Maidstone, which had been known to be trading there since 1771.
The Gurney and Haynes partnership continued until 1856 when John Gurney retired from the business and William Haynes bought his shares and took control. In 1857 William Haynes took into the business his eldest son, William Haynes, and traded in the name of Haynes & Son until 1863 when George Haynes, the second son, joined as a partner and it became Haynes & Sons. From the records that remain, the business expanded under the management of the father and his two sons, serving a large area of Mid and West Kent and part of East Sussex.
The business had active workshops and specialised in amongst other things, agricultural ironmongery, heating installations, kitchen ranges and developing patents. It secured important trading connections with the rising industries in the Maidstone area – paper mills, breweries and cement works. In 1872, following the death of William Haynes, the Company changed its name to Haynes Brothers – the name of the Holding Company today. The business continued to expand and with the advent of electricity the Company set up its own electrical contracting department. Additionally, with the introduction of the 'Penny Farthing' cycle, the Company capitalised on the boom in the 1890s in the cycle market.
Motorcycles followed and in 1903 the firm sold its first motor car – a Humber, and so the motor business was born with agencies for Daracq, DeDion, Sunbeam and the American Hupmobile. To house the expanding motor business additional premises were bought in 1906 in King Street. In 1894 the sons of George Haynes, Bernard and another William Haynes joined the Company, the third generation and two years later became a Limited company.
In 1911 one of the most significant events in the Company’s long history took place. Bernard Haynes was taken for a demonstration ride in a Model T Ford and was so impressed with its performance up Boxley Hill together with its competitive price that he ordered one immediately at a cost of £180. From this small beginning started the firm’s long connection with Ford Motor Company as one of their main distributors, the first in Kent and the 12th in the UK. In 1922 Ronald Haynes (eldest son of Bernard) joined the Company after studying at Cambridge and training with Ford Motor Company and he played an important role in the expansion of the developing motor business. He was joined by his brother Philip in 1928 and both became Directors in 1936.
Together they expanded the business and also bought the first 1¼ acres of the Company’s current 5 acres Ashford Road site. As times changed, the Company took the decision to focus on its motor and agricultural business acquiring a site in Parkwood, Maidstone in 1966 for its agricultural operation and body and paint division. This initiative was lead by David Haynes, son of Ronald, and then the fifth generation of the Haynes family to run the business, who joined the Company in 1953 and became Managing Director in 1966.
Under the leadership of David Haynes, the business again expanded significantly and included the opening up of an agricultural depot in 1962 at Appledore and a further depot at Eastry in 1992. Additionally, the Company began its long association with motorsport as David Haynes, a former successful saloon car driver for the Ford Willment team, took the decision to sponsor John Taylor in his Ford Escort in the widely televised and popular rally sports series in the 1970s, and who became the first European Rally Cross Champion.
In 2000, David Haynes’ son, Andrew Haynes, took over as Managing Director. In 2009 he took on the additional role of Chairman making him the sixth generation of the Haynes family to run the business. In 2021, to help spearhead the Company’s future growth, he took the decision to appoint the Company’s former Finance and Commercial Director, James Broadley, as Group Managing Director, with him becoming Chairman and CEO.
Since 2000 the Company has expanded significantly. As well as opening new branches, it has also taken over the assets and trade of the businesses of Invicta Trucks in Kent and the long-established family agricultural machinery business of Oakes Bros Limited, with branches in Hampshire, Berkshire, and West Sussex. Today the Company operates from sites in Winchester, Newbury, Horsham, Uckfield, Wrotham Heath, Great Chart, Birchington, Sheerness, Ashford, and Canterbury, with its Head Office, Ford Transit-Centre, Accident Repair Centre, and upgraded FordStore showroom situated on an expanded 5-acre site at Ashford Road in Maidstone.