VESTEY, William, 1st Baron Vestey of Kingswood, 1859-1940. In 1919, Kingswood was bought by Sir William Vestey, who was granted a long lease of the property, at an annual rent of £386 11s 8d for the house and 27 acres, and from 1921 Kingswood remained his principal residence until his death.
Vestey, who came from a Liverpool family, was sent to Canada at the age of seventeen to establish an agency there for the family firm of provision merchants. He made his first fortune there in food canning before he was thirty. He established food processing and cold storage companies in Liverpool and London, and tried unsuccessfully to do likewise in Australia, but then turned his attention instead to Argentina, where he and his brother Edmund established what became the Union Cold Storage Company. Because there were insufficient refrigerated ships to cope with the output from his plants, he decided to have his own fleet of ships carrying his own meat, and the Blue Star Line was born.
William Vestey was given a peerage in 1922 and took the title of Baron Vestey of Kingswood. He and his brother Edmund donated £200,000 to replace the spire of Liverpool Cathedral in the 1920s, and in both World Wars he allowed the government full use of his fleet of Blue Star ships, port facilities and cold storage around the world. It was said that the tonnage lost by Blue Star in the early years of World War Two equalled the total lost by all other lines.
Like his predecessors at Kingswood, Lord Vestey made the grounds available for school sports and the like. However, early in World War Two he moved to his other home at Gerrards Cross, where he died in December 1940.
Brian Green and Patrick Darby