A former employee of a company that owned some of the best known electrical brands and had factories in the Lea Valley has written the biography of “his much-admired governor” more than four decades after his death.

Radio Rentals, Rumbelows, Kenwood (of Kenwood Chef fame), HMV, Ferguson and Mazda were all well-known names and shared a common link. They were all once in the same business group – Thorn Electrical Industries – the creation of Sir Jules Thorn.

At its peak, Thorn was one of the largest electrical business in the UK, employing more than 80,000 people worldwide, but its founder is relatively unknown.

Dr Jim Lewis was one of those employees for 18 years and in collaboration with Sir Jules’ grandchildren, he has written ‘Sir Jules Thorn: The Man and His Empire’, telling the story of a remarkable man more than 40 years after his death in 1980.

Born in Austria in 1899, Jules Thorn emigrated to England in the early 1920s. In 1928 he and Alfred Deutsch formed The Electric Lamp Service Company Ltd., and during the next 60 years this expanded into one of the world’s largest groups in the electrical sector.

Dr Lewis worked for Thorn EMI Ferguson in the Lea Valley, representing the company abroad on several occasions and was involved in the exchange of manufacturing technology.

East London and West Essex Guardian Series:

The front and back cover of 'Sir Jules Thorn: The Man and His Empire'

He said: “Many biographies have been written about famous and not so famous individuals, who have done little to improve the lives of ordinary people, but surprisingly, up until now the story of this remarkable man has never been written.”

Knighted in 1964, Sir Jules was a noted philanthropist. His legacy lives on in the Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust, whose primary aim is to support medical research.

As a result of his endowment the Trust has been able to commit many millions of pounds to a wide range of medical charitable causes.

Dr Lewis, who has spent most of his career in the consumer electronics industry, is currently a consultant to Terry Farrell & Partners on the historical development of the Lea Valley.

A freelance writer, with 18 published books, broadcaster and researcher for his specialist subject, the Lea Valley, Dr Lewis also has a passion for encouraging partnership projects within the local community which, in the long term, are planned to stimulate social and economic regeneration.

‘Sir Jules Thorn: The Man and His Empire’ is published by Redshank (an imprint of Libri Publishing) and is priced £20.