Kettering Civic Society
The Kettering Mosaic under threat

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The Kettering Mosaic Update

Mosaic Fundraising Dinner at the Park Hotel on Friday 17th June 2016 raised nearly £700 for the fund

Are your roots in Kettering, through its industrial heritage, churches or education? What does the mosaic mean to you or members of your family?
Did you or family members work in the following industries; printing, boot and shoe, tailoring or box making?

PRESERVE our memories of our town  -  PROTECT an iconic 1960’s artwork

Now is your opportunity to sponsor the restoration of the Mosaic




Click to see the names of our sponsors so far

Please click here to download a donation form

What Mosaic?

The first mosaic and original artwork by internationally acclaimed mosaic artist Kenneth Budd depicts a modernist abstract interpretation of Kettering’s Coat of Arms which also shows Kettering's rich religious, cultural and industrial heritage, including Kettering’s links to the birth of the Baptist Missionary movement, William Knibb and the abolition of slavery.

The mosaic was specially commissioned for Kettering Grammar School in 1962 and sited on a prominent wall at the school situated in Windmill Avenue Kettering. (Now the site of Tresham College). It measures 15 feet x 45 feet.

Who was the artist?

This was the first mosaic that Kenneth Budd designed and he went on to be famous, creating the Kennedy Mosaic in Birmingham’s Bull Ring Shopping Centre and hundreds more around the country. His son, Oliver Budd has now taken over the business. In 2007 he took down the mosaic and has it in storage in his workshop in Kent.

Why save the Mosaic?

  • It is an important part of Kettering’s heritage.

  • When it was discovered that Tresham Institute wanted to demolish the mosaic along with the former Grammar School buildings, Kettering Civic Society consulted the people of Kettering and hundreds signed a petition to support saving the mosaic.

  • Tresham Institute gave the mosaic to Kettering Civic Society.

  • The mosaic is an important visual record, the only remaining link to the Grammar School founded in 1577, the original school was demolished in the 1970’s along with other buildings in the town centre.

  • The school educated some famous Kettering names: Thomas Toller, William Knibb (Emancipator), John Alfred Gotch (Architect), Sir Alfred East (Artist) HE Bates (Author). School Masters Geoffrey Perry and Derek Slater, who tracked Sputnik 4 in May 1960 were subjects in a Channel 4 drama based on their achievements at the school: “Sputniks’, Bleeps and Mr. Perry”, which was broadcast in March 1987.

  • Many of Kettering’s manufacturing industries are depicted in the mosaic. The mosaic celebrates this.

Abstract Images in the mosaic can be identified: (click for a full explanation)

  • A crown, the original Grammar School was founded during the reign of Elizabeth First.
    The same crown appears on Kettering’s coat-of-arms.

  • The griffin also appears on the coat-of-arms as a reference to Buccleuch & Montagu Family.

  • Coat sleeves and scissors represent the tailoring industry in Kettering; Aquascutum & Kettering Co-Operative Clothing.

  • A pile of boxes depicts the local carton manufacturers. (Seddons)

  • The bells and two clappers represent the bell foundry.

  • Above the bells is the hide from the coat-of-arms.

  • Over this are 3 wheels representing the printing industry and tickets, Timsons (Engineering) designed printing and ticket machines and for printing Braille.

  • Flames from the coat-of-arms indicating the ironstone furnaces.

  • Two martins from the coat-of-arms.

  • The upper part of a boot representing the boot and shoe industry:- SATRA Technology (shoes and boots, designed by SATRA were worn by the British expedition when they conquered Everest in 1953), EA Tailby boots & shoes still exists with a few other bespoke shoemakers.

  • Chains leading round to gowns.

  • Five slaves, representing the emancipation of slavery and links with William Knibb and William Carey. Three slaves wear earrings and two wear hats, although only one appears on the coat-of-arms it also signifies that the Baptist Missionary was founded in Kettering.

Where to site the mosaic?

  • Kettering Civic Society spent many years searching for a suitable large enough site for this huge mosaic. Many people were consulted for suggestions. Many sites around Kettering were considered.

  • There are many constraints that needed to be considered: A space large enough. A plot and ownership, responsibility, care, maintenance, vandal proof site and insurance at whose cost and for how many years……

  • The Society asked Tresham Institute if the mosaic could be placed on their land on a specially built wall overlooking the roundabout on the junction of London Road,

  • Pytchley Road and Barton Road. This was refused. Northants Highways were consulted and found no reason why this should not happen.
    Kettering Leisure Village had a wall large enough for the mosaic on the back of the building and they gave us permission to put the mosaic here. A disadvantage was that not many people would see it.

  • Elandi, owners of the Newlands Shopping Centre have given permission to put it on the car park side of the building.

  • The mosaic will enhance an area of the town centre to be regenerated through a unique example of public artwork. This visible artwork will show Kettering’s identity, it’s restoration and reinstatement will return its connection to Kettering’s lost history, not far from the original Grammar School building. In the late 60’s and early 70’s many of Kettering town centre’s buildings of special historic and architectural character were demolished to make way for a concrete clad shopping centre which became common in many towns.

The original Grammar School in the town centre

  • Planning Permission has been granted for the mosaic to be installed on the Newlands Centre car park wall.


What would happen to the mosaic if the Newlands Shopping Centre were to be demolished in the future?

  • The mosaic pieces were placed individually on the Grammar School wall. When Oliver Budd removed it he took it down in workable sections, peeling it off the wall in a special sticky backed fabric. When he restores the mosaic he will do so in these sections in trays so that should it ever need to be dismantled it will be easy to do so.

  • Once in place the mosaic should not need maintenance and the adhesive used is very resilient.

  • Elandi and Kettering Civic Society will continue to keep a watchful eye on the mosaic should the rare possibility of maintenance arise.

How to save the mosaic?

When SPONSORS raise £25,000 the mosaic will be restored and reinstated.



printing, boot and shoe, tailoring or box making)


Please click here to download a donation form

or CONTACT THE SECRETARY (email kettcivic@gmail.com) FOR MORE DETAILS





In Britain it is rare to see any 1960’s public art that has survived urban re-development.  Even more exceptional is a good, well-crafted example of work from that decade. Kenneth Budd’s mosaic the Kettering Abstract, is just such a work. This huge mosaic mural (almost 100m2) depicts an abstraction of a formal coat-of-arms.  It was created in 1962 to grace the façade of the Tresham Institute (formerly Kettering Boy’s School). The work is stylishly chromatic, yet not at all out of place.  The Society are running a campaign to save this landmark in its community, a 1960’s classic that sits comfortably in the 21st Century. We have so far been been successful in removing the mural from the Tresham building before it was demolished and it is now in storage with Oliver Budd.

Please support our fund raising efforts to save this work - download a sponsorship form here

Designed and constructed by Kenneth Budd ARCA 1962 in glass and ceramic mosaics
click here for an explanation of the mural

Saving the Grammar School Mural 2007

A brief summary of Kettering Civic Society’s efforts to secure the mosaic for the town

Formerly Kettering Grammar School and Kettering School for Boys, the site now belongs to Tresham Institute. A new building due to be opened this year will replace the original buildings which will be demolished to make way for parking. Tresham Institute was not able to include the mosaic into the plans of the new building. After careful consideration by Tresham Governors, Kettering Civic Society were ‘given’ the mosaic.

The Society recognises the mosaic as being a distinctive work of art dating from the 1960’s. It was the very first mosaic that Kenneth Budd created. He went on to create many more including the one on Birmingham’s Bull Ring Shopping Centre. Kettering’s mosaic is unique because of it’s rarity as many of Budd’s mosaics have been demolished. When the building is demolished, there will be no vestige that a Grammar School had existed for over 400 years in our historic town of Kettering. The mosaic is a modern interpretation of the Kettering Coat of Arms and it tells the story of Kettering’s fascinating industrial and social history. The mural is the only visual record of Kettering's history; it was designed and made after thorough research into the history of Kettering by Kenneth Budd. It is a modem interpretation of the towns Coat-of-Arms.

Mosaic specialist, Oliver Budd, was invited to Kettering by the Society to carry out a survey to ascertain whether the mosaic could be removed from the wall successfully. Thankfully it was, and the Society received a report with costs for the removal, restoration and the relocation of the mosaic. The decision at a Civic Society committee meeting on 3rd January 2007 concluded that steps should be taken to save the mosaic, by keeping it in safe storage until a suitable site could be found. On Monday, 12th February 2007, the scaffolding was up and ready for Oliver Budd to commence removing a test piece. This was successful and he continue with the removal of the mosaic.

The mosaic has now been removed to the safekeeping of Oliver Budd. When a suitable site is found a further £25,000 will be needed to restore it.

The school educated some famous Kettering names: Thomas Toller, William Knibb (Emancipator), John Alfred Gotch (Architect), Sir Alfred East (Artist) HE Bates (Author). School Masters Geoffrey Perry and Derek Slater, who tracked Sputnik 4 in May 1960 were subjects in a Channel 4 drama based on their achievements at the school: “Sputniks’, Bleeps and Mr. Perry”, which was broadcast in March 1987. Amongst the many successful former students, the Civic Society was delighted welcome Sir Peter Crane, then Director of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Kew, as speaker at their annual dinner.

Fundraising began on 12th January and within twelve days £725 had been donated. Our first event was a Prize Draw - Prizes include - One night stay in London with visits to The Houses of Parliament and the London Eye - Dinner for Two At The Three Swans in Market Harborough - £50 - many more prizes including these from our sponsors Perfect Inches - Back, neck and shoulder massage Forget-me-not - Silk flower arrangement - The Star Inn, Geddington - A meal voucher for £20 - Pytchley Lodge - A round of Golf - Kettering Football Club.

Also to promote our campaign we held a Mid Summer’s Eve Extravaganza for members and Society friends at Kettering Leisure Village. The evening of 21st June included a hog roast and music for all tastes, kindly provided by Bill Burton.

We include an explanation of the mural by the artist himself, for the benefit of future generations of students - or passers by.  

A Numbered Diagram by the Artist  



Maybe I can answer that question now, I heard it so often as I worked up aloft on the scaffolding with my two assistants.

Stated briefly, the Mural portrays the Coat-of-Arms and Industries of Kettering: but its most important function is to decorate the building, in the same way that a brooch decorates its wearer.

Accepting this you will then ask why have I designed it in this way. The answer is partly that this is my style of work, but mainly, by reason of the limitations and requirements of Mural design.

(a) It has to fit naturally into its setting and be in harmony with the building of which it is a part.
(b) By reason of this, it must appear as a balanced and even decoration, in order to preserve the Architectural Harmony.
(c) There are no "Lazy" spaces, each part has its purpose, fitting into the next and gaining its form, to a large extent, from the shapes that surround it, whilst retaining its own identity. This naturally results in some distortion of individual objects, so these have been deliberately simplified to avoid confusion.

The mural is composed of broken tiles: some glossy, some matt, some dimpled, some dappled, and also glass mosaic to supply the reds and brighter yellow and blues. We have tried to make each area exciting by mixing our surfaces and colours to create variety within the limits of individual forms

Now let's look at the mural itself. On the top left: We have a crown standing on its rim of ermine (1). The original Grammar School was founded during the reign of Elizabeth 1, and this reminds us of that foundation. On the crown are crosses and this same cross you will find in the centre of the Coat-of-Arms of Kettering. Beneath the crown and moving across there is: The Griffin (2) with his wings outstretched and straight from the Coat-of-Arms except that his upper wing suddenly changes into coat sleeves (3) illustrating the local tailoring industry, made clearer by the addition of the shears. Underneath our Griffins beak there are a pile of boxes (4) depicting the local carton manufacturers, and next across (5) the mouths and clappers of two bells, reminding us that Kettering once had a Bell Foundry. Above the bells is the Hide from the Coat-of-Arms (6), and over this three wheels (7) for the Printing Industry, printing Braille (8) and Tickets (9). Between these we find Flames (10) from the Coat-of Arms and indicating the Ironstone furnaces.

Alongside, and still moving to the right, are two Martins on "Fountain Ground" (11) taken from the Coat of-Arms, and brought together for company. Underneath them, the open upper of a boot (12) which I certainly could not omit, and which echoes the wing shape of the birds. Whilst right at the bottom, the shapes of Chains (13) leading round to Negroes in their white gowns (14). Although only one Negro appears on the Coat of-Arms, 1 have used five, to remind us that the Baptist Missionary Society founded in Kettering, was largely responsible for the release of slaves. Hence our slaves wear their Baptismal gowns. Three wear earrings, and two hats and if you look carefully, you will see that they are not without features.

And what about the little motif in the bottom right-hand corner? Well, that's simple 62 for the year, and between the numbers - a bud!

Kenneth Budd


Support Letter

Dear Secretary

I understand that Kenneth Budd's mosaic mural, THE KETTERING ABSTRACT is under threat by a proposed demolition and your Society has a campaign to save this work. This email is intended to register my total support for the campaign.
Kenneth Budd was an eminent mosaic artist and we are fortunate to have numerous examples of his, and indeed his successor firm's work here in South East Wales. These are public works of great stature and while perhaps rather different to yours in that they are generally figurative, they are greatly valued, appreciated and enjoyed by the public. They provide an enormous contribution to the artistic and cultural environment and we consider ourselves fortunate to have these fine examples of this master artist's work.

The destruction of one of Kenneth Budd's major works at Kettering could only be described as a great tragedy. This is a view which I am sure is shared by countless people who have enjoyed the fruits of his skills, in all areas of the country where he has worked. I can understand that by the very nature of growth and development the things that we treasure can come under threat. But it is important that valuable works of art should be saved and relocated for their enjoyment by future generations.

I wish your campaign every success.

G W Thomas JP,
Chartered Civil Engineer [retd]


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A myriad of colours, shapes and sizes,
Each one chiselled and crafted
To contribute to the whole
Which is clearly visible
And meaningful to few.

The fragments do make sense
From a distance; see
How each constituent piece,
Alone seems worthless,
Proves invaluable.

This kaleidoscope construction took its identity
From its makers; they themselves were shaped
By their efforts, the recipients likewise moulded.
Thus three compounds grew from one structure.

Now it crumbles, its image splintering into confusion,
And those once affected whisper regret
As they recall the blurred vision from their past.

Christopher Kidman