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Keith Prowse is a trading name currently used by two separate companies. Within the United Kingdom it is used by the Sport, Leisure and Hospitality Division of Compass Group Plc (who provide catering facilities), the company operates at numerous prestigious venues for many of the world's most iconic sporting and cultural events including Cirque du Soleil, Chelsea Flower Show and Wimbledon. While outside of the United Kingdom the Keith Prowse name is used by the Seatem Group Limited[1].



Robert William Keith (1767-1846), a musical composer, instrument maker and organist at the New Jerusalem Church, Friars Street, London,[2] opened a shop in London in the late 1700s, in 1830 he entered a partnership with another musical instrument manufacturer and music publisher, William Prowse (1801-1886), to form Keith, Prowse & Co.[3]

The first reference to the firm's selling theatre tickets appeared in an article published in 1786 in the Morning Chronicle, referring to "The New System of Ticket Agents". One of the first ticketing companies to have a telephone installed, Keith Prowse appeared in the first UK telephone directory published in 1880.[4] In 1886, the company first represented Royal Ascot, opened the World's first flight ticket booking office at Brooklands near Weybridge, Surrey, in 1911[5][6][7] and soon opened another at London Aerodrome. In 1924, they first represented the Wimbledon Championships.

In 1954, Peter Cadbury borrowed £75,000 from his father to buy the Keith Prowse ticket agency,[8] which went public in 1960, and later became a subsidiary of Westward Television.[9] In 1969, EMI bought Keith Prowse Music Publishing and Central Songs.[10] Keith Prowse Music released many recordings of library music by composers such as Alan Hawkshaw.[11] In 1981, the company opened its first office outside the UK in New York and a further office was established in Dublin in 1982. In the same year, the company was officially appointed by the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club through its purchase of Ashton & Mitchell which held royal appointment and rights to Wimbledon.

Collapse and Restructure

The company briefly collapsed in 1991 with debits of £7million ($12m),[12] only to be purchased by Wembley plc. In March 2002, Wembley plc (former owner of Wembley Stadium) sold Keith Prowse LTD to a management buyout for £5.5million ($7.8m/EUR8.9m).[13] In 2004, Compass Group Plc acquired the Keith Prowse Corporate Hospitality business for £20m while the rest of the Keith Prowse companies (selling tickets to theatres, tours and attractions) continued to be operated by Seatem Group Limited.


  1. ^ "Keith Prowse Ticketing". Retrieved 2009-07-02.  
  2. ^ "Dictionary of National Biography (1903) Page 712". Retrieved 2009-06-09.  
  3. ^ Ainger, Michael (2002). Gilbert and Sullivan–A Dual Biography. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 75. ISBN 0195147693.  
  4. ^ Coughlan, Sean (2006-09-20). "1880 telephone directory published online". BBC News. Retrieved 2009-06-09.  
  5. ^ Flight Ticket Office
  6. ^ "British Civil Aviation in 1911". Retrieved 2009-06-09.  
  7. ^ Flight Magazine January 1911
  8. ^ "Peter Cadbury Obituary". Guardian. Retrieved 2009-06-09.  
  9. ^ Published: 12:03AM BST 18 Apr 2006 (2006-04-18). "Peter Cadbury Obituary (Daily Telegraph)". Retrieved 2009-06-09.  
  10. ^ "EMI: A brief history". BBC News. 2000-01-24. Retrieved 2009-06-09.  
  11. ^ Review of Alan Hawkshaw, Mo'Hawk. Allmusic.
  12. ^ "Many U.K. Ticket Holders in Limbo". International Herald Tribune. 1991-09-11. Retrieved 2009-06-09.  
  13. ^ "Wembley plc sells hospitality business". Retrieved 2009-06-09.  

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