1930 – 2017
• A Hungarian Jew, born in Kolozsvar, Transylvania, Hungary (now Cluj, Romania) on May 26th, 1930.
• Tom, aged 13, and his family are rounded up in April 1944 and sent to Belsen Concentration Camp. By a lucky turn of events he escapes to Switzerland in December 1944, and is thus saved from starvation and probable death.
• Aged 15, Tom becomes an ardent Zionist, and goes to Palestine to become a member of the Kibutz Neve Etan in the Jordan valley. Aged 17 Tom realises farming and community life is not for him. Having not a penny to his name he enrols in the best – and fee-paying – school in Tel Aviv in order to catch up with 5 years of missed education. But by May 1948 the seventh class in the school is closed; the State of Israel is declared, the War of Independence breaks out; and Tom is allocated to the nascent Artillery section of the army.
• At the very end of 1950, aged 20, visiting his parents who immigrated to Rhodesia, Tom decides to attend Witwatersrand University, in Johannesburg, South Africa. He studies Science, Mathematics, Philosophy and English literature. Since his ambition is to write in English, he decides he must make the UK his home.
• In 1953, Tom arrives in Britain, but having no Latin or Greek, he attends The University of Edinburgh to study Philosophy which accepts Hebrew as an ancient language, one of the essential qualifications for entrance. In 1954, Tom meets his wife-to-be, Lady Alison Balfour.
• In London in 1956 and without money Tom and Alison manage to buy a 5-storey house in St James’s Gardens, Holland Park with great financial risks and difficulties. His first job in 1960 is as a football coach and then as a teacher of emotionally and behaviourally disturbed children, in a “special need schools” run by the Inner London Education Authority. Tom is granted British Citizenship. Within 3 years he succeeds, somewhat miraculously, in forming a successful football league of the special schools.
• As a result of creating educational games, Tom starts a most successful career as a toy and game inventor. The first games were made at home but by 1964 Tom starts his own games & toys company, Seven Towns Ltd. This company is now one of the most significant in the world in this field, employing over 15 people and turning over £5 million or more each year. Tom has personally created over a hundred commercially successful toys and games and the company continues to license ideas around the world and bring money into the UK from its base in Notting Hill Gate, London.
• Coinciding with the birth of Seven Towns, Tom and Alison have the first of their three children, and go on to have five grandchildren.
• Tom first spotted the Rubik’s Cube (called the Magic Cube at the time) in February 1979 at the International Toy Fair in Nuremburg, Germany. Erno Rubik, a fellow Hungarian invented it, but Tom Kremer, respected by the toy trade, fluent in Hungarian as well as English, and a skilled, resourceful, flexible negotiator, able to deal within the business confines of Communism as well as the business idiosyncrasies of Western firms succeeds in bringing Rubik’s Cube to the international market in 1980. It was a phenomenal success, selling over 300 million units within 3 years, making it the most explosively sold toy ever.
At the end of the craze in the early 80’s no manufacturer, distributor or retailer wanted anything more to do with Rubik’s Cube. Piled high in huge quantities of unsold stock, only Tom believes it to be a classic toy destined to be around forever. He brokers a deal to acquire the intellectual rights to Rubik’s Cube. Seven Towns re-launch it in 1986 and it is now a staple item selling millions of units throughout the world every year.
• Alongside the toy business, from 1960 Tom is involved with his good friend and partner in renovating and transforming residential properties in the more rundown areas of London. They buy bigger properties specialising in the creation of photographic studios; then shopping centres in the UK and abroad.
• In 1979 Tom buys Widworthy Barton, a 16th Century Manor house, which he and Alison lovingly restore and fill with period antiques. It is set in 500 acres of woodland and pasture which is farmed mostly on an organic basis.
• Selling his toys and games across Europe, speaking good French and German, and having started games companies in the USA, France and Germany, Tom is increasingly involved in economic and political international issues. He joins Open Europe in 2006, becomes a member of the board, and does whatever he can to support – financially and in other ways – the transformation of the EU into a more flexible trading block rather than a super-state with its invasive regulations.
• Writing has always been in Tom’s blood and his only true love as an occupation. Opening the Bolted Door, unpublished, finished in 1998 is his most original book, weird, wonderful, terrifying – and does not fit any “normal” publisher’s classification. The Language of The Night, Dreams in Stories, Stories in Dreams, unpublished, finished in 2006, based on dreams collected over a short but intense period of time, develops a new theory for the function and profound necessity of dreams. Again, not quite a text book and not quite a novel it has no obvious classification. The Missing Heart of Europe, Does Britain hold the key to the future of the Continent? was published by the June Press in 2002. He is currently working on his first historical novel, centred round the last King of the Jews, Zedekiah, and the historical origins of the Diaspora to Babylon.
• Tom launches a new publishing company, Notting Hill Editions in 2011. Notting Hill Edition’s aim is to put the ESSAY back on the literary map as a commercially viable art form.
• Tom helped create and arranged funding for a charitable venture with the British Design Council called “Spark” to assist and encourage entrepreneurs or anyone with original ideas to bring them to the market so that they, as the inventors, and the UK as a whole, can benefit from their innovation.
• Tom dies peacefully in his sleep on June 24th, 2017 at the age of 87. His energy, charisma, and determination to succeed was inspirational to all those who knew and met him, and he will be sorely missed.