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British Industrial History

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William Bennett (1811-1885)

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of Bennett Brothers

1885 Obituary [1]

The death of Mr. William Bennett, at his residence, Heysham Tower, near Lancaster, yesterday morning, removes from amongst us one of the most notable citizens of Liverpool.

A native of Chester, where he was born in 1813, he came, while still very young, to the town to whose service he gave many years of his active life. His father had then established an ironfoundry and an ironmonger's business in Cable-street, and he and his elder brother, Mr. Joseph Bennett, were associated with their parent in working these concerns.

On the death of his brother Joseph, Mr. William Bennett became the principal of the firm of Bennett Brothers, a name which, by the extension of the business conducted under it, has been carried far and wide. The gentleman whose death now falls to be recorded did not confine his energies to the commercial undertaking which grew to such large proportions under his administration, for close upon 40 years ago he entered upon a public career as a representative of St. Anne-street Ward in the Town Council. Three years later, when his term of office expired, he was without opposition re-elected member for the ward.

In 1850 he was chosen by his party - he was a pronounced Conservative - as an alderman, and held that office until 1873, when he sent in his resignation, Mr. Thomas Carey succeeding him. By the death of Mr. Carey within two years, an aldermanic chair was again vacated, and, yielding to the pressure that was brought to bear upon him, Mr. Bennett consented to resume his connection with the Council as an alderman.

In 1880, the term for which he had been elected terminated, and, notwithstanding the wishes of his friends both in and out of the Council, he declined to permit himself to be again nominated. During his long career in the Council he was untiring in his opposition to the schemes promoted for the purpose of bringing from a distance water for the use of the inhabitants. With characteristic energy he left nothing undone it that would tend to ensure the acceptance of his theory that the red sandstone on which Liverpool is built would yield water sufficient to meet the needs of the population for all time. He argued that the water thus cheaply obtained was purer than any that could be brought from afar off through a series of pipes. He did not altogether succeed in converting the whole of his colleagues to the views to which he adhered with a firmness that withstood every assault; but he had the satisfaction of knowing that beyond the Council Chamber his antagonism to the expensive Rivington and Vyrnwy projects was regarded with wide favour. At the present time, when the latter occupies so much of attention, there are not a few regrets that his opposition was overborne. Throughout the long contest in which he held an unequal part, he never turned aside from his aim, but, in as all that he said and did, his consideration for his opponents was strongly marked. To the members of the Council he was a model of industry and sincerity. In a sketch of him which was published in the Mercury in the course of the year 1857, when he had sat in the Council for eleven years, occur the following passages..........

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Sources of Information

  1. Liverpool Mercury - Saturday 19 September 1885