‘Respected’ Hainault entrepreneur’s final farewell

Walter Bennett, 96, with wife Ivy, 83. Picture: Bill Bennett

Walter Bennett, 96, with wife Ivy, 83. Picture: Bill Bennett - Credit: Archant

A “well-known” entrepreneur who set up the first business in a shopping parade has died.

Walter Bennett, who owned four shops in Manford Way, Hainault

Walter Bennett, who owned four shops in Manford Way, Hainault - Credit: Archant

Walter Bennett, 96, of Stradbroke Drive, Chigwell, was born to “poor” parents in London’s East End in 1924 and went on to own a string of shops in Manford Way, Hainault.

He owned off-licences Bennett’s and Smith’s along with video rental specialists Toys, Videos and Sports Goods, and dry cleaners Care and Repair.

As a final farewell to the fruitful parade, Walter’s funeral procession went through Manford Way on Thursday last week.

“He was known by everyone on the estate,” said son Bill Bennett, 59.

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“He was a real east London boy and he just got on with everything.

“He was a well-liked and respected man and he was well known in the Hainault area because in 1953, when he opened the first shop in the parade, most people living in the area at that time would have used the shop frequently.”

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Walter, a former Ilford County High School pupil, went on to own 14 newsagents around London, in Dagenham, Hornchurch, Romford, Woodford Green. Wanstead, Grange Hill, Petts Wood and Stanmore.

The former policeman, who served in the Royal Marines during the Second World War, started out selling fruit and vegetables, before branching out and selling newspapers and cigarettes and expanding after receiving a bank loan.

In a memoir written by the businessman, he talked of his move to Chigwell, owning his first Rolls Royce, and starting his first shop by renting the council-owned plot for five shillings a week.

Walter, who had three sons and a daughter, said: “In 1962 we moved to a large house in Stradbroke Drive, Chigwell. We had bought the land and had hired an architect to design it for us.

“It was a lovely house in a grand street and our children loved it. I now had many shops and was quite prosperous and bought my first Rolls Royce.”

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