Bennetts has been trading in Grimsby since the early nineteenth century. At that time Grimsby was a small fishing community situated by the mouth of the River Humber in the north eastern corner of Lincolnshire, England. During the 19th Century Grimsby grew rapidly with the development of the docks and the arrival of the railway. It became an important trading port and the biggest fishing port in the UK during it's height in the 1950's and 60's. Since then the fishing industry has sadly declined but Grimsby still remains a busy port specialising in the import and export of cars and bulky products such as timber. The fish docks have been revived by the burgeoning offshore wind turbine service industry. Below is a timeline of the significant milestones in the history of Bennetts Timber. We hope that you enjoy reading it, if you have any old photos or memories of working at Bennetts we would be pleased to hear from you.
1799 - William Bennett started as a chemist in a house where the Corn Exchange later stood in what is now the Market Place.
1823 - The first stationary steam engine in Grimsby is installed by William Bennett in the Victoria Street Mill to grind imported bones and linseed for agricultural purposes. This was a second hand beam engine purchased from a Lancashire cotton mill.
1846 - The first saw bench was put into the bone mill by Joseph Bennett Snr (William's youngest son) and started using the power from the steam engines to saw timber.
1847 - Railway sleepers 'staved' or split using the powered saw bench for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company which owned Grimsby Docks and built the lines westwards out of Grimsby.
1850 - The sawmill also worked for Wintringham's which later became Wintringham and Bennetts but the partnership was dissolved after a fall out over politics! There were also other partnerships during this period including Bennetts, Wilkinson & Stephenson and Bennetts & Stephenson.
1872 - William Bennett dies and Bennetts & Co formed, only the direct decendents of William Bennett become partners in the business until the 1950's when the present limited company is formed.
1870 - Joseph Bennett Jnr (elder son of JB Snr) joins the Company and works through to the early 1940's!
1880 - Three parties (Henry & Joseph Bennett, John Barker and John Brown) purchase land between Corporation Road and Adam Smith Street, alongside Alexandra Road. Lots were drawn to split the land and the Bennetts got the third nearest to Alexandra Dock. A new sawmill and cresote plant was built on this land, the sawmill remained in use until about 1918 and the creosote plant right up to the 1950's. In the same year Francis Bennett (younger son of JB Snr) joins the company and remains as a partner until 1946.
1889 - Shipping. The wider family of Bennetts & Co and Wm Bennett & Sons (fish manure manufacturers) invest in steamships which trade general cargo world wide. In all 10 ships were owned over a 22 year period until 1911, they were all named after the Anglo-Saxon administrative areas of Lincolnshire, for example "Aslacoe".
1911 - The last of the steamships is sold off as the partnership with Wn Bennett & Sons comes to an end. A year later Francis Bennett was knighted by King George V for services to the local community, both Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George stayed as his guests at Fryston House in Grimsby during the 1910/11 general elections.
1914-1918 - details of the company during the First World War are sketchy, it is reputed that the company had sizeable investments in Bermerhaven and Danzig and these were lost when war broke out. The company continued to supply timber, presumably in a reduced capacity, as undoubtedly a number of members of staff would have been called to join up, including Roderick Bennett (RFC). It is not known how many employees lost their lives whilst serving during the war.
1919-1939 - again details are sketchy but during this time ex-servicemen will have returned. The partnership expanded to include Roderick Bennett, Michael Bennett (sons of Francis Bennett) and Christopher Bennett (son of Joseph Bennett Jnr).