Harold John Ablitt Bensley

Very First Chairman of CIUDC 1926/7

Harold John Ablitt Bensley was born in 1881 in Islington to John Bailey Bensley and his wife Sarah. John Bailey Bensley was described as a Manufacturer living in Liverpool Road, Islington on Harold’s baptism records. He was described on other documents as a Commercial Traveller/Costumier and skirt manufacturer. The Bensley family later lived in Upper Street, Islington. In 1907 Harold was initiated into the Acacia Lodge – Hampton Court.  He married his wife Gladys in Islington in the year 1911.

The first we have of the Bensley family living on Canvey comes in 1925. In the ‘Urban District of Canvey Island 1926-1974 Official Guide’ where we found the following:

In 1925 the County Council adopted a recommendation of a Local Government Committee recommending that the Parish of Canvey Island became an Urban District. In consequence the County Council made the necessary orders in consultation with the Minister of Health which Order was sealed in January 1926 and thus Canvey Island became formally constituted as a new Urban District. Their first meeting was held on 7 April 1926, the Coun­cillors being Messrs. Ansell, Bensley, Chambers, Delaway, Frahcke, Hertfield, Miss James, Leach and Thompson.

1925/6 Kelly’s Directory has him as a Private Resident:
Bensley Harold, Benz Hill, Oysterfleet.

In 1929 Electoral Roll shows Harold and his wife living at ‘Benzfolli’, in Long Road. At Dee Bee in Waarden Road lived his sister Daisy who was named on their father’s probate documents as Daisy Victoria Maud Castro (wife of Reuben Castro).

From Fred McCave’s Bulletin regarding the hospital:

The next meeting, September 24, 1929 received a report that there was a credit (presumably at the bank) of £80,4,11d. Mr Bensley was re-appointed chairman and Mr Phillips treasurer. Mr Wade was the secretary, and the rest of the committee, the Misses Evans and James and Messrs Griffiths, Brassington, Jones and Bartlett. Progress however was halted a month later because the new Southend Hospital, due to be opened by the Duchess of York (now the Queen Mother) needed more funds, and Mr Bensley was instructed at the November meeting of the committee to interview Canvey residents and raise a purse of money to be presen­ted to the Duchess, and it was also agreed to raise the donation from the Canvey Carnival from 10 to 25%.

From a 1930s newspaper clipping Canvey’s Bridge- Lord-Lieut. Drives First Pile:

Mr H. J. A. Bensley proposed “The Engineer” (Mr.Deane)and Mr. F.J. Leach proposed “The Contractor’ (Mr Farr), and Mr.A. C. Crane presented the Lord-Lieutenant with a model of a pile-driver in silver.

We have found nothing more on Canvey. Harold was living in Eton, Buckinhamshire in the 1939 register and when he died in 1940. His father John Bailey Bensley was living in East Ham in 1939 but according to his probate records he died at ‘Dee Bee’, Waarden Road also in 1940. This was the address of John’s daughter Daisy in 1929. So the Canvey connection must have continued.

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