Driving along Woodborough Road towards Nottingham, just before the Aldi Supermarket, you pass a house on the corner of Bennett Street, with a brick porch around the front door. This is where Charles Bennett lived until his death in 1909.
Bennett was born in 1832 at St Werburgh in Spondon, Derbyshire. He was the second child born to his mother Elizabeth. The first, a girl called Eliza was born in 1829 while the family was living in Kimberley. Their father Francis was a brick maker along with the rest of the Bennett family at the Spondon brick-works.
By 1841, the family had moved to Green Street in Derby where a third child named Henry was born. Now aged 10, Charles had little or no education, and had followed his father by working in the brick-works. Within the next 10 years the family moved back to Spondon. Henry joined the brick-works as soon as he was able, and Eliza found work as a house servant. During this time Charles progressed in the brick-works and married a local girl named Mary Ann in 1854. They had a son named Francis and by 1861, Charles and his family had moved to Mapperley, initially living at 22 Mapperley Hill. This was so Charles could take up a foreman’s position at the local brick-works. Tragedy appears to have beset the family at this stage, as by 1869 Charles had become a widower. He went on to remarry and the couple had a daughter, Edith, in 1870. Charles went on to become Manager of Works at the Nottingham Patent Brick Company. He then moved into a new house at 752 Woodborough Road, next door to a series of houses that had been built for the brickyard workers.
His new standing allowed him to enter local politics and he became a Nottingham Town Councillor in the 1880’s, a position he held for 28 years Charles was rewarded for this work by being elected as an alderman and a magistrate.
Bennett was a life long Methodist and when he became manager of the brick-works he allowed services to take place in the brickyard offices as there was no Methodist Church in Mapperley.
In 1902 he was able to donate some land near the brick-works for a church to be built. Mapperley Methodist Church now stands on the site. Bennett was also the driving force behind the purchase of the Porchester Estate when he, along with Mr Robinson, Mr Whittingham and Mr Haywood, arranged for it to be turned into 800 allotment gardens for the workers to grow their own plants and vegetables. By 1901 Bennett was again a widower, but continued living at his Woodborough Road house, being looked after by his unmarried daughter Edith and a servant Rebecca Ingall. He died there in 1909 at the age of 77. Bennett Street and Bennett Road were named after him.
With thanks to local historian Bob Massey for this research.