W O as a child
Walter Owen Bentley was born the youngest of nine brothers in September 1888. With almost as many servants, they lived in a rambling house in Avenue Road, St Johnís Wood, London. His family originated from Yorkshire although his maternal grandfather had emigrated to Australia, making a fortune from copper mining and banking before returning to retire in London.
The ĎBuní, as he was nick-named, was interested in cricket and passionate about railways. As a boy, he had no doubt what he intended to do with his life and at the age of 16 left to pursue a premium apprenticeship in Doncaster at the Great Northern Railway Works.
The premium apprenticeship cost Mr Bentley Sr £75 for a five year term. W O worked under Henry Ivatt, designer of the 4-4-2 Atlantic locomotives, in the fitting shop, foundry and engine erecting shop. Working through a ten hour day, six days a week, he worked his way up, taking occasional turns as assistant fireman on the running plates, before finishing his apprenticeship in the Kings Cross running sheds.