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William Wakeling was born 1873 in Fulham, which at that time was an undeveloped country town. He was educated at All Saints High School, in Fulham. His first job was in a builder’s office. Work started at six am and he worked through until dusk, though on Saturdays he finished early at four p.m. provided he did an extra hour on Friday, working until 9 p.m. thus making an average working week of seventy to eighty hours. As he lived two miles from work he had to get up four forty five in order to walk to work. After a couple of years he got a clerk’s job with a life insurance office in London but didn’t stay. In 1891 he joined his friend James Comben in a partnership which lasted over forty years. They had ties closer than business for James married Mary, William Wakeling’s sister in 1890. From the census records of 1891 William lived at 620 Fulham Road and at that time the partners were in was registered as grocers

William H. Wakeling died on July 10th. 1951 aged seventy-seven, at Ferndown in Dorset. His half share of the business was left to his son Eric

James Comben was born in Portland, Dorset, and like his father and brothers was a masons in the quarries, mining Portland Stone. As a young man he decided to leave home and try for a better job in London. At first he found work as an Insurance Agent, where he met and made friends with William Wakeling The two men decided to go into business together and soon after opened a grocery and provision business together. Their first shop was opened in Fulham, it did so well they eventually bought two more

Business did well and when they saved sufficient funds they decided to branch into the building trade. For a while the two businesses continued together but it was clear the building side was becoming really successful so they decided to sell off the grocery side so the two partners could devote all their energies to house building.

It would have seemed they had decided to burn their boats for they made this decision at a time when trade was at a very low ebb all round! However they had seen the possibilities in Wembley, never imagining it would grow beyond their wildest dreams.

While the grocery business was still in operation, they built houses at Kingsway, Mortlake. More than twenty-four houses were built before they sold out of their retail business. At this time there was no public transport in the Sudbury area which was the main town in the area Wembley was still unknown. One of the first projects was a block of thirty-four flats in St. John’s Road, followed by some small private houses in Clayton Avenue, Westbury Road, and Douglas Avenue.

These first houses were sold for two hundred and twenty five pounds each. A house boom had started though there was a depression in the country. It would seem that a new middle class was coming on the scene, These people were educated office workers who managed to obtain well paid jobs in London but who did not wish to continue living in tenement dwellings of the lower class yet could not afford the better type of house in the London area. However the houses offered on the outskirts of London enabled them to purchase a house just that bit better.

So started the owner-occupier scheme in Wembley! Residents would pay twenty-five pounds deposit and then pay twelve and sixpence a week, which included rates and taxes. Many of those residents or their children still occupy the houses and several are there rent-free!



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