BWISC Bulletin December 1991

Study Circle members, and particularly all those numerous friends and members who knew him personally, will learn with the utmost sorrow and regret of the passing of Basil Benwell very suddenly at home on 12th August, 1991.

After leaving school and learning to type Basil entered the London School of Printing where he found that he had a talent for the practical side.
Printing was clearly his métier and he became a star student and later a Master Printer.

He joined the Army during the Second World War and after service in the United Kingdom he was posted overseas to Ceylon. In Ceylon the Army used his printing talent and he provided a map of Burma to Army requirements. Here in Ceylon he met Jean who was also in uniform being a member of the ATS. After demobilisation in 1946 they married and settled down in a flat in London and Basil entered into a partnership involved in silk screen printing and display making. The business grew steadily and expanded into larger premises. However, in the late 1960’s he left the partnership and started up his own company under the name of B.B. Benwell and Company which soon began to flourish. When his Company became established Basil was joined by his eldest son Paul whom he trained to follow in his footsteps. This training continued until Basil retired on his sixtieth birthday content to leave Paul to run the business.

From printing to philately was but a natural step and shortly after demobilisation Basil decided to collect the stamps of Barbados. The development and expansion of this collection was to become his major collecting interest during the next thirty five years until it was disposed of some six years ago when it had become a fine specialised collection. Thereafter he collected Great Britain stamps used in foreign ports of the West Indies and in Central and South America; also the stamps of the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company. As a sideline he also collected Gibraltar for a number of years and he was a member of the Gibraltar Study Circle as well as being a member of Orpington which was his local society.

Basil displayed internationally as well as nationally winning numerous awards. The award of which he was most proud was the Stanley Gibbons Cup in 1980 at the British Philatelic Exhibition. He corresponded over the years with Tom Adams a fellow collector of Barbados. Tom Adams later became the Prime Minister of Barbados and in that capacity opened the Gibbons Gallery in the Strand with Basil providing the opening exhibit.

As regards the Study Circle, he was connected with it from the beginning and was the last active Founder Member. He told the story that in January 1954 he saw a notice in the philatelic press requesting anyone interested in the formation of a British West Indies Study Circle to meet at the flat of one Philip Saunders in Maida Vale. Basil attended and found about a dozen others there and as a result our Study Circle came into existence. People like Basil make up the backbones of Study Circles and Societies. He became the first Hon. Editor of the Bulletin from July 1959 to December 1969 and was an active member of the Committee for many years. He was also the first Life Member for services rendered - an honour awarded to very few persons. His assistance to the Study Circle included the typing of the manuscripts for all of Len Britnor’s books published by the Study Circle.

Apart from philately his other abiding passion was gardening at which he spent long hours especially after retirement from business. Those of us who knew him will remember his pleasant personality and that he was a wonderfully humourous person - humour being an attribute only too scarce these days. He was a good friend and will be sorely missed. Our sincere condolences extend to Jean Benwell and her family. Your President attended the funeral with his wife at Charing Crematorium, near Ashford, Kent.

Victor Toeg