Le Bouchon Brasserie & Hotel was William Bentall’s home from 1805, known then as Bridge End House. William Bentall was originally a yeoman farmer who invented the ‘Goldhanger Plough’. The plough was made of cast iron and ploughed more deeply, turned the Essex soils over more effectively, and proved to be durable and easy to use.
William pondered whether he should be a farmer or a manufacturer; it was his wife who encouraged him to be a manufacturer and he ceased farming in 1795 to manufacture agricultural machinery. The ‘Goldhanger Plough’ was the first plough to be manufactured under a brand name on a commercial basis.
William moved 3 miles from Goldhanger to Bridge End House to be close to the Navigation so that he could easily export the heavy farm machinery he was building.
The house became the Bentall’s company boardroom for the senior management when Edward Hammond Bentall (William’s son) took over the management of the company in 1836 when his father died.
The Bentall family are revered as being instrumental in bringing a significant amount of industry to the Heybridge area, their story is told in part within the book by author Beryl Claydon “In and around Heybridge”.
Edward Ernest Bentall 1885 – 1955 (son of Edward Hammond Bentall) designed and built a petrol engine to power a wide range of agricultural machinery in 1900. In 1905 he invested £60k to manufacture petrol engine cars and by 1912 100 cars were manufactured The ‘Bentall 2’ cost £204 to build and now is estimated to be worth somewhere in the region of £2m.
In 1961 Bentall’s was bought by the Acrow group to gain a source of labour with which to manufacture scaffolding. Acrow was formed by a Swiss refugee William A de Vigier who arrived in the UK with £50. He invented steel props which were adjustable for length by means of a robust screw head, this piece of equipment was to go on and revolutionise scaffolding. They were called Acrow props named after his solicitor Arthur Crowe!