Thomas Walter Benson was born on 24th October 1844 in Allerwash, near Fourstones, Hexham, Northumberland, son of William Benson who had interests in mining and quarrying in the area. Benson was educated at Grange School, Sunderland and was apprenticed to George Baker Forster at Cowpen Colliery.
He then assisted in the West Tyne businesses of his father and in about 1867 moved to Montagu Main Colliery in Newcastle, leased by his father a few years before and remained closely associated with it until his death. He became the certificated manager until 1882 and then as managing partner became in charge of developments. So shafts were sunk and drifts driven to access new seams and increase the output. His father died in 1882, with the West Tyne businesses passing to Benson and his brothers. They had large contracts, such as at the Waverley Station in Edinburgh, and extended the quarrying business in 1886 when they leased a red sandstone quarry in Corncockle, Dumfriesshire. They also had farms associated with their collieries. His firm became members of the Northumberland Coal Owners’ Association in 1879 and Benson was active in its work.
Benson became a member of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers in 1866 and was President for the years 1904 to 1906. He was also a member of the Council from 1876 and Vice-President from 1892 to 1904.
He was a member of Northumberland County Council from 1892, serving on various committees and being involved in various schools.
He had poor health in his later years, visiting Egypt and America for recuperation, though with no lasting benfit.
Thomas Walter Benson died in London on 8th July 1912 and was buried in Newbrough churchyard, Northumberland.
(These notes are based mainly on the memoir by W.J.Benson in Transactions – Institution of Mining Engineers 63 1912-13, 163-166)