There are a number of founding fathers of Everton F.C. who played a part in building the club to its position of prominence in the English game but when it comes to the creation of Goodison Park Benjamin Kelly has a special place for it was his building firm which did much of the work to create the world’s first purpose-built football stadium.
Born in Liverpool on 21st April 1854, the son of bricklayer Richard Kelly, his early life was spent in Walton Village and 399 Rice Lane L4. Along with his father and his brothers he grew the family business to an extent that in May 1892 Everton’s committee agreed that much of the building work at Mere Green Field for the new stadium to be Goodison Park would be undertaken by Kelly Bros. contractors. Clearly the contractor performed satisfactorily as by 1894 Benjamin Kelly was a director of the club and in 1901 he was elected as Chairman.
The business must have been of some import as they won contracts for such major works as the new hospital on Smithdown Road.
On October 19th 1882 Benjamin Kelly married Emily Elizabeth Clarke at St. Peter’s Church Walton. His address at the time was 6 Helena Street L9. In 1891 they were living at the location of the family business at 75 Rice Lane, later living at 11 Chapel Avenue L9 (1901) and Dunvant Lodge, 1 Orrell Lane L20 (1911), this house being named after his wife’s birthplace at Dunvant, Swansea.
Benjamin Kelly died on 5th October 1918 and was buried at Bootle Cemetery, Linacre Lane.
Benjamin Kelly's home at the time of his marriage in 1882.
The Kellys' home around 1901
The Kellys' home around 1911
There is no single source for information about Benjamin Kelly but considerable genealogical research has been undertaken by Bruce Eames, Benjamin Kelly's great-grandson and I am grateful for the help this provided in writing this entry, and for the photograph used. The Wikipedia article on Goodison Park records Kelly Brothers' role in its construction.
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