<sic> Today, almost lost in a crowded corner on General Patters Road, you can see the over 120-year-old Wrenn Bennett, which can no longer afford its rich history. In their heyday, their furniture reached as far and high as the Delhi Durbar of 1911 (held to commemorate the coronation of King George V and when Delhi was declared the new capital of India), the royal palaces of Travancore and Cochin and the camps of the Governor of Madras.
Today most of what remains is octogenarian M Venu’s guarded version of Wrenn Bennett’s story. He joined the firm in 1945 and has never left. With scant records except for a neglected certificate of registration and a few old advertisements put together by the current store manager Siva Thiyagarajan, there are little recorded memories of its life as part of the bustling Madras Presidency.
Gathered from The Hindu archives, advertisements published and from a nostalgic Venu, this is the known history of Wrenn Bennett. It began as a departmental store southwest of Whiteway, Laidlaw on Mount Road in 1889 and they sold everything except liquor and food. Catering largely to the mofussil crowd and with most of their goods being priced fewer than eight annas, people began to call Wrenn Bennett the eight-annashop. With outlets in Bengaluru and Ooty, they later became a household name for flush doors and furniture. It was bought over for 200 pounds (Rs 2,652 at the time) in 1938 by the family that runs it now, soon after which they gave up manufacturing furniture to become an auction house in 1959. <sic> from The Hindu dated 23-8-2011.