Wallace Wyndham Waite’s family were agricultural engineers from Bugbrook in Northamptonshire. His father was a civil engineer and the early years of Wallace’s life involved several moves including living in Bedgellert in Wales, the Forest of Dean, Sutton in Surrey, Rock Ferry on Merseyside and then settling in Shepton Mallet, Somerset. He went to Shepton Mallet Grammar School but the family fell on hard times and on the day before his 12th birthday he left home to become a grocer’s apprentice in Pontypool.
After finishing at W Pegler & Sons (where he had received no pay for his first year’s work, £5 for the second year and £10 for the third!) he came to London with £1 in his pocket. He walked from Paddington to Blackfriars Road enquiring for work at every grocers he passed until eventually he was taken on by Granthams where he earned 7/6 per week living in.
He married a girl from Shepton Mallet, visiting her every weekend by train and catching the milk train back on Monday mornings.
He then found work with Boulinns and Coopers which is where he met David Taylor and Arthur Rose. The three young men then decided to go into business opening their first shop on Acton Hill in 1904.