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British Industrial History

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William Randall

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William Randell (1831-1904) of Bletchley Ironworks and W. Randall and Sons

1871 William Randall 40, iron founder, lived in Fenny Stratford, with Phoebe Randall 44, Frederic Randall 10, Arthur Randall 7, William Randall 3[1]

1881 William Randall 50, agricultural implement maker, lived in Newport Pagnell, with Phebe Randall 50, Frederick W. Randall 20, Arthur H. Randall 17, William H. Randall 13[2]

1901 William Randall 70, mechanical engineer, lived in Fenny Stratford with Jane E Randall 58, Arthur H Randall 37, ironfounder, and a visitor Samuel Randall 67[3]

1904 Obituary [4]

MR. RANDALL’S CAREER. It may not be out of place to record a brief summary of the past life of the deceased, who, understand, was born at Beds,, in 1831.

When a lad he was employed with his father, who was manager of the Castle Works of Messrs. Hensman and Son. at Woburn, Beds., and thus early acquired taste for engineering, and by his perseverance he rose to be one of the leading mechanics in the district. He spent much of his time, after the works were closed at night, assisting the principals and his father in devising and perfecting new and improved implements and machines, for which the firm took out numerous patents.

He attended many of the Royal Agricultural Society's and other leading shows for his firm, and was present at the Great Exhibition of 1851, when the highest award was obtained for their new portable steam engine and thrashing machine. He was ever ready to recall his associations with this world renowned exhibition, and spoke with pride of the successes obtained his masters. This was practically the advent of thrashing steam, and gave a fillip to the business that the Castle Works could scarcely cope with it.

A few years afterwards the works were burnt out, and temporary accommodation had to provided. The firm eventually decided to rebuild new works near to a railway, and Leighton Buzzard was selected. These new works were erected on the site now occupied by Messrs. Morgan’s Carriage Works.

About eight years afterwards the late Mr. Hensman decided to retire from business, and Mr. Randall decided to commence on his own account, and chose Fenny Stratford as convenient spot. He came here in 1864, and built the premises now occupied by Messrs. Garner and Bevis, where a growing business was carried on for some years.

This was eventually purchased by Mr. Geo Holdom (eldest son of the late Mr. Robt. Holdom), with whom he continued for some few years. Mr. Holdom later on disposed of the business, and Mr. Randall, whose sons were now growing up, again entered business, which he continued for seven years, and, finding his connection extending, be purchased an acre and half of land on the Bletchley Road in 1881, and erected the present works, taking into partnership his two eldest sons, Messrs. F. W. and A. H. Randall.

These premises, together with his residence, wore almost the first erected between the New Inn and the Park Hotel, where, with the assistance his sons, he built a steadily increasing business, which gives regular employment to number of workmen, and which, with large and - expensive plant, the firm are enabled to successfully compete with many of the larger firms in the country.

Many large contracts have been executed of recent years, more especially in the foundry department, for well-known Railway Companies, Woolwich Arsenal, and the War Office. The deceased took out several patents his younger days.

He was essentially a man, always up with the lark, though of recent years has been steadily, through increasing age, shifting the cares and responsibilities of business upon his two sons shoulders, he never lost interest in the conduct of the works, and was ever ready with ripe experience and advice to render all the assistance he could to promote the interests of the firm. Right up to within a few hours of his sad and sudden death he was about the works with his son, Mr. A. H. Randall, making suggestions as to fixing up a new and improved furnace for melting iron, remarking in his usual cheerful style, "Go ahead, my boy, you ought to get two tons an hour through that, work it for all it is worth.”

Mr. Randall was never a man to aspire public offices, although he was sought after at different times of his life for various positions. His acts of quiet, unobtrusive charity, his cheery smile and genial disposition will be much missed. A devoted husband and father, respected by his workmen, he goes down to his grave honoured by all with whom he came into contact, after most active and useful life.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1871 census
  2. 1881 census
  3. 1901 census
  4. Leighton Buzzard Observer and Linslade Gazette - Tuesday 23 August 1904