Joseph (Joey) Randerson (1880-1973)
Joseph Randerson (Joey) was born on 26 October 1880 in Sheffield, Yorkshire – his birth is registered at Ecclesall Bierlow in West Yorkshire in 1880 and he died on 27 August 1973; his death is registered at Tonbridge and he was buried at Leigh with his wife, Emma, who had died in 1930. He was 92. In his Will, probate dated 19 September 1973 – at Brighton – he left £28,830. His address is given as Inglenook, Leigh.
Joseph was baptised at St Thomas, Crookes, Sheffield on 3 April 1881 when his parents’ address is given as 77 Crescent Road, Walkley. This is the address where the family are living at the time of the 1881 census. His parents were Joe Randerson and Susannah. Joe was a stone quarry man, and young Joseph – and his younger brother, Albert – would both train as masons. He also had an older brother, Leonard, who would have been born about 1878 as well as Albert born about 1885, a sister Edith born about 1883 and another sister Susannah born about 1896 – there may have been other siblings between 1885 and 1896 but they are not given at the family home in the censuses. In the 1891 census Joseph is still at 77 Crescent Road, Walkley – part of Nether Hallam, Sheffield. His father is by then 35, born Ecclesfield and his mother is born Sheffield. By the time of the 1901 census Joseph is still with his parents, at Cockshutts Lane, Bradfield, Yorkshire – he is now a mason, aged 20 – his father is described as an employer, at stone quarry. It is likely that Joseph, along with his brother Albert, now 16, a mason, worked for their father
Joseph, however, chose not to stay in Yorkshire – for in 1904 he appears on a passenger list (aged 24 – a mason), sailing from Sydney Australia to London; and in 1906 he is on another incoming passenger list from Natal to Southampton.
According to an article in the Courier[i] in 1948, Mr Randerson had lived at Leigh since 1908 – and in 1908 he was appointed Highway’s Surveyor by Sevenoaks Rural District Council – he was aged 30 – and the newspaper coverage says that he was previously the Staplehurst Inspector of Main Roads, Southern Division of Kent[ii].
However, he did return to Yorkshire to marry, where at Doncaster in 1909 he wed Emma Jennings. Emma was born at Doncaster in about 1884. The couple would initially rent one of the new Garden Cottages at Leigh – in the 1911 census they are there but had no children at the time. Joseph is described as a Surveyor of Highways working for the rural district council.
Very early on Joseph became involved in village life and was a member of the Leigh Fire Brigade, although not in an active role, but an administration role. This involvement began in 1909 – more about the Leigh Fire Brigade later.
Meanwhile, back in Leigh, in 1916 a happy event was quickly followed by a sad one – their only son, Henry Stanley, was born and died fairly soon afterwards – both the birth and death are registered for June 1916. There were no other children.
In the Courier in 1926 ‘Fashionable and Personal’ section[v], when as a jury foreman, it mentions not only his job as Surveyor and Engineer, but also that he is Hon. Secretary of the South Eastern District of the National Fire Brigade’s Association and a former Chief Officer of the Leigh Brigade.
In 1930 his wife, Emma, died; her death registered at Sevenoaks and mentioned in the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser on 14 March 1930 as follows:
Death of Mrs Randerson. A wide circle of friends will sympathise with Mr J Randerson of Leigh, the Surveyor of the Sevenoaks Rural District Council, in the death on Wednesday at the age of 47 years of his wife, Mrs Emma Randerson. She was a native of Doncaster, Yorkshire and married Mr Randerson some 20 years ago. She had been in ill health for a long time. The funeral will take place tomorrow (Saturday).
It is not known when Joseph Randerson bought Inglenook, but according to family memories[vi], it was in 1930 – it may have been after his wife’s death. Inglenook was built in about 1877, the stable block for the then new vicarage which was built in 1877 (the foundation stone was laid on 5 March 1877[vii] – it is, of course, now known as the old vicarage). Both his father, Joe[viii], who would have been in his 70s, and his sister, Susannah[ix], then about 35, came to live with him[x]. This is also borne out by memories of Vera Ingram[xi], wife of Reg Ingram, grandson of Isaac Ingram, when talking about the years 1946/47 as Ike Ingram died in 1947, who recalls that Mr Randerson was a friend of Ike Ingram of Oak Cottage: “His friend (Ike’s), Mr Randerson, he was very different, an engineer I think, but they must have been the same age – anyway, he lived in what used to the Old Vicarage stables – it’s called Inglenook now. He was very kind to Reg and me about finding a house. He used to come around the Green to Oak Cottage and he and Grandfather would both light up their pipes and puff away. Oak Cottage didn’t have much air at the best of times, so you can imagine what it was like. The stables was (sic) a funny old place. Miss Randerson, his sister, used to ask us round. His bedroom was marvellous and so was his sitting room, although you had to be invited in – but the rest of the house …..! I don’t know what you could make of it as a house nowadays.” Another recollection of Miss Randerson is that she had a tame squirrel that used to come to the door to be fed[xii].
The Fautly sisters remarked on the start of the wireless. “I think Mr Randerson at Inglenook – the old vicarage stables – had the first crystal set with a cats whisker but we had one too a bit later’[xiii].
In World War 2 Joseph Randerson joined the armed forces and spent time in South Africa – apparently his sister also spent the war years elsewhere.[xiv] And then in 1951, Joey and Susannah were joined in Leigh by two other family members – a sister-in-law, Caroline (née Bartlett), who had married their brother Leonard Randerson (b. 1878) and a niece Freda[xv] – daughter of Alfred Randerson – who married Gordon Whitehead – the son of the Leigh butcher, Donald Whitehead. They later moved to Cambridge and had three children.
Joseph Randerson’s involvement with the Leigh Fire Brigade was well known by the village. In 1912 he succeeded Mr K Anderson, the Post Master, as Secretary and Treasurer of the Leigh Fire Brigade but he had been the chief officer since 1909 – thus not long after he moved to Leigh. The annual accounts report[xvi] that in 1912 there were no fires to attend to but the ‘Annual Outing’ to Brighton did take place as usual. Subscribers were reminded that they could call for the Fire Brigade not only in The Square at Leigh but also at the Penshurst Station inn (i.e. the Little Brown Jug today). Subscribers to the Fire Brigade included not only the two local Lords – Hollenden and de L’Isle and Dudley, but also titled ladies, including Lady Harriet Warde. The annual reports do not list the actual firemen, but only the supervisors and honorary people. In 1918 this list included Joey Randerson who was Vice President along with Mr H Russell of South View. Joseph Randerson always remained on the administrative side of the Brigade and was never required to attend fires.
According to Dick Wood[xvii], when talking about the 1930s, “Mr Randerson, now secretary of the brigade, had a new motor car and donated his old Rover to the brigade. Ray Faircloth, now succeeding his father as village wheelwright, converted the car into a fire tender to carry equipment and seat half-a-dozen firemen. A trailer motor pump was purchased and the manual engine was no longer required.”
However, his life and achievements can be gleaned from an article written for the Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser in 1945 when he retired[xviii]. There is also a photograph. Below are some extracts from this article.
He had worked for Rural District Council for 37½ years where he was a Highways Engineer and Surveyor and on his retirement in October 1945 he received “a number of gifts – an easy chair, a cheque from members of the Council, a golden fruit bowl from the staff and an observation beehive from the outdoor staff.” When he joined the staff at the Council in 1908 as Surveyor for the Southern half of the district, “the Clerk’s offices were then two rooms in (the late) Mr G F Carnell’s house, the only means of transport was a cycle and Mr Randerson had to cycle between 40 and 50 miles almost every day. In 1916 Mr Randerson was offered a commission in the Royal Engineers and went to France to deal with the roads behind the lines. On his return in 1919 he was appointed Highway Surveyor for the whole district and set about repairing the war damage to roads in the district.” “Always interested in fire brigades, Mr Randerson was also appointed co-ordinating officer for the fire brigades at Leigh, Edenbridge Seal and Westerham until they were taken over by the NFS.”
Mr Randerson was also involved in the A.R.P. and throughout his long service Miss MMC Burrows JP and Chairman of the Council went on to say that he had always been “cheerful and courteous, efficiently and quietly going about his work, giving of his best and inspiring everyone else to give of his best. He held a very special place in their hearts. They could not find a nicer man, whose honest and downright statements had always impressed her. He had been a wonderful servant to the council, always sincere in all his duties”.
According to Major C E Pym of the Council under Mr Randerson, “the roads of the Rural District cost less per mile in West Kent, which was a great achievement.”
Mr John Mudd, Clerk to the Council said that Mr Randerson “had only one object in view, to serve the ratepayers to the utmost of his ability.”
Mr Randerson thanked everyone for the gifts and said he remembered “the early days, when the officers of the council numbered four, The Clerk of the Council found his own staff and was only a part-time man and held many other offices ….. There were two surveyors and one sanitary inspector and they all cycled. The roads were rough and not tarred and were used by traction engines with combined weights of up to 50 tons, making ruts in the roads up to a foot in depth, the roads having to be closed at times because they were so bad. There were great clouds of dust when a motor car passed and in the winter cyclists were covered in mud. He thought the roads were somewhat better today!”
A very well liked and respected man and, of course, following his retirement, he was not idle. In 1948 he was appointed a Leigh and Penshurst Councillor (again)[xix].
In 1962 Joseph Randerson sold some of his land attached to Inglenook to Daisy Walton[xx], and she had Pippins built by Gilbert Butcher at the same time as the building of the new vicarage. Thus prior to 1962 Inglenook with its gardens and land would have come all the way down to the road rather than being tucked away as it is today.
A couple of miscellaneous memories about Joseph Randerson was that he owned the Dairy (the first house behind the Cricket Pavilion) and also that he had an old van which was used to drive to deliver the milk.
Joseph Randerson was a quiet but always courteous man who helped people in the village particularly in their dealings with the Sevenoaks Rural Council – a pillar of the community[xxi], but he is chiefly remembered as the designer of the green iron bridge across the Medway on the footpath as you walk down from Green View Avenue to the river[xxii].
Joyce Field (January 2017)
Courier 8 October 1926; 5 March 1948
Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser 19 June 1908; 14 March 1930; 26 October 1945
Leigh Historical Society Website
Census/Civil Registration/military records via Findmypast and Ancestry.com
Family Memories of Joseph Randerson recorded at Leigh 16 February 2006
Lawrence Biddle “Leigh in Kent 1550-1900”
Chris Rowley “We Had Everything …” p. 29, 128/9, 259,307
[i] Courier 5 March 1948
[ii] Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser 19 June 1908: Sevenoaks Rural District Council
Appointment of Highway’s Surveyor:175 applications received for the appointment of Highway Surveyor District No. 2 – and eventually Mr Joseph Randerson (30) had been appointment – it says that he was Staplehurst Inspector Main Roads, Southern Division of Kent.
[iii] Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser dated 26 October 1945 report on his retirement from Sevenoaks RDC.
[iv] Service metals reference: NW/7/10601 – archive reference WO372/16; National Archives service records: WO339/101934
[v] Fashionable and Personal: The Courier 8 October 1926
[vi] Interview by Chris Rowley with Marion Randerson 16 February 2006
[vii] Lawrence Biddle Leigh In Kent 1550-1900 p. 136.
[viii] Joe Randerson died in the autumn of 1947 – his death is registered at Tonbridge, Kent.
[ix] Susannah Randerson, according to Ancestry.com, was born 1 July 1895: her Will is dated 7 may: she died 10 March 1987 at Cliffe House Nursing Home, Cliffe Hill, Cloune, Derbyshire, leaving £40,000 (n.b. this is the only entry found for a Susannah Randerson death).
[x] Interview by Chris Rowley with Marion Randerson 16 February 2006
[xi] “We Had Everything …” by Chris Rowley: p.259
[xii] Interview by Chris Rowley with Marion Randerson 16 February 2006
[xiii] “We Had Everything …” by Chris Rowley p. 29
[xiv] Interview by Chris Rowley with Marion Randerson on 16 February 2006
[xv] Freda Randerson was born Wortley, Yorkshire in 1924. She married Gordon D Whitehead at Workshop, Nottingham in 1952. They had three children: Joan b. St Neots 1954; Martin b. Cambridge 1957; Paul b. Cambridge 1965. Her parents were Albert Randerson (Joseph’s brother) and Lily Brooke who married at Wortley in 1912. There is a Gordon D Whitehead baptized at Sevenoaks in 1929 (mother’s name Hawkins) – the only Gordon D Whitehead registered in Kent, so possible link to the Whitehead family in Leigh. Gordon Douglas Whitehead b. 22 Jan 1929, died Cambridgeshire 2001. No record of Freda’s death so probably still alive in 2016. Gordon Whitehead’s brother was Robert A Whitehead – their parents were Donald E Whitehead, Leigh Butcher and Olive M Hawkins. (n.b. there is another Gordon D Whitehead marrying Ruth M Brown at Nottingham in 1949 – would need access to marriage certificate to find out whether this is the same Gordon D Whitehead as that marrying in 1952 or whether it is just a coincidence.
[xvi] Leigh Historical Society website.
[xvii] “We Had Everything …” p128/9: reminiscences from Dick Wood.
[xviii] Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser dated 26 October 1945 reports on his retirement from Sevenoaks RDC.
[xix] Courier 5 March 1948: Under Leigh and Penshurst Councillors: Mr Joseph Randerson, who has spent nearly 40 years with the Sevenoaks RDC, first as surveyor and for the past two years as a councillor is to stand once more. He has lived in Leigh since 1908.
[xx] Leigh Historical Society website. Daisy Walton was a daughter of Leigh Vicar (1906-1918) Octavius Walton. She died in 1967.
[xxi] Interview by Chris Rowley with Marion Randerson 16 February 2006
[xxii] “We Had Everything …” by Chris Rowley p 307 – memories from John Knock