F.Randell, Ironmonger, Market Place, North Walsham
F.Randell Ltd. Ironmonger, Market Place, North Walsham. This is Randells "new" shop, rebuilt in 1897, when it extended westwards, to include what had been a grocery shop occupied by a Mr. Walker (probably Albert Walker who then moved to become a Grocer and Cycle Agent), to give the present frontage of 38-39ft. The new shop was one of the first in the district to be lit by electricity. The photograph, taken about 1929, shows a wonderful array of items including a number of oil lamps. Across the Market Place was the Ironmongers Showrooms which, later, became their Garden Shop and is now the Norwich & Peterborough Building Society. The two properties were joined by a passage beneath the Market Place. An 1897 report on the estates of Frank Randell describes warehouses, workshops, stabling and two cottages on Grammar School Road. Part of that site is now occupied by the Cat Pottery and originally included Tinmans and Whitesmiths shops. Frank Randell had four sons and they each specialised in different aspects of the business. Frank Victor Randell ran the ironmongery side in North Walsham and Cromer and, on his death in 1954, was succeeded by his son Michael. John Randell took care of the agricultural side and greatly expanded the tractor and combine harvester part of the business (in the 1950s they were selling 100 combines a year), which necessitated the phasing out of the manufacturing activity. Fred Randell managed the electrical engineering business and converted numerous country houses and public halls to electricity. This department was later run by Frank Dixon and Tony Randell, second son of Frank Victor, and boasted of supplying a generator to a North Sea Oil Rig! In 1931, the Company acquired a similar agricultural engineering and ironmongering business in Reepham and William Randell, the 4th son, took over the management. On his retirement in 1963 he was succeeded by his son Reginald, who had developed a very sought-after skill and numerous speedway motorcycles, from several countries, made their way to Reepham to receive the expert tuning that only he could give. In 1963, Dalgetty Franklin Ltd acquired the assets of F.Randell Ltd. and traded as F.Randell & Co. under the management of Geoffrey Bloom. The business closed in the 1980s and, in 1990, the St Nicholas Works was demolished in preparation for the new Somerfield Supermarket which has since been bought by Sainsbury's.
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