William Randell

William Randell

William Richard Randell (2 May 2, 1824 – 4 March, 1911), was an Australian politician and pioneer. Born in Devon, England, Randell emigrated to the newly-founded colony of South Australia in 1837 with his family. His father, William Beavis Randell, worked for the South Australia Company. Randell pioneered paddleboat travel on the River Murray and represented the Electoral district of Gumeracha in the South Australian House of Assembly between 1893-1899.

Randell was educated in Exeter in England and voyaged to Adelaide, arriving at Holdfast Bay on 20 October 1837. His father was to be the chief miller for the South Australia Company, but the mill machinery was stranded on Kangaroo Island and did not arrive in time for the elder Randell to take up the position. He instead managed the company's stock for some time, eventually venturing into the Adelaide Hills, and founded the town of Gumeracha.

Randell assisted his father and brothers with their vast property, which stretched from present-day Gumeracha to the River Murray. He took an interest in the Murray and dreamt of steam-boats being able to transport produce between the neighbouring colony of Victoria and South Australia. At the time South Australia was struggling to retain its population due to emigration of residents to the Victorian goldfields.

In 1852, with no prior experience in the construction of steamboats, Randell commissioned local carpenters in Gumeracha to build him a 55 foot long vessel built of deal. Once built, it was deconstructed, dragged across the plains to the Murray, and reconstructed. Named the "Mary Ann", after his mother, the steamer featured a unique boiler made by a German engineer from Adelaide, Mr Ghelkin. [cite book|author=Gwenda Painter |title=The River Trade: Wool & Steamers|year=1979|publisher= "Turton & Armstrong"|location=Wahroonga, NSW|isbn=0908031092|pages=page 18] The "Mary Ann" was later rebuilt as one half of a double-hulled vessel and renamed "Gemini". [cite book|author=Gwenda Painter |title=The River Trade: Wool & Steamers|year=1979|publisher= "Turton & Armstrong"|location=Wahroonga, NSW|isbn=0908031092|pages=page 25]

Randell founded the town of Mannum, building a house and a dry-dock there. Wentworth, New South Wales was Randell's base for two decades until the 1870s, as he supervised the expansion of his fleet and the burgeoning of trade on the Murray-Darling. He served as a Justice of the Peace from 1861 in New South Wales, and from 1873 in South Australia. In 1899 he surrendered his business to his son and retreated back to the family estate, Kenton Park, in Gumeracha. Randell represented Gumeracha in the House of Assembly; while the oldest member of the house he regularly made the trip between his constituency and Parliament House in Adelaide.

Randell moved to North Adelaide in 1910 and died on 4 March, 1911.



* [http://web.archive.org/web/20060909080943/http://users.esc.net.au/~pereilly/wrr_01.htm Peter J Reilly, "William Richard Randell"] . Accessed 10 October, 2008.
* [http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A060008b.htm, Australian Dictionary of Biography, "William Richard Randell"] . Accessed 17 September, 2006.

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