RANDELL, William Richard (1824-1911)

RANDELL, William Richard (1824-1911)
builder of the first steamer on the Murray
son of W. B. Randell, one of the sub-managers of the South Australian Company, was born at Sidbury, Devonshire, England, on 2 May 1824. He arrived in Adelaide in October 1837 with his father, who subsequently took up land on which the son worked. A milling business was afterwards established at Gumeracha. There, between July 1852 and February 1853, Randall, though entirely without previous experience, built a steamer, the Mary Ann, of 30 tons, and on 15 August 1853 a long voyage up the Murray began. The South Australian border was crossed on 1 September and three days later Marrum was reached. Between this point and Swan Hill F. Cadell (q.v.) in the Lady Augusta, a larger and more powerful boat, caught and passed the Mary Ann, but the latter eventually went much farther up the river and made the return journey of 1600 miles without accident. Cadell received the reward offered by the South Australian government because he had carried out the conditions regarding horse-power, but the honour of having navigated the first steamer on the Murray belongs to Randell. The government made him a special award of £600 (A. G. Price, Founders and Pioneers of South Australia, p. 228), and a further sum of £400 was presented to him by public subscription. Other steamers were afterwards built or purchased, and for many years much trade of importance was carried on along the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers. Randell was elected a member of the house of assembly for Gumeracha in 1893 and sat until 1899. He retired to Adelaide in April 1910 and died there on 4 March 1911. He married and was survived by five sons and four daughters.
J. H. Heaton, Australian Dictionary of Dates; The Register, Adelaide, 6 March 1911; A. G. Price, Founders and Pioneers of South Australia, under Cadell.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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