Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Robert Frank Knight (1905–1976)

Mayor of Oxford 1957/8

Robert Frank Knight, known as Bob, was born in Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire in 1905. His father was William Knight (born in Lambeth in 1876) and his mother was Amelia (born in Clapton in 1878/9).

At the time of the 1911 census, the family was living in Gubshill Villa, Tewkesbury. William (32) and Amelia (32) had then been married for eleven years and had two children: Kathleen (7) and William himself (5).

At the Robert Raikes Methodist Chapel, Gloucester in 1928, Robert Frank Knight married Mary Elizabeth Guiver, whom he had met while at school in Gloucestershire.

Knight was a builder all his working life, and by 1930 had moved with his wife to Oxford, where he was employed by the Oxford firm of Knowles & Son for nearly 44 years.

Knight and his wife Mary lived at Headington: first at Nortonbury in South Street (now 19A Gardiner Street) from 1930 to 1937. Knight then built a house for himself att Windrush, Northfield Road, where they lived until 1971.

Robert and Mary’s twin daughters, Roberta and Elizabeth, were born in March 1936, but they died soon after birth, and they had no more children.

Knight was a Labour member of the city council for over twenty years, and in 1957 was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1957/8). He was also made an Alderman. He was honoured by the University for starting a major clean-up of the Oxford colleges, and was instrumental in starting up the Park & Ride scheme. He was also associated with the Headington & District Allotments Association for 43 years.

Knight’s wife Mary became a Justice of the Peace, and was awarded the MBE for her services.

Knight’s sister Kathleen married Len Smith and they had no children. They lived at Sandford-on-Thames, and then moved to New Zealand, but returned to the UK in 1959.

Knight and his wife moved away to Bournemouth in 1971. In 1972, after more than fifty years’ membership of building unions, Knight became a life member of the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians.

Knight died at Christchurch Hospital, Hampshire at the age of 71 in December 1976. His funeral was held at Collinwood Congregational Church in Risinghurst, Oxford, and he is buried in Headington Cemetery. His wife died shortly afterwards, and was buried with him.

See also:

  • Oxford Mail, 8 December 1976, p. 9 (obituary)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 19 October, 2016

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