Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Robert Frank Knight (1905–1976)

Mayor of Oxford 1957/8

Robert Frank Knight, known as Frank, 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, Frank (5) was living at Gubshill Villa, Tewkesbury with his parents, who were both then aged 32, and his older sister Kathleen (7).

In the mid-1920s Frank moved to Oxford, where he was employed by the Oxford building firm of Knowles & Son for nearly 44 years.

In 1928 at the Robert Raikes Methodist Chapel in Gloucester, Robert Frank Knight married Mary Elizabeth Guiver, whom he had met while at school in Gloucestershire. Their twin daughters, Roberta and Elizabeth, were born in March 1936, but they died soon after birth, and they had no more children.

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 at Windrush, Northfield Road, where they lived until 1971. He was for many years chairman of Headington Allotments Association.

Knight was elected a Labour councillor in 1940 and in 1957 was elected Mayor of Oxford (for 1957/8). During his mayorality he was the first building worker to receive an honorary Master of Arts degree from the University of Oxford for raising money to restore historic buildings.

He became an Alderman in 1954.

He was instrumental in starting up Oxford's Park & Ride scheme.

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 retired in 1970 and in 1971 he and his wife moved Bournemouth. 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: 12 March, 2018

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