A family tree of the Randell family originating in Cromer, Norfolk
Thomas Randell ~ The Randell Warm Seawater Baths ~ Clockmakers ~ Ironmongers ~ Postmasters ~ Sailors ~ Victorians

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Pigot's Directory of 1822 records Thomas Randell as a Watch and Clock Maker, presumably this implies that he completed an apprenticeship and gained his 'freedom' from a clock makers guild.
The guilds, of which they were several, introduced standards of excellence to clock making. On the positive side, to achieve their aims they implemented apprenticeships, but the guilds also emphasised all that was wrong with the class driven society of the time. Elitism and elements of 'the gentleman's club' were evident in the execution of some of their aspirations. In theory at least, no one could make, buy or sell clocks without being a member or 'freeman' of a guild. The only way to achieved this was through a rigorous seven year apprenticeship with an established Clockmaker or remarkably, if you were a gentleman and had the income, you could simply buy one.
The first guild, the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, was created by Royal Charter in 1631. It appears the earliest known clockmakers in England were immigrants but by 1620 both the English Lantern Clock and an group of native born clockmakers had appeared. The art of clock making, always the rocket science of it's day, became increasingly sophisticated with a series of English inventions and innovations.
The Golden Age of English Clock Making, a time when England led the world in craftsmanship and ingenuity, is regarded as between 1660 and 1730. A hundred years later the industrial revolution was biting hard and clock making was being transformed from a skilled craft to mechanised industry.
To put things into the perspective of Thomas Randell, he entered clock making not long before the first American clock making factory was opened in 1807.

Whilst the local clockmaker may have retained a certain naive charm, commercially they could not compete with cheap precision made parts or imported finished clocks. By 1850 the days of a clockmaker, meticulous hand crafting each component in a local workshop were all but finished.
Thomas Randell's career path seems to mirror this upheaval. Whilst he always states his occupation as Watch and Clock Maker in the census, his appearances in the trade journals show a progressively more varied portfolio. As the years pass, his endeavours drift increasing from clock making, which must have been in chronic decline, to fish and tourism which in Cromer, were expanding industries.
Many of the traditional village crafts like shoe making, clock making etc, disappeared with in a few years of the introduction of automation. Those who were able to adapt, survived by diversifying but many were forced to move to the cities to seek work in the newly formed factories. It was a period of tremendous uncertainty for many occupations and clock makers with their laborious high skill levels were exceedingly vulnerable.
Nathaniel Randell, recorded in 1851 as a clockmakers apprentice with John Randall in Holt, established a jewellery shop whilst living in Ixworth, Suffolk. I rather assume that his apprenticeship days gave him a grounding in clock making but concentrated on nurturing business skills. Whilst there are several records of individual clocks made by Thomas Randell, I'm not aware of any clocks made by Nathaniel. This tends to imply that he was retailing. This may be doing him a disservice but it would be no more than a reflection of the period in which he operated.
Clock making continues to evolve and these days clocks, almost invariably, contain no clockwork parts.

Hi, I would love to hear from you. I would be thrilled to receive any contributions or even corrections.
If you are connected to this family tree please say hello, Martin -