Oxford History: Mayors & Lord Mayors


Mrs Florence Mary Andrews, née Collins (1887–1982)

Mayor of Oxford 1950–1

Florence Andrews

Florence Mary Collins, Mrs Andrews was born in Newport, Monmouthshire on 23 December 1887. She was the daughter of Henry Albert Collins (born at New Hinksey, Berkshire in 1854 and baptised at South Hinksey Church on 6 June) and Harriett Norris (born at Knowl Hill, near Reading, Berkshire in 1861).

Her parents were married at Kensal Green, Middlesex on 14 October 1880 and had seven children:

  • Albert Edward Collins (born at 7A Fourth Avenue, Kensal Green, Middlesex on 4 December 1884 and baptised at St Jude's there on 15 February 1885)
  • Rose Elizabeth Collins (born at First Avenue, Kensal Green, Middlesex on 22 April 1886 and baptised at St Jude's there on 4 July)
  • Florence Mary Collins (born in Newport, Monmouthshire on 23 December 1887)
  • Annie Collins (born in Exeter St Thomas early in 1891 and baptised at South Hinksey on 14 September)
  • Sidney Collins (born in Exeter in 1892/3)
  • Beatrice Collins (born in Exeter in 1894/5)
  • Percy Collins (born in Reading in 1897/8).

Florence’s father Henry worked for the railway as a fireman/engine driver, and the family moved around the country. They were evidently in Kensal Green in the mid-1880s, but had moved to Newport in Monmouthshire by 1888, and to Exeter by the beginning of 1891.

At the time of the 1891 census Florence (3) was living at 20 Cleveland Street, Exeter St Thomas with her father Henry (36), her mother Harriett (30), and her siblings Albert (6), Rose (4), and Annie (one month).

By 1898 the family had settled in Reading.

At the time of the 1901 census Florence (12) was living at 74 George Street, Reading with her father Henry (46), who was still a railway engine driver, her mother Harriett 40), and her six siblings Albert (16), who was a packer in a biscuit factory, and Rose (14), Annie (10), Sidney (8), Beatrice (6), and Percy (3).

In 1903 Florence was apprenticed to Wellsteed, Son & Co. of Reading, Drapers.

By the time of the 1911 census Florence (25) was a draper’s assistant at Gosling & Sons Ltd at 75–80 George Street in Richmond, Surrey, and living over the shop with seven other draper’s apprentices and numerous dressmakers and servants. Meanwhile her parents were living at North Hagbourne near Didcot with her youngest siblings Beatrice and Percy.

On 21 March 1916 at St Peter's Church, Northbourne, near Didcot (which was then in Berkshire), Florence Mary Collins (28) married Sydney Andrews (35). He was then a Private in the 11th East Surrey Regiment and living at 1 Churn Villas, Northbourne, and was the brother of Florence's sister Rose’s husband Hubert Andrews, while Florence was also living in Northbourne, at Hagbourne Road. They had no children.

While Sydney fought in the First World War, Florence went to work at the Royal Ordnance Depot at Didcot.

On Sydney's return from war at the end of 1918 the couple moved to 108 Abingdon Road, Oxford to be nearer Florence's parents.

On 1 November 1937 Mrs Florence Andrews was elected to serve in the South Ward in Oxford as a Conservative, the first-ever woman councillor in that ward.

Florence Andrews election leaflet
Mrs Andrews was made an Alderman in 1949. She was a lifelong member of the Conservative Party, and was President of the South Oxford Conservative Association up to her death.

Alderman Mrs Andrews was elected Mayor of Oxford for 1950/1. When she was Mayor, her niece, Mrs Olive Dalton, was Lady Mayoress and her husband Sydney Andrews was her Escort.

Mrs Andrews at the mayor-makingPhotograph taken on Mayor Making Day (22 May 1950) showing Mrs Dalton and Mrs Andrews herself,
and on the right the Sheriff William Walker with his wife.
Reproduced by kind permission of Peter Naish, great-nephew of William Walker

Florence Andrews MBE



Mrs Andrews was awarded the MBE in 1952, and marking its announcement the Oxford Mail published a short article about her (right)

She was widowed in 1955, and continued to serve on the City Council for another nineteen years.

On 22 March 1974 Mrs Andrews received the Honorary Freedom of the City of Oxford, nine days before she retired from Oxford City Council.

† Florence Mary Andrews died at the age of 94 at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford on 20 January 1982: her home was then at 16 Vicarage Court in Vicarage Road, south Oxford. A memorial service was held at the City Church (St Michael-at-the-Northgate) on Wednesday 3 February 1982.





Below: Florence Andrews receiving the Freedom of the City on 22 March 1974.

On the left are Councillor Mrs Olive Gibbs (a future Lord Mayor) and Fred Ingram (then the current Lord Mayor).

On the right are Alderman Miss Ann Spokes (the Sheriff of Oxford and later Mrs Ann Spokes Symonds and a future Lord Mayor) and Alderman H. Conners (Deputy Lord Mayor).

In the middle are John Edwards (Town Clerk), Alderman Bill Simpson MBE, JP, and Councillor Dr Yardley (University).

Freedom of the City

See also:

  • Oxford Times, 29 January 1982 (obituary)

©Stephanie Jenkins

Last updated: 19 January, 2020

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