Tributes to popular Isle businessman

Joe Kingham pictured at Epworth Show in 2009. Picture: Michael Ford
Joe Kingham pictured at Epworth Show in 2009. Picture: Michael Ford

TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular businessman who was infamous for declaring an Isle village an independent state.

Joe Kingham, 74, of The Old Rectory, Wroot, died after battling cancer, but the entrepreneur has left a lasting legacy in the Isle.

Mr Kingham, described as a “character” by friends and family was renowned for declaring Sandtoft an independent state in the late 70s on April Fools Day.

He had passports printed and car stickers, stating ‘Republic of Sandtoft’ which attracted widespread media attention.

The practical joker didn’t stop there. His son James, 49, explained his father also contacted the Times newspaper explaining that he had received a letter of congratulations on the move from Ugandan dictator Idi Amin.

Speaking about his father Mr Kingham said: “He was a real character, I remember all the press turning up when he declared Sandtoft an independent state, it was quite an occasion.”

As well as enjoying a joke Mr Kingham was a successful and hard working businessman who made a name for himself in the tile industry.

After starting out selling mirrors on Doncaster Market, Mr Kingham then opened Victor Homecraft selling DIY products and kitchens. His success led to him expanding and opening a larger store in Doncaster in the mid 1970s with the businessman being held responsible for supplying nearly every avocado bathroom suite to families in the area during the decade.

This success led to Mr Kingham becoming an agent for a large tile company importing tiles from Spain.

Mr Kingham was famous for selling the watersplash tiles and was known in Spain as ‘The Watersplash Kid’.

After working hard as his trade Mr Kingham soon became the biggest supplier of tiles in Doncaster.

The businessman juggled his career with being a family man and was father to Andrew, 47, James, Liz 39 and Sarah 47 - who have all followed in their father’s foosteps working in the tile industry - as well as grandfather to seven with another on the way.

Mr Kingham added: “He was a real family man and he was very proud about the fact his children had followed in his foosteps in business.

“We will remember him very fondly for the man he was and for the legacy he left us in business.

“He always made time to talk to people and I think anyone would tell you that they’d never be bored in his company, he always had an interesting story to tell.”

Mr Kingham also had aspirations of owning his own pub and bought four pubs including The Reindeer in Sandtoft, which family described as “the jewel in his crown.”

Mr Kingham, who was renowned for his superb marketing skills even managed to attract crowds of hundreds to the opening night of The Reindeer after telling people dance troupe Pan’s People were due to perform.

His son added said: “He just made it up to get people there and then found a local band to perform instead.

“It worked though and people were queuing down the street, by the time people realised Pan’s People weren’t coming they were having such a good time anyway nobody seemed to mind.”

After his retirement Mr Kingham devoted more time to his passions including spending time with family, archery and classic cars.

His wife Trish Kingham said: “He was a real character, a real personality, one lady came up to me and said Joe Kingham was Wroot, and that sums it up really. He was so well known by everyone in the area.”

Mr Kingham died on October 28. His funeral took place at St Pancras Church in High Street, Wroot, on Thursday.

In homage to his love of classic cars Mr Kingham’s funeral cortege included a Rolls Royce and a jazz band lead the procession into church.