10 January 2015

William Arthur Woodger 1884-1946

This time it’s not a photograph but a collection of postcards sent from around England & abroad by W A Woodger to his wife residing in Auckland in 1911. The collection consists of 23 postcards from Will plus 7 more addressed to him from various people, most dated from 1911.

I found this article in the Auckland Star in 1938 which told me why Will was travelling without his wife in 1911, it also included a photo of him which unfortunately doesn’t do him justice here:-mr-w-a-woodger-9-4-1938


Auckland Star, Volume LXIX, Issue 84, 9 April 1938, Page 10
Wellington Traffic Manager.
After 14 years in Auckland Mr W A Woodger, assistant traffic manager has been promoted to the position of District Traffic Manager of Railways at Wellington.
Mr Woodger entered the railway service 38 years ago in Wellington and has filled various positions in the service in the North Island. He came to Auckland 11 years ago as chief train running officer.
Mr Woodger was the New Zealand and Australian amateur sprint champion, winning the latter title at Brisbane in 1909. In 1911 he was a member of the New Zealand athletic team to the British Empire Games at London, being the sprint representative.

His trip in 1911 was actually to the Festival of Empire Sports which is considered to be the forerunner of the Empire Games which are now the Commonwealth Games. Unfortunately, he became ill on the trip and spent some time in the Hampstead Hospital in England and did not compete in any of the events:-


On the 26 Mar 1906 he married Ellen Maud Douglass who was known as Did according to the postcards (yes there are two ss in her name), the groomsman, J Marns, mentioned in this article is probably the same person who Did was staying with in Auckland while Will was away in 1911:-





There are dozens of articles in Papers Past about his athletics career including a few about his work with the Railways, this one shows his move to Auckland from Wellington in 1924:-


Will & Did had a daughter, Ellen Doris, born on 28 Aug 1911 while Will was away, I don’t know if they had any children after early 1915 because that is the current cut off date on the NZ BMD website. Ellen Doris later married a Mr Ellett and she passed away in 2008 so this collection possibly came from her deceased estate, just a guess on my part though.



These two postcards are the first two he posted on his trip, the first one from where the ship anchored off Aden and the second from London, he mentions about the traffic being busy, I’d love to see his face today if he was in the same spot!




I originally purchased this collection because there is a photo of a baby sent to them and I thought I might be able to find out who the baby was, no luck so far but still working on it, watch this space! See previous post on another photo that was in this collection, Will is possibly one of the men in the photo (of five men) as I note it was taken in Brisbane and posted in 1909 when he had been there that same year winning the Australasian Amateur Sprint Champion title, it seems like some of the men, if not all, are wearing some sort of uniform. Frederick Falkener Fairthorne was also a well known amateur athlete in Australia.


If anyone knows anything about or is connected to the WOODGER family please do contact me, I would love to pass the postcards onto a family member, even a distant one. Contact by email is preferable but if you are going to leave a comment please don’t forget to include your email address.

Dawn Scotting

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