The Wooldridge family was very prominent in the town from the mid 1800s until the mid 1900s. The family came from Great Bedwyn, and the following notes have kindly been supplied by Sue Challen who has carried out extensive family history research into the family, which was published in The Bedwyn Chronicles, Issue 56, Dec 2011:
Thomas Wooldridge moved eastwards to Hungerford as a civil engineer, contractor and timber merchant, employing 53 men in 1861. Thomas was Constable of Hungerford in 1855/56.
He married Jane Holmes from Carlisle and they had nine children, living at Canal Wharf, now 13 Bridge St, near the canal. The Wooldridges lived at this property until 1944. Two of their daughters went to Chelmsford to assist their aunt. Thomas was last recorded living at Canal Wharf in 1865.
By 1901, Jane Wooldridge (nee Holmes) is a widow, living with Alice (now unfortunately named Mrs Sick, and also a widow) along with siblings Jane and John Holmes Wooldridge.
- 13 Bridge Street, Mar 2007
- The Wharf, 1896
John Holmes Wooldridge went on to be very well-known in Hungerford. He was also a contractor and agent for the Kennet and Avon canal. He built some houses in the Croft and when he died a bachelor aged 88, in 1941 his obituary was in the Newbury Weekly News, (see link below) stating he was a builder of repute, specialising in Church restoration work, (including the major rebuilding of St Lawrence Church Hungerford in 1880, and at Great Bedwyn). As a young man he had gone up to the Bank of England to work as a banker, but at age 22 (1875) his father Thomas became seriously ill so he returned to run the family business, mostly repairing locks and bridges on the canal, at its peak at this time. They also built and repaired barges.
John had a sideline business as actuary to the Hungerford Savings Bank and as secretary to the Hungerford Gas Company; he also became a Trustee of the Town & Manor. He sang in the Church choir and he and his sister gave a bell to St. Lawrence's Hungerford. In the 1920's he erected free of charge the sports pavilion in the Croft and took up bowls there in his later years.
(With thanks to Susan Challen)