ID: PH01_GMW / Anne Lee

TitleGeoffrey Maurice Wooldridge 1909 - 1976
AbstractGeoff was born in Kent on 31 July 1909, the second child of Elizabeth (Bessie) and Maurice Wooldridge. His sisters Aline, Eva and Dora were also born in Kent. During the first world war, his mother became nervous about the fighting in France and the family moved first to Hertfordshire, where his younger brother Stephen was born. The family then moved to Essex, first to Little Totham and eventually to Kemps Farm in Peldon. Geoff attended Colchester Royal Grammar School. He attended an agricultural college, probably Writtle, near Chelmsford.

In 1928, at the age of 19, he went to New Zealand to do farm work. His mother had got him an assisted passage and he had to work as indentured labour. His daughter says he worked for some rough and weird people in appalling conditions to begin with. In 1933 he returned to England, having received a letter from his older sister Aline saying that he ought to return as their mother was ill. By the time he got home, Mother was fine!

Geoff met his future wife Suzanne Hamilton Reeve on a tennis court in Mersea and they were married in 1938. The 1939 England and Wales Register shows that the couple were living in Epping and Geoff's occupation was listed as Public Works Contractor's Agent.

Geoffrey Wooldridge

During WW2 Geoff worked for Ernest Doe and Sons, who had a contract for building and repairing airfields etc. in the east of England. This side of the business was run by Bert Doe, while Ernest Doe was in charge of the agricultural side. He worked long hours and did a lot of travelling, driving thousands of miles from one devastated airfield to another trying to get them repaired so that planes could fly again. He therefore had access to petrol and many people benefitted from car rides at a time when petrol rationing made travel difficult. In addition to his work for Ernest Doe's, Geoff was an officer in the Home Guard.

After the death of their father Maurice Wooldridge, Geoff and Stephen formed a partnership to run Kemps Farm, calling themselves Wooldridge Bros. I believe Geoff continued working for Does during this time, while Stephen lived on the farm. Does had massive tax bills to pay after the war and had to sell their earth moving equipment to pay outstanding taxes and then lease it back. A huge financial juggle, which Geoff helped to organise. Alan Doe, Bert Doe's nephew, wrote: "Geoffrey was my Uncle's number one manager and was very good at negotiating with the Air Ministry and organising the work. It was a sad day for Uncle Bert when he emigrated to New Zealand and was greatly missed."
Geoff emigrated to New Zealand in 1953 with Suzanne and their 3 children and farmed in the north of the country. He died in 1976 in Whangarei, New Zealand.

Anne Lee
Peldon History Project

Read More on the Wooldridge Family and Kemps Farm

AuthorAnne Lee
SourceMersea Museum
Related Images:
 Geoffrey Wooldridge. Photo from C. Melhams, Bishops Stortford.  PH01_KSF_211
ImageID:   PH01_KSF_211
Title: Geoffrey Wooldridge. Photo from C. Melhams, Bishops Stortford.
Source:Peldon History Project / Anne Lee