Woburn Homesteads History

The original Woburn station was 13,000 acres and was bought by Daniel Riddiford and Thomas Purvis Russell in the mid 18oo's, who when visiting 4 years earlier had picked Hatuma as the most promising spot for a future run. In 1859, Thomas married Mary Glass Sainsbury at Bath, England and settled upon her 4000 acres as a marriage gift. A new homestead was built for them in 1860 and they had a daughter in 1863 who they named Mary Maud Russell. In 1873 they placed a manager in charge and left for Scotland.

Their daughter married Captain Henry James Montgomeryin 1882, (who later became Sir Henry) and they came to Woburn about 1886, returned to Scotland 3 years later and came back to Woburn in 1891 They first lived in the shepherd’s cottage, then the manager’s house until the present homestead was built for them in 1893 at a cost of £2,400. This replaced the original homestead, which was destroyed by fire in 1877. Sir Henry was a cousin of the Duchess of Buckingham and Chandos who caused a stir of local interest while visiting in 1893.

The Lands for Settlement Act 1891 caused a problem for absentee landlords and made the station vulnerable to the Liberal Government policies of that time.

Stations like Woburn fitted the bill for subdivision so that smaller land parcels were made available for settlers wanting small farms for cropping and grazing. The fate of Woburn was sealed after long court cases resulting in the judgment against Russell and the station was awarded to the Seddon government. Russell was allowed to retain 693 acres. He died in Scotland in 1906 leaving an estate worth £620,000.

The station was divided into 57 lots and put up for ballot in 1901.  Charlotte Mellor, who on sold 3 years later, drew the homestead portion of 926 acres.  After changing hands a further 2 times in 12 years, the property was purchased by Alfred Charles Russell in 1912.

A C Russell was born in 1868 and was no relation to the previous Russells who had originally owned it.  Alfred was the mayor of Greymouth and was in business for 20 years before moving to Woburn where he fattened sheep and cattle.  He married Mary Anne Pelling and had a son Jack who took over the property in 1940 when Alfred died.

Jack was well known on the rugby field and played South Island representative rugby until well into his thirties.  He married Constance Rood. 
At the age of 19 he went overseas with the 13th Reinforcements in 1915 and his bugle was officially used at the burial of a French Lieutenants on the Somme in 1916. 
After his return from the war the bugle was used for more that 40 years at RSA burials and ANZAC Day services throughout Waipukurau where his obligations as a bugler where almost legendary. On 31 March 1967 Jack Russell collapsed and died after sounding the last post over a comrades grave.

His son Peter Russell farmed Woburn until well into the 1980’s. By coincidence he also served in the 13th Reinforcements when he went overseas during the Second World War.  Born in 1920, Peter spent a number of years overseas and was particularly interested in the restoration and preservation of vintage cars.  The old managers cottage still standing on the property was converted by him to provide accommodation for members of vintage car clubs.