Journal of the Nelson and Marlborough Historical Societies, Volume 1, Issue 2, November 1982
Dr William Edward Redman
Dr William Edward Redman
A big man both in stature and intellect, he was a no-nonsense get-things-done type, probing the future yet constantly accumulating and passing on a wealth of knowledge of the past. At the turn of the century and up until the day of his death he always appeared to be studying and promoting Marlborough province.
He was a frequent visitor during my youth. I well remember his stooping to enter the room – his grey short-cut hair – he cut it himself with hand clippers – brushing the top of the normal height doorway.
Dr Will Redman was the son of Dr M. Redman of Lincoln, England. The Redman family traced their history back to the Knightly Redmond of Harewood at Humbolts Moor and further to Gospatrick of Bingley Manor before William the Conqueror. Dr Will was educated at University College, London, and after graduating from the Royal College of Surgeons practised in London. He married an English lady who was, I believe an excellent pianist. He was a lover of good music.page 46
After giving up his London practice he signed on as a ship's doctor on the S.S. Aotea, landing in Marlborough in 1899. He settled in Scott Street, Blenheim and started to practise. In 1901 he was appointed Superintendent of Picton Hospital, Port Health Officer and adviser to the Maoris. This last appointment must have been of great interest to him as I well recall many articles and clippings on Maoris and Maori culture in his home.
He became Mayor of Picton for a period and, in 1910, he formed the Picton and Sounds Promotion Society. He was elected President at the first meeting and Mrs Redman was elected President of the General Committee. Looking through some of the old photos I find him in military garb, both dress and field uniforms, also in Masonic regalia. His sense of humour prompted him to keep one photo of a cattle truck full of goats with the caption "Masonic Picnic" emblazoned on the sides.
In February 1902 he took delivery of the first motor car in Marlborough. This Oldsmobile car also made history by completing the journey from Picton to Blenheim in one hour. He is also credited with having the first free-wheeling bicycle and the first motor cycle in the province. I have in my possession his first typewriter of 1906 vintage.
After the death of his first wife he married Emily Robinson, a buxom woman from a well known Blenheim pioneer family. She was then the matron of the Picton Hospital and had been the first probationer nurse at the Wairau Hospital. When he relinquished his Picton appointments he settled in Spring Creek – the house still stands opposite the marshalling yards on the Picton-Blenheim Highway. He still remained in the employ of the Picton Board as anaesthetist. Altogether he served them for twenty-seven years.
He had many interests. A check of the Marlborough Express shows that he was lecturing on Introduced and Native Birds in 1929; in 1930 he was President of the Natural History Field Club of Marlborough and in 1935 President of the Marlborough Progress League. He was in this organization for some time and I note they were strongly advocating a rail ferry as a north-south bridge. He was referring to this again in an Express article after the league was disbanded. In the later thirties he was a most prolific writer of historical articles for the Express. In 1939 he was proposing a library across from the memorial in Seymour Square. He was a member of the Marlborough Historical Committee in 1939.
He enjoyed art and had a good collection of prints and books on the subject. He must have spent hours compiling his scrapbooks of clippings and photos. He had scrapbooks on biology, flora and fauna, general interest and history, all were indexed.
In 1939 he was Spring Creek member of the Marlborough Committee of Centennial Organization. His second wife Emily had died and he had married her sister Ada. In 1940 while in charge of the Marlborough Court at the Centennial Exhibition in Wellington he collapsed and died. Ever practical his last words to his wife were, "Ada this is it. Get a doctor quickly, it may save you some trouble." He was truly a character of note with a worthy record of dedicated service to the young province.