03 March 2015

Frederick Charles Widdop (1877–1939)

  • Mr F. C. Widdop. The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Vol 6:4 (September 1931). Image courtesy of the New Zealand Railways Corporation.

Born 21 March 1877, Frederick Widdop was a descendant of early Wellington pioneers.

After a course of engineering study at the Wellington School of Design he entered the Railway service in 1891 as a cadet in the Locomotive Branch. Soon after, Widdop transferred to the Civil Engineering Branch.

In 1897 he was posted as Assistant to the District Engineer, New Zealand Railways (NZR), Wellington. He was transferred to Wanganui in 1900 and to the Chief Engineer's Staff in 1902. Later that year Widdop was posted to the Westland District as District Engineer. From 1908 to 1914 he was Wellington’s District Engineer.

The years 1922 to 1924 saw him promoted successively to New Zealand Railway (NZR) Supervising Engineer, Assistant Chief Engineer, and Chief Engineer. He retired from this last position in September 1931.

Widdop's forty years of railway service covered a period of great development, during which the track mileage increased from under 1,900 to just on 3,400 and NZR’s total revenue went from a little over £1,000,000 to £8,000,000.

He was elected a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers (United Kingdom) in 1920 and was one of the earliest Members of the New Zealand Society of Civil Engineers (NZSCE, now the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ)) being elected in September, 1914. He was a NZSCE Council member from 1928–1932 and served on a number of committees, including the House Committee. He also represented the NZSCE for a number of years on the Town Planning Board.

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Proceedings of New Zealand Institution of Engineers, Vol.25 (1938–39), p.332.