Little Church Street showing site of Richard Wood's house
This blue plaque is from Richard Henry Wood’s former residence on Little Church Street in Rugby where he lived from 1874 to 1894. Wood was an important local figure in the town and a generous benefactor, most noted for his large contribution to the Hospital of St Cross. He also founded the town’s first public library. Born in Manchester in February 1820, he became a stockbroker and a business partner to an iron merchant, from which he amassed considerable wealth. He moved to Rugby in 1874 where he held positions of the Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace for Warwickshire. Mr and Mrs Wood took an interest in local causes and wanted to use their money to help the people of Rugby. In 1882 he donated land in Barby Road along with £10,000 for the construction of The Hospital of St Cross which opened in 1884. He owned buildings on St. Matthews Street, where he founded the library in 1890. The complex was known as The Wood Institute. It was his intention that the building would be expanded to create a museum, but the idea was not embraced by the library committee, whose income was very low, and so this was sadly not seen in his lifetime. In his old age he moved to Sidmouth in Devon for health reasons. Wood continued to contribute to an endowment fund at St Cross and kept his position on the hospital Board of Management. He died in 1908 from heart failure following a chill. The obituary in the Rugby Advertiser on 2nd May 1908 stated, “Although separated from Rugby by many miles, his interest in the town and its various institutions was unabated till the end”.
The plaque is currently on display in A History of Rugby in 50 Objects.