Saturday, 12 November 2016

Felix Gordon Hoadley

This is the first of what I hope will be many posts about the club's history.  To begin with, I thought it would be fun to go all the way back to the beginning and the first secretary of the club.

Felix Gordon Hoadley was born in Brighton in 1888 and when he was 25 years old he emigrated to New Zealand, but in that short period of adulthood, Private F. G. Hoadley made a big impact on shooting in Portsmouth.  He was the secretary and, for five years before emigrating, the captain of the newly established Borough of Portsmouth Rifle Club (as our club was previously known).

Hoadley was an exceptional shot who represented Portsmouth at Bisley.  In 1912, at the age of 24, he was within seven points of the King's Prize, achieving second place.  In that same year, the members of the club presented Hoadley with a B.S.A. rifle on the occasion of his marriage to Maud Smith.  It was only a year later that the club would say goodbye to their captain, secretary and cornerstone of their A team.  So important and well-liked was he that a 'smoking concert' was held in his honour at the "Cobden" Hotel on Arundel St (likely the Cobden Arms) attended not only by members of the Borough Rifle Club but by members of other clubs in the district as well.  It was at this event that he was presented with a silver watch with the following engraving:

"presented to F. G. Hoadley by the members of the Borough of Portsmouth Rifle Club, as a mark of esteem, June 1913"

On top of this, a purse of gold was presented for Hoadley's son, born that same month (Portsmouth Evening News, 26th June, 1913).

Felix Gordon Hoadley's farewell was well documented in the Portsmouth Evening News (26th June 1913, p. 5)
The Cobden Arms on Arundel St, Portsmouth (circa 1970, awaiting demolition)

Hoadley emigrated with his new family to the Dominion of New Zealand, a part of the British Empire, but still had every intention of returning to Bisley in the future to represent his new adopted homeland.  Unfortunately, with the advent of war the following year, it is unlikely he was able to do so.  He nonetheless maintained his shooting status, being described as "one of the finest marksmen in New Zealand" (New Zealand Evening Post, 18th October, 1917).  Sadly, his new life in the Antipodes was not long lived and Hoadley died of pneumonia in 1917 at the age of 29.

Hoadley's obituary (New Zealand Evening Post, 18th October 1917)

It's humbling to think that the organisations, clubs and teams we are involved with setting up and fostering in their early years may potentially live on as much as a century after we're gone.  Certainly, a number of individuals have made enormous contributions to our rifle club over the last century, but from what can be gleaned from the archives, F. G. Hoadley's efforts at the beginning were important in getting it all started.  Thanks, Felix!

F. G. Hoadley's final resting place, Sydenham Cemetary, Christchurch, New Zealand (from

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