Wood was born in Manchester, England, graduating from Manchester University in 1902 with first class honours in physics, going on to gain an M.Sc in 1905. In 1906 he was appointed the Chief Assistant at the Transvaal Meteorological Observatory, which soon acquired telescopes and which became known as the Union Observatory and later Republic Observatory. In 1909, he married Mary Ethel Greengrass, also a physics graduate of Manchester University. Wood served as the observatory's director from 1928 to 1941, succeeding Robert Innes. He also served as the president of the Astronomical Society of South Africa from 1929 to 1930.