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Christleton History File November 2020

The Dixon Family of Littleton, a township of the Parish of Christleton near Chester, are buried in two substantial vaults and mausoleum in the churchyard at St James' Christleton. Thomas Dixon the elder 1755 -1811 had been a Captain in the English Navy and served on board HMS Agamemnon under Admiral Rodney. He also served as mate under James Penny of Liverpool, and as a master of his own ship in the West Indies, between 1786 and 1789. When he retired from active service at sea Thomas turned his energy to importing timber, and together with his sons Thomas and James the family acquired and leased land along the River Dee at the Port of Chester on Sealand Road, for both landing timber, and to build a shipyard near the House of Industry.

Thomas Dixon junior b. 1791 was the real success story of the family as he not only gained the acquisition of these yards, he expanded his business by land deals, and in 1817 established the first bank in Chester, the Dixon and Chilton Bank in Market Place. This property was then sold to Chester City Council in 1859 for 2,800 pouds, which helped to fund a new premises in Eastgate Street, to be called the Dixon and Wardell Bank, and later Chester Bank (Dixon & Co). This building still stands, and is an imposing building in the classical Greek style with fluted columns capped by Corinthian capitals, which later became Parrs Bank, the Westminster Bank and is now a branch of the National Westminster Bank. Thomas gave a very grand supper for all the workers on this new project on November 30th 1859 which was "much appreciated and enjoyed".

James b.1796 meanwhile was involved with the shipbuilding side, but also in property, purchasing part of the Beachin Estate at Coddington from Townsend Ince, a landowner from Christleton Hall.

Thomas junior was held in the highest regard both in the city and in Christleton where he worshipped. A white marble tablet was erected in the church to celebrate his work.

"The Parishioners of Christleton being most desirous to record their feelings of high regard and esteem for Thomas Dixon of Littleton Esq, in the said parish/for the great interest uniformly taken by him in all matters relating to the church/ and the keeping of it's paved precincts, in due order and decency [When in office or otherwise] as well as more especially for his zeal and liberality in co operating with the recent repairs of the Church and Chancel/being unanimously agreed/ that this tablet and inscription dedicated to him' shall be placed therein as a lasting testimonial/of their obligation and respect.
April MDCCC.XLVII. Rev. T Lloyd Rector"

Thomas was a great asset to the City of Chester and we learn more about him through a speech made by the Duke of Westminster in the Town Hall in 1875 when he was presented with a portrait of himself. He describes Thomas in these words

"I have now Mr Dixon the honour to present you with what I may say is an excellent portrait of you, a gift from the hearts of the very affectionate friends you are fortunate to possess, and from the Citizens of Chester, as a mark of their great esteem from some one who has led an honourable and most useful life."

Thomas Dixon's bank flourished in Chester, and benefited greatly from money deposited and borrowed from him, by the great railway civil engineering contractor Thomas Brassey. Brassey was born at Buerton in 1805, a village just south of Chester who was responsible for building much of the worlds railways in the 19thC. He was an innovator and contractor, working in France, Canada, Australia, South American and India. He also built the structures including docks, bridges, viaducts, stations, tunnels and other works. He was involved in so much more including, steam ships, locomotives, even water supply and sewerage systems. He left a fortune of 5 million pounds, with so many of his transactions going through his friend Thomas Dixon's Bank in Chester.

Thomas Dixon died in 1879 aged 88 years but had played a prominent role throughout his life in the city where he was born. He had been a student at the Kings School in 1810, and had founded his first bank by 1817. He was elected Sheriff in 1813, Councillor in 1835, Alderman in 1835 and Mayor in 1836/7. He was made a J.P. in 1856 and a magistrate in 1862. Thomas and Phillis Dixon lived at Littleton Hall and had seven children, but it's Thomas' brother James b. 1796 who lived at Littleton Old Hall, who is the family member responsible for the Dixon name remaining in the public eye today. He married Mary Anne and when their son died tragically in 1865 aged 30 years, she, together with his brother William, built a group of six alms houses at Little Heath overlooking the Village Pond. They were intended for the poor of Littleton and Christleton, "and separate trusts were established not only to build the houses, but to provide income for future repairs, insurance, and a weekly pension for the incumbents". The Alms houses were designed by John Oldred Scott, second son of Sir George Gilbert Scott, in a black & white timber and brick design, which fitted into the style of buildings built in Chester at that time, by The Grosvenor Estate. The alms houses have been in continuous occupation since that time and are much favoured by older members of the community.

The Dixon's were also benefactors in other ways; Money was given to the Parish to benefit the poor, to the new Boys School project in Christleton Village, and offered towards the rebuilding of St James' Church in 1876. Generations of the family worshiped at St James and in the churchyard there is a large vault and mausoleum for Thomas Dixon junior and his extended family, with a separate smaller box tomb for Thomas Dixon senior, his wife Anne, James and his wife Anne, and their son James. There are also separate monuments for Dr and Mrs F. M. Granger and their son Sir Rupert Granger and his family.

  •  Brian Lewis Standard Bearer at St James, Church Christleton

    Littleton Hall near Chester

  •  Brian Lewis Standard Bearer at St James, Church Christleton

    Littleton Hall

  •  Brian Lewis Standard Bearer at St James, Church Christleton

    The Dixon Bank, Eastgate Street Chester

  •  Brian Lewis Standard Bearer at St James, Church Christleton

    Dixon Bank Cheque

  •  Brian Lewis Standard Bearer at St James, Church Christleton

    Dixon's Houses in Christleton

  •  Brian Lewis Standard Bearer at St James, Church Christleton

    Commeorative plaque to Thomas Dixon

  •  Brian Lewis Standard Bearer at St James, Church Christleton

    Dixon Family tomb at St. James' Christleton

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