J.P. Dixon being driven by his son E.B. Dixon (killed 1916) in Rolls Royce Silver Ghost at The Mount
J.P. Dixon driving a carriage with his wife (seated at rear) and Ethel Dixon his daughter in law, front passenger also at The Mount
John Picken Dixon was born on 1st July 1851, and died 8th January 1920. His father, John Dixon, a Manchester merchant, came from Shropshire, and his mother from Manchester. His father died before John left school and of the family of two sons and two daughters, only one sister outlived him.
John Dixon was educated at Arnold House School, Broughton, and Bramham College, York. On leaving college he embarked in the cotton trade where he showed a good business ability and became one of the best known and most popular men on the Manchester Exchange.
He took up residence at The Mount, Great Marton, near Blackpool in 1892 where he lived for 28 years. The Mount was formerly a large farmhouse and John Dixon immediately set about improving it by alterations and additions until he made it into a handsome residence of the country type. He loved to gather his friends round him and entertain them in the most hospitable fashion. He was an ideal host and an entertaining conversationalist and companion, having many friends in all parts of the country.
He became a senior partner in the firm of Baines & Dixon of 55 Brown Street, Manchester, and chairman of Messrs. James Baine Ltd. of Blackburn, who owned three large mills. He was prominently connected with the Lancashire cotton trade for 40 years and made many improvements in the machinery used for spinning and weaving.
John Dixon was deeply interested in public matters and was instrumental in founding and building at Marton one of the finest workingmen s clubs and institutes in the country, of which he was president from the opening in 1895 until his death. He also occupied several official positions in connection with Blackpool Hospitals, including acting as chairman of the Central Comforts Fund which had care of the social and recreation side of the King s Lancashire Military Convalescent Hospital. He was JP for the county of Lancashire and also for Blackpool, and his dignity, strength of character, and sense of justice made him an outstanding magistrate.
He was a great supporter of St. Paul s church, Marton, and in addition to giving a site for a new parish church, he and his wife presented a beautiful reredos in alabaster and marble which was erected in the church in memory of their youngest son killed in the war. He also provided a large memorial cross to commemorate the fallen soldiers of the district. He made grants of land for re-building the Baines Endowments schools, for widening the old road in Marton, and for making a new road to Preston.
John Dixon was an enthusiastic freemason and was a Past Master and Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden for the western division of Lancashire. He also founded several lodges in the district.
Among his public offices he was chairman of the local branch of the red cross, a liveryman of the City of London, and a member of the Grocer s company. His great hobby was orchid growing and he had a fine collection. He also took immense interest in rose cultivation and his rose gardens at The Mount were the best in the Fylde. He was a nature lover, a traveller, and a keen motorist, and was among the first owners of a Rolls Royce Silver Silence which he enjoyed driving. He loved a day with a gun and for many years shot over the land round Clifton Hall. As a boy he played cricket and football, and showed skills at bowls, billiards and putting. Generous to a fault, John Dixon was ever ready to dip his hand into that deep and well filled pocket of his to help anyone in distress. As an example of his generosity and thought for the welfare of others, the following paragraph appeared in the local press:
25 December 1913. There was not a single poor family in Blackpool without Christmas dinner. Mr. Dixon gave the chief constable carte blanche to supply as many dinners as were needed, and entirely at his expense over 750 lbs of beef and 1200 lbs of potatoes were distributed among about 250 families. John Dixon married on 30th June 1875, Alice Mary Rothwell, only daughter of Thomas Rothwell, a Manchester merchant from Pernambuco, Brazil, where she was born.
They had nine children as follows:-
|Alice Grace (Mrs. Fitzgerald)||22 October 1876||18 April 1975.|
|John Rothwell||13 April 1878||2 March 1945|
|Frederick Alfred||27 March 1880||18 January 1925|
|Jessie Marion||13 March 1882||27 October 1891|
|William Baynes||2 November 1883||29 December 1922|
|Reginald Charles||27 March 1885||10 November 1890|
|Septimus||28 December 1887||Died the same day|
|Florence Edith (Mrs. Dixon Smith, and later Mrs. Noel Plummer)||26 January 1889||10 March 1951|
|Edward Bates||24 December 1892||Killed in action in France 23 March 1918|
John Dixon died at home after a short illness on 8th January 1920 in his 69th year, and Blackpool lost a valued and universally esteemed citizen, and one who could ill be spared. The news of his death came as a great shock to the town and to his friends.
The simple but impressive funeral took place on 12th January 1920, and he was buried quietly in the family vault in Marton churchyard. By his express with it was an unostentatious occasion and his coffin was borne from The Mount to the church and from the church to the vault by the menservants from the estate.
Besides his family and numerous friends, all the local public bodies were represented at the funeral and such was the quantity of beautiful wreaths and flowers that his favourite Silver Silence and two other cars were needed to transport them to the graveyard. In his address the Vicar of Marton said the parish had sustained a very heavy blow and Mr. Dixon s death left a void which could not be filled. He read a letter from the Bishop of Manchester conveying his sympathy to the family and expressing his appreciation of Mr. Dixon s generosity to the church. Mr. Dixon left 147,991. John R. Dixon succeeded his father as President of the Marton Institute and in 1921 cleared off the debt of 1,300 as a memorial to his father.
At a subsequent AGM of the institute, Mr. David Dixon (grandson) was presented with an inscribed silver mounted dressing case on the eve of his 21st birthday as the institute s small recognition of the services of the founder s family. Mrs. Dixon survived her husband by 18 years and died on 16th December 1938, aged 86. A few years after his death she left The Mount and went to live at the Grand Hotel, St. Anne s, mainly because she found the running and supervision of the estate too exacting after the death of her companion and business help Miss Bartlett. Subsequently Mrs. Dixon went to Woodstock, Didsbury, Manchester, to spend her remaining days with her daughter and son-in-law Dr and Mrs. G.W. Fitzgerald.
Like her husband, Mrs. Dixon was a generous benefactor to every good cause. A gracious hostess, she was never happier than when the spacious ground of The Mount formed a beautiful setting for a garden party on behalf of charity.
She too was buried in the family vault at Marton Church.