- housing development after the nursery business
The story goes that two cousins Francis R. Dickson and James Dickson came down from Perth by stage-coach
in the early 1800s. From the 1841 census - Edinburgh-born Francis had married a Chester girl Selina
and were living in Upton House (laster Upton Villa later Stanton House) with their 6 children the oldest son
being a Francis. His occupation is recorded as 'nurseryman' and by
the 1851 census son John is also recorded as a seedsman. Only one
nursery labourer - Charles Bebbington - is recorded for Upton.
In 1840 their land extended from Mill Lane (see the 1839 Upton Tithe survey to Brook Lane Newton ( see the 1840 Newton Tithe survey).
Possibly James had settled in Newton - either at Springfield or Brook Field (yet to check) - but by 1874 (possibly now in retirement) was living in Upton Lodge. By the 1881 census Francis R is deceased and it is assumed James as well. The business now in the hands of the next generation is recored in 1881 as employing nursery managers and foremen living in Upton.
The business the flourished through the second half of the 19th century with extensive grounds, a prestigious show gardens in Newton , offices in Chester and a growing family. At its height the business employed many hundred - most of whom are believed to have lived in the Newton area. The Newton part of the nursery show grounds was very resplendent at its height - probably aligned with the strong national interest in horticulture and the plant exporers. The whole nursery area was reputedly never short of water with springs and brooks draining from the upton Heath area. Dicksons appear to have managed these water sources with culverts taking them under the various lanes Many of the greenhouses (especially on the west side of the drive had their own wells
Perhaps the last of the grand garden feature landmark to remain in the local memory was the marble Arch
The spring - horseshoe-shaped - was a watercress pond - lovely clear water - now at junction of Thornton / Ellesmere Rds
The business appears to have been in financial difficulties once into the 20th century with them selling off ground - Newton Park on the 1908 OS survey - and attempts to sell land in Upton. By the 1920s much of their land readily accessible and suitable for housing development had been sold and the nurseries closed in 1933. Finally the Chester shop closed in 1936. Former workers had small businesses growing and selling products from small market stalls.
Information of Dicksons nursery business comes from maps, census & directories together with the memories of local people but with virtually no formally achived (CRO) material.
At first there were two businesses, which later became a limited company. Dicksons was probable one of the largest general nursery businesses in Great Britain. The nurseries extended over 400 acres in Newton and Upton and employed between 300 and 400 men and women.
Wages- From 14/- per week for men. 7/- for women.
hours - Mon. - Fri. 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. Sat. 6 a.m. - 4 p.m.
Mr. Dickson used to drive his trap to the station every morning at 6 a.m., except Christmas Day and Sundays, to fetch the letters, of which there would be 800 - 1,000. In time the nurseries had their own special post bag and postman.
Records show them buying many parcels of land but also - an auction around 1900 records attempts to sell land along Mill Lane - general area of Delvine Drive and surrounding Mill Ln.
By the 1930s the business seems to have ended with only anicdotes of small stalls on the nursery ground selling produce - possibly even ex-employees.
Building development was underway in the 1930s - Bache Drive / Stanton Drive...in as far as Park Drive (now Rosewood Av)
Post WW2 the area south of Park Dr (Rosewood Av) was still refered to as 'the Nurseries' but was open land - evidence is needed of the War Effort (DFV) use ...( stories of the Golf Course being ploughed up !!!!
Post-war locals recall the remaining Nursery area being used for dumping waste incl lime from Williams & Williams iron process (Liverpool Rd) - horse delivery.