The Dicksons' Nursery Business within Upton

- 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.