George Dixon

1875 - 1897
bottle pic George Dixon was born on 29th April 1848 and was five years old when he arrived in New Zealand from England. George's father, Edward Dixon established an aerated water business in Cuba Street shortly after arriving in New Zealand and in 1875, with his father's assistance, George opened his own aerated water factory in Sydney Street. A year later he took his father's Cuba Street business over.

By the time George moved into the cordial manufacturing business, he was married to Emma Jane Duck of Karori and they had six children. Emma was an immense help building the business up, which quickly gained a high reputation throughout much of the country.

In May 1879 a branch of the business was established in Bridge Street, Nelson (on the site of the old Samuel Wadman factory). This branch was managed by George's brother Joseph, who served his apprenticeship in his father's cordial factory. Later, Joseph Dixon established his own cordial factory in Masterton.

'Bishop's Guide to Wellington' of 1882 published a rather flattering advertorial about the factory. The following is a portion of this notice...

The soda-water machine, beared the impress of the firm of Barrett, Son and Foster. The bottle to be filled with the highly gaseous water is ensconced within a wire screen. The bottler, who is attired in a suit of oil cloth, and having as a further protection a wire mask on his face, pulls a lever handle, and this movement simultaneously fills the bottle with just the right required amount of syrup and gaseous water.

The operations of the bottler are most deftly and rapidly performed by this machine, which is known as the Hogben's patent, the sole right to use which has been secured by Mr. Dixon. The operator has no difficulty in bottling at a rate of 124 doz. per hour. Ample storage is provided for about 5000 doz. bottles, but neither in the coolest, which, of course, is the slackest portion of the year, or in the dog days (if such there were here) is the capacity for storage unduly tested.

bottle pic The establishment does a large business in the export trade, and in a room set apart for the goods are to be seen many hundreds of dozens of the various descriptions of beverages neatly labelled, the printing of which has been turned out by local firms, and would not be discreditable to London or Parisian houses. The cordial room presents a perfect bouquet from the many essences used by the firm in the manufacture of the sweetest decoctions.

On 26th June 1883, George was on his way home from Auckland on the steamship 'Taiaroa'. He was unwell at the time of boarding and his condition deteriorated soon after boarding. He became "violently delirious" and three stewards were asked to look after him. The ship encountered rough seas south of Napier and a huge wave crashed over the stern, causing a great deal of confusion and flooding of the decks. At this point the stewards' attention was distracted to clear the water from the decking and George Dixon, roused by the turmoil and confusion rushed on to the deck and was lost over board.

Emma carried on with the business after her husband's death. In 1886 she bought a sawmill at 3 Dixon Street, and used the land to build the "most modern cordial factory in the colony".

The factory was sold to Bennett & Ready in 1897.