Nixon family were generous hosts
House was a popular place for soldiers to meet young ladies
ON the banks of the Whanganui River in the late 19th century stood the imposing house of Sedgebrook, the home of the Nixon family.
The Nixon family arrived in Whanganui on the 51 ton schooner Elizabeth on February 23, 1841, along with Mr and Mrs Peter Wilson and Henry Churton, other earlier settlers.
John and Julia Nixon’s first home was a small cottage on the riverbank near Market Place. In 1857 they moved to across the river to a 900 acre property called Sedgebrook Grange. The Nixon family were generous hosts and the house quickly became a popular meeting place for the young soldiers attached to the garrison to meet young ladies. John Nixon brought one of the first sewing machines into the district for his daughter Lucy.
He was appointed a captain in the New Zealand Militia and was later promoted to the rank of major. He commanded the Wanganui Cavalry Volunteers. Major Nixon was one of the first Justice of Peace’s appointed in Whanganui, and for nearly 20 years he was the Provincial Sub-Treasurer and Immigration Agent at Whanganui. This role of the sub-treasurer was to secure all monies due to the provincial government, whether from customs receipts, land sales or other sources. As an Immigration agent, he was required to superintend and make provision for any immigrants coming to Whanganui and to take the necessary steps for preventing people leaving the port without having paid their money.
In March 1882 Sedgebrook burnt down during the day. The house burned quickly and while there was no loss of life the house was destroyed. Tenders were called for the rebuilding of the house. Mr A Atkins was the architect and the contactor was Messrs McGregor and Clark. The tender price was £877 17s 6d. The new house had a frontage to the river of 66 feet. The drawing room had square bay window and dining room had octagonal shaped bay windows, and both rooms were to have doors opening onto verandas. The house had five bedrooms. In May 1914 Sedgebrook house burnt down for the second time. The house was gutted and the chimneys were the only things left standing.
Major Nixon died in May 1884 at the age of 67 after number years of ill health. He was given a funeral with full military honours with a gun carriage bearing the coffin, which was taken from Sedgebrook to Christ Church for the service. Nearly 2500 people attended the funeral.
In 1896 the Sedgebrook estate was sub-divided and the land was sold off.