Richard Dickson

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Richard Dickson

Birthplace: County Tyrone, Ireland
Death: May 14, 1879 (51)
Patea, Taranaki, New Zealand
Place of Burial: Taranaki, New Zealand
Immediate Family:

Son of Richard Dickson and Mary Dickson
Husband of Mary Winslow Dickson
Brother of George Dickson

Managed by: Charlene Newport
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Richard Dickson

Mr. Richard Dickson, who was elected to a seat in the Auckland City Council in 1876, was born in Tyrone, Ireland, in 1829, and at an early age went to America, where he followed the trade of a cabinet-maker. He returned to the Old Country in 1850, and two years later sailed for Australia. After spending three years in Sydney and Melbourne he came to Auckland and established himself in the building trade. It was he who erected the New Zealand Insurance Company's Buildings, the Bank of New Zealand, the Lorne Street Hall, Tyrone Buildings, the Museum, and other noteworthy places. He was associated with the Oddfellows for many years, and took an active interest in St. Matthew's Church. Mr. Dickson was contractor for the Patea Breakwater, and was accidentally killed whilst working at the contract in 1879.

Source: Cyclopedia of NZ, NZETC

Many of our readers will join with us in a feeling of regret at the sudden and unexpected death of Mr Dickson, contractor, recently of this city, and a member of the City Council. The particulars of Mr Dickson’s death will be found among this day's telegrams from Patea, from which it appears that Mr Dickson was assisting at the Patea Breakwater works, when he fell in front of the crane used for shifting blocks and other materials; his leg being taken off completely, and which was left hanging by a piece of skin. Medical assistance was immediately sent for, and two medical gentlemen were in attendance; but too late to render any real assistance. Mr Dickson died within five minutes of the accident. Mr Dickson was a native of the North of Ireland, and previously to coming to New Zealand, a quarter of a century ago, he worked as a labouring man in California. On settling in Auckland he pursued the business of a contractor with success. He was a man of upright habits of life, and was a useful member of the congregation of St. Matthew's, both as a parishioner and teacher in the Sunday-school. He was comfortably married, but had no family. Mr and Mrs Dickson, however, adopted and educated a little girl, now nearly a young woman, who, we understand, is still with the widow. Mr Dickson was elected a member of the City Council of Auckland on the 14th of September, 1876, a position which he creditably held until circumstances called him to the South in connection with contracts which he had undertaken. The melancholy and fatal accident has cast quite a gloom over the neighbourhood of Mr Dickson’s last earthly labours.

Source: Auckland Star 15.5.1879


A telegram was yesterday received from Patea, announcing the death of Mr. Richard Dickson. Mr. Dickson went down to Patea about a year ago to superintend the construction of a wharf and breakwater. The accident was caused by a mass of concrete falling on his leg, crushing it, and five minutes after medical aid arrived he breathed his last. Mr. Dickson was for many years a useful and consistent member of the City Council, and for a still longer period occupied the position of prominent citizen here. Mr. Dickson was one of the oldest Auckland residents. He arrived in Auckland towards the end of the year 1853. He was a native of the North of Ireland. Previously to coming to New Zealand he resided for some time in New Orleans. He has erected or superintended some of the most important buildings in this part of the colony. He built the lunatic asylum at the Whau [woodwork only]; the Lorn Street Hall, for the Oddfellows' Friendly Society; for Mr. C. Ring the block of buildings of which the Anchor Hotel forms part, near the market; for Mr. Dilworth, the block known as Tyrone Buildings, in Custom House Street; the block from the present National Bank (Vaile's Buildings) to the Haymarket. This was a considerable slice, if we may so speak, of the street structure of Auckland. He also superintended the erection of St. Matthew's Church, although he was not the contractor for it. He was a member of the Anglican Church, and a member of St. Matthew's Vestry for a great many years. In the year 1854 Mr. Dickson worked with Mr. W. Swanson, M.H.R., at Johnson's cabinet factory, which was situated where the Union Bank now stands, at the junction of Queen and Victoria Streets. He was acknowledged then to be an excellent mechanic, but his ideas were progressive, and had to find scope outside the workshop. He became a builder and contractor, and was concerned in the erection of some of our most important public edifices. He erected the Bank of New Zealand building in Queen Street, and the New Zealand Insurance Company's building. Mr. Dickson tendered for the erection of the Provincial Hospital , but on subsequent consideration he found there was an error in his calculations, so although he was the lowest tenderer, he forfeited the deposit, and let the contract go to the next lowest, Mr. Taylor. Mr. Dickson was also the contractor for the erection of the Auckland Museum buildings, and he carried out this work so as to be a credit to the city. Mr. Dickson about four or five years ago became a member of the City Council, and during the time he held office he exercised a careful supervision over the public affairs which were brought within his cognisance, and more especially over expenditure. So time ago he tendered for works at Patea, and got the contract. It was while engaged on this work that he met his untimely death. Mr. Dickson was a man of sterling probity. His word was his bond, and his convictions sincere. The news of his death will be received with sincere regret by a large number of citizens, particularly by that "old identity" element with which Mr. Dickson was more immediately associated. Mr. Dickson married a Miss Stewart, of the Bay of Islands, but leaves no family. He is a brother-in-law of Mr. John Read, timber merchant, of the Thames.

Source: New Zealand Herald, Volume XVI, Issue 5459, 16 May 1879, Page 5

Richard Dickson may have been the original builder of 18 Paget Street which gained media attention in 2012 regarding the demolition consent of the 130-year-old cottage.

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Richard Dickson's Timeline

January 1828
County Tyrone, Ireland
May 14, 1879
Age 51
Patea, Taranaki, New Zealand
May 16, 1879
Age 51
Patea Cemetery, Taranaki, New Zealand