Knells Lodge was built in 1824 and
was the gate house to the former manor known as Knells House.
Commissioned by the Dixon family it covered an area to the east of the
village of Houghton and included a farm, land and workers cottages.
When money worries forced the
sale of the Knells in 1871 a family known as the Fells bought the Knells
as a whole and carried on running the estate until they also could no
longer afford to look after the estate and it was sold in lots in 1921.
Knells lodge and a few acres of land were sold to the Robinson family and the decedents still own the property.
The Dixon family info:
John Dixon was a customs officer in Whitehaven. He and his wife, Francis, lived at 55 Church Street between 1745 and 1762.
His son Peter (1753-1832) born on 23rd October in
Whitehaven, married Mary, daughter of Robert Ferguson in 1783. He
leased Langthwaite cotton mill from the Fergusons in 1807. He later
lived at Tullie House first renting it and then buying it in 1825.
John (1785-1857). Built his mansion at Knells
(Houghton) in 1826. He was twice mayor of Carlisle (1839, 1840) and
was High Sheriff in 1838. in 1847 he was elected as MP for Carlisle
(Whig) but was unseated as a government contractor. He cleared himself
of his government contracts and again contested the city but was
unsuccessful. He was one of the 12 directors of the company entrusted
to build a railway from the Lancaster and Preston junction to Carlisle
in 1844. (It took 2 years 5 months at a cost of £17,000 per mile.) He
married Mary Tirzah Sturdy on 22nd November 1814. Knells was sold in
1880. Children; Henrietta (Mrs James Fairlough) + others
Joseph (1795-pre 1860) Joseph had one daughter, Josephina and sons, Wilson Peter and Henry.
Peter John (1791-1866).He built a mansion at Holme Eden in 1837/1841 which was sold in 1875. He was a mayor of Carlisle in 1837-38.
George (1793-1860) of Blencogo and Tullie House. He
married Mary Boucher (b.1799 in Epsom, Surrey) on 5th April 1836 and
died in Blencogo school on 9th September 1860. He was mayor of
Carlisle 1842-43 and 1848-49.
The magnificent Shaddon Mills was built by Peter Dixon’s sons
in 1836 for the spinning of Cotton. The Chimney at 305` (320`?) high
was the 8th tallest chimney in the world and the mill was the largest
cotton mill in the country. Such a large, seven story factory could not
have been powered by water. Steam power was used from the beginning.
Peter Dixon and Sons was to become a major industrial enterprise.
Initially the weaving was carried out in workers’ cottages. In 1840
Dixons employed 3,571 hand loom weavers, namely 2,389 in England, 599
in Scotland and 583 in Ireland. But then a large building adjacent to
the factory was built and several hundred power looms were
installed. Some weaving was still done as out-work until the 1860s. At
their peak Dixons employed a labour force of 8,000.
An Act of Parliament in 1833 prohibited the employment of children
under 9 and restricted the hours per week to 48 of children under 13;
69 hours for those under 18.
Messrs Peter Dixon and Sons were the chief supporters of the
Shaddongate School, opened in 1836 for the education of children of the
working classes who had to pay 2d per week.
The American Civil War (1861-65) cut off the supply of raw
cotton. And by the freeing of slaves the gingham made in Carlisle
bought to clothe them by the southern plantation owners was no longer
In 1872 the firm went bankrupt with debts of £66,500. By
forming a Joint Stock Company, Peter James and Robert Sturdy, sons of
John, with their relative Joseph Forster, kept the firm working until
Langthwaite Mill was taken over by Otterburn Tweed Co. in 1883 but closed in 1977
Shaddon Mill ceased to trade in1883 but reopened in 1888 for
woollen spinning and survived as such for nearly 100 years. William
Linton, in 1912, occupied the weaving sheds and still provides high
Carlisle politics were dominated by the Dixon family and their relations from 1836 to 1860