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Sir Thomas James Dixon (1868 - 1950):
Businessman and politician

Thomas Dixon was the eldest son of Sir Daniel Dixon, 1st Baronet, who was the first Lord Mayor of Belfast; he succeeded his father to be second Baronet in 1907. Dixon was a Member of the Senate of Northern Ireland from 1924 to 1950 and appointed to the Privy Council of Northern Ireland in 1931. He served as High Sheriff of Antrim in 1912, of County Down in 1913 and was Lord Lieutenant of Belfast between 1924 and 1950.

In 1919 Dixon purchased Wilmont House and its estates - some 130 acres - near Ballydrain, just south of Belfast. Wilmont was originally built by William Stewart, member of one of the prominent linen families of the Lagan valley, in the 1760s; a bleachgreen (used in the production of linen) was in operation at Wilmont until 1815. The present building dates from 1859. Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, was a guest in 1935 and General Collins of the United States Army was billeted at Wilmont House during World War II.

Dixon's wife, the former Edith Clark, whom he married in 1906, was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her work for the armed forces during World War I and for other philanthropic activity. In 1959 she presented Wilmont House and the estate to Belfast Corporation "for the greatest good of the citizens of the City of Belfast" in memory of her husband. The very popular Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park opened the same year and is today world famous for the City of Belfast International Rose Garden and its Annual Rose Trials, part of its Rose Week, with a panel of judges drawn from all over Europe. The first roses were planted in 1964 and the Trials began in 1965. At peak season, there are some 40,000 roses in bloom. The variegated character of the estates include parkland, specimen trees, open grassland, meadowland, mixed deciduous woodland, a copse, a walled garden, and river, stream and marshland.

Sir Thomas died without issue in May 1950 and was succeeded in the baronetcy by his half-brother Herbert, who had already been elevated to the peerage as the 1st Baron Glentoran. Lady Dixon died in 1964 at the age of 92.

Born: 29 May 1868
Died: 10 May 1950
Richard Froggatt

Wesley McCann