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Nelson Historical Society Journal, Volume 6, Issue 5, 2002

Disposal of the Dixon Land at Paynes Ford

Disposal of the Dixon Land at Paynes Ford

Dixon had sold the 30 acres of section 122 west of the Takaka River to Nathanial Paine in 1868. In 1874, when he was about to go teaching, two other sections were advertised and Paine bought part 3 of Section 30. Paine died in 1881 and two years later, when his widow was intending to visit England, she advertised her property to let. The advertisement in The Colonist of 30 November 1883 described it as a small farm of about 30 acres of 'rich Pasture Land, on the West side of the Takaka River, with Dwelling house. Outbuildings, Half Acre Orchard in full bearing. Cellar, Well, etc'. In addition, there were 30–40 acres across the river, mostly cleared, fenced and in grass.

A son, Herbert (Bartie) Paine, is described as a well-known character who kept a few sheep, but who spent most of his time working a little coal-mine on his (and, with two trolleys on a pulley, the loaded one discharging into a truck on the tramway. 19 Bartie Paine died in 1938.

The other section advertised by Dixon in 1874 was part 1 of Section 110, 'partly bush and partly cleared', 141 acres at £141. It was eventually bought by Robert Bartlett in 1883 under a mortgagee sale.

It was not until 1886 that the last block of land, part 2 of Section 30, was advertised for sale. The advertisement in The Colonist of 2 September 1886 described Mr Dixon's property as 'containing 54 acres, on which have recently been discovered most interesting Caves. The section abounds in fossiliferous limestone, and brown coal 2 ft thick, thus affording a splendid opening for the burning of lime'. Reference was also made to the steam tramway running through the property.

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Henry Abbott, who was variously a store owner, butcher, owner of The Junction Hotel and sawmiller, and who described himself as a farmer, bought the section, which was transferred to him in 1888. He wasted no time in building a home that was the admiration of all. A report from The Colonist's Golden Bay correspondent on 25 October 1888 said that he 'had spared no expense in taking advantage of the great natural beauties of the spot selected', and spoke also of the 'marvellous stalactite caves'.

An account of the caves in The Colonist of 17 July 1889 names the house as Abbotsford. A landscape by Charles Blomfield in 1891 shows the house with its verandah on the north-facing hillside, backed by tall native trees and with lawns and gardens sloping down in front. 20 Abbott, who was credited with having liberated possums at Abbotsford, died in 1896 and the house is said to have burnt down in 1929. 21