Worcester People and Places

Rainbow Hill and Doctor Dixon


Category: Worcester People and Places

At the bottom of Rainbow Hill, at the juction with Tolladine Road, was a turnpike gate which until the 1860s marked the boundary between town and country. All beyond was green pastures and orchards and Rainbow Hill was a rural and picturesque place, with sprinkling of pretty villas halfway up.

Astwood Road still had steep marl banks from the cuttings made by the turnpike trust to ease the gradient for carriages. 
Near the present rail bridge, on the north side, stood Dr. Dixon's house, Grove Villa, now sadly demolished. Dixon was the original of John Halifax, Gentleman  and it was with him and his family of Quakers that Mrs Elizabeth Fry, the prison reformer, stayed on her memorable visit to Worcester in 1824. A grand public breakfast was given at the house before the party proceeded to the new county gaol in Salt Lane. Mrs Sheerwood, a writer and local celebrity, had also been invited to the breakfast and was selected by Mrs Fry to sit in her carriage. An immense crowd met the party at the gaol gates and Mrs Sherwood  reported being pushed aside in order that well dressed ladies might touch the famous visitor's garments. Every word Mrs Fry uttered was said to have been gathered and stored in the memory. She was even permitted to address the prisoners in the prison chapel from the preachers place, though with clergymen of the Church of England standing on each side of her.

Futher up the hill was a house called The Knoll, occupied by Alderman William Lewis, a director of the O W & W Railway, and three times mayor of Worcester. He was the last man to hold the valuable sinecure of 'Stamp Distributor', receiving a substantial percentage of all Revenue stamps sold in Worcester. Lewis had several sons who were prominent in the life of Worcester in the latter half of the 19th century, one a renowned railway engineer who supervised the Worcester to Hereford line and was responsible for the Malvern tunnel. The Knoll later became Holy Trinity vicarage.



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