Left: Southrepps Village, Norfolk. Lewis Dix left home here to work in the coal mines of the north.
Left, middle: Murton Colliery when in full production, and the colliery village of Murton about the same time.
Left, bottom: Tyne Dock, South Shields, as it was when Lewis Dix lived in the town. This was the age when sail was transitioning to steam, as can be seen in the detail of SS Sovereign in the dock.
Back in Norfolk, older brother James had married 21-year-old Julia Ann Pardon, the daughter of a fisherman from the nearby coastal village of Trimingham, at about the time Lewis moved north. In fact, it’s possible that James’ marriage spurred Lewis to move. One senses that the brothers were close, and Lewis may have felt that living as the sole remaining son in his parents’ home was not an attractive option. But within a couple of years, James also moved north to try the Durham mines and brought Julia with him. James found work at Shotton Colliery, just five miles from where Lewis was employed.
For whatever reason, mining suited Lewis more than his older brother. After a few years, James moved back to Norfolk and a rural life, taking his wife and new son and daughter with him. That left Lewis as the sole transplant of this line of Norfolk Dixes in the industrial north. In time, through Lewis's children and grandchildren, a whole colony of Dixes would spring up in the Sunderland area.
Lewis seems to have tried other avenues of work apart from mining. The 1881 census lists him as a "chemical" laborer, presumably in a factory, in the community of South Shields, some 15 miles to north of Murton. This was not a mining town. Most of the working men were employed in shipyard-related industries which thrived along the River Tyne, and there was a fair smattering of sailors who lived around the Dix home in Berwick Street, Westoe.
Lewis and Mary had several children as Lewis followed work opportunities from place to place, including Sunderland and Seaham. After the birth of their first son, John James, they lost at least two children soon after they were born - a daughter, Elizabeth, and a son, Louis. Later, they would lose a 9-year-old daughter. But they had three boys and three girls by 1891 when they were living at Seaham Habour and Lewis was again back in the mines.