John Plimmer

John Plimmer (28 June 1812 – 5 January 1905) was an English settler and entrepreneur in New Zealand who has been called the "Father of Wellington".

John Plimmer
John Plimmer and his dog Fritz - Plimmers Steps.jpg
Statue of John Plimmer and his dog Fritz at Plimmers Steps
John Plimmer

(1812-06-28)June 28, 1812
DiedJanuary 5, 1905(1905-01-05) (aged 92)
Wellington, New Zealand
Spouse(s)Mary Roden (1833–?)
Janet Anderson(1864–1905)
Children8, including Henry

Early life in EnglandEdit

Plimmer was born at a village called in contemporary accounts "Upton-under-Amon" near Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England on 28 June 1812, youngest but one of 12 children of Isaac Plimmer, builder and timber merchant, and his wife Mary (nee Roden). Identifiably the village is Upton Magna, which lies under Haughmond Hill, where he was baptised on 19 July that year. (Transcribed parish register has corresponding parents' names.)

Educated at a local parish school, he was intended for teaching but preferred to train as a plasterer and master builder. He practised the trades at Willenhall, Staffordshire from after his father moved there until his own emigration and it was at Birmingham in that area he first married in 1833.[1]

Life in New ZealandEdit

He arrived in Wellington from England on the ship Gertrude in 1841. As an entrepreneur in 1851 he purchased the stranded whaling ship Inconstant and converted the hull into a warehouse and one of the first piers in Wellington. It became known as "Plimmer's Ark", a centre of business in early Wellington, used as an auction house, customs office and lighthouse.

He was a member of the Wellington Provincial Council from 1856 to 1857, the first Wellington Town Board (1863) and was on the Wellington City Council from 1870 to 1871.

His principal public service was the organisation of the Wellington and Manawatu Railway Company between 1880 and 1886. The township (now a suburb) of Plimmerton, on the Wellington - Manawatu Line built by the company, was named after him.


He is buried at Bolton Street Memorial Park, and his grave is part of the memorial trail.[2][3]

There is a statue of him at the bottom of Plimmer Steps off Lambton Quay, Wellington.

The McKinnon brothers Don, Ian, John and Malcolm are great-great-grandsons of Plimmer.[4]

The Plimmer Towers office complex is named after him.


  1. ^ "The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966".
  2. ^ "Details". Wellington City Council. Retrieved 16 November 2012.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ "Memorial Trail" (PDF). Bolton Street Memorial Park. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-02-08. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
  4. ^ Dominion Post 18 June 2009 page C2