John Plimmer came to Port Nicholson in 1841 and initially earned money cutting timber and burning charcoal and lime until the 1848 earthquake discouraged building in brick.
In 1850 he acquired the wreck of the Inconstant and had it towed to the foreshore near Lambton Quay where he established a private wharf, office and bonded warehouse known as “Noah’s Ark”.
Profits from the venture enabled him to invest in the local economy and after the 1855 earthquake he devoted himself to building.
Plimmer was active in politics but business was his driving-force. His lobbying for land reclamation, railways and improved port facilities contributed greatly to Wellington’s emergence as an economic centre.
His most important investment was the Wellington & Manawatu Railway Company.