Dale Papers

Scope and Content

The Dale Papers include the personal papers of three members of the Dale family - James Dale (fl. 1810-1824), William Dale (fl. 1874-1898) and Alan Dale (1891-1981) - and records of the family firm, Messrs William Dale & Sons, agricultural engineers of Sandle Bridge near Alderley Edge, Cheshire. Of the personal papers, the most interest items are a journal and account book of James Dale, a servant of Lady Warburton of Arley Hall, who accompanied her on a tour of Europe in 1818. The records of William Dale & Sons comprise thirty-four ledgers, 1794-1921, which provide detailed information on the workings of the firm, and on the wider agricultural economy of Cheshire.

Alan Dale (1891-1981) was a local historian, who collected old records relating to the parish of Alderley and the surrounding district. The collection therefore contains an important minute book of the Alderley Society friendly society, 1752-1774 (DP/3/1/1); records of the Overseers of the Poor and Surveyors of Highways and taxation and electoral records for Marthall with Little Warford, together with papers relating to the Government Evacuation Scheme and the Ollerton and Marthall Comforts Fund during the Second World War, 1729-1945 (DP/3/2); rate books and charity records for the townships of Ollerton, 1907-1918, and Over Peover, 1865-1947 (DP/3/3-4); and records of the Overseers of the Poor and Parish Council of Great Warford and of the Wesleyan Day School there, 1702-1923 (DP/3/5). There are also printed catalogues for the sales of nine estates in Cheshire, 1842, 1917-1938 (DP/4); and numerous printed catalogues for auctions of farm stock, agricultural implements, machinery and household goods, mainly in Cheshire, 1922-1932 (DP/5).

The collection contains much material of interest to local historians of Cheshire, and to social and economic historians. It is particularly relevant to studies of the Poor Laws, friendly societies and other charities, and of the workings of local government in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Administrative / Biographical History

The firm of William Dale & Sons of Sandle Bridge near Alderley Edge, Cheshire, was first recorded in 1737. The company, whose motto was 'workmanship before price', was one of the best-known agricultural engineers in the region. In the early 1950s it was reported that 'their works are equipped with every up-to-date and modern appliance and they have two mobile motor wagons fitted up with welding plants, necessary tools and spare parts, etc., which service each year some 200-300 self-binders at farms and breakdowns in the field.' (Countryside Quarterly). They had two thousand farmer customers on their books, half of whom were arable farmers, half dairy.

Seventeen generations of the Dale family lived and worked within ten miles of Sandle Bridge, as agricultural engineers and implements agents, blacksmiths, farriers, wheelwrights, water- and wind- millwrights, stonemasons and carpenters. They also played a prominent part in local affairs. Alan Dale (1891-1981) was an enthusiast for the local history of Cheshire, who collected antiquarian material and made extensive notes on the Dale family and on the history of Alderley, Great Warford and Mobberley. Many of these records are to be found in the present archive, while others were deposited at Manchester Central Library.


The collection is divided into five subfonds:

  • DP/1: Records of Messrs William Dale & Sons, 1794-1921;
  • DP/2: Papers of the Dale Family, 1810-1975;
  • DP/3: Local Records, 1702-1945;
  • DP/4: Estate Sale Catalogues, 1842, 1917-1938;
  • DP/5: Farm and Machinery Sale Catalogues, 1922-1932.

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Deposited by Alan Dale of Over Peover, Cheshire, in 1952 and 1953.

Separated Material

The John Rylands University Library holds the papers of the Knutsford District of Foresters (GB 133 KDF), which were formerly part of the Dale Family Papers deposited by Alan Dale.

Alan Dale's genealogical and topographical notes relating to Cheshire are held by Manchester Archives and Local Studies, Central Library, Manchester (reference: C27).

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands University Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.

Related Material

Alan Dale's genealogical and topographical notes relating to Cheshire are held by Manchester Archives and Local Studies, Central Library, Manchester (ref.: C27).

Cheshire and Chester Archives and Local Studies Service holds Alan Dale's notes on the history of Great Warford Chapel, 1943, 1963 (ref.: EMS 104/10/4-6).