Under the Settled Land Act 1882 permanent improvements to a settled estate such as the Stamford Estates could be made only under a scheme approved by the Court of Chancery. Permanent improvements on the Cheshire Estates were regulated under an Order in Chancery made on 22 June 1888. Improvements included the making and sewering of roads, the building of cottages and houses, the installation of electricity, mains water and sewerage to cottages and houses, the erection of new farm buildings and farmhouses and the rebuilding of existing structures. The papers reveal that there was major investment in improving and modernising the farms on the Stamford Estates in the years before the First World War.
Each permanent improvement scheme was numbered. When a scheme was proposed a schedule was compiled, stating the nature of the work, the estimated costs, and the reason why the work was required. Tenders and estimates were obtained from contractors and suppliers, and at the completion of a scheme, or a part of a scheme, the surveyor at the Altrincham Estate Office certified that the work had been properly executed and that the stated amount was payable by the Stamford Trustees to the contractor or supplier.
The series comprises bundles of schedules of proposed improvement schemes, nos. 34 to 94 (EGR14/18/1), 94 to 247 (EGR14/18/3), and 248 to 309 (EGR14/18/4/129-253); bundles of copy certificates signed by the surveyor at the Altrincham Estate Office for the execution of improvement schemes, 1891-1906 (EGR14/18/5/1-254 & EGR14/18/6); certificates of the Countess of Stamford & Warrington's authorization of schemes, 1888 (EGR14/18/4/97-128); bundles of tenders, estimates and quotations from contractors and suppliers for undertaking improvement schemes, 1888-1896 and 1898-1916 (EGR14/18/1 & EGR14/18/5/262-574); a bundle of copy estimates, 1888-1895 (EGR14/18/2); bundles of invoices and accounts from contractors and suppliers for improvement schemes, 1890-1897, 1898, 1899, 1900 and 1901-1904 (EGR14/18/7-11); small bundles of vouchers and wages account sheets for the permanent improvements account, 1901, 1902, 1903 and 1904 (EGR14/18/12-15); a bundle of fortnightly permanent improvements wages account sheets, 1889 (EGR14/18/16); and correspondence relating to permanent improvements, 1888-1896 (EGR14/18/4/1-96).