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British Industrial History

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Roberts and Dale

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also known as Roberts, Dale & Co.

of Warrington and Cornbrook, Manchester

Built on the site of the Bridge Foundry, Mersey-street, Warrington, occupied by Mr. William Whitley.

1861 'A Boy Smothered in a Vat of Starch, - On Saturday afternoon a lad named James Williamson, who worked at Messrs. Robert and Dale's chemical works, Cornbrook, was standing on a stage, close to a large vat, containing starch. In some way he slipped, feet foremost, into the starch, and, though immediate efforts were made to extricate him, it was a quarter of an hour before he was got out, and he was then quite dead.'[1]

1867 'A PATENT CASE. Wanklyn v. Roberts and another.—(Special Jury.)
Mr. T. Jones, Q.C., and Mr. Pope were for the plaintiff; and Mr. Higgin, QC„ and Mr. Williams were for the defendants. The plaintiff, James Alfred Wanklyn, is professor of chemistry to the City of London Institution, Circus, London; and the defendants, Messrs. Roberts and Dale, are manufacturing chemists at Warrington. The action was brought to recover costs for having broken an agreement entered into in November, 1865. Professor Wanklyn was the discoverer of a violet dyestuff chiefly produced from aniline, the product being obtained by a preparation of glycerine, instead of by iodine of ethyl previously employed. He patented his process, and the defendants entered into an agreement with him to prepare the dye by his process, undertaking that the professor should have the first £250 of profit realised, and afterwards a royalty of 20 per cent on the profits. They also agreed to work the patent in an active, energetic, business-like way, and it was alleged that they had not done so, and the action was brought to recover compensation for not having fulfilled the agreement. The defendants denied the purchase of the patent, and alleged that the invention could not be worked to a profit. They had expended large sums of money, as they would be prepared to prove, in endeavouring to make the dye, but had not been able to make it. At the suggestion of the judge it was agreed that verdict should be taken for the plaintiff, subject to a reference.' [2]

1870 'Explosion at Warrington.— The boiler explosion at Messrs Roberts and Dale’s chemical works, Warrington, on Wednesday, was more disastrous than first reports indicated. The carter, Luke Green, who was so seriously injured died Thursday morning at ten o’clock. None of the others are expected to recover. The explosion appears to have been caused by the deceased engineman having, in letting off the caustic, allowed it to fire. The inquest on the dead bodies will be held to-day. The damage estimated is above £5,000. The value of the acids and other chemicals destroyed is more than £2,000. Mr Dale had a narrow escape, as he was about to prcoeed to the place when the accident occurred.'[3]

1887 Their chemical works at Cornbrook was destroyed by an explosion, resulting in a great loss of life [4]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Westmorland Gazette, 22 June 1861
  2. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 7 December 1867
  3. Kendal Mercury, 16 April 1870
  4. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 23 June 1887