Dale, David

SUBJECT AREA: Textiles
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b. 6 January 1739 Stewarton, Ayrshire, Scotland
d. 17 March 1806 Glasgow, Scotland
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Scottish developer of a large textile business in find around Glasgow, including the cotton-spinning mills at New Lanark.
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David Dale, the son of a grocer, began his working life by herding cattle. His connection with the textile industry started when he was apprenticed to a Paisley weaver. After this he travelled the country buying home-spun linen yarns, which he sold in Glasgow. At about the age of 24 he settled in Glasgow as Clerk to a silk merchant. He then started a business importing fine yarns from France and Holland for weaving good-quality cloths such as cambrics. Dale was to become one of the pre-eminent yarn dealers in Scotland. In 1778 he acquired the first cotton-spinning mill built in Scotland by an English company at Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. In 1784 he met Richard Arkwright, who was touring Scotland, and together they visited the Falls of the Clyde near the town of Lanark. Arkwright immediately recognized the potential of the site for driving water-powered mills. Dale acquired part of the area from Lord Braxfield and in 1785 began to build his first mill there in partnership with Arkwright. The association with Arkwright soon ceased, however, and by c.1795 Dale had erected four mills. Because the location of the mills was remote, he built houses for the workers and then employed pauper children brought from the slums of Edinburgh and Glasgow; at one time there were over 400 of them. Dale's attitude to his workers was benevolent and humane. He tried to provide reasonable working conditions and the mills were well designed with a large workshop in which machinery was constructed. Dale was also a partner in mills at Catrine, Newton Stewart, Spinningdale in Sutherlandshire and some others. In 1785 he established the first Turkey red dye works in Scotland and was in partnership with George Macintosh, the father of Charles Macintosh. Dale manufactured cloth in Glasgow and from 1783 was Agent for the Royal Bank of Scotland, a lucrative position. In 1799 he was persuaded by Robert Owen to sell the New Lanark mills for £60,000 to a Manchester partnership which made Owen the Manager. Owen had married Dale's daughter, Anne Caroline, in 1799. Possibly due in part to poor health, Dale retired in 1800 to Rosebank near Glasgow, having made a large fortune. In 1770 he had withdrawn from the established Church of Scotland and founded a new one called the "Old Independents". He visited the various branches of this Church, as well as convicts in Bridewell prison, to preach. He was also a great benefactor to the poor in Glasgow. He had a taste for music and sang old Scottish songs with great gusto.
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Further Reading
Dictionary of National Biography.
R.Owen, 1857, The Life of Robert Owen, written by himself, London (mentions Dale).
Through his association with New Lanark and Robert Owen, details about Dale may be found in J.Butt (ed.), 1971, Robert Owen, Prince of Cotton Spinners, Newton Abbot; S.Pollard and J.Salt (eds), 1971, Robert Owen, Prophet of the Poor: essays in honour of the two-hundredth anniversary of his birth, London.
RLH

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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