Sir David Dale was born on 11th December 1829 in the Bengal state of Murshidabad, India, the son of David Dale, an employee of the East India Company and his wife Ann Elizabeth nee Douglas. He was brought up as a Quaker after his mother joined in 1841. His father had died a year after his birth on board the ship on which the family travelled back to the UK in 1830. Educated in Edinburgh, Durham and eventually Stockton, Dale’s career started with the Stockton and Durham Railway in the 1850’s quickly finding his feet. He married Annie Backhouse Whitwell (nee Robson) in 1853. She was a widow with two children, but the couple also went on to have another son and daughter born to them.
Dale’s drive and business ethic soon saw him increase his standing and in 1858 he became a lessee of the Shildon Works, still keeping his tie’s to the railways. It was a little after that point when he first took an interest in the Consett Iron Company being appointed inspector in the same year. By 1869 he became managing director of the company and by 1884 the chairman.
His links to Consett grew over the years, although he still continued to pursue other business ventures. One of those ventures was as managing partner of Pease and Partners Ltd. He also became chairman of the companies mining iron ore near Bilboa in Spain, later owned by the Consett Iron Company. Dale was also an active member of the Durham Coal Owners Institute as well as being made Treasurer of the Iron & Steel Institute in 1894.
As well as his business ethic Dale also believed in the principle of education and culture. He helped set up the very first theatre in Consett, the Theatre Royal. He also continuously pushed the educational facilities in the area, helping them find funding, stating that healthy educated people made the best work force. He was made a baronet in 1895 for his dedication and services to industry, amongst which his his principle of arbitration to industrial disputes had given him a great distinction, him being the main pioneer. It was Dale’s dedication to education which gave us Consett Technical College.
On Saturday December 3rd 1898 the laying of the foundation stone of Consett Technical College took place being laid by Dale himself. The building was initially to be built for the purpose of technical studies and partial to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of HM Queen Victoria and partly to perpetuate the memory of Mr William Jenkins who had for so many years been the general manager of the Consett Iron Company.
The estimated cost of the building and furnishings was £5000, of which £2,260 had already been raised by the public, Durham County Council had offered a grant of up to £2,000 to match what ever the public raised, Consett Iron Company had promised £1000 as well as supplying the land on Park Road and Dale himself having raised another £700 and his architect (C E Oliver) and solicitor (Mr R W Cooper of Newcastle) had given their services completely free. It took almost two and a half years to build and was opened on Saturday 23rd March 1901 by Lady Dale.
Dale died on 28th April 1906 still the chairman of the mining firm Pease and Partners and a director of the North Eastern Railway Company. He was also still the Chairman of the Consett Iron Company. He was buried in what he classed as his home town of Darlington.