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Sale Town Hall - - 1749852.jpg
Sale Town Hall
Grid reference: SJ785915
Location: 53°25’26"N, 2°19’19"W
Population: 55,234  (2001)
Post town: Sale
Postcode: M33
Dialling code: 0161
Local Government
Council: Trafford
Altrincham and Sale West
Wythenshawe and Sale East

Sale is a town in Cheshire, standing on the south bank of the River Mersey, which marks the border with Lancashire. The conurbation of south Lancashire towns spreads across into Cheshire and embraces Sale with it.

The town is built on the flat plain of the Mersey, 2½ miles north-east of Altrincham, and five miles south-west of the city of Manchester.

Sale today is a distinctive Cheshire town. It thrives now not so much with industry but as a commuter town, supported by its proximity to the M60 motorway and the Manchester Metrolink network. Retail, real estate, and business sectors have developed.

Two of the town's main attractions are the Sale Water Park, which contains an artificial lake used for water-sports, and the Waterside Arts Centre. Sale Sharks rugby union club was founded in the town, as was the Sale Harriers athletics club, although both have now relocated elsewhere.


The name of the town is Old English, from salh, which means "sallow (willow) tree".


St Martin's Church, Ashton upon Mersey

Sale has a variety of churches. Most were built in the late 19th or early 20th century in the wake of the population boom created by the arrival of the railway in 1849,[1] although records show that the Church of St Martin in Ashton upon Mersey dates back to at least 1304.[2]

St Martin's, was probably originally an early 14th-century timber framed structure and was rebuilt in 1714 after the church had been destroyed in a storm.[3][4] The Church of St John the Divine was built in 1868, to the design of Alfred Waterhouse.[5] Both are Grade II* listed.

There are three Grade II listed churches in Sale: St Anne, St Mary Magdalene and St Paul.


A flint arrowhead discovered in Sale is the earliest trace of man here, but nothing else has come to light from before the Roman period. A 4th-century hoard of 46 Roman coins was discovered in Ashton upon Mersey, one of four known hoards dating from that period discovered within the Mersey basin.[6][7] Sale lies along the line of the Roman road which runs between the fortresses at Chester (Deva Victrix) and York (Eboracum), by way of the fort at Manchester (Mamucium).[6] The present-day A56 follows the route of the road through the town.

The townships of Sale and Ashton upon Mersey were not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, as they were not manors themselves. The first record of the names of Sale and Ashton upon Mersey are in 1199–1216 and 1260 respectively.[8]

The dovecote is all that survives of Sale Old Hall.

Throughout the Middle Ages, Sale was a rural township, linked ecclesiastically with neighbouring Ashton upon Mersey. In this period, its fertile fields and meadows were used for crops and cattle farming.

A manor of Sale was eventually created and was one of 30 held by William FitzNigel, a powerful 12th-century baron in north Cheshire. He divided it between Thomas de Sale and Adam de Carrington.[9] On de Sale's death, his land passed to his son-in-law, John Holt; de Carrington's land passed into the ownership of Richard de Massey, a member of the Masseys who were Barons of Dunham. Sale descended through the Holt and Massey families until the 17th century, when their respective lands were sold.[9]

Sale Old Hall was built in about 1603 for James Massey, probably to replace a mediæval manor house, and was reputed to be one of the first brick-built buildings of the time.[10][11] It was rebuilt in 1840 and demolished in 1920, but two buildings in its grounds have survived: its dovecote and its lodge, the latter now occupied by Sale Golf Club.[10]

By the 17th century Sale, had developed a thriving cottage industry, manufacturing garthweb, the woven material from which horses' saddle girths were made.

1777 map of area around Sale

In 1745, Crossford Bridge – which dated back to at least 1367 – was torn down.[12] It was one of a series of bridges crossing the River Mersey destroyed by order of the government, to slow the advance of Jacobite forces during the Jacobite rising. The Jacobites repaired the bridge upon reaching Manchester, and used it to send a small force into Sale and Altrincham. Their intention was to deceive the authorities into believing that the Jacobites were heading for Chester. The feint was successful and the main Jacobite army later marched south through Cheadle and Stockport instead.[13]

The extension of the Bridgewater Canal to Runcorn was completed as far as Sale by 1765, and transformed the town's economy by providing a quick and cheap route into Manchester for fresh produce.[14] Farmers who took their wares to market in Manchester brought back night soil to fertilise the fields.[15] However; several yeomen claimed that their crops were damaged by flooding from the Barfoot Bridge aqueduct.[16]

About 300 acres of "wasteland" known as Sale Moor was enclosed in 1807, to be divided between the landowners in Sale. This was part of a nationwide initiative to begin cultivation of common land to lessen the food shortage caused by the Napoleonic Wars.[17] Records of poor relief in the town start in 1808, a time when the region was in the grip of an economic depression.[18] Poorhouses, where paupers could stay rent-free, were built in the early-19th century, reflecting the poor state of the local economy.[19] In 1829, Samuel Brooks acquired 515 acres of land in Sale – about a quarter of the township – from George Grey, 6th Earl of Stamford.[20] The area later became known as Brooklands after the land owner.

The Bridgewater Canal

The Manchester, South Junction and Altrincham Railway opened in 1849,[21] and led to the middle classes using Sale as a commuter town, a residence away from their place of work.[22] This resulted in Sale's population more than tripling by the end of the 19th century.[23] The land in Sale Moor was the cheapest in the town because the soil was poor and difficult to cultivate, which was part of the reason the area was common land until the early 19th century. However, when the railway opened, Sale Moor was close to the station and became the most expensive area in Sale. Villas were built in Sale Moor, and a few in Ashton upon Mersey as the demand for land increased.[24] They were often decorated with stained glass or different coloured bricks in an attempt to make them "mansions in miniature" for the aspiring middle-class.[25]

Pressure from an increasing population led to the town being supplied with amenities such as sewers, which were built in 1875–1880;[26] and Sale was connected to the telephone network in 1888.[27] As in the late-19th century, the early-20th century saw a great deal of construction work in Sale. The town's first swimming baths were built in 1914,[28] and its first cinema, The Palace, was opened during the First World War.[29] The end of the war in 1918 resulted in a rush of marriages, which highlighted a shortage of housing.[30] The local councils of Sale and Ashton upon Mersey took the initiative of building council housing, and rented it to the local population at below market rates. A housing estate, Woodhey's Hall, was built in Ashton upon Mersey in 1931,[31] and by the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, Sale had 594 council houses.[30] The building programme was interrupted by the start of the war.[28]

Sale was never officially evacuated during the war, and even received families from evacuated areas, although it was not considered far enough from likely targets to be an official destination for evacuees.[32] The town's proximity to Manchester, an industrial centre directed towards the war effort, did result in a number of bombing raids. Incendiary bomb|Incendiaries dropped on Sale in September 1940 caused no casualties, but did damage a house. In a bombing incident the following November, four people were injured and a school was damaged; on 22 December 1940, twelve people were injured by bombs.[32] On the night of 23 December, much of Manchester suffered heavy bombing in what became known as the Manchester Blitz. Six hundred incendiary bombs were dropped on Sale in three hours. There were no injuries, but Sale Town Hall was severely damaged.[32] On 3 August 1943, at 11:50 pm, a Wellington Bomber on a training exercise crashed in Walton Park in the south-west of the town. Of the six-man crew, consisting of five members of the Royal Australian Air Force and one member of the Royal Air Force, the pilot and the bomb-aimer were killed.

Sale's shopping centre was redeveloped during the 1960s, as part of the town's post-war regeneration. In 1973, the shopping precinct in the town centre, which had grown up in the mid-19th century, was also redeveloped and pedestrianised in an attempt to increase trade.[28] The construction of the M63 motorway (subsequently renamed the M60) in 1972 led to the creation of Sale Water Park. To minimise the risk of flooding, the new road was built on an embankment, for which the necessary gravel was extracted from what is today an artificial lake and water-sports centre.[33] Opportunities for leisure were increased when the old swimming baths, demolished in 1971, were replaced in 1973 by a new complex built on the same site.[28]


Originally a working class town, there was an influx of the middle-class in the mid-19th century when businessmen began using Sale as a commuter town.[22] Since then, Sale has had a greater proportion of middle class residents than the national average. In 1931, 22.7% of Sale's population was middle class compared with 14% in England and Wales, which character has been maintained.

Sale's built environment is varied, with a mixture of modern and old buildings. Some terraces, semi-detached houses, and villas, survive from the Victorian period,[34] although many of the larger houses have been converted into flats.[35] Many semi-detached houses survive from 1930s, when there was a need for new housing in the town as a result of a growing population and an increasingly wealthy middle class.[36] Interspersed with these older structures are newer housing developments, such as the estates built in Ashton upon Mersey and the east of Sale during the 1970s.[28]


Weaving was common in Sale during the late 17th and early 18th century, by 1851 only 4% of the population was employed in that industry.[37] Farms were the main employment as in most of the land.

The coming of the railway in the middle of the nineteenth century changed everything. Sale and Ashton upon Mersey experienced a growth in numbers employed in retail and domestic services in the first half of the 19th century. By 1901, less than 20% of Sale residents were employed in agriculture. Employment was available in work houses for those who could not find work elsewhere. Sale was part of the Altrincham Union, which ran the nearest work house in Altrincham.[38]

Sale shopping centre

The main shopping centre in Sale, the Square Shopping Centre, was constructed in the 1960s. Following the Trafford Centre's opening in 1998, it was expected that the centre would suffer, but it has since prospered.[39] In 2003 the Square Shopping Centre underwent a £7 million refurbishment, a major part of the redevelopment of Sale's town centre. It was sold for £40M in 2005, by which time the Square had experienced an increase in trade and demand for tenancy that had led to an increase of 70% in rental income.[40] The town's economy expanded to the extent that in 2007, at a time when the rest of south Manchester was oversupplied with office space, Sale's available office and commercial space was at an all-time low because of high demand.[41]

Sights of the town

Sale Water Park

Sale has three Grade II* listed buildings, two churches and Ashton New Hall. It has eighteen Grade II listed buildings.

The cenotaph (Grade II listed) outside the town hall was designed by Ashton upon Mersey sculptor Arthur Sherwood Edwards. It commemorates 400 men from Sale who died in the First World War and the 300 who died in the Second World War.. It was funded by public subscription and unveiled in May 1925 in front of a crowd of 10,000.[42][43]

Eyebrow Cottage is the oldest surviving building in Sale.[44] Built around 1670, it was originally a yeoman farmhouse and is one of the earliest brick buildings in the area. Its name is derived from the decorative brickwork above the windows. It was built in Cross Street, which at the time was a separate village from Sale.

Of the twenty-one conservation areas in Trafford, two are in Sale: Ashton upon Mersey and Brodgen Grove.

A bronze bust of James Joule, the physicist who gave his name to the SI unit of energy, stands in Worthington Park. Originally a tower was to have been erected in his honour, but lack of donations led to the production of the bust as a substitute; it was unveiled in 1905.[45] Joule moved to Sale in the 1870s for his health; he died at his home at 12 Wardle Road in 1889, and is buried in Brooklands Cemetery.[46]

The area has several parks and green spaces. Worthington Park, originally called Sale Park, was opened in 1900. It features a bandstand, gardens, play areas, and a skate ramp and is maintained by the council and The Friends of Worthington Park.

Walton Park opened in 1939. It is in the southwest of the town and has a miniature railway.

Sale Water Park is an artificial lake, created from a 115-foot deep gravel pit left during the construction of the M60 motorway. It opened in 1980 and is a venue for water sports, fishing and bird watching. The water park is the site of the Broad Ees Dole wildlife refuge, a Local Nature Reserve that provides a home for migratory birds.[47]

Events and venues

Sale Waterside

The Waterside Arts Centre is next to the town hall. It houses a plaza, a library, the Robert Bolt Theatre, the Lauriston Gallery, and the Corridor Gallery. The centre, which was opened in 2004, regularly hosts concerts, exhibitions and other community events. In 2004, the centre received the British Urban Regeneration Association Award for its innovative use of space and for reinvigorating Sale town centre.

Sale has a Gilbert and Sullivan society, formed in 1972, which performs at the Altrincham Garrick Playhouse.

Sale Brass is a traditional brass band based in Sale, formed in about 1849 as the Stretford Temperance Band. Its first recorded performance was at the 1849 opening of the railway between Manchester and Altrincham.[48]


  • Athletics: Sale Harriers Manchester Athletics Club, formed in 1911 (now based in Wythenshawe).
  • Cricket: Brooklands Cricket Club
  • Rugby Union:
    • Sale FC (based in Sale since 1861) is one of the oldest rugby clubs in the world, its 1865 Minute Book is the oldest existing book containing the rules of the game.[49]
    • Sale Sharks (professional team) split from Sale FC in 2003.
    • Ashton upon Mersey Rugby Club
    • Trafford Metrovick Rugby Club
  • Other: Sale Water Ski Club is based at Sale Water Park.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Sale)


  1. Swain (1987), p. 76.
  2. Nevell (1997), p. 28.
  3. National Heritage List 1067893: Church of Martin, Sale
  4. Richards (1947), pp. 22–24.
  5. National Heritage List 1261946: Church of John the Divine, Sale
  6. 6.0 6.1 Nevell (1997), p. 20.
  7. Nevell (1992), pp. 59, 75.
  8. Nevell (1997), pp. 32, 38–39.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Swain (1987), p. 20.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Swain (1987), p. 22.
  11. Nevell (2008), p. 61.
  12. Swain (1987), p. 27.
  13. Swain (1987), pp. 42, 44.
  14. Swain (1987), p. 44.
  15. Swain (1987), p. 47.
  16. Swain (1987), pp. 44–45.
  17. Swain (1987), pp. 51–52.
  18. Swain (1987), pp. 61–62.
  19. Swain (1987), p. 68.
  20. Swain (1987), p. 59.
  21. Nevell (1997), p. 97.
  22. 22.0 22.1 Swain (1987), p. 85.
  23. Nevell (1997), p. 87.
  24. Swain (1987), p. 91.
  25. Swain (1987), p. 98.
  26. Swain (1987), p. 116.
  27. Swain (1987), p. 84.
  28. 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 28.4 Swain (1987), p. 134.
  29. Swain (1987) p. 112.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Swain (1987), pp. 119, 123.
  31. Swain (1987), p. 126.
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 Swain (1987), p. 133.
  33. Swain (1987), pp. 135–136.
  34. Swain (1987), pp. 91–93.
  35. Swain (1987), p. 122.
  36. Swain (1987), pp. 124–126.
  37. Nevell (1997), pp. 89–90.
  38. Swain (1987), p. 61.
  39. "'Bright future' for town centre". Manchester Evening News. 25 September 2002.  Retrieved on 28 August 2008.
  40. David Thame (22 November 2005). "Sale shops fetch £40m". Manchester Evening News.  Retrieved on 20 August 2008.
  41. Dean Kirby (20 November 2007). "Sale's sales boom". Manchester Evening News.  Retrieved on 23 August 2008.
  42. Wyke (2004), pp. 393–394.
  43. Hulme, Charles. "James Prescott Joule: Worthington Park, Sale". Retrieved 15 February 2010. 
  44. Nevell (1997), pp. 2, 77–8.
  45. Wyke (2004), p. 394.
  46. Swain (1987), p. 96.
  47. "Broad Ees Dole". Mersey Valley Countryside Warden Service.  Retrieved on 27 April 2007.
  48. "Sale Brass".  Retrieved on 28 March 2008.
  49. "Sale F.C.". Sale F.C..  Retrieved on 7 May 2007.


  • Dodgson, J. McN. (1970b). The place-names of Cheshire. Part two: The place-names of Bucklow Hundred and Northwich Hundred. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-07914-4. 
  • Hartwell, Clare; Matthew Hyde and Nikolaus Pevsner (2004). Lancashire : Manchester and the South-East. The buildings of England. New Haven, Conn.; London: Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-10583-5. 
  • Kenyon, D (1989). "Notes on Lancashire Place-Names 2, The Later Names". The English Place-Name Society Journal 21: 23–53. 
  • Nevell, Mike (1992). Tameside Before 1066. Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council. ISBN 1-871324-07-6. 
  • Nevell, Mike (1997). The Archaeology of Trafford. Trafford Metropolitan Borough Council. ISBN 1-870695-25-9. 
  • Nevell, Mike (2008). Manchester: the Hidden History. The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-4704-9. 
  • Richards, Raymond (1947). Old Cheshire Churches. London: Batsford. 
  • Swain, Norman (1987). A History of Sale from earliest times to the present day. Wilmslow: Sigma Press. ISBN 1-85058-086-3. 
  • Wyke, Terry; Harry Cocks (2004). Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. ISBN 0-85323-567-8. 
  • Youngs, Frederic A., Jr. (1991). Guide to the Local Administrative Units of England, Vol. II: Northern England. London: Royal Historical Society. ISBN 0-86193-127-0.