The name Sale is thought to originate from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning 'a place by willow trees'. Neolithic flints, Roman coin hoards and evidence of Saxon habitation have all been found in the vicinity of Sale, although the town is not mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Twelfth-century documentary evidence does, however, survive of the existence of a manor of Sale. St Martin's Church at Ashton-on-Mersey dates from 1304, although storm damage in 1703 means that the present structure originated in the eighteenth-century, with a clock tower being added in 1887. Sale Old Hall is documented in 1557 but an earlier structure is likely to have been on the same site from the thirteenth century, whilst a bridge existed on the Crossford Bridge site as early as 1538. In the eighteenth century, Sale was an agricultural settlement, growing flax and famed for its rhubarb, and its main industry at this time was the production of garthweb, the material used for horses' girth straps.
In 1803 Captain John Moore raised a troop of 3,000 volunteers to fight Napoleon. In 1804, he mustered his men on Sale Moor which at that time was further west than it is today. Prince William of Gloucester reviewed the troops on the site of what is today Hope Road on 12 April. Later, Moore was to be involved in the famous Peterloo massacre, in which he commanded a troop of yeomanry.
The recent history of Sale can be traced from the creation of the Sale Board of Health in 1867, of Sale Urban District Council in 1894, and of Ashton-on-Mersey UDC the following year. Nineteenth-century developments included street lighting, which came to Sale in 1875, and a new township school, which was opened in 1879 to replace one opened in 1800. The Free Library was opened in 1887, but was replaced by a more permanent structure in 1891. The existing Library, which is now also home to Trafford Local Studies Centre, opened in Tatton Road in 1938. In the twentieth century, Sale School Board was established in 1902, the last such Board to be established in England. The Springfield Road School (primary) was opened in 1907 and is still a primary school today.
Administratively, Sale and Ashton UDCs merged as Sale UDC in 1930 which, in turn, became Sale Borough Council five years later. Sale Town Hall, built in 1914, was extended in 1939/40 but in December, 1940, it was badly damaged by a German incendiary bomb. It was not fully rebuilt until 1952. It has since been included in the extended and award winning Sale Waterside complex which provides a pleasant waterside plaza area and enhanced community facilities such as the Waterside Arts Centre and Robert Bolt Theatre.
Reproduced by kind permission of John Laidlar