Dales Fabrications Ltd, Crompton Rd, Ilkeston, Derbys DE7 4BG • Tel: 0115 930 1521 • Email: sales@dales-eaves.co.uk
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Francis Donald Dales - (28.11.39 to 24.12.18)

frank dalesIt is with great sadness that the Dales Family announce that Frank Dales, founder of Dales Fabrications Limited of Ilkeston died peacefully in his sleep at home in Beeston, Nottingham at 6pm on Christmas Eve 2018 at the age of 79. He had recently been diagnosed with metastatic pancreatic cancer after six months of medical investigations and treatment. Having been relatively symptom-free during most of that time his condition deteriorated in the last fortnight before his death.

He leaves his wife of 53 years, Carole, his children; Colin, Kathryn and Philip and his seven grandchildren.

As an adult he preferred to be called Frank but was christened Francis Donald Dales and whilst growing up was known affectionately as “Frankie” to his immediate family. He was born at home in Spalding at 9 Fulney Ave on 28th November 1939, the son of farm-labourer; Herbert Gordon Dales and school cook Ida Dales. Within in his first year of life, young Frankie was diagnosed with Tuberculosis of the knee and in order to prevent the infection from spreading he was strapped in a cot in hospital for many weeks, something that in his later years he said gave him nightmares. He had a younger sister, Iris with his older brothers being Hubert, Tony and Derek. His only surviving sibling is Derek.

In the forties and fifties, agricultural pay in Lincolnshire was exceptionally low and seasonal with no social security payments when work was not available. Frank’s father, Gordon became an active union man keen to fight for better wages and illustrate the precarious and poverty-laden plight of land-workers in comparison to the wealth and riches of those that owned the land. The hardships that the family faced as they grew, typified by main meals of bread & plum jam was featured in the local Spalding paper as an example of poverty in the Lincolnshire area.

It was soon the case that the young teenage Frank showed his entrepreneurial promise by selling his daily lunch-pack sandwiches of bread & the cursed plum-jam to the rich kids at Spalding Grammar School: A high-quality education that he and all his siblings gained entry to on merit, but one that left him feeling somewhat of an outsider for the rest of his life. The fact that he used the money not to buy food, but cigarettes illustrated a willingness to take risks and was one of his very few vices. Smoking was something he defiantly maintained until his early seventies and was only ended after his wife, Carole was diagnosed with a lung condition.

Frank always recognised and appreciated that his education at Spalding Grammar School was a real opportunity and it was through the Grammar school that he secured an engineering apprenticeship at Peter Brotherhood Ltd, the steam turbine engineering manufacturers in Peterborough. Speaking recently, Frank confessed that he’d never really considered the apprenticeship at Peter Brotherhood’s as his choice, it was presented to him as a fait accompli and he simply complied with it.

Needing transport to get from Spalding to Peterborough led to the purchase of a Triumph motorbike ‘on tick’ and an interest in motorcycling that he maintained for most of his adult life. It seems fair to say that Frank enjoyed a certain element of risk given his smoking, motorcycling and passion for sub-aqua diving that he pursued for many years through his late twenties and early thirties. Squash which he played for many years illustrated his competitive spirit and again was not without risk. Later in life golf came to the fore until a knee replacement brought his golfing days to an end.

It was whilst still working at Brotherhoods that Frank met the young girl that was to become his life partner. On New Year’s Eve 1962 at McCulloch’s dance studio in Peterborough 23-year-old Frank asked a teenage Carole Cross for a dance. They were married in September 1965 and in October 1966 their first son, Colin Francis was born. Two more children followed, Kathryn in 1969 with Philip arriving in 1972.

After successful completion of his apprenticeship at Peter Brotherhood’s Frank moved in 1967 to Ruston’s Engineering Company – Reco as Works Manager at their factory in Huntingdon. Sadly, disillusionment with Reco and their unwillingness to expand at that time led Frank to seek another career move. In 1970 he successfully applied to be Production Manager with Conder Structural Steel at Burton on Trent. This proved a happier move but after five years he was approached to further his ambition with the possibility of a directorship at an aluminium fabrications company in Nottingham known as Alfab. The family moved to Keyworth in south Nottinghamshire in the autumn of 1975.

After two years at Alfab, Frank was presented with an opportunity when a local builder from Keyworth mentioned that the small garden at the side of the family home had development potential. After discussions with contacts in the roofing and manufacturing industry and promises of orders from one structural steel manufacturer, Frank took the plunge and decided to set up in business on his own. Dales Fabrications opened in September 1977 at a small factory unit in Lower Middleton Street, Ilkeston with the intention of designing, manufacturing and supplying pressed-steel gutters for industrial buildings: A growing market since the problems with asbestos cement roofs had only recently been discovered and those roofs were being replaced with plastic-coated, galvanised-steel, trapezoidal sheets that needed purpose-made steel gutters.

A guillotine was secured with the seed-fund from the sale of the garden plot and one machinery supplier, Vic O’Dell kindly lent a press-brake machine to Frank despite him having no credit history at all. No doubt Vic, like many in business have since commented, felt Frank to be a man of utter integrity. The business grew successfully and in 1980 was incorporated as private limited company which then moved to a purpose-built factory at Crompton Road in Ilkeston in 1981.

1981 was a time of great conflict in industry and recession caused by the 14-week British Steel strike in 1980 affected the fledgling business severely. It seemed that everything might come to an end, however, perhaps showing the same fight and determination that had borne him though his battle with TB in the first year of his life Frank refused to give in and battled on. It seems that he did not escape the battle for the business unscathed as the severe depression that he suffered from probably first came to light around that time. It was to continue to dog him despite his clear success and ultimately, it was only in retirement that he found a more peaceful existence.

Always ambitious Frank wanted to supply his products across the UK and worked with many architects and projects, particularly in London. It was through these London contacts that he became involved in the Association of Building Component Manufacturers (ABCM). He enjoyed his involvement, becoming Chairman, and was invited to sit on European harmonisation committees for products and technical standards relevant to Dales Fabrications Ltd.

It was no doubt due to his low-income upbringing that Frank developed his generous charitable instincts, maintained a modest lifestyle and sustained a healthy dislike of plum jam. His charitable instincts included setting up a charitable foundation funded by the business purely for the benefit of those local to Ilkeston and involvement with the initial setting up the Erewash Credit Union (now trading as the Derbyshire Community Bank). Frank was the first account holder with the ECU and was delighted to be involved. He will no doubt be remembered by those that met and knew him for his generosity of spirit, kindness, integrity and warmth all combined with his light-hearted and self-effacing sense of humour.

A committed family man Frank was surrounded by his loving family at his death. Many employees, friends and business associates have expressed their deep sorrow at his passing. His funeral will be held at St John The Baptist, Beeston Parish Church at 9.45am on Friday 18th January 2019. Flowers by immediate family only, however donations to the Red Cross will be welcome c/o A W Lymm Funeral Directors, Trent House, Station Road, Beeston NG9 2AY.

 
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  Dales Fabrications Ltd, Crompton Road Industrial Estate, Ilkeston, Derbyshire. DE7 4BG • Tel: 0115 930 1521 • Email: sales@dales-eaves.co.uk