CAROLINE DALE-LEECH MBE DISPERSAL SALE REPORT
Red House Stables, Darley Dale, Matlock, Derbyshire
5th APRIL 2018
By her own admission, it was the day that Caroline Dale-Leech had dreaded; selling the collection of carriages, accoutrements and remaining harness which had been amassed over her lifetime – and her father’s before her. But she could not have anticipated what a huge success the auction would be, due largely to her position as the “grand-dam” of carriage driving and coaching in this country. As someone who has driven more miles on the box of a coach than most, who has served as the Junior Commissioner, a Council member, judge, instructor, examiner and mentor for the British Driving Society, who is a member of the World Coaching Club, and to add to it all was awarded an MBE for her services to the local community, the pull of Caroline and the team at Red House Stables was never in doubt. Clients came from all over the UK and from the Continent, and those who couldn’t be there bid over the phone. And on the day, many of her former pupils, the youngsters she nurtured and taught, turned out to both support her and purchase goods (and in one case, help run the auction).
It was a day when there was something for everyone. In the months leading up to the auction, the auctioneers sorted, sifted, catalogued and numbered up the hundreds of items which made for a very full sale. The next task was to lay everything out so that it could be seen. In-between the visits by Thimbleby & Shorland, Caroline, husband Peter and the team spent days cleaning everything so that it was presented for sale in the finest order. For good reason, Caroline has a reputation as one of the hardest working people in the equestrian world.
The first section of the sale was in the bottom stable yard, the next in the museum; another carriage house was home to the pictures, books and models and the carriages were laid out around the yard and property. The crowd was deep and the buzz was electric as Thimbleby & Shorland director Chris Boreham kicked off the sale in bright sunshine – a blessed change from the snow and rain which had fallen in Darley Dale over the previous weeks.
From old garden tools, to shafts, lamps, horse shoes, dumb jockeys and clippers, the first section was an eclectic mix of bits and bobs. Selling for £100 each were a small rear lamp and an oil lamp (54), three pairs of old hames (57) and a model of a buggy (125B). A number of lots from other clients were included; a set of team bars made £160 (151), a set of tandem bars with quick release clips £110 (152) and a rare set of White’s patent whippletrees sold for £300 (153).
Moving up to the museum, a burgeoning crowd filled the top yard as the T & S team busily ferried lots to and from the doorway to display them as they came up for sale.
The auction really gained pace here with the following noteworthy results:
A pick axe (three abreast) bar £440 (129), a set of red & black coaching bars £410 (130), a set of pit pony harness £160 (218), vintage blacksmith’s bellows £140 (232), a pair of octagonal lamps by Windover £300 (272), black/brass pairs of lamps £260 (277) & £200 (278), a pair of exceptional Shand Mason fire engine lamps £1,050 (279), hand-made miniature hunting attire £210 (280), a navy coaching club coat and checked trousers £180 (370), a coachman’s apron £150 (400), a pair of box cloth coaching blankets £120 (401), a miniature mahogany apothecary’s cabinet £280 (406), a brass Merryweather fireman’s helmet £480 (413), a superb decorated postilion jacket in a display case £1,800 (429), a model of an Omnibus £450 (431), a model of a Hansom Cab £290 (432), a model of a Royal Mail Coach £320 (433), a set of team leader reins £250 (467), brown cob harness £200 (477), black/brass cob harness £520 (502), model of a horse’s head £240 (503), Huskisson harness £600 (506), pair harness £320 (516) and an adjustable hub cap spanner £280 (523).
Oval fronted lamps £170 (532), three fine copper milk churns £730 (540), a pair of Shand Mason fire engine lamps £650 (541), a pair of lamps by Mills of Paddington £380 (544), A H Green exercise harness £200 (559), team leader reins £250 (566), a jointed whip on board £200 (578), a pair of round fronted nickel trim lamps £700 (585) and a quantity of Musgrave saddle racks £280 (588
Two pictures of hounds sold for £200 (606), a black and white photo of local hunt the Barlow sold for £140 (608), an unusual picture showing George Washington’s coach with inscription made £180 (618), two prints after Cecil Aldin made £150 (630) and £190 (631) and a ‘Coaching Days of England’ sold for £60 (635). An interesting small collection of models were consigned by another client and notable results were– Road Coach £190 (669), Hansom Cab £240 (671), Landau £260 (673) and a Reading Gypsy Wagon & piebald horse £380 (677).
Of the Red House carriages, an Exercise Wagonette to suit a horse pair or team sold for £850 (901), a Sleigh made £520 (902), a four-wheeled Baker’s Van which had been converted and fitted with glass sides sold for £1,150 (903), a single Brougham by Holmes of Derby sold for £1,800 (905), the Five Glass Landau made £4,700 (906) and the wonderful Siamese Phaeton by Mulliner sold for £10,000 (907).
A number of carriages had been accepted on behalf of other clients, some of which had been either used by Caroline or displayed in the Museum. One such vehicle was the Arthur Cowley Bread Van which went to a Continental buyer for £3,850 (911). The Anne Cowley Manchester Panel Cart went to a well-known exhibitor and coaching enthusiast for £775 (912).
However, the lot which everyone was waiting for was the magnificent and unique late 18th-century Travelling Chariot by Coates & Blizard of 9 Park Lane, London. Owned by the same family, the Wrights of Eyam Hall in Derbyshire, since it was commissioned and built, it had been in the museum for many years and carefully looked after by Caroline. There were foreign phone bids, domestic buyers and far-travelled clients who all expressed an interest, but for much of the bidding it was a three-way tussle amongst buyers from abroad. In the end the hammer came down at £60,000 (920) to a bidder standing in front of it. Its new home will be in Norway. What a day!