MARPLES had moved totally to the new facility in Stubley Lane, Dronfield in 1971 and remained there as Wm.Marples & Sons until 1983 when they became part of the Record Ridgeway Group.
So at least [and probably earlier] from c.1971, MARPLES produced and marketed inferior tools put together for the Chain Store market and commanding a lower price for the House owner. [ Somewhat similar to the STANLEY Handyman series of tools.]
Below is an excerpt from the History of MARPLES, and is pertinent to DRONFIELD, but unfortunately the writer is unknown.
So from the above information I can deduce no time frame when Planes were produced at ‘Stubley Lane’ and marked ‘DRONFIELD‘. When ‘C&J Hampton‘ bought out MARPLES in 1962 I find it odd that they would not have closed down the Plane making at Stubley Lane [if indeed that section was even in operation at that time!], because this quality of plane would not have fit well into the RECORD way of thinking. Apparently the castings were made by ‘Quality Castings‘ of Wolverhampton [denoted by a QC mark under the handle on the base,… but not always.] this being a Company that produced forgings for many of the great tool manufacturers in England.
I have purposely bought many DRONFIELD planes in order to write this plane study and the results can be seen below but the study may well change as new information is found. I have found no information anywhere such as a Catalogue, Pamphlet, Brochure or Advertisement that gives any information on the DRONFIELD planes, so I am working in a vacuum and using pure deduction to write this section. I have only found FOUR types of plane marked DRONFIELD and those are No. 2, No. 4, No. 5 and 110. The No. 2 Block Plane may have entered the market shortly after the introduction of the No. 4.
DRONFIELD No.4 Plane:
The No.4 never had a Frog adjustment screw and No.4 was cast in the base behind the front knob. The only indication that these are ‘DRONFIELD” planes comes from the so annotated Lever Cap which may be painted gloss Hammered Grey or Gloss Hammered Black. On each side of the rear handle are cast ‘MADE IN‘ and ‘ENGLAND‘. The Lateral lever is a single piece of unmarked plated steel which has a downturned butterfly wing type of finger adjustment area at the top and a stamped out circular area to engage the blade at the lower end. Colour of the Base was Black, but the top of side rails and the actual sides were not painted; Frog was Black; Handles were Beechwood with a varnish finish; Lever Cap was with a ‘Hammered Silver’ finish; Cap Iron and Blade had an almost squared top profile [see below]. The rear edge to the plane was also painted Black, but not the front edge. The ‘Butterfly’ Lateral lever was fixed to the frog with a wide Copper rivet. Mouth width was 5/16″and the mouth area was painted all the way to the base. The letters cast as ‘ENGLAND‘ were 1.9/16″ wide. The Cap Iron has the stamped inscription at the top….. ‘Correct Angle for Cutting Iron <25‘ . [More later] and the letters on the cap iron were large. The circular blade depth adjustment wheel was made of Brass with a Zinc plating and has fine parallel knurling separated by a circular notch in the middle. The ‘Y‘ lever [Stirrup] was a 2 piece affair and was held in the Frog by an Iron rod. The tops of the screws holding the Lever Cap to the Frog were ’rounded’. The hole in the Lever Cap, to accept the holding screw, was ‘indented’ and straight. Total length of the plane is 9.11/16″.
The only differences that I can find between this and a Type 1 is the fact that the Rod holding the Stirrup to the Frog Assembly now is a pressed steel hollow circular tube and not an Iron rod., and the top side rails are now painted.
The example below throws a wrench into the study in that, although the sides rails are painted on the top and the handles are of wood, the base colour is a reddish pink.
This plane is the first of the plastic handled Dronfield planes and is over-painted Satin Black. It has a Black painted base and frog [not Ogee], and a hollow rod to hold the 2 part Y lever depth adjustment assembly. The screws holding the frog to the base are now ‘Cheesehead’, but in all other aspects this plane is very similar to a Type 1 , except that the tops of the rails are painted. [5/16″ mouth; 9. 11/16″ long.] The box lid has a thin green/blue paper affixed over the cardboard .]
This plane has a major difference to Type 3 in that it has plastic handles that have now been over-coated with a Dark varnish. However the mouth width, measured at the sole, has been reduced to 1/4″ from 5/16″.
This is a major change because the Handles are now un-coated Black plastic but the base is still ORANGE. The total length has been decreased from the previous 9.11/16″ to 9.1/2″ [A new Casting]. The Lever Cap still has a Hammered Dark Grey Paint but DRONFIELD is not now surrounded by Orange paint. The Lateral Lever is now fixed to the Frog with a Small headed Iron rivet.[not Copper] The mouth width remains at 1/4″ however, the rod to hold the stirrup to the Frog Assembly has now been backdated to a solid steel rod. The Black Frog is now OGEE, and the hole in the Lever Cap is now Kidney-shaped. The Lever Cap holding screw in the Frog is now flattened, not rounded. This major change may have occurred when C&J Hampton took over the MARPLES empire c.1962.
DRONFIELD No.5 Plane:
I feel sure that these planes would have followed the same configuration and ‘Types’ as shown for the No. 4 planes above. To date [7/23] I have only seen one of the No.5 Planes , as described below.
DRONFIELD No. 2 Block Plane
The first DRONFIELD No.2 plane had Beechwood handles finished with a dark red/brown varnish, and had all of the characteristics of the Number 4 Type 2 plane.
The base was painted a Maroon colour [including the tops of the side rails], as was the Lever cap all over. The front edgeof the base was not painted, unlike the rear edge. The end box label is in accordance with the No.4 plane box label and probably was used across the range of DRONFIELD planes. But the box was covered in a unique pattern paper not seen since. See photo below. The No. 2 Block Plane Type 1 had an un-marked blade of 1.3/4″ Wide and 3.9/16″ long, with a straight across top edge. The handles were secured on fully screw cut steel rods by Aluminium Nuts. The plane base was 9″ long and 2.5/32″ wide. The Cast lever cap was painted Gloss Maroon all over and the Lever cap screw had a Black plastic circular head. It was marked No. 2 behind the front knob and marked MADE IN ENGLAND each side of the rear handle. The mouth width measures 1/4″. But this is the only Type that had the word DRONFIELD cast into the front lower area of the Lever Cap.
These planes followed Type 1 in having Beech wooden handles finished with a dark red/brown varnish. The base and lever cap are painted gloss Black including the top rails of the sides. The front edge is not painted, but the rear edge is. The end box label is in accordance with the No.4 plane box label. The box lid has a green/blue thin paper covering to the cardboard. The Type 2 Block Plane had an un-marked blade of 1.3/4″ Wide and 3.9/16″ long, with an arched top edge. The handles were secured on fully screw cut steel rods by Aluminium Nuts. The plane base was 9″ long and 2.5/32″ wide. The Cast lever cap was painted Gloss black all over and the Lever cap screw had a Black plastic circular head. It was marked No. 2 behind the front knob and marked MADE IN ENGLAND each side of the rear handle. The mouth width measures 1/4″. But nowhere was it marked as ‘DRONFIELD’ unlike Type 1.
The Type 3 Number 2 Dronfield Block plane coincides with the Type 5 Number 4 plane in that the base is painted Orange including both front and rear edges. It has 2 Black plastic/polypropylene handles and came housed in the same standard Dronfield box with no wax rust preventative paper