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Stockport is a large town in Greater Manchestermarker, England. It lies on elevated ground on the River Merseymarker at the confluence of the rivers Goytmarker and Tamemarker, southeast of the city of Manchestermarker. Stockport is the largest settlement of the Metropolitan Borough of Stockportmarker, and has a population of 136,082, the wider borough having 281,000.

Historically a part of Cheshiremarker, Stockport in the 16th century was a small town entirely on the southbank of the Mersey, and known for the cultivation of hemp and rope manufacture and in the 18th century the town had one of the first mechanised silk factories in the United Kingdom. However, Stockport's predominant industries of the 19th century were the cotton and allied industries. Stockport was also at the centre of the country's hatting industry which by 1884 was exporting more than six million hats a year. In December 1997 the last Stockport hat works closed. The town's hatting heritage is preserved at 'Hat Works – the Museum of Hatting'.

Dominating the western approaches to the town is the Stockport Viaductmarker. Built in 1840, the viaduct's 27 brick arches over the River Mersey carry the mainline railways from Manchester to Birminghammarker and London. This structure featured as the background in many paintings by L.S. Lowry.



Stockport was first recorded as "Stokeport" in 1170. The currently accepted etymology is Old English stoc, a market place, with port, a hamlet (but more accurately a minor settlement within an estate); hence, a market place at a hamlet. Older derivations include stock, a stockaded place or castle, with port, a wood, hence a castle in a wood. The castle part of the name probably refers to Stockport Castlemarker, a 12th century motte-and-bailey first mentioned in 1173. Other derivations have been formed, based on early variants of the name such as Stopford and Stockford. There is evidence that a ford across the Mersey existed at the foot of the town centre street now known as Bridge Street Brow. Stopford retains a use in the adjectival form, Stopfordian, used for Stockport-related items, and pupils at Stockport Grammar Schoolmarker style themselves Stopfordians. By contrast, former pupils of nearby Stockport School are known as Old Stoconians.

Stockport has never been a sea or river port. The Mersey is not navigable to anything much above canoe size; in the centre of Stockport it has been culverted and the main shopping street, Merseyway, built above it.

Early history

The earliest evidence for human occupation in the wider area are microliths from the hunter-gatherers of the Mesolithic period (the Middle Stone Age, about 8000–3500 BC) and weapons and tools from the Neolithic period (the New Stone age, 3500–2000 BC). Early Bronze Age (2000–1200 BC) remains include stone hammers, flint knives, palstaves (ie bronze) and funery urns; all finds have been chance discoveries, rather than a systematic search of a known site. There is a gap in the age of finds between about 1200 BC and the Roman period (ie after about 70 AD). This may indicate depopulation, possibly due to a poorer climate. There is little evidence of a Roman military station at Stockport, despite a strong local tradition. It is assumed that roads from Cheadlemarker to Ardotaliamarker (Melandra) and Manchester to Buxton crossed close to the town centre. The preferred site is at a ford over the Mersey, known to be paved in the eighteenth century, but it has never been shown that this or any of the roads in the area are Roman. Hegginbotham reported (in 1892) the discovery of Roman mosaics at Castle Hill (the area around Stockport market) in the late eighteenth century, during the construction of a mill, but noted it was 'founded on tradition only'; substantial stonework found in the area has never been dated by modern methods. However, Roman coins and pottery were probably found there during the eighteenth century. A cache of coins dating 375–378 may have come from the banks of the Mersey at Daw Bank; these were possibly buried for safekeeping at the side of a road. Six coins from the reigns of the Anglo-Saxon English Kings Edmund (reigned 939–946) and Eadred (reigned 946–955) were found during ploughing at Reddish Green in 1789. There is contrasting source material about the significance of this; Arrowsmith takes this as evidence for existence of a settlement at that time, but Morris states the find could be "an isolated incident". This small cache is the only Anglo-Saxon find in the area. However, the etymology Stoc-port suggests inhabitation.

No part of Stockport appears in the Domesday Book of 1086. The area north of the Mersey was part of the hundred of Salford, which was poorly surveyed. The area south of the Mersey was part of the Hamestan (Macclesfield) hundred. (Cheadle, Bramhall, Bredbury, and Romiley are mentioned, but these all lay just outside the town limits.) The survey includes valuations of the Salford hundred as a whole and Cheadle (etc) for the times of Edward the Confessor (ie just before the Norman invasion of 1066) and the time of the survey. The reduction in value is taken as evidence of destruction by William the Conqueror's men in the campaigns generally known as the Harrying of the North. The omission of Stockport was once taken as evidence that destruction was so complete that a survey was not needeed (see eg Husain). Arrowsmith argues from the etymology that Stockport may have still been a market place associated with a larger estate, and so would not be surveyed separately. The Anglo-Saxon landholders in the area were dispossessed and the land divided amongst the new Norman rulers. The first borough charter was granted in about 1220 and was the only basis for local government for six hundred years.

A castle held by Geoffrey de Costentin is recorded as a rebel stronghold against Henry II in 1172–3. There is an incorrect local tradition that Geoffrey was the king's son, Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany, who was one of the rebels. Dent gives the size of the castle as about , and suggests it was similar in pattern to those at Pontefractmarker and Launcestonmarker. The castle was probably ruinous by the middle of the sixteenth century, and in 1642 it was agreed to demolish it. Castle Hill, possibly the motte, was levelled in 1775 to make space for Warren's mill, see below. Nearby walls, once thought to be either part of the castle or of the town walls, are now thought to be revetments to protect the cliff face from erosion.


Stockport was one of the prototype textile towns. In the early eighteenth century, England was not capable of producing silk of sufficient quality to be used as the warp in woven fabrics. Suitable thread had to be imported from Italy, where it was spun on water-powered machinery. In about 1717 John Lombe travelled to Italy and copied the design of the machinery. On his return he obtained a patent on the design, and went into production in Derby. When Lombe tried to renew his patent in 1732, silk spinners from towns including Manchester,Macclesfield, Leek, and Stockport successfully petitioned parliament to not renew the patent. Lombe was paid off, and in 1732 Stockport's first silk mill (indeed, the first water-powered textile mill in the north-west of England) was opened on a bend in the Mersey. Further mills were opened on local brooks. Silk weaving expanded until in 1769 two thousand people were employed in the industry. By 1772 the boom had turned to bust, possibly due to cheaper foreign imports; by the late 1770s trade had recovered. The cycle of boom and bust would continue throughout the textile era. The combination of a good water power site (described by Rodgers as "by far the finest of any site within the lowland" [of the Manchester region]) and a workforce used to textile factory work meant Stockport was well-placed to take advantage of the phenomenal expansion in cotton processing in the late eighteenth century. Warren's mill in the market place was the first. Power came from an undershot water wheel in a deep pit, fed by a tunnel from the River Goyt. The positioning on high ground, unusual for a water powered mill, contributed to an early demise, but the concept of moving water around in tunnels proved successful, and several tunnels were driven under the town from the Goyt to power mills. In 1796, James Harrisson drove a wide cut from the Tame which fed several mills in the Park, Portwoodmarker. Other water-powered mills were built on the Mersey.

Hatmaking was established in north Cheshire and south-east Lanchashire by the 16th century. In the early 1800s the number of hatters in the area began to increase, and a reputation for quality work was created. The London firm of Miller Christy bought out a local firm in 1826, a move described by Arrowsmith as 'a watershed'. By the latter part of the century hatting had changed from a manual to a mechanised process, and was one of Stockport's primary employers; the area, with nearby Denton, was the leading national centre. Support industries, such as blockmaking, trimmings, and leatherware, became established. The First World War cut off overseas markets, which established local industries and eroded Stockports eminence. Even so, in 1932 over 3000 people worked in the industry, making it the third biggest employer, after textiles and engineering. The depression of the 1930s and changes in fashion greatly reduced the demand for hats, and the demand that existed was met by cheaper wool products made elsewhere, for example the Luton area. By 1966–7 all the major companies merged to form Associated British Hat Manufacturers, leaving Christy's and Wilson's (at Denton) as the last two factories in production. First Wilson's, and then (in 1997) Christy's closed, bringing to an end over 400 years of hatting in the area. The industry is commemorated the UK's only dedicated hatting museum, Hat Worksmarker.
From the 17th century Stockport became a centre for the hatting industry and later the silk industry. Stockport expanded rapidly during the Industrial Revolution, helped particularly by the growth of the cotton manufacturing industries. However, economic growth took its toll, and 19th century philosopher Friedrich Engels wrote in 1844 that Stockport was "renowned as one of the duskiest, smokiest holes in the whole of the industrial area". The town was connected to the national canal network by the of the Stockport branchmarker of the Ashton Canalmarker opened in 1797 which continued in use until the 1930s. Much of it is now filled in, but there is an active campaign to re-open it for leisure uses.

Recent history

Since the start of the 20th century Stockport has moved away from being a town dependent on cotton and its allied industries to one with a varied base. It makes the most of its varied heritage attractions, including a national museum of hatting, a unique system of underground Second World War air raid tunnel shelters in the town centre, and a late medieval merchants' house on the 700-year-old Market Place. In 1967, the Stockport air disastermarker occurred, when a British Midland Airways C-4 Argonaut aeroplane crashed in the Hopes Carr area of the town, resulting in 72 deaths among the passengers and crew. In recent years, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council has embarked on an ambitious regeneration scheme, known as Future Stockport. The plan is to bring over 3,000 residents into the centre of the town, and revitalise its residential property and retail markets, in a similar fashion to the nearby city of Manchester. Many ex-industrial areas around the town's core will be brought back into productive use as mixed-use residential and commercial developments.


Civic history

The Municipal Corporations Act 1835 made Stockport a municipal borough divided into six wards with a council consisting of 14 Aldermen and 42 Councillors. In 1888, its status was raised to County Borough, becoming the County Borough of Stockportmarker. Since 1972, Stockport has been twinned with in Béziersmarker in France. In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972 Stockport amalgamated with neighbouring districts to form the Unitary Authority of the Metropolitan Borough of Stockport in the now ceremonial metropolitan county of Greater Manchester.

Parliamentary representation

There are four parliamentary constituencies in the Stockport Metropolitan Borough: Stockport, Cheadlemarker, Hazel Grovemarker, and Denton and Reddishmarker. Stockport has been represented by Labour MP Ann Coffey since 1992; Mark Hunter has been the Liberal Democrat MP for Cheadle since a 2005 by-election; and Andrew Stunell has been the Liberal Democrat MP for Hazel Grove since 1997. The constituency of Denton and Reddish bridges Stockport and Tameside; the current member is Andrew Gwynne.


At (53.408°, -2.149°), and northwest of London, Stockport stands on elevated ground, southeast of Manchester city centremarker, at the confluence of the rivers Goytmarker and Tamemarker. It shares a common boundary with the City of Manchestermarker.

Divisions and suburbs


Stockport Compared
2001 UK census Stockport Stockport MB Retrieved on 17 August 2008.

• Retrieved on 17 August 2008.
Total population 136,082 284,528 49,138,831
White 95.5% 95.7% 91%
Asian 2.0% 2.1% 4.6%
Black 0.5% 0.4% 2.3%
Christian 74.9% 75.4% 72%
Muslim 1.8% 1.8% 3.1%
No religion 15.3% 14.2% 15%
As of the 2001 UK census, Stockport had a population of 136,082. The 2001 population density was 11,937 per mi² (4,613 per km²), with a 100 to 94.0 female-to-male ratio. Of those over 16 years old, 32% were single (never married) and 50.2% married. Stockport's 58,687 households included 33.1% one-person, 33.7% married couples living together, 9.7% were co-habiting couples, and 10.4% single parents with their children, these figures were similar to those of Stockport Metropolitan Borough and England. Retrieved on 5 August 2008.

• Retrieved on 17 August 2008. Of those aged 16–74, 29.2% had no academic qualifications, significantly higher than that of 25.7% in all of Stockport Metropolitan Borough but significantly similar to 28.9% in all of England.

Although suburbs such as Woodfordmarker, Bramhallmarker and Hazel Grovemarker rank amongst the wealthiest areas of the United Kingdom and 45% of the borough is green space, districts such as Edgeleymarker, Adswoodmarker and Brinningtonmarker suffer from widespread poverty and post-industrial decay. In the north-west of the borough are the relatively prosperous areas of Heaton Moormarker and Heaton Merseymarker, which together with Heaton Chapelmarker and Heaton Norrismarker comprise the so-called Four Heatons.

Population change

Population growth in Stockport since 1901
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 92,832 108,682 123,309 125,490 134,132 141,650 142,543 139,598 136,792 132,813 136,082
County Borough 1901-1971 Urban Subdivision 1981-2001


Stockport's principal commercial district is located in the town centre, with branches of most high-street stores to be found in the Merseyway Shopping Centremarker or The Peel Centremarker. Grand Central Leisuremarker boasts an Olympic sized swimming pool, a ten-screen cinema, bars, a bowling alley, health complex, and several restaurants. Stockport is located six miles (10 km) from Manchester , making it convenient for commuters and shoppers. In 2008, the council's £500M plans to redevelop the town centre were cancelled. The construction company, Lend Lease Corporation, pulled out of the project, blaming the credit crunch for their choice.


Stockport is home to the following:

Stockport Viaduct

Stockport Viaduct is one of the Western Europe's biggest brick structures. It is high, and carries a four-tracks over the River Mersey on the line to Manchester. The viaduct represents a major feat of Victorian engineering, it was built in 21 months at a cost of £70,000 and consists of 11,000,000 bricks. The structure is Grade II* listed.

Staircase House

Staircase House is a Grade II* listed medieval townhouse in the Market Place. The building has been modified several times, but is probably the oldest secular building in Stockport. Staircase House is the home to the Stockport Story Museum. The museum claims to detail over 10,000 years of Stockport's history.

Underbank Hall

Located in the centre of Stockport, Underbank Hall is a Grade II* listed late 16th century timber framed building. It was built as the townhouse of the Arderne family from nearby Bredburymarker. The family occupied the building until 1823. Since 1824, it has been used as a bank. The current main banking hall lies behind the 16th century part and dates from 1915.


Stockport Bus Station and Stockport Viaduct
The Manchester orbital M60 motorwaymarker and A6 road to London cross at Stockport. Stockport railway stationmarker is a mainline station on the Manchester spur of the West Coast Main Linemarker. Stockport is connected with Central London by Virgin trains with services departing every twenty minutes. Stockport Tiviot Dale stationmarker also served the town centre between 1865 and 1967, lying on routes from Liverpool, Derby and Sheffield. The station site now lies under the M60 motorway. Manchester Airportmarker (Ringwaymarker), the busiest in the UK outside London, is located five miles (8 km) southwest of the town. Stockport is also home to Stockport bus station, which serves as a terminus for many services across the borough.


Stockport Collegemarker has sites in the town centre and Heaton Moor.


Stockport is home to two professional sports teams, both of which play at Edgeley Parkmarker stadium. Stockport County F.C. currently play in Football League One (third tier). They were formed in 1883 as Heaton Norris Rovers, changing their name to Stockport County in 1890 to reflect the town of Stockport's new status as a County borough. They joined the Football League in 1900 and have been members ever since. Perhaps their most successful season ever was the 1996-97 season, where they reached the Football League Cup semi-finals and won promotion from Division Two (third tier) into what is currently known as The Championship. Notable former players include Brett Angell, George Best, Kevin Francis, Jim Gannon, Wayne Hennessey, Paul Jones , Chris Marsden, Andy Mutch, Micky Quinn and Len White, Notable former managers include Danny Bergara, Dave Jones, Gary Megson, and Jim Gannon. In the late 1990s, Stockport County expressed interest in departing from Edgeley Park to Maine Roadmarker in Moss Sidemarker. This stadium, opened in 1923, was the home of Manchester City and they would be abandoning it in 2003 for the new City of Manchester Stadiummarker that was constructed for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. However, the club decided to remain at Edgeley Park, while Maine Road was eventually demolished.

Rugby Union
Sale Sharks Rugby Union Club, won the Guinness Premiership title in 2006 and boast current England internationals Mark Cueto, Charlie Hodgson and Andrew Sheridan; Scotland's Jason White as well as capped overseas stars including Sébastien Chabal, Sébastien Bruno.

Stockport Metro Swimming Club, based at Grand Central Pools, is the most successful British swimming club, through the last three Olympic Games. Stockport Metro swimmers have claimed 50% of British swimming's medal haul. At the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Graeme Smith won bronze in the 1500m freestyle, and, at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Steve Parry won bronze in the 200m butterfly. Most recently, at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, Keri-Anne Payne and Cassie Patten won silver and bronze, respectively, in the 10km open water swim.

Stockport is the heart of English lacrosse, a sport introduced to the UK by a Canadian touring side during the reign of Queen Victoria. Stockport Lacrosse Club, HQ at Stockport Cricket Club, Cale Green, was founded in 1876, with the first match being played as Shaw Heath Villas. It is claimed that Stockport is the oldest club in the world and currently has a number of men's, ladies', and junior teams. There are also lacrosse clubs at Norbury (Hazel Grove) Cheadle, Cheadle Hulme, Heaton Mersey, Heaton Mersey Guild, and Mellor. The Stockport Grammar School old boys (Old Stopfordians) play at Disley, with other clubs in the area at Poynton, Ashton, Oldham, Timperley, Sale, Didsbury and Wilmslow.

Stockport has three athletics clubs — Manchester Harriers & AC, Stockport Harriers & AC, and DASH Athletics Club. Manchester Harriers train at William Scholes' Playing Fields in Gatley, and they organise highly-regarded schools cross country races throughout the winter. Stockport Harriers are based at Woodbank Park in Offerton, and have several International middle-distance and endurance athletes including Steve Vernon. DASH Athletics Club are the newest Club in Stockport based at both Hazel Grove Recreation Centre,and the Manchester Regional Arenamarker at Sportcity in Manchester. In 2006 DASH AC Coach Geoff Barratt was UK Athletics' Development Coach of the Year, and in 2007 the club won England Athletics North West Junior Club and North West Overall Club of The Year accolades.

Stockport is the birthplace of the late tennis player, Fred Perry. Perry is the last Briton to win both the Men's Singles titles at Wimbledonmarker and the US Openmarker (both in 1936), making him the last British male to win a Grand Slam title.

Youth Organisations

The Stockport area is covered by several different squadrons of the Air Training Corps. One of those Squadrons is 1804 Squadron ATC based on Reddish Road. There is also a vast amount of youth basketball teams, and currently the Stockport Senior mens league team are in D3 of the EBL league after their promotion earlier last season from Division 4.


Stockport's crime-rate is above the national average, specifically in the poorer areas and has given Stockport a reputation of high burglary and car crime rates, in 1990 the burglary rate in Adswoodmarker was 95 per 1000 households. Presently crime in Stockport is lower than it was during the mid-90's but is still above the national average in all main crime categories except rape. Opinions on the general quality of life in Stockport greatly differ. In its favour, some highlight its proximity to Manchester, and its abundance of amenities; but its perceived grittiness and loutish youth culture earned it 12th place in the internet-based 2004 guide Crap Towns: The 50 Worst Places To Live In The UK (however, given that its fellows on this list were places such as Oxfordmarker, Winchestermarker, Liverpoolmarker (European Capital of Culture 2008), and tiny London commuter belt villages, the relevance of the list is disputed).

Stockport currently features on the ITV documentary Car Crime UK with Trevor McDonald. It contributes the most footage than any other area that features in the programme.

See also


  1. See Dent (1977) for the traditional view; and Arrowmith (1997), p. 31 for the refutation.
  2. ; Ashmore (1975).
  3. Retrieved on 5 August 2008.
  4. Retrieved on 17 August 2008.
  5. Retrieved on 5 August 2008.
  6. Retrieved on 5 August 2008.
  7. Retrieved on 24 July 2008.
  8. Retrieved on 24 July 2008.
  9. Retrieved on 17 August 2008.
  10. Hat Works Web Site


Further reading

External links

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