New book on Stockport's History
by Steve Cliffe
People smile when I tell them that I am the author of a book, which breaks new ground in Stockport’s history. What can I possibly know which eminent local historians who wrote tomes on Stockport, like Dr Peter Arrowsmith, and Dr Henry Heginbotham didn’t? Well quite a bit actually.
Apart from all the recent evidence of early people which has come out of the excavations at Mellor, and my first-hand knowledge of the campaign to save and restore the old town centre and open Staircase House, our only medieval townhouse to survive, I also know lots about Stockport from my 18 years of editing and publishing Stockport Heritage Magazine.
All this knowledge is distilled and concentrated into a handy, readable, little book published by Tempus (in time for Christmas) which will tell the average person all they ever wanted to know about Stockport and perhaps a bit more than that. Did you , for instance know that Stockport was probably founded by a Saxon princess, or that it had a castle which was in rebellion against the king, or that a battle took place here during the English Civil War? Stockport, besides producing silk, cotton and hats, also gave birth to John Bradshawe, the man who became first president of an English Republic in 1649.
Stockport has historical evidence going right back to the stone age and the exciting thing is that it is still being uncovered. The dig at Mellor on the site of a hilltop encampment goes on each summer. Only recently in the town centre, remains of the medieval castle well and a wheelpit, from the 18th century mill which replaced it, were found beneath the old courthouse on Vernon Street. Stockport Heritage Trust volunteers were on site at both these finds.
You will find answers to lots of puzzling questions in this book – how did they build the railway viaduct, and why does it have a gap in the middle? Who is that bloke made of bronze on a pedestal in St Peter’s Square, our only statue of an individual, and what did he do for the town? Why did the Luddites use Stockport as their headquarters?
Find out by buying Stockport History & Guide by Steve Cliffe.
Available for £14.99 at most Stockport bookshops; or
for the same price at the Heritage Centre, St Mary’s Church (£3.75 goes to the Trust); or
from Stockport Heritage Publications (4 Fernilee Cottage, Fernilee, Whaley Bridge, High Peak, SK23 7HB) for £14.99 including p&p in the UK; or
from Tempus for £14.01 including p&p in the UK; or
from Amazon for £19.73 including p&p in the UK.
Originally a border market town above the Mersey, with a small medieval castle, Stockport grew into the leading cotton manufacturer of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Its sandstone rock is riddled with miles of water tunnels which once powered the early mill machinery. Today it is a lively modern town which retains the character of its historic market core with an increasing number of heritage attractions, including the Hat Works, Staircase House, the air-raid tunnels and Bramall Hall. The book looks at the evolution of the town to the present day, from its earliest history, Roman activity and civil war of 1642, through the industrial period and its many unrests, to the arrival of modern Stockport with the coming of the railway in 1840. Including two walking tours - one of the old town centre and another along the Goyt Valley and out to the fringes of the Peak District at picturesque Marple Bridge - the book is an essential guide for anyone with an interest in gaining an insight into the proud heritage of this fascinating town.