Stockport is a town in the north west of the England. Today, the town is part of the Greater Manchester region but historically Stockport is best known as being part of the county of Cheshire. Stockport is situated a few miles to the south-east of Manchester itself and is the main town in the Borough of Stockport.
There is evidence of Roman inhabitation in and around the town which stood at the crossroads of various Roman roads linking the area. The town was significant enough to have its own ruling Baron (the Baron of Stockport) in Norman times. In its early days here Stockport was often known as Stokeport. The first written references to the town were made around the 1100s. At this time a motte and bailey castle (Stockport Castle) was built in the town.
During the 16th century Stockport became well known for its hemp and rope industries. The later Industrial Revolution saw the town adopt one of the first silk factories that was mechanised in the country. In the 18th century the town was linked to the country’s canal network with the building of a connection to the Ashton Canal which made it easier for local industrialists to bring goods in and out of the town itself. By the 19th century, however, Stockport was perhaps best known for its work in the cotton and hat industries. The building of the Stockport Viaduct in this century opened up a new world of transport links for the town and its businesses.
Visitors may well enjoy a visit to the town’s hat museum (The Hat Works). This museum gives an introduction to the importance of the hatting industry in the town - Stockport was one of England’s most important producers of hats at one point and the last hat factory in Stockport did not close down until the 1990s. The museum here is the only hat museum in the country and is based in a former hat factory, Wellington Mill.
Visitors may also enjoy a visit to the town’s World War II air raid shelters (Stockport Air Raid Shelters) which are preserved under the centre of the town. Going a little further back the town also has an example of a medieval merchant house (Staircase House) in its market place which is also in the centre of the town. This house is also home to the Stockport Story Museum which tells the story of the history of the town. Music lovers may also enjoy a visit to the Town Hall which contains the largest Wurlitzer organ in the country. The town’s main park, Vernon Park, is also a good place to relax.