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“Where are you from?”


Sharp intake of breath… “Unlucky. I suppose someone has to be.”

“That’s a bit rich coming from a Scouser…”

And so began my uneasy relationship with Ken. To be fair, he had a point.

G rowing up in the South Manchester mill town whose industrial revolution wealth came from the high-quality silk produced in its ‘dark Satanic mills’, and whose town centre air had a permanent whiff of sour hops billowing from Fred Robinson’s brewery, I loved growing up in Stockport, but I never kidded myself it was anything less than a dump.

Foodie Friday on Stockport Market

Since relocating back to the UK in 2021, I’ve been to Stockport multiple times, usually fleetingly and always to see family. Consequently, time to wander the town centre, reminiscing about my largely misspent youth, has been scant. But even so, word of its cultural revival has reached my ears from the press, social media and family.

“It’s completely changed,” the family assured me. “There’s a brilliant music scene here now, and great food too. You wouldn’t recognise the place.”

I knew they were right about the music scene due mainly to the band Blossoms who hail from the town and have put it firmly on the 21st-century music map. I also knew there was something of an art scene because my niece, Emily, is a major part of it, painting large murals and adorning hip shop windows in the newly-revived Underbank. I would smile and say “Really? Wow, that’s brilliant,” while smugly categorising the claims as little more than window dressing what was still essentially, a cheap, tatty shop.

Not for the first time in my life, I was completely wrong. For the times they really are a-changin’.

A Cultural Revolution

A t the beginning of this month Jack and I spent a week in Stockport. Every day was dominated by hospital visits and latterly, nursing home visits, spending time with my eldest brother. But the evenings were a social whirr.

On the Friday, we headed down to the market for the monthly Foodie Friday. Arriving at about 5.30pm, a fair crowd was already gathering amongst the multiple food stands and the Produce Hall. We wandered around, craft ales in hand, marvelling at the scope of food on offer spanning cuisines from across the globe, and at the multi-cultural participants and crowds now filling the market place. When we lived here, there were very few non-white faces to be seen in Stockport; now that is changing and not before time.

Cocktails at Bohemian Arts Club, Stockport

Meeting up with family, we gorged ourselves on tasty street food, indulged in amazing cocktails at the chic Bohemian Arts Club cocktail bar, and chatted the night away sitting outside in the beer garden of The Good Rebel. At 11pm we walked across St Petersgate, jumped on the good old 192 bus (some things never change) and were home for 11.30pm.

The following night, we all met up again, this time for a delicious meal at La Tavola Sicilian restaurant in New Mills. Again, the place was absolutely buzzing and again, having Myles, a member of Blossoms, in our party meant we got ‘special’ attention. The night before coming home, we headed down into Stockport to The Magnet pub which is directly opposite the offices where both Jack and I worked at one time. A tatty old pub frequented by old men and drunks, neither of us had ever spent more than the briefest of times in it. But The Magnet has been given a new lease of life with an excellent selection of local craft ales. Still a Stockport pub at heart, it’s now a very pleasant place to while away a couple of hours with friends and family.

Even as I type this, my phone has pinged an alert telling me that there is to be a one-day festival in Stockport this July – Stock Party – to be held in the Underbanks on 20 July from midday to 9pm. Featuring multiple food pop-ups; Tap Takeovers from local craft ale brewers; and non-stop music, it promises to be a fabulous event.

It seems the town’s unofficial strap line of Stockport Isn’t Sh*t is absolutely true. I can’t wait to tell Ken.


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