by John Moss
- the origin of the Name
on the River Mersey about 7 miles South-east of Manchester city centre,
Stockport is an attractive old town with a long history. Oddly, two
alternative explanations seem to exist for the origin of the name of
Stockport. One has it that, as a Saxon village, it was given the name
"Stockport", which means " the market place at the hamlet " In fact,
it has had a market there since well before it was officially granted
in 1260 AD.
Hall, Stockport Town Hall and Stockport town centre as seen from Heaton
though both Cheadle and Bramhall (which now exist within the Metropolitan
Borough of Stockport) were referenced in the Domesday Book of 1086,
Stockport itself received no mention.
authorities have it that here is sufficient evidence to support the
argument that there had existed a fortified stronghold in the vicinity
since ancient British times, and that even Agricola had recognised its
strategical advantages and fortified Stockport to guard the passage
of the Mersey. The town's name, then, could have been derived from two
alternative Saxon words: "stoc" - a stockaded place or castle;
and "port" - a wood. Literally, a castle in a wood. Either
explanation is plausible and possible.
Normans also fortified the site and the castle they built was rebuilt
and adapted over the centuries until it was finally demolished in the
year 1775. Well authenticated tradition carries the history of Stockport
back to early Norman times, and it was the second Sir Robert de Stokeport,
a successor of one of the barons created by Hugh Lupus d'Avranche, nephew
of King William the Conqueror, who obtained the Charter of Freedom for
the town around the middle of the thirteenth century, whilst the third
Sir Robert de Stokeport obtained a grant of a weekly market and a yearly
fair. This Charter was one of the first granted in the district and
was so exceedingly comprehensive that it remained in force for more
than six hundred years.
Stockport with its
iconic Railway Viaduct. Aerial Photograph Image Courtesy of www.webbaviation.co.uk
Charter and a Fair
1172 a castle stood in Castle Yard, where the present market place now
is and it withstood a siege by Henry II. In 1220 the town was granted
a Charter of Freedom - a 1530 Latin copy of the Charter can be seen
in the Town Hall. This provided for a code of local government, as well
as the market and an annual fair. By 1327 it was held by the de Spencer
family. After more than 2 centuries, accounts describe the castle as
in a decayed and disused state, and it remained so until some rebuilding
during the Civil Wars in the 17th century, when some defensive restorations
were carried out. However, by the end of this war the castle lay once
again in ruins.
Manorial system of local government came to an end with the establishment
of Municipal Local Government by the Municipal Corporations Act of 1825.
Under this Act, Stockport was included in the list of towns to be divided
into seven wards, with a Council consisting of 14 Aldermen and 42 Councillors.
1888, the town was raised to the status of a County Borough. Since its
early incorporation Stockport had considered building for itself a town
hall to reflect its new dignity and civic pride, and permissions were
obtained to erect a town hall and proper public offices within the borough.
was not until 1893, however, that a definite proposal was made to erect
the town hall on the site of the old National School in Wellington Road
South. The design of this magnificent edifice was placed in the hands
of Sir Brumwell Thomas (renowned contemporary architect of Belfast City