Empress Court, Heaton Norris

Dive into the local history

‘Bus stop, wet day, she’s there, I say, “Please share my umbrella”…’

If this means nothing to you, maybe run it past your grandparents… Clues; Stockport, 1966, The Hollies.

‘Bus Stop’ got to No 5 in the UK and the US, and No1 in Canada. The Hollies identified with Stockport. They had more than thirty hit singles. ‘Bus Stop’ was written by Graham Gouldman, who went on to form a band called 10cc. The band co-owned Strawberry Studios in Stockport, where Joy Division recorded Love Will Tear Us Apart, in 1980. There ends the pop quiz.

Stockport has a distinct identity. Distinct from Manchester, that is.

The Heatons; Mersey, Moor, Chapel, Norris, like sisters in a novel by Jane Austin. Giddy, busy, not all quite so pretty, but each one of them a catch. Stockport likes to think itself independent of its brash neighbour. Manchester had its cotton, after Stockport had its silk and hats, sometimes even silk hats.

Nowadays, bright kids head to Stockport, to find new ways in the refreshed old town; old with its well-made character, fresh with novel combinations, like vintage clothes. Pre-loved Stockport, for too long left in the wardrobe, out into the sunlight of new appreciation. We are local now, more artisanal, less corporate. And we live in adaptable land.


Stockport has topography.

It took eleven million bricks and 400,000 cubic feet of stone to carry the Manchester and Birmingham Railway from one side of the Mersey Valley to the other, spanning the engine house and chimney of Weir Mill into the bargain. When it opened for business in December 1840, Stockport Viaduct was the biggest brick structure in Britain, and one of the largest in Europe.


In March 2024 came the Stockport Interchange, with entrances from Mersey Square and Daw Bank and a rooftop park, straight off the pavement of the A6, as it climbs south up Stockport Hill.

This is the Big O for the town. A big beautiful doughnut sprinkled with benches and planting. A new public space It will only get bigger when Metrolink comes through. There is no more important infrastructural investment in the whole of Greater Manchester.

And the Heatons, and Reddish, Edgely and Davenport, Mersey Way, the Goyt Valley and the aged, weathered, half-timbered, patinated, crenelated, towered, turreted, spired and domed romantic historic concoction of Stockport Old Town will flourish and chime again, like the Underbank magic of the Winters Jewellers clock, or the bells of St Mary’s in the Market Place.


These days we talk of mixed-use development as something of a planning grail.

Stockport is a mixed-use kind of town. There are financial and service sector expansions, lawyers, bankers, real estate and retail. And there are fashion designers in open studios. And in a challenging market, Stockport is pushing boundaries in food and drink. No single entrepreneurial initiative has brought more of a buzz to Stockport Old Town more than Foodie Fridays. And there are the nationally acclaimed Teenage and Vintage Markets.

Heaton Norris will flourish because a new generation of Stopfordians want to be here, now. To precis another Victorian woman novelist: ‘Reader, I moved here’, will be the fond refrain of increasing numbers of enviable incomers scanning the refreshed neighbourhoods on the crest of Lancashire Hill.   

Empress Court, Heaton Norris

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9 homes