PORTRAITS OF THE UNDERBANKS

a place that makes itself

JILL & ROB – HERITAGE TRUST

Rob: I retired early and started working at the Heritage Centre ten years ago. My background is IT, so I help out a lot with IT related tasks at the centre.

You know the ex-jewellers on Little Underbank, Winter’s? The clock above is one of only two in the UK that is accompanied by external automatons, the other being at Gloucester. The Tin Brook ran down Underbank and used to be an open stream until it was culverted many years ago. Some of the cellars in the older properties have bricked up windows and doors that used to open at street level.

I’m from Portwood originally, which is the area around where the Peel Centre is now. That whole area used to be terraces – workers’ houses – and mills; it was all very mill-oriented. There was Portwood Hall, dating from the late middle ages, which in the early 70’s was pulled down in a single day, giving no opportunity to retrieve artefacts or examine its ancient timbers. The confluence of the rivers Tame and Goyt occurs in Portwood, near the rear of Sainsbury’s, to form the River Mersey. The shopping precinct is built over the Mersey, and along with part of Mersey square, forms the widest bridge in the country.

George Warren, being Lord of the Manor, was important in the history of the Underbanks. He was not a pleasant man, being rather unscrupulous. However his wife, Elizabeth, was a much more generous person and notable benefactor.

What’s the future of the area? Well, there used to be a lot of sex shops on Lower Hillgate – and the Christian Bookshop was opposite one of them! Hopefully the image of the Underbanks will improve and become more family and shopper friendly. People talk of the Underbanks as being Stockport’s ‘jewel in the crown’. The Underbanks certainly have huge potential, which I and others in the Stockport Heritage Trust are keen to promote.

Jill: I started here about twelve years ago. I’ve always been interested in local history, I did a history degree too. I’m especially interested in the contrast between what’s recorded in the census and what’s recorded in the trade directories – it tells you a lot about how people self-identified, whether that’s boosting themselves up or taking themselves down. 

All that research went towards the Heritage Centre – not written down, but it’s all in here, in my head. 

It’s interesting to see how many women had their own occupations in that period, more than you might think. 

I’ve developed a walk along the Underbanks about the things that you can’t see, all the layers of history that you might not know about. 

There’s the Coburg steps behind the shops. They used to go down to all the houses down there, in the ravine, before the bridge was built. There’s Staircase House too, that belonged to the Arden family, dating back to the 1400s. It’s a Natwest now. Stockport has the oldest school in the north, too, a grammar school built in 1847, right by the A6!

And we’ve got the lease on the dungeon too, have you seen it? It used to be for the lock-ups from the court, until they got transport away from there. We open it for tourists every second Saturday of the month, people love it.

Jill: I started here about twelve years ago. I’ve always been interested in local history, I did a history degree too. I’m especially interested in the contrast between what’s recorded in the census and what’s recorded in the trade directories – it tells you a lot about how people self-identified, whether that’s boosting themselves up or taking themselves down. 

All that research went towards the Heritage Centre – not written down yet, but it’s all in here, in my head. 
It’s interesting to see how many women had their own occupations in the nineteenth century, more than you might think. 

I’ve developed a walk along the Underbanks about the things that you can’t see, and the people who lived there, all the layers of history that you might not know about. 

The only access across Little Underbank before the bridge was built were brows and steps. The Coburg steps are still there, they go behind the buildings into the market place. There’s Underbank Hall, that belonged to the Arden family, dating back to the 1400s. It’s a Natwest now. Stockport has the second oldest school in the north, too, a grammar school founded in 1487 in St. Mary’s church, it is now right by the A6 in Davenport!

And we’ve also got the lease on the dungeon, have you seen it? It used to be for the lock-ups from the court, until prisoners got transport away from there. We open it for visitors every second Saturday of the month, people love it.

stockportheritagetrust.co.uk

Next Post

Previous Post

© 2021 PORTRAITS OF THE UNDERBANKS

Theme by Anders Norén