As a former shoe shop becomes a local events hub, it’s a sign of the times for town centres like these
Stockport’s shopping centre has never been the most inspiring of places (more on that below), which makes news of Merseyway Workshop very welcome indeed.
Creativity can breathe life back into our high streets and recapture community spirit after a time of crisis
Due to open in October, this DIY communal space will provide free and accessible creative workshops, rolling exhibitions and retail opportunities for local makers - transforming an empty shoe shop into a place where people can learn, make, share and inspire.
A collaboration between community-focused design teamand social enterprise , Merseyway Workshop reached its crowdfunding £4000 target in just two days - renovations are now underway and the team is on what visitors would like to experience, as well as working with local artists and organisations to help shape the programme.
Alongside a bookable event space and an evolving calendar of workshops including woodwork, ceramics and up-cycled plastics, Merseyway Workshop will also provide Stockport residents with facilities to recycle plastic waste that can’t be recycled by the local council; this will be transformed into new products during sessions.
Stockport has around 30,000 low-income families and 36,400 people in poverty. Tom Marrett, Easy Peel Studio co-founder, said: “The space will provide a valuable local provision for individuals who would not ordinarily have the opportunity to engage in such endeavours and we very much see this as a pilot for future projects. The space (also) supports the ethos behind the new One Stockport campaign which is about working collaboratively, connecting communities and promoting health and wellbeing.”
Rachel Lewis, co- director at Plastic Shed, added: “This is ‘building back better.’ Having places on the high street put back into local hands means that it is connected to local people and accountable to the community. In the new normal it’s vital that we listen to what the community needs. We can’t wait to see how this space evolves as people use it. As a Stockport-based social enterprise it’s a huge step forward for us and we’ll be able to deliver an even bigger social and environmental impact.”
To find out more about Merseyway Workshop, and how you can support the project, visit the.
Change is afoot…
of the former M&S building.
and ‘associated green infrastructure,’ plus the aforementioned Glenbrook conversion, are recipients of the government’s Getting Building Fund).
saw Stockport Council work with the Heritage Trust to secure £1.8 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Focusing on the repair and reuse of the area’s historic buildings, it expands on the project, which was awarded Portas Pilot funding in 2012 and has transformed the marketplace (now also home to the popular Produce Hall) into an area that bustles with events and culture. Hopefully the five-year funding will ensure the Underbanks - already boasting innovative restaurants like Where the Light Gets In and a plethora of microbreweries, artisanal caffs and independent shops - can catch up and be restored to its former glory.
Purple Flag status - awarded last year for the quality and safety of its evening and night-time economy - it’s perhaps unsurprising that residential property is getting a boost too: the , founded in September 2019, plans to deliver up to 3500 new homes (alongside a million sq ft of workspace) in the town centre through projects like Capital + Centric’s
Stockport: around and about…
Having grown up in Mellor and Marple, I couldn’t resist adding an addition to this article - some top things to do around Stockport. While the town might be turning a hopeful corner, the borough itself also has much to offer.
Love a stroll in the country? Stockport excels in this respect. The Peak Forest Canal passes through Woodley and Romiley on its way to Marple, then on through Strines, Disley and eventually Whaley Bridge. Forming part of Cheshire Ring Canal System, it encompasses a plethora of landscapes and also offers pastimes like gongoozling (I had to get that word in), fishing at the picturesque Roman Lakes or even renting a canal boat.
PS: If you’re dining, I’d concur with my colleague Neil in recommending The Fisherman’s Table; I’ve never enjoyed a better fish dish than at this Marple jewel.
Onto trans-county footpaths and the Middlewood Way, which stretches ten miles from Rose Hill Station to Macclesfield, passing a series of quirkily-named spots like Devil’s Punch Bowl as it goes. One of my favourite wayside places is Jackson’s Brickworks nature reserve, reclaimed by wildlife after its industrial interlude and a mosaic of habitats in miniature.
Other scenic walks that are well worth the visit include Ladybrook Valley, Mellor Tops, Werneth Low, Reddish Vale and Romiley’s Etherow Country Park and Chadkirk.
It’s not all about the walks either; from the bustling Heatons to the stunning Bramhall Hall - a Tudor manor house set in scenic grounds - and award-winning Avro Heritage Museum, there’s more to entertain.
And of course you’re not far from the Peak District but that’s a whole other article….