Friday, August 16, 2013

An Afternoon in Stockport

A lively Saturday in downtown Stockport.  The red brick building is the Stockport library.

It had been raining since the middle of the night.  Since it didn't look like it would let up, we decided to find a museum or two to walk through.  A brochure here at the house from Stockport showed several interesting places, so we went.  The closer we got, the less the rain, until there wasn't any. The museums appeared to be in the old downtown area, so we were really surprised when there was a modern shopping mall with a parking barn right across the street from where we were going.

The tunnels of the WWII air raid shelter.  At one time, this area would have been full of people.

Bunks, available on a first come, first serve basis.  The center bunk can fold down to make a sofa.

Special care was given to nursing mothers and children.

The Stockport Air Raid Museum is unique.  The shelters were built in 1939-40, dug out of red limestone.  For over a year, they house 6500 people every night while the threat of bombing by the Germans was so great.  The admission price included an audio guide which was very good.  We usually don't care for them; too difficult to use, understand and most of the time a distraction from what we are looking for.  This one was very not only easy to use and understand, the presentation humanized the experience of staying in the shelters.

The first aid station was the only part which had a finished floor as well as a canvas covering to keep the limestone from fall down on the people.

The canteen.  One of the woman who worked in it described it as pouring millions of cups of tea all night long.

Our next stop was the Hat Museum.  We walked up the street to where we had seen the sign, only to find it wasn't the entrance.  There were directions, but they worked on the assumption you knew the streets, which we didn't.  After questioning a couple of people, one man knew the answer.  He suggested we walk with him and he would show us the way.  It was fun talking to him as we walked.  When we came to the corner, he pointed out the way and off we went, after thanking him for his kindness.
Felt hat production was a very big industry in Stockport until the 1960's.

There was a special display for Lock and Co, the oldest hat maker in England, but the lighting was not good.  This was a display in the gift shop. 

The Hat Museum was odd.  Stockport used to be the center of hat making in England.  There were displays of hat and head wear, old and new.  Machinery that was used to make the felt, make the hats, make the bands and so on.  But the lighting was terrible.  Low lights over the glass display cases with bright spotlights also shining on them, which meant, you cast a shadow over the displays making them very hard to see.  In their special display about Lock and Co Hatters, the cases were installed backwards!  Instead of the light being in the front corners of the display so they would shine back on the items, they were in the back of the cases, shining in our eyes!  The plus side?  There was no admission fee.

What did we find in the middle of the Hat Museum, why a Mini of course!

Several of the old downtown streets are now pedestrian only.

We walked through the open air shopping mall on the way back to the car park, then decided to go out of the mall into the old downtown, which looked very lively.  What a pleasant surprise.  There were several very old buildings, still in use.  Lots of shops open, including a walk in barber.  So, Bill got a haircut!  Now he is back to 1/4 in long hair.
An old building used as a hotel.

NatWest bank is in a building from the late 1500!  Their only addition?  A night drop box inside the gated area.

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