Stockport - A de-industrialised city
To understand how Stockport has decayed it is essential to analyse the process of de-industrialisation and its effects on the town. De-industrialisation can be mapped through the disuse of buildings, and decommissioned industrial networks.
During the boom of the industrial revolution, Stockport, like many of Manchester’s satellite towns was highly populated with a workforce attending the town’s cotton mills. These mills were situated close to the River Mersey to provide transportation to the newly formed global trading network and to provide power to the machinery. Stockport was built on the success of the cotton industry.
With the fall of ‘Cottonopolis’, Stockport soon faced de-industrialisation with the cotton industry being replaced by a cheaper labour force over seas. Whilst in this state of decline, Stockport failed to grasp onto the changing economy and felt a decay similar to Stoke-on-Trent. Former industrial sites of Stockport have been left vacant, redeveloped and reused since de-industrialisation started.
It is clear, from comparing historic maps of Stockport, that many cotton mills have been demolished or reused to accommodate new businesses. Through the removal of links to its industrial past, Stockport has rid itself of a proportion of its industrial heritage with old mills being replaced by retail estates and industrial warehouses. The few mills that survived have been occupied by small businesses, with some mills being better preserved through restoration via a loving owner and decent interior designer whilst others being completely stripped of their industrial origin.
The River Mersey was once used to distribute Stockport’s manufactured goods, and has been highlight as a disused industrial network. It was an vital factor for Stockport’s growth and integral to the industries success. Now a large portion of the river is hidden with the Merseyway shopping centre in the centre of Stockport. It seems the town is unsure how to react to its industrial past, whether it should be celebrated or concealed. Its heritage has been destroyed or renovated beyond recognition, and the ability to capitalise on it’s history lost.