by James Pigot (1818)
Stockport is a principal manufacturing town in the county of Chester; is 176 miles from London and six from Manchester. There is not in England a more irregular spot of ground than that on which this town stands. The market place is commodious, but difficult of access, being on the summit of a hill and the few streets leading to it steep and narrow; yet greater quantities of corn, oatmeal, cheese, &c. are sold here on the market-day, Friday, than at any other market in the county.
The progress of the trade of Stockport has been thus delineated by Dr. Aikin, Here were erected some of the first mills for winding and throwing silk, on a plan procured from Italy. The persons concerned in the silk factories were reckoned the principal people in the place but on the decline of this trade, the machinery was applied to cotton spinning and the different branches of the cotton manufacture are now the chief staple of the town.
The people of Stockport first engaged in the spinning of reeled weft, then in weaving checks, and lastly ſustians and the general cotton trade is now very considerable. The making of hats is likewise a considerable branch of employment. To this may be added, that few towns in the kingdom have carried the spirit of industry and improvement to a greater extent than Stockport and that its manufactures now hold a principal rank in all the markets in the country. The removal of articles of traffic is much facilitated by a canal to Manchester which, uniting with the Duke of Bridgewater's at that place, communicates with most of the navigable rivers and canals in the kingdom. Busy and active in trade, as the inhabitants of this town are known to be, they are not indifferent to the best interests and feelings of humanity. By their exertions, one of the most extensive Sunday-school establishments in England is liberally and admirably supported; a large and commodious room has been erected and many children here receive the rudiments of religious and moral instruction. A free grammar school was founded here in 1487.
There are also six alms houses for six poor men, inhabitants of Stockport and an auxiliary Bible Society has been established. There are two churches and various meeting houses for dissenters. The old, church has been recently taken down and is now rebuilt, in a very handsome stile. Fairs, March 4 and 25, May 1, October 23, chiefly cattle.
The population of Stockport has been variously stated; we believe it to be little less than 20.000. Market-day, Friday.