Welcome to the town that hats built. Renowned for its hat-making in the 19th century, Stockport also has a long-standing reputation for beer, and there are plenty of excellent pubs and bars in the town to check out after a hard day exploring. During the Industrial Revolution Friedrich Engels declared it the smokiest place in Lancashire or Cheshire, and although many red-brick industrial buildings remain, visitors, today can enjoy the Victorian architecture of the town with a much better air quality!
Stockport's hat industry once exported six million pieces of headwear a year, and although production ceased in 1997, you can still explore the history of the trade at the Hat Works Museum, housed in an old factory. It is also reflected in the nickname given to the local football team: Stockport County are known as 'The Hatters'.
To find the bulk of Stockport's shops, as well as some cafes and restaurants, head to the pedestrianised Merseyway precinct in the centre of the town, not far from the railway station. Nearby, those interested in the history of the town can visit the Stockport Air Raid Shelters, an underground network of tunnels built to keep people safe from the German air raids during WW2.
One of the most popular landmarks in Stockport is the Robinsons Brewery Visitors Centre. Robinsons have been making beer at the Unicorn Brewery since 1838, and the visitor centre gives you the chance to explore the brewing process and the history of beer-making, and of course sample some of the produce straight from the cask. It's on Lower Hillgate in the heart of the city centre, about ten minutes' walk from the station.