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Altrincham, Cheshire, England


The Old Market Place
27 March 2012

Altrincham, Cheshire

This page is largely limited to history, photographs and a bibliography but more information on the town, its people and buildings, will be added in due course. Click on the photos for enlargements. For extensive coverage of ALTRINCHAM FOOTBALL CLUB, please click here.

For an excellent site on Altrincham, see David Miller's Altrincham Area History.


Location and Approaches

Altrincham lies some eight miles south of Manchester. By public transport, the town can be reached by hourly (2012) train from Stockport or Chester or by Metrolink tram from Manchester, including Piccadilly Station. Buses (Arriva service 263 and the less direct and less frequent service 16, both from Piccadilly bus station) run to Altrincham from Manchester. By car, the town is reached from the south by the A556, then A56, after leaving the M6 or M56. The A56 approaches Altrincham along Dunham Road which passes through the Old Market Place but skirts the modern centre of the town, which lies to the east. To reach the town centre turn right down Regent Road or turn right onto the A560 then immediately right again onto Barrington Road which runs into Stamford New Road, which is the main road through the town centre and passes the railway/Metrolink station. From the north (Manchester or the M60), follow the signposts on the A56. The town is generally flat but its southern fringes around Bowdon lie on the Altrincham ridge, which largely comprises glacial gravels and rises to 200ft above sea-level. This elevation is clearly visible as the town is approached from the south, up the A556 from the M6 or M56 junctions.

Right: Altrincham's landmark - the station clock.

Historical Outline


Although it was not named in the Domesday Book, a number of neighbouring areas, such as Dunham were. At this time Alfward had an estate embracing modern day Dunham, Ashley and Baguley. In Norman times the area came under Hamo of Masci, whose base was initially a wooden castle at Dunham. By 1286 the fifth Hamo, still based at Dunham Castle, was assisting Edward I against the Scots. It was Hamo who obtained for Altrincham its charter as a borough in 1290 and this charter was renewed in 1319. The last of the line of Hamos died in 1342 and the Black Death decimated the area in 1348. In 1494 the ruins of the castle at Dunham were acquired by Robert Booth, whose family was subsequently ruined in the Civil War (c.1640). By 1750 the estate had passed to the Stamford family.

There are relatively few historical remains evident in the town today. The oldest surviving part of the town is that around the Old Market Place and Church Street (on the A56). It was here that Bonnie Prince Charlie's troops were allegedly billeted in 1745. A number of Georgian buildings also survive in this area on High Street. Altrincham's fortunes improved with the arrival of the famous Bridgewater Canal, constructed in the 1760s and this can be seen most conveniently from the A56 at Broadheath Bridge. In the latter part of the 18th century the town had a cotton and worsted trade but it was the opening of the Manchester South Junction and Altrincham Railway (MSJA) in 1849 which really prompted the town's growth. Also in 1849 the first Town Hall was established adjacent to the Unicorn Hotel. Altrincham endured epidemics of typhoid and cholera in the 19th century but in the latter part of the century many prosperous Manchester businessmen took up residence, particularly in Bowdon, at the southern edge of Altrincham. From here they commuted to Manchester by train. The existing town hall buildings were erected in 1900 and in 1937 Altrincham became a Municipal Borough. In the 1890s the Broadheath area started to become heavily industrialised.From the 1970s Altrincham's industrial base declined and the area is now predominantly residential and commercial in nature.

The town became part of Trafford Metropolitan Borough in 1974 having, till then, been part of the County of Cheshire. Indeed, postally, the town's address is still "Altrincham, Cheshire". The more northerly part of the town includes the formerly industrial area of Broadheath, which lies to the west of the A56 on the Bridgewater Canal. To the east lies the more residential area of Timperley. The Broadheath area developed boomed in the early 20th century as a major industrial complex, with factories of such firms as Linotype George Richards, and Budenberg Gauges. Today, most of the town's heavy industry has disappeared and much of Broadheath is now a retail park, housing Homebase, B+Q, Aldi and other national stores. The railway links have also declined, with Altrincham now served only by an hourly service to Chester and Manchester (via Stockport). Other railway lines, through the former stations at West Timperley and Broadheath, have been closed to passengers for years and the latter line was irrevocably severed in the late 1990s to facilitate the building of the new Altrincham Retail Park. However, on a positive note, the MSJA has been replaced by Metrolink trams which link the town, via Sale, Stretford and Old Trafford to Manchester and Bury. But underfunding means that Metrolink is overcrowded, expensive and has poor-quality track work, especially on the stretch between Dane Road and Stretford.

Above L to R: (1) Old Market Place. (2) Post Office Buildings, Stamford New Road, with the Station Clock in the distance to the north.

The town centre was redeveloped in the 1970s and its shopping centre now lies along the pedestrianised George Street and the parallel Stamford New Road/Railway Street, which lead southwards to The Downs, Hale and Bowdon. The town's old market hall survives as does the covered market itself, which is sited between Market Street and Greenwood Street. But the impact of the massive Trafford Centre just a few miles away has hit the town's retail trade hard. In an attempt to reinvigorate the retail trade, part of the 1970s shopping centre was rebuilt in 2006/7 to 2011 and a new cinema opened in the town in January 2007.

Altrincham is probably best known nationally today for its successful non-league football team. Altrincham Football Club, which plays on Moss Lane, has knocked out more League teams (16) from the FA Cup than any other current non-league club and in the 1980s was the country's leading non-league team. The town also had a celebrated ice hockey team, the Altrincham Aces, who played at the Altrincham Ice Rink in Broadheath. This was closed some years ago but a new rink was opened in 2007 behind Altrincham station. This is the home to the Manchester Phoenix club.

Some Famous Altrinchamians

Helen Allingham (1848-1926)
Helen was the first woman artist ever elected to the Royal Water-Colour Society. She lived in Market Street from 1849 until the early 1860s, where a wall plaque commemorates her.

Sir Michael Bishop (1941-)
Bowdon-born Sir Michael is the man who built up British Midland Airways into the major UK-airline bmi, before selling his 50% stake in the company to Germany's Lufthansa for 318 million in October, 2008. He started his airline career in 1965 as a holiday-relief baggage handler at Manchester Airport before working for local company Mercury Airlines. Mercury became part of the British Midland in 1963 and Sir Michael worked his way up through the airline's management until he obtained private funding in 1978 to buy into the company.

Frank Crossley (1839-97)
Crossley buses and lorries were a common site on British roads for many years. Frank Crossley, an Ulsterman, who set up Crossley Motors in 1910, lived at 3 Grosvenor Road, Altrincham. He married at St. Margaret's Church. He devoted his latter life to missionary work and left 600,000 in his will.

Ronald Gow (1897-1993)
A plaque on the side of Barclay's Bank on Stamford New Road/Goose Green records the residence there of dramatist Ronald Gow. A schoolmaster at Altrincham Grammar School from 1923, Gow was an early film-maker, before having plays performed at Altrincham's Garrick theatre. He left Altrincham in the 1930s and married actress Wendy Hiller. Ronald dramatised Walter Greenwood's "Love on the Dole".

Hans Richter (1843-1916)
The Austro-Hungarian-born conductor of the Halle Orchestra (1899-1911), Hans Richter, lived at The Firs, Bowdon from 1901-11.

Bill Speakman V.C. (1927-)
One of Altrincham's most famous residents of recent times was Bill Speakman, who won the V.C. in 1951 during the Korean War. Bill was honoured in May 2003 when Altrincham's Woodlands Parkway bridge was named after him. Bill has spent the last 40 years in South Africa but lived at 27 Moss Lane at the time of his war exploits and returned to the town for the bridge naming ceremony.

Alison Uttley (1884-1972)
After obtaining a Physics degree at the University of Manchester in 1906, Alice Taylor (as she was born) married and moved to Bowdon in 1924. She went on to write the "Little Grey Rabbit" books, whilst living in Bowdon where there is a plaque to her at 13 Higher Downs, her home from 1924-38. She then moved to Buckinghamshire.

Pictures

Please click on the images, below, to enlarge them.


Above L to R: (1) The former Lloyd's Bank, built by George Truefitt for local banker William Cunliffe Brooks in 1877. (2) Altrincham's Jacobean-style former Town Hall (1900) in High Street. The building is now Council Offices but is under threat of demolition.

Above L to R: (1) The Downs from Railway Street. (2) The Downs. (3) Norman's Place/Regent Road junction.

Above L to R: (1) Unitarian Chapel, Dunham Road, opened in 1872 by William Gaskell, husband of the novelist Mrs Gaskell. (2) Altrincham General Hospital (1870). (3) The Bricklayer's Arms in George Street

Above: (1) The plaque on Altrincham Market Hall.

Above L to R: (1) The 18th-century Stamford Estates Office in High Street, formerly home to the Earl of Stamford's steward. Now the Offices of the National Trust. (2) Altrincham Market Hall (1879).


Above L to R: (1) The former Board of Health Offices in High Street. (2) St Vincent's RC Church, Groby/Bentinck Road. (3) Stamford New Road, with Altrincham Interchange to the left.

Selective Bibliography


  • Bamford, Frank, Broadheath, 1885-1985: a century of industry. Altrincham: Frank Bamford, 1995. 137p. (ISBN 0-9517225-2-2)
  • Bamford, Frank, The making of Altrincham, 1850-1991: from market to megastore? Altrincham: Frank Bamford, 1991. 123p. (ISBN 0-9517225-1-4)
  • Bamford, Frank, Mansions and men of Dunham Massey: from errant earl to Red Dean. Altrincham: Frank Bamford, 1991. 99p. (ISBN 0-9517225-0-6)
  • Bayliss, Don, Altrincham: a history. Altrincham: Willow Publishing, 1992. 170p. (ISBN 0-946361-33-9)
    An excellent, illustrated history of the town.
  • Bayliss, Hilda, Altrincham: a pictorial history. Chichester: Phillimore, 1996. (ISBN 1-86077-036-7)
  • Bowdon History Society. Bowdon and Dunham Massey. (Images of England). Stroud: Tempus, 1999. 128p. (ISBN 0-7524-1528-X)
    A photo-book of Bowdon and Dunham Massey.
  • Dixon, Frank, The Manchester, South Junction & Altrincham Railway. (Oakwood Library of Railway History, 34) Second, enlarged edition. Headington, Oxford: The Oakwood Press, 1994. 165p. (ISBN 0-85361-454-7)
  • Fitzpatrick Gillian, Altrincham past & present. Altrincham: Willow Publishing, 1990. 56pp.
  • Hudson, John, Altrincham. (Britain in Old Photographs). Stroud: Alan Sutton Publishing, 1995. 125p. (ISBN 0-7509-0640-5).
  • Ingham, Alfred A history of Altrincham and Bowdon, with an account of the barony and House of Dunham. Altrincham: Mackie, Brewtnall and Co, 1897. 195pp.
  • Knight, N.R., Altrincham to Manchester, before Metrolink. (Scenes from the Past 36, pt.1). Romiley, Stockport: Foxline Publishing, 1999. 96p. (ISBN 1-870119-60-6)
  • Littler, Joyce: The Protector of Dunham Massey: Dunham Massey Estate in the 18th century. A study of the management carried out by George Booth, 2nd. Earl of Warrington.Altrincham: Joyce Littler, 1993.
  • Morrison, Basil D., Looking back at Altrincham, including parts of Bowdon, Broadheath, Hale & Timperley. Altrincham: Willow Publishing, 1980. 48p. (ISBN 0-9506043-5-6)
    A book of photographs, with an informative accompanying text.
  • Nickson, C. Bygone Altrincham: traditions and history. 1935. Also, Manchester: E.J.Morten, 1971 reprint of the 1935 edition. 328pp
  • Rendell, Douglas, Photographers in the Altrincham area. Compiled by D. Rendell. 2006. (ISB 0-951256-02-5)
  • Southern, Pat, Altrincham: an illustrated history. Derby: Breedon Books, 2002. Reissued in different format as The story of Altrincham, Stroud: Amberley, 2008. 160pp. A superb collection of photos from the Trafford Library archives.
  • Trafford Leisure Services. Altrincham town trail. Stretford: Trafford Leisure Services, c.1980. 15p.


    Selective Links

    General

  • Altrincham History Society has a superb site, which includes a detailed guided tour.
  • Lymm.com Community Website has information on Altrincham.

    Accommodation

  • Accommodation list.
  • Bowdon Hotel.
  • Cresta Court Hotel.

    Churches

  • Altrincham Baptist Church.
  • Altrincham Methodist Church.
  • Altrincham Unitarian Church.
  • St Vincent's RC Church.
  • Christ Church & Holy Cross, Timperley.

    Leisure/Entertainment

  • Altrincham Library.
  • Altrincham Garrick Theatre.

    Sport

  • Altrincham Athletics Club.
  • Altrincham Football Club Official Web Site.
  • Altrincham FC Fans' Forum.
  • Altrincham Ice Dome.
  • Altrincham Kersal rugby club.

    General

  • An Altrincham portal.
  • Altrincham & Sale Chamber of Commerce
  • Altrincham Town Centre Partnership.

    Societies

  • Altrincham Electric Railway Preservation Society.
    Copyright: ©
    Compiled by John Laidlar