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Things to do in Altrincham, Greater Manchester

Altrincham Town Hall By Night (c) Pauls imaging via Flickr

Altrincham is a market town with barely defined boundaries as it is an upmarket suburb of Greater Manchester. Once built on a Roman road connecting Chester with York.

Altrincham's first recorded history is in 1290 when it received a charter for a market from Baron Hamon de Massey. Altrincham Fair began shortly after, in 1319, and survived until 1895.

In Mediaeval times, Altrincham appointed a Court Leet which led to all sorts of unpaid public service duties. For example, Pump Lookers checked water quality, Chimney Lookers were fire wardens, Market Lookers kept an eye on the local market and perhaps the most coveted position of all was the Ale Taster who had to check the ale was not being watered down!

The town even had a Bellman, the equivalent of a Town Cryer. From within this group of officials, a Mayor was selected until 1886, when Altrincham became a Borough, and had an elected mayor.

Increased business came to the town in 1765 with the extension of the Bridgewater Canal and also in 1849 when the railway arrived in Altrincham. Initially the area was known for its vegetables,produced in market gardens. With the coming of the Industrial Revolution, Altrincham soon became more commercially developed and mills sprang up in the Broadheath area to weave cotton and produce machine tools.

The Victorian Town Hall was built in 1900 and was eventually refurbished in 2004 and turned into a Community venue. The Council Chamber still has beautiful heraldic stained glass windows.

Present Day Altrincham

With a population of 41,000, Altrincham is a commuter town, lying just 8 miles from Manchester City Centre. Traditionally middle-class, Altrincham has many large Victorian houses and family homes.

Altrincham has several churches including three Grade II listed buildings: St Margaret's Church, the Church of St John the Divine and Hale Chapel at nearby Hale Barns.

Local sports clubs include Altrincham FC, currently playing in the lowly Conference North, and a couple of ice hockey clubs: the Traffic Metros and Manchester Phoenix.

Altrincham's market still survives today but modern shopping trends mean it is not as busy as in the past. Efforts are being made to regenerate the historic market quarter, currently a conservation area with its charming half-timbered structure and wattle-and-daub walls. The whipping post and old stocks can still be seen in place.

Famous people connected to Altrincham include artist Helen Allington, dramatist Ronald Gow, Sound of Music actress Angela Cartwright and England Test cricketer Paul Allott.

Things to Do in Altrincham

Dunham Massey Hall was the seat of the Earl of Stamford for generations and is closely tied to the history of Altrincham. This Georgian stately home is a Grade I listed building along with the stables and carriage house. The 250-acre deer park is also open to the public, thanks to the National Trust.

Stamford Park was created by landscaper John Shaw in 1880 for public enjoyment. It now has a skate park, intended to reduce crime.

Visit the Garrick Playhouse or the award-winning Club Theatre. The players currently run the Trafford Youth Theatre Production and the Hale One Act Festival.

Altrincham has an ice rink and when not in use by the hockey teams is open for public ice-skating.

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Images of Altrincham

Dunham Massey House (c) Richard Kelly  Via Flickr
Station House Altrincham (c) Gene Hunt  via Flickr
Stamford New Road Altrincham (c) Gene Hunt via Flickr
Moss Lane Football Park (c) Matthew Wilkinson  Via Flickr
Barringtons Formerly Old Mill Hotel (c) Adam Bruderer Via Flickr
Club 21 Altrincham (c) Adam Bruderer via Flickr

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