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Stretford
photograph
Trafford Town Hall in Stretford
Stretford shown within Greater Manchester
Population 37,455  (2001 Census)
• Density 9,158/sq mi (3,536/km2)
OS grid reference SJ795945
• London 163 mi (262 km) SSE
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town MANCHESTER
Postcode district M32
Dialling code 0161
Police Greater Manchester
Fire Greater Manchester
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament
  • Stretford and Urmston
List of places
UK
England
Greater ManchesterCoordinates: 53°26′48″N 2°18′31″W / 53.4466°N 2.3086°W / 53.4466; -2.3086

Stretford (pop. 37,500) is a town in Trafford, Greater Manchester, England. Lying on flat ground between the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal, it is 3.8 miles (6.1 km) to the southwest of Manchester city centre, 3.0 miles (4.8 km) south-southwest of Salford and 4.2 miles (6.8 km) northeast of Altrincham. Stretford is contiguous with the suburb of Chorlton-cum-Hardy to the east, and the towns of Urmston to the west, Salford to the north, and Sale to the south. The Bridgewater Canal bisects the town.

Historically in Lancashire, during much of the 19th century Stretford was an agricultural village, with its own market, known locally as Porkhampton, a reference to the large number of pigs produced for the nearby Manchester market. It was also an extensive market gardening area, producing more than 500 long tons (508 t) of vegetables each week for sale in Manchester by 1845. The arrival of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894, and the subsequent development of the Trafford Park industrial estate in the north of the town, accelerated the industrialisation that had begun in the late 19th century. By 2001 less than one per cent of Stretford's population was employed in agriculture.

Stretford has been the home of Manchester United Football Club since 1910, and of Lancashire County Cricket Club since 1864. Notable residents have included the industrialist, philanthropist, and Manchester's first multi-millionaire John Rylands, the suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, the painter L. S. Lowry, Morrissey, Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis and Jay Kay of Jamiroquai.

History

The origin of the name Stretford is "street" (Old English stræt) on a ford across the River Mersey. The principal road through Stretford, the A56 Chester Road, follows the line of the old Roman road from Deva Victrix (Chester) to Mancunium (Manchester), crossing the Mersey into Stretford at Crossford Bridge, built at the location of the ancient ford. The earliest evidence of human occupation around Stretford comes from Neolithic stone axes found in the area, dating from about 2000 BC. Stretford was part of the land occupied by the Celtic Brigantes tribe before and during the Roman occupation, and lay on their border with the Cornovii on the southern side of the Mersey. By 1212, there were two manors in the area now called Stretford. The land in the south, close to the River Mersey, was held by Hamon de Mascy, while the land in the north, closer to the River Irwell, was held by Henry de Trafford. In about 1250, a later Hamon de Mascy gave the Stretford manor to his daughter, Margery. She in turn, in about 1260, granted Stretford to Richard de Trafford at a rent of one penny. The de Mascy family shortly afterwards released all rights to their lands in Stretford to Henry de Trafford, the Trafford family thus acquiring the whole of Stretford, since when the two manors descended together.

The de Trafford family leased out large parts of the land, much of it to tenants who farmed at subsistence levels. Although there is known to have been a papermill operating in 1765, the area remained largely rural until the early 20th-century development of Trafford Park in the Old Trafford district north of the town. Until then Stretford "remained in the background of daily life in England", except for a brief cameo role during the Jacobite rebellion of 1745, when Crossford Bridge was destroyed to prevent a crossing by Bonnie Prince Charlie's army during its abortive advance on London; the bridge was quickly rebuilt.

Until the 1820s one of Stretford's main cottage industries was the hand-weaving of cotton. There were reported at one time to have been 302 handlooms operating in Stretford, providing employment for 780 workers, but by 1826 only four were still in use, as the mechanised cotton mills of nearby Manchester replaced handlooms. As Manchester continued to grow, it offered a good and easily accessible market for Stretford's agricultural products, in particular rhubarb, once known locally as Stretford beef. By 1836 market gardening had become so extensive around Stretford that one writer described it as the "garden of Lancashire"; in 1845 more than 500 tons of vegetables were being produced for the Manchester market each week. Stretford also became well known for its pig market and the production of black puddings, leading to the village being given the nickname of Porkhampton. A local dish, known as Stretford goose, was made from pork stuffed with sage and onions. During the 1830s, between 800 and 1,000 pigs a week were being slaughtered for the Manchester market.

Situated on the border with Manchester, Stretford became a fashionable place to live in the mid-19th century. Large recreation areas were established, such as the Royal Botanical Gardens, opened in 1831. The gardens were sited in Old Trafford on the advice of scientist John Dalton, because the prevailing southwesterly wind kept the area clear of the city's airborne pollution. In 1857, the gardens hosted the Art Treasures Exhibition, the largest art exhibition ever held in the United Kingdom. A purpose-built iron and glass building was constructed at a cost of £38,000 to house the 16,000 exhibits. The gardens were also chosen as a site for the Royal Jubilee Exhibition of 1887, celebrating Queen Victoria's 50-year reign. The exhibition ran for more than six months and was attended by more than 4.75 million visitors. The gardens were converted into an entertainment resort in 1907, and hosted the first speedway meeting in Greater Manchester on 16 June 1928. There was also greyhound racing from 1930, and an athletics track. The complex was demolished in the late 1980s, and all that remains is the entrance gates, close to what is now the White City Retail Park. The gates were designated a Grade II listed structure in 1987.

Industrialisation

The arrival of the Manchester Ship Canal in 1894, and the subsequent development of the Trafford Park industrial estate in the north of the town – the first planned industrial estate in the world  – had a substantial effect on Stretford's growth. The population in 1891 was 21,751, but by 1901 it had increased by 40% to 30,436 as people were drawn to the town by the promise of work in the new industries at Trafford Park.

During the Second World War Trafford Park was largely turned over to the production of matériel, including the Avro Manchester heavy bomber, and the Rolls-Royce Merlin engines used to power both the Spitfire and the Lancaster. That resulted in Stretford being the target for heavy bombing, particularly during the Manchester Blitz of 1940. On the nights of 22/23 and 23/24 December 1940 alone, 124 incendiaries and 120 high-explosive bombs fell on the town, killing 73 people and injuring many more. Among the buildings damaged or destroyed during the war were Manchester United's Old Trafford football ground, All Saints' Church, St Hilda's Church, and the children's library in King Street. Smoke generators were set up in the north of the town close to Trafford Park in an effort to hide it from enemy aircraft, and 11,900 children were evacuated to safer areas in Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire, and Staffordshire, along with their teachers and supervisors. A memorial to those residents who lost their lives in the bombing was erected in Stretford Cemetery in 1948, over the communal grave of the 17 unidentified people who were killed in the blitz of December 1940.

Between 1972 and 1975, what is now the B&Q store in Great Stone Road was the 3,000-capacity Hardrock Theatre and Village Discothèque, hosting some of that period's major artists in their prime. Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, Bob Marley, Elton John, Hawkwind, Yes, Chaka Khan, Curved Air and Lou Reed were amongst those who appeared. Tangerine Dream was the last band to perform at the Hardrock, on 19 October 1975. In more recent years, Lancashire Cricket Club's Old Trafford ground, next door, has provided a concert venue for bands such as Oasis, Foo Fighters, The Cure, Radiohead, Coldplay, Arctic Monkeys and Take That.

Transport history

Stretford's growth was fuelled by the transport revolutions of the 18th and especially the 19th century: the Bridgewater Canal reached Stretford in 1761, and the railway in 1849. The completion of the Manchester South Junction and Altrincham Railway (MSJAR) in 1849, passing through Stretford, led to the population of the town nearly doubling in a decade, increasing from 4,998 in 1851 to 8,757 by 1861.

Because Stretford is situated on the main A56 road between Chester and Manchester many travellers passed through the village, and as this traffic increased, more inns were built to provide travellers with stopping places. One of the earliest forms of public transport through Stretford was the stagecoach; the Angel Hotel, on the present day site of what used to be the Bass Drum public house, was one of the main stopping places for stagecoaches in Stretford, and the Trafford Arms was another. The stagecoach service through Stretford is believed to have ended some time in the 1840s, about the time that horse-drawn omnibuses arrived, in 1845. The Manchester Carriage Company's tramway from Manchester to Stretford was built in 1879, terminating at the Old Cock Hotel on the A56 road, next to which a small depot was built to house the cars and horses. A 1900 timetable shows that trams left for Manchester every 10 minutes between 8:00 am and 10:15 pm. The horse-drawn trams were replaced with electric trams in 1902, and after the Second World War the trams were replaced by buses.

The MSJAR railway line through Stretford was electrified in 1931, and was converted to light rail operation in 1992, when it became part of the Manchester Metrolink tram network. The first Metrolink tram through Stretford ran on 15 June 1992.

Geography

Weather chart for Stretford
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source: World Weather Online

Stretford occupies an area of 4.1 square miles (10.6 km2), just north of the River Mersey, at 53°26′48″N 2°18′31″W / 53.44667°N 2.30861°W / 53.44667; -2.30861 (53.4466, −2.3086). The area is generally flat, sloping slightly southwards towards the river valley, and is approximately 150 feet (46 m) above sea level at its highest point. The most southerly part of Stretford lies within the flood plain of the River Mersey, and so has historically been prone to flooding. A great deal of flood mitigation work has been carried out in the Mersey Valley since the 1970s, with the stretch of the Mersey through Stretford canalised to speed up the passage of floodwater. Emergency floodbasins have also been constructed, Sale Water Park being a prominent local example, lying immediately to the south of Stretford.

TraffordAreasStretford
The Metropolitan Borough of Trafford, highlighting Stretford in red

Stretford comprises the local areas of Old Trafford, Gorse Hill, Trafford Park and Firswood. Its climate is generally temperate, with few extremes of temperature or weather. The mean temperature is slightly above average for the United Kingdom. Annual rainfall and average amount of sunshine are both slightly below the average for the UK.

Stretford's built environment developed along the A56 road in two separate sections, corresponding to the original two manors. The area in the south, near to the border with Sale, grew around the church of St Matthew – an old alternative name for the town was Stretford St. Matthew. The northern part of Stretford was centred on Old Trafford, with undeveloped countryside separating them. During the 19th century, the sections merged.

The western terminus of the early medieval linear earthwork Nico Ditch is in Hough Moss, just to the east of Stretford; it was probably used as an administrative boundary and dates from the 8th or 9th century.

Demography

Stretford Compared
2001 UK Census Stretford Trafford England
Total population 37,455 210,145 49,138,831
Foreign born 17% 8% 9%
White 73% 92% 91%
Asian 15% 5% 5%
Black 8% 2% 2%
Average age 36.7 y 38.9 y 38.6 y
Over 65 years old 15% 16% 16%

As at the 2001 UK census, the Stretford area wards of Clifford, Longford, Talbot and Stretford had a total population of 37,455, and a population density of 9,158 persons per square mile (3,537 per km²).

Stretford residents had an average age of 36.7 years, younger than the 38.9 Trafford average. For every 100 females, there were 96.7 males. Of all residents, 52% were single (never married): in Trafford, 44% were single. Of the 16,078 households, 37% were one-person households, 14% were married couples with dependent children, and 9% were lone parents with dependent children. Of those aged 16–74 in Stretford, 33% had no academic qualifications, higher than the 25% in all of Trafford.

With 83% of residents born in the United Kingdom, there is a relatively high proportion of foreign-born residents reported. There is also a high proportion of non-white people, as 73% of residents were recorded as white. The largest minority group was Asian, at 15% of the population.

In June 2004, Trafford adopted a revised set of ward boundaries, and the ward of Talbot was replaced by the new ward of Gorse Hill. Re-aligning the 2001 census figures with the 2004 ward boundaries gives Stretford a population of 42,121.

In 1931, 18.7% of Stretford's population was middle class and 19.7% working class compared to 14% middle class and 36% working class nationally. The rest of the population was made up of clerical workers and skilled manual workers. By 1971, the middle class in Stretford had declined steadily to 14.9% whilst the working class had grown to 31.3% compared to 24% middle class and 26% working class nationally.

Population change in Stretford since 1801
Year 1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 1971 2001
Population 1,477 1,720 2,173 2,463 3,524 4,998 8,757 11,945 19,018 21,751 30,436 42,496 46,535 56,791 51,929 61,874 60,364 54,316 37,455
Source: A Vision of Britain through Time

Landmarks

Longford Cinema

LongfordCinema2007640
Longford Cinema, May 2007

Longford Cinema, opposite Stretford Mall, on the eastern side of the A56 Chester Road, is perhaps the most visually striking building in the town. Designed by the architect Henry Elder, it was the height of Art Deco fashion when it was opened by the Mayor of Stretford in 1936. Its unusual "cash register" frontage was intended to symbolise the business aspect of show business.

The building incorporated many modern features, such as sound-proofing and under-seat heating, and it was also the first cinema in Britain to make use of concealed neon lighting. It had a seating capacity of 1,400 in the stalls and 600 in the circle, with a further 146 seats in the café area. When built, the cinema had a short pedestrian approach to the facade, but this was removed when the A56 was widened. During the Second World War the building was used for concerts, including one given by a young Julie Andrews. It also played host to the Hallé Orchestra after the orchestra's own home, the Free Trade Hall, was bombed and severely damaged during the Manchester Blitz of 1940.

After a change of ownership in 1950, the cinema was renamed the Stretford Essoldo. It continued to operate as a cinema until 1965, when it was converted into a bingo hall, which it remained until its closure in 1995. The building has been unused since then. It was designated a Grade II listed building in 1994.

Great Stone

GreatStone640
The Great Stone

The Great Stone, which gave its name to the Great Stone Road, where it was located until being moved in 1925, is one of Stretford's most easily overlooked landmarks. The stone is composed of millstone grit and was probably deposited as a glacial erratic. It is rectangular in shape, about 5 feet (2 m) wide, 2 feet (1 m) deep, and 3 feet (1 m) tall, with two 7-inch (18 cm) deep rectangular slots cut into its upper surface.

Several suggestions have been made for the history of the Great Stone. There was a succession of plagues in Manchester from the 14th century onwards, and during the Great Plague of 1655–56 the holes in the top of the stone were filled with vinegar or holy water, through which coins were passed in the belief that would halt the spread of the disease. But the holes are probably too deep for that to have been the stone's original purpose. It may have been a marker on the Roman road between Northwich and Manchester, or some kind of boundary marker. The Great Stone is also thought to have been the base of an Anglo-Saxon cross shaft. A local legend had it that the stone was slowly sinking into the earth, and that its ultimate disappearance would mark the end of the world.

When the Great Stone Road was widened in the late 19th century, the stone was moved back from the road slightly. In 1925, the stone was moved again, to its current location outside the North Lodge of Gorse Hill Park, about 328 feet (100 m) from its historical location. The stone is a Grade II listed structure.

Cenotaph

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Stretford Cenotaph

Stretford Cenotaph, opposite the Chester Road entrance to Gorse Hill Park, was built as a memorial to the 580 Stretford men who lost their lives in the First World War. Their names and regiments are listed on a large bronze plaque on the wall behind the cenotaph. It was formally unveiled in 1923, by the Earl of Derby, Secretary of State for War.

The cenotaph is 24 feet (7 m) high and 11 feet (3 m) wide at its base. It cost £2,000 to build, raised by public subscription and a donation from the Stretford Red Cross. The memorial bears the legend "They died that we might live" on one side, and "In memory of the heroic dead" on the other. It is a Grade II listed structure.

Longford Park

Longford Park, arch - geograph.org.uk - 1312209
The front porch of Longford Hall

Longford Park is the largest park in Trafford, at 54 acres (22 ha). It includes a pets' corner, botanical garden, bowling greens, children's play areas, and an athletics stadium, and is the finishing point of the annual Stretford Pageant. It was the site of a Royal Garden Party in 1977, the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II. theAs the Manchester–Stretford boundary ran across the park until a Boundary Commission in the 1987, part of it [including the Athletics Stadium] was in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, although it was always administered by Trafford MBC.

Longford Park was the home of John Rylands, industrialist, philanthropist, and Manchester's first multi-millionaire, from 1855 until his death in 1888 and of his widow Enriqueta Augustina Rylands until her death in 1908. The house Rylands constructed in the park in 1857, Longford Hall, was demolished in 1995. It replaced an earlier house of the same name that had been the residence of Thomas Walker (died 1817) and subsequently of his sons Thomas (died 1836) and Charles. Today only the front porch, coach house, and the stable buildings remain. The estate and hall were sold to Stretford Council in 1911 after a poll of ratepayers, and the park was opened to the public the following year.

Stretford Public Hall

Stretford public hall
Stretford Public Hall

Stretford Public Hall was built in 1878 by John Rylands. It was designed by N. Lofthouse and is on the western side of the A56 Chester Road, opposite the Longford Cinema. Stretford's first public lending library was established in the building in 1883. On the death of Rylands in 1888, his widow placed the building at the disposal of the local authority for a nominal rent, and on her own death in 1908, the building was bought by Stretford Council for £5,000.

Public baths were built to the rear of the building, accessed via Cyprus Street. In 1940 the new Stretford Library was opened on King Street, and the public hall was rendered surplus. The building re-opened in March 1949 as the Stretford Civic Theatre, with a well-equipped stage for the use of local groups. After the Stretford Leisure Centre opened in 1977 now Stretford Sports Village, the Cyprus Street Baths wing fell into disuse, and was demolished. The remainder of the building began to fall into disrepair, despite being designated a Grade II listed structure in 1987, until Trafford Council refurbished and converted the hall to serve as council offices in the mid-1990s. It was re-opened in 1997, once again named Stretford Public Hall.

Stretford Cemetery

Stretford Cemetery was designed by John Shaw and opened in 1885. Its chapel is in the Decorated style, designed by architects Bellamy & Hardy, and quite elaborate. On the western side is a memorial to the casualties of the Second World War and to the east a newer section of the cemetery.

Trafford Town Hall

Trafford Town Hall stands in a large site at the junction of Talbot Road and Warwick Road, directly opposite the Old Trafford Cricket Ground. Work on the building, designed by architects Bradshaw Gass & Hope of Bolton, began on 21 August 1931.

The town hall officially came into use as Stretford Town Hall on the granting of Stretford's charter, on 16 September 1933. In 1974, on the formation of the new Trafford Metropolitan Borough, Stretford Town Hall was adopted as the base for the new council and renamed Trafford Town Hall; it was designated a Grade II listed building in 2007.

Union Church

The Union Church was formed in 1862, with John Rylands as its patron; he laid the foundation stone of its building in Edge Lane, close to Longford Park's southern entrance, in 1867. In the latter part of the 20th century the church was converted into office accommodation but by the early 21st century was standing empty. In 2012 it was restored to its original use a church having been bought by the Church of Christ – Iglesia ni Cristo.

Transport

StretfordMetrolink
Stretford Metrolink station

Stretford Metrolink station is part of the Manchester Metrolink tram system, and lies on the Altrincham to Bury line. Trams leave about every six minutes between 7:15 and 18:30, and every 12 minutes at other times of the day. The nearest main line railway station is Trafford Park, on the Liverpool to Manchester line. Services are roughly every two hours in each direction, with extra services calling during the peak hours. The 20-acre (8 ha) Trafford Park Euroterminal rail freight terminal, opened in 1993, is in the Gorse Hill area of Stretford. It cost £11 million and has the capacity to deal with 100,000 containers a year. The containers are handled by two huge gantry cranes, the noise from which has led to complaints from some local residents.

The town has good access to the motorway network. Junction 7 of the M60 is just to the north of Stretford's boundary with Sale, and the A56 road gives easy access to the south as well as to Manchester city centre in the other direction. Cycle paths exist as part of the Trafford cycle initiative.

Manchester Airport, the busiest in the UK outside London, is about nine miles (14 km) to the south of Stretford.

Religion

See also: List of churches in Greater Manchester
Stretford Compared
2001 UK Census Stretford Trafford England
Total population 37,455 210,145 49,138,831
Christian 64.7% 75.8% 71.7%
Muslim 12.4% 3.3% 3.1%
Sikh 2.1% 0.5% 0.7%
Hindu 0.7% 0.6% 1.1%
Buddhist 0.3% 0.2% 0.3%
Jewish 0.2% 1.1% 0.5%
No religion 12.1% 12.0% 14.6%

The date of the first church to be built in Stretford is unrecorded, but in a lease dated 1413, land is described as lying next to a chapel. Many of the present day churches in the area were constructed during the late 19th and early 20th century, as the population of Stretford began to grow.

Methodism was a significant influence in 19th-century Stretford, but of the seventeen churches in the town today, only one is Methodist whereas five are Roman Catholic. The Catholic mission in Stretford was begun in 1859, in a small chapel on Herbert Street.

As at the 2001 UK census, 65% of Stretford residents reported themselves as being Christian, 12% as Muslim, and 2% as Sikh. No other religion was represented at higher than 1% of the population, with 12% reporting themselves as having no religion.

Stretford is in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford, and the Anglican Diocese of Manchester.

There are two Grade II listed churches in Stretford: the Church of St Ann and the Church of St Matthew. St Ann's is a Roman Catholic church, built in 1862–7 by E. W. Pugin for Sir Humphrey and Lady Annette de Trafford. It was officially opened by Bishop William Turner on 22 November 1863, and was consecrated in June 1867. Features include a historic organ built by Jardine & Co (1867) and a good number of fine stained glass windows by Hardman & Co of Birmingham. St Matthew's church was built in 1842 by W. Hayley in the Gothic Revival style, with additional phases in 1869, 1906 and 1922.

Culture and cultural references

Although Stretford town centre is busy during the day, there is very little in the way of a night-time economy. There are no restaurants or other entertainments except for a number of public houses and members-only social clubs. There are two public libraries, Greatstone Library, part of Stretford Sports Village, and Stretford Library, both run by Trafford Council.

The Stretford Pageant is an annual Rose Queen festival held on the last Saturday of June; the inaugural pageant was staged in 1919. There is a procession of decorated floats through the streets, collecting money for local charities and ending at Longford Park, where the Rose Queen is crowned. The tradition of the Rose Queen derives from an earlier event organised by St Peter's Church from 1909 until the pageant began in 1919. Various other entertainments are provided in the park on the day of the pageant, such as a fun fair and a car boot sale. Stretford Pageant, along with similar events in other parts of Trafford, is under threat because of the council's proposals to reduce funding and support for such events in the future.

The Stretford Wives is a television drama that was broadcast by the BBC in August 2002, watched by 5.7 million viewers. Written by Danny Brocklehurst, it is the story of three sisters living in Stretford, although most of the filming took place in nearby Salford. The programme received a mixed critical reception.

Invention and discovery

The Stretford process was developed at the North-Western Gas Board's laboratories in Stretford, during the 1940s. It was the first liquid phase, oxidation process for removing hydrogen sulphide (H2S) from town gas to gain widespread commercial acceptance. Many Stretford plants were built worldwide.

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