Offerton, Stockport

Friday 20 May 2022

Offerton is an area of Stockport that people tend to travel through rather than visit in its own right. This is a shame as there are a clutch of traditional pubs catering admirably to the needs of their locals.

We start the sojourn in the Puss in Boots admirably run by Almond Family Pubs. Like the other establishments in the group, the Puss In Boots majors on good food, but the drinker is not made to feel like a pariah for not eating. As you approach the front door off Nangreave Road, you can't miss the extensive outdoor drinking area, an ideal place to bask in the constant sunshine of a summers day (okay, I'm hallucinating about English summers). Tonight we will have to see what the weather offers with respect to indoor or outdoor drinking. As you enter the main building there is a conservatory to the left which may well be a better bet. Straight ahead is the bar, where three beers from Robinsons are on offer, usually including that month's seasonal brew.

If you're lucky enough to have a local guide, there is a cunning shortcut on our route to the second pub. If not I'm afraid it's a longer route going around the streets.

Whichever route you use, the Fingerpost, at the junction of Dialstone and Hempshaw Lanes, is a magnificent cross-roads corner pub. Built some time prior to the Great War (WW1 to you) by Bell & Co. (more information about the brewery here) in their usual grandious style and the landlady of the Finger Post Hotel (as it was then known) was a Mrs. Bessie Taylor according to the Cheshire trade directory of around 1910. This large building has a plethora of rooms including a fine upstairs function room. As a contrast to the Puss In Boots, the Fingerpost has a good range of "pub food" available, as well as sandwiches, baked potatoes, and other snacks. If you are interested in searching out other Bell & Co. pubs, there is a list here as many are still in the ownership of Robinsons.

As you exit the Fingerpost, cast your eyes right along Hempshaw Lane at the site of the former Battersby Hat Factory, still acclaimed by the prominent B on the water tower. In its former glory, up to 1,000 people worked here, attaining an output of an impressive 12,000 hats per week! With people today either not wearing headwear at all, or alternatively adopting the American 'baseball cap', production steadily declined from the 60s until closure. It has now been given a new lease of life by Viaduct Housing Partnership, with the architecturally distinct elements visible from the street being converted into apartments. The less impressive sheds to the rear have been cleared and a large housing estate is being constructed. After that brief history lesson, it's on our way.

Our next port of call should be the Strawberry Gardens on Offerton Lane, again a local guide can take us via shortcut. Giving the impression of a rambling country cottage, with many an add on, it is easy to believe there are still strawberries in the garden to the rear. This Strawberry Garden is not to be confused with that previously owned by John Jennison, the founder of Belle Vue Zoo, which was in Adswood. Unfortunately it also can't be confused with a real ale outlet, but we should pop in just to confirm this lack of cask ale.

As an aside, if you look closely at the old picture of the Strawberry Gardens right, you might notice a single overhead electric tram cable (click on the picture to enlarge). This was part of an early trollybus sytem in Stockport, but to save money there appears to be only one wire. But how does this work, electricity requires a supply and return route. If you look carefully there are actually two wires, one above the other, but on only one side of the road. When two vehicles met, each had to unplug their power cable and swap it with the other vehicle as there was no way for the collector mechanisms to pass each other! One of the vehicles can be seen passing the Strawberry Gardens.

The agrarian theme is continued where, after a short walk along Offerton Lane, we reach the Gardeners Arms. Nestling at a busy road junction on its own short thoroughfare, the aptly named Little Street (the photo shows all bar the last 5 yards to the right). The gardeners who gave the pub its name are long gone, but no doubt many a local has paid a visit after a strenuous day in their garden. From the old photo left it looks as though the gardeners are busily cultivating the patch outside the pub, though I think this shows workmen re-modeling the road junction.

Continuing our journey along Offerton Lane until we reach the junction with George Street West where we will find the Emigration another former Bells & Co. pub. Giving the appearance of being converted from the end of terrace housing and not purpose built, there are still three cosy sized rooms inside around the bar. An outside drinking area is set aside, which, depending on the weather we partake of. On a previous stagger the Emigration lived up to its name when the stagger participants were encouraged to "Depart from these shores" or words to that effect.

Even further along Offerton Lane, in the shadow of two sixties tower blocks, on the opposite side of the road we espy the Victoria. Again this looks like a conversion from a former row of houses rather than being built as a pub. Two roomed with again an outside drinking area, but this time with the addition of a children's play area. If arriving by car, finding the spacious rear car park can prove a challenge. After being closed for a period in early 2018, it reopened and started selling cask ale - unfortunatly real ale soon fell by the wayside so we will be passing by tonight.

We now have to travel to the end of Hall Street, cross Spring Gardens and into Churchgate. On the left stands the former Thatched House which has been closed for a number of years. When open it was Stockport's prominent music outlets with heavy rock predominating. Architectural features of note were the mosaic tiling in the entrance porch and a window proclaiming a previous owner, Showell's Brewery.

On the right of Churchgate we can see our next objective, the impressive Old Rectory. It was a genuine ecclesiastical house and not an ad man's idea for a trendy name, and was last used by the Bishop of Stockport in 1965. This Brewers Fayre owned Georgian building is mainly given over to dining, but the enthusiastic landlord keeps a good pint and drinkers are made welcome. A new build Premier Inn dominates what I assume is the rear of the building. This assumption is because the current entrance is the back (tradesman's?) door. If you pass through the lobby, an extensive view over St Marys, the Parish church, is revealed from what must be the original front door - see photo right. When originally built it was {probably} a pleasant view over the fields and meadows of Portwood, but in the late Victorian days, crossing the extensive garden would have revealed the less than salubrious panorama over the towns gas and electric works. Thankfully the cooling tower and gasometer have been replaced by the Peel Centre.

Going out of the "old" front door and down the path, we meet our last location just as Churchgate becomes Market Place. The Cocked Hat (formerly Pack Horse) faces the main entrance of St. Mary's church and its churchyard which, incidentally, was used as a location in the 1960s film A Taste of Honey (see photos below right), and the 1979 film "Yanks" (see photos bottom). You enter via a corridor, with the bar, and a standing drinking area, on your left. To the right is a single large room created out of two former rooms. At one time the rear room was festooned with caving paraphernalia and mineral crystals as it was used by the Derbyshire Caving Club as their meeting room, having moved there in 1988 from their previous base in the Royal Oak on High Street. The licensees describe the Cocked Hat as a real pub for real people, serving real ale. Even the music is real, with "proper musicians" performing every Friday and Saturday.

Thus ends a fascinating tour of a lesser visited district of Stockport. Of note is the fact that quite a distance has been covered, but all pubs but for the last two would be described as being in Offerton. Whereas the stagger simply described as the Great Moor Stagger, being little over a mile yet still manages to visit pubs with addresses in no less than five areas, Great Moor, Cale Green, Davenport, Shaw Heath and Heaviley. I will leave you to ponder on this while you enjoy your final pint or two.

Below, clicking on Map will call up a Google travel map with that location automatically set as the destination. Insert your current location (post code?) as the start and choose a travel mode (public, car, cycle or foot) and discover your travel options.

Following THIS LINK will take you to the Transport for Greater Manchester website for current travel information.




Pub Name




Start point:

Puss in Boots
147 Nangreave Road


434 Hempshaw Lane


Strawberry Gardens
84 Offerton Lane
No Real Ale
Gardeners Arms
Little Street
166 Hall Street
125 Hall Street
No Real Ale
Old Rectory
48 Churchgate

Finishing at:

Cocked Hat
2 Market Place

View the Offerton stagger in a larger map


Updated April 2022

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