Went on the LGBT History walk around Stockport with David. We didn’t really have any expectations of it, and it was quite a modest affair, but in a good way. It was done by a gentleman from PLUS (Stockport’s People Like Us), and it was a bit like doing a pub tour, but without the booze. We met up outside Staircase House, which is just off to one side of the market place, and ended up at the Arden Arms, Stockport’s only “gay friendly” pub. We also got a bit of gangster history as well, as we passed Chris Little’s old headquarters at one point (note: anyone wishing to visit the spot where he was gunned down needs to go to Marple…) and also some nice overall historical, architectural and artistic moments. The area of Stockport around Hillgate and Underbank has been rennovated and restored in a pretty positive way, if you ignore the imposition of TK Max, and it’s nice that you can still be pointed to a stairwell painted by LS Lowry, as well as the more noticeable landmarks such as Strawberry Studios and the Unicorn Brewary. Many of the old gay pubs are still there, but often under different names, and none of them are gay anymore. This didn’t make the tour any the less interesting, but it is a bit depressing from a contemporary point of view: clearly the village holds sway.
PLUS itself was launched a couple of years ago at the Friends Meeting House, which is round the back of Stockport Town Hall, and they now meet at the Arden Arms once a fortnight.
It was a friendly, informal, and interesting tour which I would thoroughly reccomend to anyone interested in British gay history. It’s a real shame that the weather was so appalling (or as David put it, typically Stopfordian in nature) and that the howling wind, the rain, and the traffic on the A6 made it hard to hear some of the anecdotes at times.
Afterwards we had tea and toasted sandwiches in a lovely continental café next to an old fashioned sweet shop by the brew, then walked around Stockport for a bit in the rain, looking for interesting places that were open. There’s a new record shop on Underbank that looks good in a Café Pop kind of way, but it was shut. So we we trudged back to the A6 and got the bus to my house, where we talked of gay history, punk, post punk, and music in general all afternoon.