“Why wouldn’t you live here?”: Greater Manchester suburb once in rich neighbours’ shadow now among Britain’s ‘most desirable’
The importance of the railway station in the history of the Stockport suburb of Cheadle Hulme should not be underestimated. Its arrival in the mid-19th Century set into motion the village’s transformation from a collection of small hamlets into a suburb of nearly 30,000.
The completion of the Manchester to Birmingham Railway built between Manchester and Crewe, and the extension of the line to Macclesfield and later Stoke–on-Trent then paved the way for Cheadle Hulme to become a bustling commuter spot. Today, looking out down onto Station Road from Platform 1, the suburb continues to evolve, with a host of new restaurants, bars and apartments catering to an ever-growing population.
Earlier this week, The Telegraph published its annual list of the 50 ‘most desirable’ places in Britain. The publication commissioned Savills to use the latest census data to create a ranking of the most affluent towns based on factors such as the proportion of residents holding managerial jobs, their level of qualifications, the state of their health and the costs of buying a house.
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The vast majority are located in the South East of England – well within the financial orbit of the capital. But Hale and Altrincham can be found sitting comfortably in the top twenty.
The list also includes entries for two Stockport towns – Bramhall at 29, and Cheadle Hulme at 26, climbing up from 43 last year. Why? The Manchester Evening News went to Cheadle Hulme to find out.
On the corner of Church Road and Ravenoak Road sits Cheadle Hulme’s oldest pub. The Church Inn, formerly a couple of 18th century cottages, feels like a country boozer with its oak panelling, open fire and cosy nooks, and is run by landlord Edward Bromley.
“I think the reason why people want to live here is because the schools are fantastic and younger families want to raise their children here, plus the transport links are so good to Manchester and London so why wouldn’t you live here, less than 30 minutes from the city centre?”, Ed says.
“I see most people who live ’round here every day whether they’re popping in for a coffee or walking their dogs, and it’s the sort of place where everybody says hello, it’s just really welcoming. During and after the pandemic people were so supportive of us and other local businesses, they really rallied behind us. I think people really realised how important it is to use local pubs, butchers and greengrocers.”
Many you speak to across Cheadle Hulme will point to its healthy selection of pubs as one of its selling points, from the Church Inn’s neighbour, The Governor’s House, to Platform 5 next to the station, which shows live departure times on a screen, and The John Millington, a Grade II-listed hall converted by Manchester brewers Hyde’s. However, the scene has been changing in recent years with the emergence of craft and cask beer bars like The Chiverton Tap and cocktail spots like Inventery.
For Inventery’s General Manager Ben Kendrick, 21, who has lived in Cheadle Hulme his whole life, it’s the convenience the village offers that makes it an attractive place to move for commuters and families. “We’re right next door to the airport, we’ve got hospitals close by, outstanding schools, and direct links to Manchester – you’re only ten minutes from everything you could need,” says Ben.
“For the owners, who set this up a few years ago, it felt like the right time to inject something new into the area, something a little different because we’ve got a lot of pubs already, but having a cocktail bar and offering something like this out of the city centre is exciting.”
Would he change anything? “Selfishly, I would like to see one or two more bars,” he smiles. “I think why other places like Bramhall and Didsbury work so well is because they have a circuit or crawl, which makes it seem like a destination. And I would love a tram stop that is closer and buses that run a bit more often.”
For friends Ruth and Linda, who we find sitting outside in Inventery’s hidden beer garden, the news about Cheadle Hulme’s rising star comes as a bit of a surprise. “I’m amazed we’re above Bramhall and Poynton to be honest because I don’t think the houses are as expensive here,” says Ruth, who’s lived here for 42 years.
“I’m also really surprised,” adds Linda, who’s lived in the area for more than 50 years. “When I was growing up here there were loads of green spaces and fields and it is now so residential, all the green spaces are gradually disappearing.
“We used to have a break from Manchester as you came up Kingsway which meant Cheadle Hulme was separate, but not anymore. And really, the infrastructure, hospitals, schools, can’t support the ever increasing population.”
Asked whether they would want to move elsewhere, it seems the excellent amenities, transport links and cheap parking seal the deal. “For me, in my late 70s I don’t think I would move because there’s so many facilities – buses, train station, health centre, shops, hospitals,” explains Ruth.
“There still are some parks and we’re not far from Derbyshire and Cheshire too, so we can still get out to lovely places, and we’re near the airport, but there’s no seaside sadly. But overall, it’s become very family-oriented because whether you want state or private schools it’s got all of that and it brings a lot of people here.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Mike and Mandy, Bramhall residents, who visit the precinct – home to coffee shops, pet stores and supermarkets – on almost a daily basis. “The beauty of this area is that it has everything you need, all the transport links, the airport, all the shops that you could possibly want, multiple cinema complexes within ten minutes, and every retail outlet within a very short distance, so it’s very convenient,” says Mike.
“And you only have to travel a short while and you’re in the countryside,” adds Mandy. “We have thought about moving away to be closer to my son down south, but it’s hard to move away because of all the facilities on your doorstep, the only thing we don’t have is a nice bakery.
“The only thing I would say is it’s still a bit 1960s,” says Mandy, gesturing towards the precinct. “The train station too, I know they tried to fix that though, but some of the buildings may need to be revamped to make it a bit more attractive.”
For Thomas Burke, who lives in the Heatons and visits the precinct only for dental appointments, the shopping area falls slightly short of what he would deem as desirable. “It’s not exactly Beverly Hills, it’s not like Palm Beach.”
Fortunately, it doesn’t boast the same house prices either. According to Zoopla, the average sold price for a property in Cheadle Hulme in the last 12 months was £399,851. The average sold price for detached in the suburb was £564,774, while semi-detached was £395,524, and terraced was £289.305.
It’s considerably lower than the average house price for Hale, which is listed as £699,999 in the Savills study. Meanwhile, Altrincham’s average house price is said to be £425,250.
As well as historic boozers, Cheadle Hulme is also home to a host of different shops, from supermarkets like Waitrose, Tesco Express, Asda and Co-Op, to family run operations including Waterhouse’s Quality Food Market on Mellor Road, Snape and Sons, which has supplying the area with everything home and garden for over sixty years and Pimlotts, the much-loved butchers on Station Road, which first began its life in Gorton in 1969.
For Richard Pimlott, the great-grandson of the original owner, Cheadle Hulme – where the butcher’s shop has been based since 1900, has “everything”. “It’s a lovely place to live and it’s always had that nice village feel, good parks, great transport links to city centre and you’ve got Lyme Park not far away too.
“We’ve got a fantastic and loyal customer base, and there’s a real community feel to the place. I’ve been here 35 years so I’ve seen families grow up here.”
Another business which has seen many generations come through the doors over the years is John’s Barbers, which was established in 1970. It’s now run by Alison Phillips, who started out as a Saturday girl in 1987 and took over from John seven years ago. She’s joined by Mark Braddock, who started out at the barbers in 1985 as an apprentice, left in 1997 and came back to help out in 2016.
“I don’t think it’s a surprise, Cheadle Hulme has got a bit more stability than Bramhall, which has quite a high turnover of businesses and empty units whereas here they tend to get snapped up quite quickly and we have a good mix of businesses,” says Mark. “They’ve started building more flats out of old office blocks here too, so more people are moving right into the centre and I think having the train station with two lines going into Manchester, plus being ten minutes from the airport, makes it a great spot.
“I had a gentleman yesterday who travels from the Wirral and he started coming here in December 1970 and we’ve got a chap from America who stops in when he comes to see his family – so there’s a really strong and loyal customer base here.”
Robert Ellis, or just Bob to his regulars, knows a thing or two about keeping locals happy here too. He’s run the Chiverton Tap – a real ale bar and sister to Bramhall bar the Mounting Stone, for eight years and one month exactly.
“Historically, Bramhall and Poynton have been destinations people have moved to whether it’s for schools or green space, but it’s interesting that Cheadle Hulme is now more desirable. Shortly after we opened, a lot more flats and apartments were built, a lot more eateries and bars too, and even though we were first for a while, more and more have come on board, especially independents, and we’ve noticed that a lot more local shops seem to be doing better since lockdown.
“Since we’ve opened we’ve retained a lot of customers, we consider ourselves a community pub, so we have a book club, a home brew club, and Italian chat group, and we encourage other activities here too, like parties and events. People really want to celebrate their special occasions here.”