Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Hat works

On the first day of my two weeks off work, I met up with a few friends in Stockport again. This time we were headed for the Hat Works, a museum dedicated to the hatting industry. At one time, amazingly, there were over 100 hat factories and businesses in the Stockport area! The museum itself is based in Wellington Mill which was one of those factories.

On the lower floor there are exhibits of different pieces of equipment like this bow which was used to separate out the strands of fur. The string was originally made of cat gut and would have been plucked with a wooden pin. The vibrating string was then passed through the fur causing the strands to separate and fly up into the air before settling back on the bench. It makes me want to sneeze just thinking of all that flying fur!

Further along was an example of a hatter's cottage. These are always one of my favourite bits as I like seeing how people used to live.

There were lots of pieces of machinery but I was more interested in the haberdashery shop. Look at the old till (from Dayton, Ohio), the wooden drawers and all the bits and bobs in the display counter. Lots of lovely things to tempt us.

Hands up if you fancy a pair of fleecy knickers!

Upstairs were lots of display cases of different hats. However, this is about the best photo I could manage due to a combination of dimmed light and glass cabinets.

Also upstairs was a special exhibition devoted to Lock & Co, the world's oldest hat shop which was established in 1676 and is still trading in London. This was one of their ledgers with an entry for an order from Charlie Chaplin for a French grey Homburg hat.

There was also this funny looking machine, a conformateur, which produces a reduced scale paper pattern of the shape of your head.

There were lots of examples of patterns signed by various politicians and celebrities but this is the one which caught my eye.

If you're ever in Stockport, Hat Works is well worth a visit and entry is completely free!

While in Stockport, we had lunch at the Plaza, a cinema and variety theatre built in 1932, which also has a cafe. If you watch the UK version of Who do you think you are? you'll have seen it in the episode with Minnie Driver recently as one of her ancestors performed there.

Like a lot of buildings it has been used for other activities during its life including being a bingo hall.

However, it's gradually being restored and reopened in 2009. There are some lovely art deco details around the building, particularly in the foyer area.

Not sure about the colour combinations but they were very striking.

Another great afternoon in Stockport. I really have been surprised how much there is to see and we're not done yet. At the end of this month we're visiting the air raid shelters! x


  1. That haberdashery looks lovely, full of tempting goods and the picture of the fleecy knickers poster made me laugh.

  2. What an interesting day out. I think a pair of fleecy knickers may be quite handy for the cold winter days...!
    Marianne x

  3. What an interesting place to visit! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Thank you for highlighting the fun places to visit in Stockport I live not far from the town centre and it is easy to forget what it offers x

  5. So interesting! I love how you are finding fun things to do off the beaten path. Once again you are encouraging me that I need to do that in my own town.