Walking around the streets of Macclesfield you cannot help but notice its industrial heritage. Sat at the edge of the Peak District National Park, the town’s history as a centre for silk manufacture and processing looms large, with many of the former mills, workers residences and even the philanthropic enterprises of its leading industrialists, still standing today.
Visitors curious to explore this heritage can visit Paradise Mill, where the handlooms still operate, or look over the archives at The Silk Museum. But if this sense of former industry still hangs over the place – it is literally inscribed into the rocks at Tegg’s Nose Country Park – then it doesn’t entirely define modern Macclesfield.
Indeed, there are plenty of businesses and attractions firmly rooted in the 21st century. Science and music collide at Jodrell Bank’s Bluedot Festival – previous headliners include Kraftwerk, New Order and Hot Chip. While the recently reinvented Barnaby Festival reimagines a 13th century midsummer fair as a celebration of contemporary arts and culture. Nearby Gawsworth Hall sees summer performance take place on the front lawn of the Elizabethan pleasure garden. Macclesfield Treacle Market is a fresh, modern affair too, with an eye on community and ethical consumption – as is the recently formed Scoop and Scales cooperative.
A real independent food and drink scene is also emerging in the town, as pop-up street food vendors at the Treacle Market lead the way for traders such as artisan sourdough specialists Flour Water Salt. Fiveclouds Tap & Bottle brings the latest in craft brewing to the town, while one of the biggest launches in recent years has been Picturedrome, a seven-kitchen food hall from the folk behind Altrincham Market and Manchester’s Mackie Mayor.
As mentioned, Macclesfield lies at the edge of the Peaks, and for many, the nearby hills and spectacular landscapes of places such as Macc Forest, Lyme Park or Tegg’s Nose will be the primary draw. Combined with new cultural and gastronomic ventures and this former silk town – just a short train journey from Manchester – is only increasing its pull.