Central Hypnotherapy is located in this lovely Georgian town house which once housed the old Market Offices until the building was refurbished in 2001. Merchants House, 24-25 Market Place, Stockport SK1 1EU is the postal address, but for locals it will be easier to place if we mention that we are next door to The Bakers Vaults pub, which is right near the back exit of Sports Direct. (The local historians amongst you may know that there used to be a fort on that site in ancient times, which is why that spot is still named Castle Yard. I'm not an historian but it says all this on a blue plaque on the side of the pub.)
Next door to us on the other side is the Produce Hall, which locals often still refer to as either the hen market, the egg market or the cheese market. The market area is often accessed on foot from the back end of the main shopping precinct, where Meeks Shoes on the corner of Bridge Street stretches back towards the Hatters coffee place.
The Hatters stands at the foot of a steep walkway up into the main Market square, past the Direct Fish store on the right. At the top, turn to the right and you will see the distinctive front doors of Merchants House. In the picture they are green and white, but recently they have been repainted black and white - not a detail that should make anyone wonder if they'd come to the wrong place, really. Just.. thought I'd mention it.
Motorway (M60) There are two exits for central Stockport, Junction 1 and Junction 27. Surprisingly, these are very close to one another. Junction 1 is signposted ‘Town Centre’ and is near to the Viaduct and that famous glass Pyramid which houses the Co-operative Bank. DO NOT EXIT AT JUNCTION 1. Directions from that end are too complicated.
Junction 27 is the next exit, where the huge Tesco store is, at the Portwood end of central Stockport. Confusingly, this is not marked as Junction 27 unless you are travelling from the opposite direction! Trust me, it's the right one. Get in the far right lane on the exit and follow the signs that point towards the Town Centre - almost a complete hairpin turn around the Portwood roundabout. Exiting onto Great Portwood Street you will soon see the Peel shopping centre to your left. Go straight across the mini-roundabout, and at the traffic lights turn left into Corporation Street (passing under ASDA's raised car park). This soon brings you to another mini-roundabout at the junction of Corporation Street and New Bridge Lane. Go straight across, and notice the New Bridge Lane car park on your left, which is the best place to park. Slow down so as not to miss the entrance, hidden just around the left bend in the road.
Park up, don’t forget to Pay and Display! Then walk back to the mini-roundabout, noticing St. Mary’s Church up on the hill to your left. Cross over and walk up the road called Millgate, leading from the mini-roundabout to the front of that church. Opposite the church entrance is the old Victorian Market Hall, with a lot of glass around the top. Cross over and walk down the right side of the building as you look at it, and you will pass the Staircase House museum on your right. As you reach the other end of the Market Hall, you are now approaching the square in which Merchants House can be found – just to the left of the Bakers Vaults pub you can already see up ahead.
Driving in I will return to in a moment, but if you head for Stockport centre by bus or rail the first thing you need to locate is the main shopping precinct known as Merseyway. The bus station is nearly opposite the front entrance to Merseyway, across Mersey Square, which unremarkable except for the fact that the River Mersey runs underneath it. Merseyway is in fact built over the top of the river, hence the name. The River Mersey actually begins in the centre of Stockport, at the confluence of the Tame and the Goyt, then goes all the way to Liverpool and out to sea. This is a very educational website, isn’t it? And you thought you were just getting directions.
If you come in by train, walk down the station approach to the T-junction with the A6 (Wellington Rd South) where there is unfortunately a MacDonalds. Ignoring MacDonalds as best you can, turn left onto the A6 and walk all the way down the hill. As the buildings on the right side of the A6 come to an end, you will see Merseyway shopping centre across the open space of Mersey Square – which really needs a statue, or… something. You’ll see what I mean when you get there.
If you walk into main entrance of Merseyway, you can wander right through the shopping centre, through a covered bit at first, then it opens up and widens... keep going, following a straight course towards the back end of the precinct, passing Boots and WH Smith on the right, what used to be Marks and Spencer on the left - no longer with us - done for by Primark's cheap clothing, no doubt. Now notice the Falafel-4-U eatery straight ahead... a bit healthier than the Master Chocolatier that used to be there...
A little way past the Falafeler... Falafelier?... the food place, you will come to a crossroads, where you will see Barclays Bank to your left and Meeks Shoes to the right. Turn right there and walk past Meeks Shoes (now on your left) and then The Hatters coffee shop, which sits at the bottom of a steep rise. Walk up that hill, turn to the right and you are immediately beside the distinctive green-and-white front doors of Merchants House, which have recently been repainted black and white. Conveniently this now matches my A-Board which should be just outside.
Whatever direction you are coming from, the key to locating Merchants House is to note that it is not at the A6 end of the shopping precinct, but the other end where ASDA and Sainsbury’s are. Market Place is really quite close behind ASDA, and some of my clients just use ASDA’s car park, but it is just as easy to use the New Bridge Lane car park which is also out behind ASDA's car park, and in front of the Matalan store’s own car park. (If you're as old as me and from round 'ere, you'll know that's where Stockport Power Station once stood. But then you wouldn't really need these directions!)
If you only know the A6 end of Stockport and don’t want to drive into unknown territory, there is a multi-storey car park opposite Debenhams (on the other side of the A6), then just walk in through Merseyway using the directions above.
Wherever you are parking, please bear in mind when you buy the ticket that you are likely to be with me for two hours – make sure you pay the right fee! I look forward to meeting you.