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Macc TH.jpg
Macclesfield Town Hall
Grid reference: SJ9173
Location: 53°15’29"N, 2°7’39"W
Population: 50,688  (2001)
Post town: Macclesfield
Postcode: SK10 SK11
Dialling code: 01625
Local Government
Council: Cheshire East

Macclesfield is a market town in Cheshire with a population of some 50,688 souls. A man of Macclesfield is sometimes referred to as a "Maxonian".

The town is most famous for its once thriving silk industry, commemorated in the local Silk Museum. Present day industries include pharmaceuticals, textiles, light engineering, paper and plastics.

Although "Silk Town" seems to be the preferred nickname these days, Macclesfield's traditional local nickname is "Treacle Town". The reason for this odd nickname is unknown by stories have been suggested such as a merchant's spilling a load of treacle on Hibel Road, and the poor rushing out to scoop it off the cobbles, or that that the mill-owners used to provide barrels of treacle to the unemployed weavers. It might be from one of the old treacle mine" stories which abound in many parts of the land.

The town

Barracks Square was the home of the Cheshire Militia from the 1830s. It is now a Grade 2 listed residential area.

In December 2006, Sport England published a survey which revealed that residents of Macclesfield were the 3rd most active in England in sports and other fitness activities. 29.3% of the population participate at least 3 times a week for 30 minutes.[1]

In 2008, the borough was named as the fifth happiest of 273 districts in Britain by researchers from the Universities of Sheffield and Manchester, who used information on self-reported personal well-being from the British Household Panel Survey.[2][3]

The lie of the land

Macclesfield Canal

Macclesfield is located in the east of Cheshire within the Hundred of Macclesfield. It stands on the River Bollin, a tributary of the River Mersey which forms the border with Lancashire to the north. Close by to the east is the boundary of Derbyshire to the east and to the south Staffordshire. Nearby stand the Cheshire towns of Stockport to the north and Congleton to the south while, Buxton, Derbyshire lies to the east.

To the west of the town lies the Cheshire Plain and to the east lie the hills of the Peak District.


St. Michael's Church, Macclesfield

The Domesday Book lists Macclesfield as "Maclesfeld", whilst in 1183 it was referred to as "Makeslesfeld".[4] The English Place-Name Society proposes that the name is derived from the Old English Maccels, meaning "open country".[5] Others have suggested a derivation from an unknown "St Michael's field".

Later, Macclesfield was granted a borough charter by the Lord Edward, the future King Edward I, in 1261. There is evidence that the borough had originally been founded by Ranulf III, Earl of Chester, early in the thirteenth century. The parish church of St Michael was built in 1278, an extension of a chapel built in approximately 1220.[6]

The borough had a weekly market, and two annual fairs: the Barnaby fair, was on St Barnabas day (11 June), the other on the feast of All Saints (1 November).

Macclesfield from the railway station

In addition, the Earls of Chester had established the Forest of Macclesfield, which was much larger than its present-day namesake. It was used for hunting deer, as well as pasturing sheep and cattle. By the end of the 13th century, large areas of the forest had been ploughed up because of the pressure of population growth. In 1356, two trees from the forest were granted to archer William Jauderell to repair his home.

Macclesfield Castle was not a castle as such but a fortified town house built by the Dukes of Buckingham in the later Middle Ages.

In the uprising of 1745, Charles Stuart and his army marched through Macclesfield as they attempted to reach London. The Mayor was forced, reluctantly, to officially welcome the Prince, and this welcome is commemorated in one of the town's famous silk tapestries.[7] At one point, Macclesfield was the world's biggest producer of finished silk; now, the four Macclesfield Silk Museums display a huge range of information and products from that period. At one time the silk manufacture was home-based but as machinery was introduced large sheds were built to accommodate it and the workers were expected to move into them. Paradise Mill is a working mill museum which demonstrates the art of silk weaving to the public.[8]

Between 1826 and 1831 the Macclesfield Canal was constructed,[9] linking Macclesfield to Marple to the north and Kidsgrove to the south.

Waters Green was once home to a nationally known horse market which features in the legend of the Wizard of Alderley Edge.

Macclesfield railway station opened on 1 July 1873.

Macclesfield is said to be the only Mill Town left unbombed in the Second World War.[10]

Landmarks and tourist attractions

  • The King's School, Macclesfield dates from the 16th century.
  • The fine Georgian Town Hall was designed by Francis Goodwin in 1823.

Culture and sport

Macclesfield has few cultural amenities; in 2004, research was published in The Times naming Macclesfield and its borough the most uncultured town in Britain, based on its lack of theatres, cinemas and other cultural facilities.[11] However, Macclesfield does have a museum which concentrates on the history of the silk industry in the town.[12] The town now boasts an Art gallery in York Chambers, Duke's Court.

Amateur dramatics is well represented in the town by the Macclesfield Amateur Dramatic Society, which has run since 1947 and has its own theatre in town. Macclesfield Majestic Theatre Group[13] has been producing musicals in the town since its inception in 1971, initially at the Majestic Theatre (hence the title) which was on the main street, but latterly at various other locations after the theatre was converted into a public house, by the new tenants. Most recently shows have been produced at the Heritage Centre, Evans theatre Wilmslow, and MADS theatre on Lord Street Macclesfield. Several members of the society have gone on to the professional stage, most famously Marshall Lancaster and Jonathan Morris.

Gawsworth Hall hosts an annual Shakespeare festival as well as many arts and music events throughout the year.

Notes and references


  1. Active People Survey. Sport England website. Retrieval Date: 16 February 2008.
  2. "Britain's happiest places mapped". 28 August 2008. Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  3. "A step-by-step ESDS Longitudinal guide: Guide to British Household Panel Survey". Retrieved 2008-09-02. 
  4. Scholes (2000). page 104.
  5. English Place Name Society database at Nottingham University
  6. "A History of the Church". St. Michael's Macclesfield. Archived from the original on 21 July 2006. Retrieved 28 November 2006. 
  7. Silk Tapestries of Macclesfield. Retrieval Date: 15 October 2007.
  8. Paradise Mill website. Retrieval Date: 15 October 2007.
  9. Tim Boddington. "The Macclesfield Canal". Retrieved 28 November 2006. 
  10. Missing movie classic unearthed by Macc Lad - News - Macclesfield Express
  11. Hoyle, Ben (8 November 2004). "Is charming Macclesfield really such a cultural cul-de-sac?". The Times (London).,,2-1349485,00.html. Retrieved 29 November 2006. 
  12. Macclesfield Silk Museums. and lively reinvention of the barnaby festival as an annual Arts Festival.Retrieval Date: 16 February 2008.
  13. Macclesfield Majestic Theatre Group


  • Clayton, D. J. (1990). The administration of the county palatine of Chester, 1442—85. Manchester, United Kingdom: The Chetham Society. ISBN 0719013437. 
  • Furness, R. A. (1988). The Cheshire Hundred (1888-1988): The centenary history of the Cheshire & North Wales Chess Association. Cheshire and North Wales Chess Association. 
  • Scholes, R (2000). Towns and villages of Britain: Cheshire. Wilmslow, Cheshire: Sigma Press. ISBN 1850586373.