Alderley Edge Station
The village of Alderley Edge takes its name from the wooded sandstone escarpment above it, owned by the National Trust, which gives good views across the Cheshire Plain towards the Peak District and across Manchester to the hills of the South Pennines.
Contrary to popular belief the 5,000 or so residents of the village are not all millionaires, although Premier League footballers and others who enjoy a champagne lifestyle do frequent the many bars and restaurants in the evenings and at weekends.
The station opened in 1842, originally called Chorley but was renamed in 1876 to avoid confusion with the Lancashire place of that name. The arrival of the railway prompted the building of many large villas on the slopes of the Edge, built for prosperous Manchester mill owners who were encouraged by the Manchester & Birmingham Railway to move here and travel into Manchester by train by offering them free rail travel. Although some have since been converted into apartments, many of the original villas remain in their original form, approached by climbing up cobbled coach roads just above the village. The railway was electrified in 1960 as a test site for the use of 25kv electrification and was the first stage of the West Coast Main Line modernisation.
Visitors coming by train can explore the village itself with its stylish bars, restaurants and busy speciality food shops, including several long-established family-run businesses committed to providing high quality products, notably Wienholts Bakery half way along the street, famed for its handcrafted patisserie, and the popular family business of Granthams, reached by a short walk up Heyes Lane, turning left from the station car park, and noted as a purveyor of quality foods from around the world, including over 100 varieties of cheese, while just off the far end of the village street, to the right of the roundabout, can be found Foster’s award-winning fish and chip shop.
More energetic visitors can follow a footpath to the Edge by walking along Chapel Lane from the roundabout and climbing up to the end of Squirrel’s Jump. This leads to two good viewpoints: Castle Rock, and a little further on, Stormy Point. This wooded area is the location of the legend of the Wizard of Alderley Edge, featured in Alan Garner’s noted children’s book “The Weirdstone of Brisingamen” and just before reaching Castle Rock the path passes the Wizard’s Well, with the Wizard’s Head carved in stone on the rock face, bearing the inscription “Drink of this and take thy fill, for the water falls by the Wizard’s will”.
The Heritage Centre at St Philips church, just across the road from the station, tells the story of Alderley Edge in words and pictures. Whether for shopping, eating and drinking, or walks with good views, Alderley Edge certainly has a lot to offer.