Library resources

7. Historic directories

For a complete list of holdings please consult the DIRECTORIES INDEX at the Local Heritage Library Enquiry counter.

As we know, directories first started to appear in the last quarter of the 18th century. This was when the demands of the Industrial Revolution required detailed information about cities, towns and localities.

They are often known as trade or commercial directories. This is because they list commercial and industrial sites and buildings and their proprietors. They also list some private households. Most of the early directories are not single place volumes, but cover a much wider area.

The layout of these volumes varies considerably. Some are arranged by subject and trade, others alphabetically by surname and street. Occasionally, the sections are all mixed together. Only a small proportion of the population is listed in early directories, and this group usually includes the;

  • clergy
  • gentry
  • professions
  • industrialists
  • shopkeepers
  • innkeepers and the like

The Universal British Directory of 1794 is the earliest directory containing an adequate Stockport section. As the 19th century progressed, directories became larger. However, they began to decline with the spread of the telephone and were effectively replaced by the phone book.

Stockport is included in:

  • directories dated between 1787 and 1988
  • a range of directories for Manchester and other local areas date from 1772
  • Slater’s CHESHIRE DIRECTORY, 1855 on CD-ROM. Please book a computer in order to use this.