Rediscovering the Underbanks

5. Tales of the Underbanks

The Man Who Rode a Cow

In 1784 the Prime Minister, William Pitt, introduced a tax on horses that weren’t being used in trade or agriculture. Anyone riding a horse would have to pay 10 shillings. In protest, a local man called Jonathan Thatcher rode to Stockport market on a cow.

The Devil’s Steps

The set of stairs that is now Dutton’s Steps, running next to St Petersgate Bridge and opposite Turner’s Vaults is known by some as the Devil’s Steps. Legend has it that in the early 1900s the church warden’s daughter would sneak away to a dance hall located on the steps. She found a handsome partner at the dance one night but as they left the hall, he turned into the Devil himself. The girl had a cross sewn into the lining of her dress and when the Devil touched the cross, he recoiled. In his anger, he stamped the floor and left a hoof mark on the steps before fleeing alone. The girl was said to have gone mad after that night and could be seen dancing at every new moon, around a mound at the rectory on Churchgate where she lived.