The historical centre of Stockport is the Market Place. It is situated on a 240 million year old red sandstone cliff overlooking what was once an important ford over the River Mersey. This ford was the meeting point of several Roman roads.
The Saxons established a village on the site and this was the beginning of Stockport. The name Stockport was derived from two Saxon words: STOC – a stockaded place or castle, and PORT – a wood. Literally, a castle in a wood. There is sufficient evidence that a stronghold existed in the vicinity in ancient British times as well as early Roman times.
Following the Norman Conquest, Cheshire was established as one of three Counties Palatine guarding the Kingdom along its border with Wales. From their castle in Chester, the Norman Earls ruled their Palatinate and were only answerable to the King.
The Earls of Chester created barons to exercise authority beneath them and to raise armed men when required. One of those feudal barons was the Baron of Stockport. The second Sir Robert de Stockport played a part in the development of the town, the direct consequences of which lasted over 600 years.
Around the year 1220 he obtained a Charter from the Earl of Chester, Randle III. This granted the burgesses of Stockport the right to elect their own mayor.
That Charter, with only few changes, served as the basis of local government in Stockport. That was until the 1835 Municipal Corporation Act swept away such ancient traditions and privileges, and gave England and Wales a uniform pattern of local authorities.
Stockport became a town divided into seven wards, with a Council consisting of 14 Aldermen and 42 Councillors. A further Act, in 1888, raised the town to the status of a County Borough.