Stockport station is positioned at high level above the valley of the River Mersey with lifts that link a pedestrian underpass to central Stockport and Edgeley.
Opened in 1843 as part of the Manchester and Birmingham rail project, it was initially named Stockport Station but was later changed to Stockport Edgeley Station and then renamed back to Stockport in 1968.
The unique feature of the station is the brick built archway spanning the river Mersey valley floor allowing trains to enter the station at high level.
When constructed it was the world’s largest viaduct and regarded as a major feat of construction and to this day still remains one of the largest brick built structures.
Standing at 33.8 metres high (111 feet) it used over 11 million bricks and 11,300 cubic metres of stone in its construction at a cost of £72,000, yet was completed in just 21 months between 1839 and 1840. At its peak of construction over 600 men were working in shifts to complete it.
When constructed it was 9.4 metres wide but was later widened again in 880 to accommodate four tracks, and it stands at 546.2 metres long.
The viaduct is constructed with 22 semi-circular arches with spans of 19.2 metres and is flanked by pair of abutment arches of 5.5 metre span.
The arch rings are 900mm thick. and both arches and spandrels are built of red brick (common colour in the area) set in lime mortar with ashlar spring courses.
The deck parapets are 2.2 metres high on either side and the distance between the arch crowns and the top of the parapets is 3.6 metres.
The red brick piers are 3 metres thick by 12.2 metres high and are solid up to 7.9 metres above the springings. Above that they have 685mm thick walls filled with ballast.
The original track bed was 8.7 metres wide, ballasted with sandstone from cuttings along the railway and the rack drainage was via 100mm diameter iron pipes through the piers.
The Manchester to Stockport line was officially opened on 4 June 1840. However, the viaduct was not completed until 21 December 1840.
On 16 July 1841, the first train crossed the viaduct and it was opened to rail traffic on 10 August 1842 enabling through services to Crewe with onward travel to London.
After the building of the Grand Junction Railway and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, investors began to look for other routes south of Manchester.
From 1835, the Grand Junction Railway was considering a branch to the Potteries, while the Manchester and Cheshire Junction Railway was planning a line from Manchester to Crewe with branches outwards.
Meanwhile, George Stephenson was investigating a line from Manchester and Stockport to the Potteries, which developed into a proposal for a “Manchester South Union Railway”. Also involved were proposals for competing lines through the Trent valley to Rugby.
After two years of proposals and counter-proposals, what emerged was a scheme to run from a junction from the Grand junction Railway at Chebsey, with branches to Macclesfield and Crewe running into Manchester Store Street,
This proposal received Parliamentary authorisation in 1837 and Stockport Station became a major player serving the towns mills and booming hat industry.