Macclesfield – A Silk Town

Macclesfield, Cheshire. My birthplace and currently my home. A small market town in NorthEast Cheshire with a long history of Silk production.

A little History

Macclesfield has a long history of silk production, introduced to the town primarily by Charles Roe who built the first water powered mill in the town. Macclesfield weavers used to provide silks for Spitalfields in London . Other local silk companies of noteriety include Brocklehurst Whiston who produced a range of woven silk pictures including old Macclesfield landmarks.

Unfortunately, with the arrival of silks from China, the Macclesfield silk industry faded. Luckily, the towns heritage is preserved by means of the Silk Heritage Museum.

The Macclesfield Silk Museum is situated on Roe Street, within the Heritage Centre. Macclesfield is referred to as Silk Town due to the silk industry but Macclesfield was also  traditionally known as “Treacle town”. The name may have originated from an accident where treacle was spilt on the Hibel Road and the poor people of Macclesfield came out to scrape it from the ground.

Another explanation for the name “Treacle town” is that mill owners used to provide barrels of treacle for the unemployed weavers in the town.

 Present Day

Macclesfield is home to one of the worlds largest pharmaceutical companies, Astra Zeneca with plants at Macclesfield and Alderley Park. Many Macclesfield residents commute to both Manchester and London for work, utilizing the rail network. Macclesfield is also located within easy reach of the motorway network including the M6, M60 and the M56.

Macclesfield is considered to be an affluent town and house prices certainly reflect this fact with the average house price now in the region of £200,000

The Future 

Macclesfield is on the verge of a major town centre redevelopment, expected to commence sometime in 2007. The new development will bring the town of Macclesfield bang up to date for 21st century living with new retail complexes and, at last, a new cinema.

2 thoughts on “Macclesfield – A Silk Town

  1. born and bred macclesfield girl left 30 years ago, for the big city Manchester,happy memories 1950 of old macc or Treacle town as it was called

  2. Reference Treacle Town.

    The following letter appeared in the Macclesfield Community News (January 2003)

    Dear Editor – 150 years ago this month began a local legend with the report: “The verdict at an inquest on an 18 year old youth was ‘died from excessive drinking of whisky’.

    “Evidence was that a railway carter was conveying a cask of whisky to a warehouse in Mill Street on a cart or dray when, by some unexplained accident, the cask slipped, fell to the ground and burst. The youth who was near, seeing the whisky running, went down on his hands and knees and sucked up the whisky from between the stones. The man with the cart attempted to stop him, as the whisky was 25 over proof, thinking it might injure him, but the youth rushed to it again. He laid himself down in an outhouse and went to sleep. Later he was found frothing at the mouth and a surgeon used a stomach pump. The youth expired in agony.”

    Down the years that whisky at some unknown time became a more acceptable barrel of treacle. No one has ever been able to find report of a mishap with a popular barrel of treacle in Mill Street, because all along it was a cask of whisky that started the legend.

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