Stockport brewery invest £300k in Cheshire pub

The Drum and Monkey on the outskirts of Alderley Edge, has been refurbished after a £300k investment from Stockport brewery, Robinsons Brewery and licensees Carl Entwistle and Simon Kalton. Following a seven-week project the new-look pub has now reopened.

Nicci Winsor, General Manager at the Drum and Monkey, commented:

"I’m excited to be a part of the new Drum and Monkey, and look forward to meeting all our guests, although I have already seen some familiar faces who visited my previous pub, The Ship at Styal."

Previously known as the Moss Rose, The Drum and Monkey was purchased by Stockport brewery, Robinsons, in 1949, situated in the leafy village of Alderley Edge. The pub was in need of a makeover in order to develop the trading opportunity and give customers a more modernised venue to relax and dine in.

The pub now boasts a brand-new extension which can accommodate over 45 extra customers in cosy areas and new green velour and oak seating, looking out onto the greenery. Improving customer flow and pub trade, the expansion gives customers easier access to the patio and large beer garden.

Wayne Roach, Business Development Manager at Robinsons Brewery, said:

"The vision of the job was to keep it simple, and build on the pub’s relaxed charm and character. It was important to retain the quality pub feel with real fires, traditional ambience and atmosphere. Making it comfortable for drinkers and diners alike and growing the local trade.”

The toilets have further benefited from a full refurbishment, with the addition of dark grey wall tiles, black hexagon floor tiles combined with matching skirting and natural timber doors. The toilets also incorporate new universally accessible facilities.

Externally, there is new lighting scheme and the access road to the carpark has been re-surfaced for customer convenience and supplier deliveries.

Stockport's giant frog auction raises £31k for Stepping Hill Hospital

They brightened up the summer in Stockport but now the town's resident giant frogs have hopped off for pastures new.

Eighteen of the 22 giant sculptures from Stockport’s Giant Leap Frog Art Trail were auctioned off to the highest bidders on Thursday night, making a whopping £31k for charity.

Fans of the frogs packed into the auction at LSH Auto’s new Mercedes-Benz showroom in Stockport where more than 100 business owners, sponsors, artists, supporters and bidders joined Simon Charles Auctioneers.

Running concurrently online and live in the showroom, first under the hammer was Nexphibian, sponsored by Nexperia and painted by Nick Lowndes, circuiting the room before securing a forever home for £1,050.

Buster, depicting Stockport’s iconic 192 bus and fairytale character Sir Lovealot both hopped off with a £1,000 price tag while Stockport College’s Midas, Mrs Merseyway the happy shopper and BASF’s Chemit pipped them at the post for £1,100.

Sponsored by Orbit Developments, Sir Hopalot went for £1,500.

But it was the final trio that attracted the highest bids - Fanatical Freddie selling for £3,000, Marketing Stockport’s Strawberry Fields for £4,800 and Edgeleap for £5,000.

All the money raised will go to Stepping Hill's Tree House children's ward.

Deputy matron Claire Gibson said: "I’m thrilled and just keep smiling. We are so very grateful and excited about what this means for the children and young people who use the Treehouse Children’s Unit.

“The proceeds far exceeded any of our expectations and we are awestruck at the possibilities that such a large donation opens up to us.

“Our Treehouse building celebrated its 20th birthday this year and how wonderful it will be to give it a much-needed new lease of life.

"The ground floor of the building serves all of our outpatient facilities and outside garden area, while the first floor is home to our inpatient ward and assessment area.

“We would love to create a spectacular experience right from the front entrance to our building, where children and young people feel comfortable and even excited about coming into and the frog auction will enable this to happen.”

Sponsored by local businesses, the frogs were the brainchild of Totally Stockport, the team from Stockport’s Business Improvement District.

Totally Stockport’s BID manager Paul Taylor said: “When we first conceived the idea of the frog project, we never imagined just how successful it has been; over the summer thousands came to Stockport to follow the trail and discover all the frogs.




“To end the project with such a fantastic auction is truly amazing. A small dedicated team made all this happen and, on behalf of everyone involved, I would like to say a huge thank you to the sponsors, artists, local businesses who have supported us.

“LSH Mercedes-Benz Stockport have been fantastic and hosted a great evening and the team from Simon Charles Auctioneers gave their time for free, I really can’t thank them all enough.

“But I would also like to say a big thank you to the people of Stockport who have loved and respected the frogs; that has given us the confidence and the drive to do it all again, watch this space."

The 8 Ways Walking and Cycling is going to completely transform Stockport

A new bridge to the town centre and a host of new routes are among the latest plans for revolutionising walking and cycling in Stockport.

The proposals form part of the The Bee Network – former Olympian Chris Boardman’s masterplan for transforming how people travel around Greater Manchester.

In Stockport the project will come under the banner of ‘Stockport Walk Cycle’ and aims to make journeys on foot or by bike easier and more attractive.

Town hall bosses are now asking residents for their views and suggestions on eight schemes – totalling nearly £18m – as they look to ‘take the lead’ in Greater Manchester. These include:

Heaton Norris Park Bridge (£6.8m) – A landmark cycling and walking route across the M60, linking Heaton Norris Park with Stockport’s town centre at the new Redrock development.

Improved walking and cycling routes through Heaton Norris to the north would complement the new bridge

The Heatons Cycle Link (£2.2m) – A package of measures which would create a connection of quiet routes between the Manchester Cycleway, known as the Fallowfield Loop, and the Trans Pennine Trail.

It includes quiet residential streets, off-road paths and new crossings for getting across busy roads. 

Lower Bredbury to Brinnington (£400k) – This would create a walking and cycling route  linking Brinnington and the Trans Pennine trail with Stockport town centre. 

The scheme upgrades existing footpaths from Brindale Road to Welkin Road to allow use by cyclists, equestrians and pedestrians, while a new pathto Stockport Road West would be created alongside Welkin Road.

Offerton to Stockport (£1.2m) – A new and improved pedestrian and cycle route which would provide a continuous, high standard link between Offerton and the town centre that avoids busy roads. 

It would link existing and new residential areas with the local cycle network, and also include a makeover for the Fingerpost Junction, including new paving and improved crossings.

Hazel Grove Links    (£900k)  – A package of measures to link communities and enhance walking and cycling on off-road routes around Hazel Grove – particularly in Torkington Park – and to improve access to its train station.

Bramhall Park to A6 (£4.1m) – A four km cycle link from Bramhall Park to Simpson’s Corner in Hazel Grove. This is intended as part of the Stockport East – West Cycle Route which will eventually extend from High Lane to Gatley.

 It connects residential areas in Hazel Grove and Bramhall with Hazel Grove Leisure Centre, Bramhall High School, Bramhall Park and Hazel Grove High School.

A spur would link to the A555 at Brookside.

A555 Community Links (£1.4m) – Four new ‘safe and attractive’ links between the existing multi-user path along the A555 and residential areas, schools and retail areas in Bramhall, Heald Green and Cheadle Hulme.

The scheme includes the conversion of existing Public Rights of Ways to bridleways, the creation of new bridleways, and new controlled crossings over busy roads.

There would also also be improved cycle and footpaths between Newlands Avenue and Woodstock Avenue, including conversion of the existing pedestrian crossing on Gilbent Road into a pedestrian and cycle signal crossing with landscaping areas.

Cheadle Hulme Crossings Package (£800k) – This includes four signal crossings on busy roads in Cheadle Hulme to provide better access to the wider walking and cycling network and local facilities.

It is understood consultation on £57m of cycling and walking elements at the new Stockport transport interchange – including a landmark new bridge – will come under a separate consultation. The interchange is due to be completed by 2023.

Councillor David Meller, cabinet member for economy and regeneration, wants Stockport to be at the forefront of the region’s walking and cycling revolution – and says the input of the public will be vital.

He said: “We want Stockport to become pioneers when it comes to cycling and walking routes in Greater Manchester: I want us to lead on this in Greater Manchester.

“The Mayoral Challenge Fund is key to this aim and I want residents to let us know what they think about the proposals on the table. It’s absolutely essential these proposals have the support of local communities and we take a bottom-up approach.”

Councillor Meller said he hoped the new schemes would make Stockport a healthier and safer place to live.

He added: “Our main aim is to increase the number of our residents who cycle and walk to their destination – whether that be it to work or for leisure. Not only will this help us achieve cleaner air, but it will help achieve safer roads as well.

“Our proposals showcase our belief in the Greater Manchester Cycle Bee Network and the positives that it will bring to the environment and the region as a whole. I hope residents get involved with the consultation over the next few weeks.”

A four-week consultation on these proposals, which closes on November 4, has now been launched.

Stockport tech firm is World's first business to achieve 10 million reviews on eBay

Stockport tech firm, musicMagpie, has become the first business in the world to achieve 10 million reviews on eBay.

Since being founded in a garage 12 years ago, musicMagpie has moved from recycling CDs and DVDs to consumer technology such as smartphones, tablets, wearables and game consoles.

Its revenue is set to exceed £130m this year and has also established a US business, Decluttr, based in Atlanta, Georgia.

It moved to a new HQ at the Stockport Exchange office development (pictured) two years ago.

Co-founder and CEO Steve Oliver said the company was "immensely proud" to notch up the landmark on eBay.

He said: "We have customers from as far afield as Australia and the Falkland Islands who have chosen to give us positive feedback, and that means a great deal to us and is testament to breadth of the customer base that selling on eBay allows us to access.

"We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the support of our eBay selling team, and the in-house team here in Stockport, who work obsessively to ensure we are providing the best service to our customers here in the UK and globally and we are extremely grateful to both our colleagues and trading partners at eBay for making this happen”

Murray Lambell, eBay UK Vice President of Trading, said: “We are incredibly proud to see musicMagpie surpass ten million global reviews. It’s a huge achievement and a fitting testament to their commitment to delivering exceptional customer service.”

The brand is one of a select few to have also achieved 100,000 reviews on Trustpilot.

The Kitchen serves freshly baked goods to Barclays Bank

One of our SKone members, The Kitchen, who bake fresh bread from their café on Chestergate, are hosting monthly stalls at Barclays Bank. Their produce is said to have gone down a storm, with freshly baked cakes, bread and scones particularly popular with the Barclays staff.

Opened by Pure Innovations, The Kitchen was set up to provide supported training opportunities for people with a range of learning difficulties. Apprentices help bake the bread, make the cakes and serve in the café while being assisted by helpers.

By purchasing fresh goods from The Kitchen, the Barclays staff are not only helping support The Kitchen, but they’re able to enjoy delicious yet reasonably priced freshly baked goods right from their workplace. It’s a win-win situation!

If you are an employer and would like The Kitchen to host a stall in your workplace then get in touch today by emailing or by calling 07841 013702.

The Kitchen joined the SKone scheme in August 2019 and are continuing to go from strength to strength as they provide freshly baked goods to Stockport’s workforce. SKone Rewards Card Holders can enjoy a 20% discount on the Kitchen’s entire café menu as well as on all bakery bread.

Stockport M&S Building Finally Bought

Stockport's former Marks & Spencer building has finally been bought. Property Developers, Glenbrook, are the new owners having completed the acquisition of the three-storey, 80,551 sq ft building situated within Merseyway Shopping Centre. The store had been closed since April 2018.

Working with architecture practice AEW, Glenbrook plan to transform and reposition the building for alternative office and leisure occupiers, and will also retain a retail element.

Chris Lloyd, investment director at Glenbrook, said: "The former M&S store represents a significant piece in the Merseyway Shopping Centre jigsaw.

"The building's size, configuration and location lends itself to a mixed-use scheme, with the upper floors being best suited for office use, whilst the lower ground floor area will no doubt appeal to a wide range of leisure uses.

"Stockport, which is now receiving significant public and private sector investment, has been on our radar for a while now. We are pleased to bring this scheme into our portfolio."

Cllr David Meller, cabinet member for economy and regeneration at Stockport Council, added: "This new scheme will strengthen our town centre offer and fit alongside Stockport Exchange, Redrock, the Produce Hall and the number of new, independent businesses setting up home in our town centre.

"This once again demonstrates that it’s change here in Stockport. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished scheme and the new businesses it will attract."

Stockport tech firm acquires leading US promotions company in $25m deal

Stockport-based Afin Technologies is set to become a big player in the North American marketing and promotions market after acquiring Entertainment, the leading provider of local and national price promotions in the US and Canada.

The deal, which is understood to be in the region of $25million, will see Afin take over operation of Entertainment, which connects businesses to consumers with promotional offers via physical coupons and through a mobile app.

Entertainment Publications LLC - best known in the States for its large coupon book - currently employs 77 people and is based in Troy, Michigan.

As part of the deal, Afin will also take on fresh investment from Deepbridge Capital in the UK and other US-based investors.

This will support the creation of 50 new jobs in Michigan and 10 new jobs in Stockport.

The deal follows the US-only launch of Afin’s app Buxbo, which offers a fresh take on the popular American pastime of ‘couponing’ – collecting coupons to save as much money as possible on shopping and meals out. By acquiring Entertainment, Afin consolidates its place in the mobile couponing market.

Buxbo complements Entertainment’s traditional coupon-based discounts by offering targeted promotions. It puts the right offers to the right hands, at the right place and time, to help restaurants and retailers develop more loyal customer bases. Buxbo lets a business launch a new offer within seconds, and run it for as little as a day, or as long as a year or more.

Afin Technologies was founded in Stockport — initially under the name SurveyMe — before expanding to open an office in Newport Beach, California, where founders Lee and Nicola Evans are now based. The new jobs will bring the total number of employees at the company in Stockport to 19.

Lee Evans, CEO of Afin Technologies, said: “SurveyMe started in our spare bedroom in Stockport and we took our first steps of growth in the town. Now under the name Afin Technologies we’re excited to be sharing our expansion in the States with our hometown.”

Ian Warwick, managing partner at Deepbridge Capital, added: “We are delighted to continue to support Afin Technologies on this next step of their journey. The acquisition of Entertainment promises to be great news for both parties, with the creation of new jobs and the introduction of a dynamic approach to the coupon market.”

Afin's chief commercial officer, Mike Stolarski, who previously worked at Entertainment for 15 years, will be based at Entertainment's headquarters in Michigan. The Entertainment brand name will be retained under the new management team.

Big Stockport Run sees hundreds take part

Over six hundred runners took to the streets at the weekend for the Big Stockport Run.

The event, organised by Life Leisure, takes place every year and is attended by club runners, local residents, families and those raising money for good causes. Participants take part in a 10k, 1k or 1mile run around the town centre, with Stockport residents turning out in their masses to support them.

This year was extra special as it included the fun family ‘Frog Dash’, which led children and families on a hunt around decorated frogs, which were installed as part of the Giant Leap Frog Art Trail and will be removed from the town centre at the end of the month.

Sam Barton, Community Sports Officer at Life Leisure and Big Run project lead, said: ”The Big Stockport Run goes from strength to strength every year and this year’s event was no exception. It was fantastic to see such a broad mix of people taking part, from serious racers and competitive clubs, to families and friends out to have fun – often while raising much needed funds for local charities.

“Huge congratulations to everyone who took part. Whether you obtained a PB or it was your first 10k, everyone should be very proud.”

Paul Taylor, Totally Stockport’s Bid Manager commented: “Following this summer’s success of Stockport’s Giant Leap Frog Art Trail, we were delighted to bring the family fun ‘Frog Dash’ into the town centre.

“Stockport’s BIG 10k has got better each year so when Life Leisure suggested we sponsor the family fun run and have our own frog dash, we hopped at the chance!

“The frog dash took the runners around 10 of the 22 art trail frogs with the top three fastest winners awarded their very own gold, silver and bronze frog to take home. All entrants received a Frog Dash certificate. This was another great opportunity for families to be active together and see what a great place Stockport is for everyone to enjoy.”

First to cross the line in the 10K Run Open Male and Female 10K categories were 26-year-old Thomas Bright from Halifax (Vegan Runners UK) and 47-year-old Jennie Pickard from Cheadle Hulme (Stockport Harriers & AC), completing the course in times of 35.48 and 42.51 minutes respectively.

Putting in impressive performances and winning the Over 50s category were 55-year-old Andy Barnes from Oldham (Vegan Runners UK) and 50-year-old Julie Oswald from Tranent (Vegan Runners UK), while 62 year-old Paul Norris from Cheadle Hulme (Wilmslow Running Club) and 65-year-old Helen Todd from Heaton Chapel scooped top spots in the Over 60s category. First place in the team event went to The Stockport Striders.

The youngest participant on the day was 15-year-old Jordi Hamblet from Brinnington who completed the 10k course in just over 1h and 14 minutes, while showing there really is no age limit to feeling fit and taking part was Ralph Mills from Leeds, who at 71 was the oldest competitor of the day. Special mentions also go out to 11-year-old Georgie Garside from Cheadle Hulme who was the winner of the 1 mile Fun Run, and to Katie Holmes who suffers from CP and completed the Fun Run raising money for the CP Society. 

Local organisations helped make the event run as smoothly as possible, ensuring all racegoers, visitors and supporters had an enjoyable day. 

Mayor of Manchester launches Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, Homes England and Stockport Council came together today (September 9) to launch the Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC).

Stockport MDC is the first of its kind nationally to focus on a town centre, in particular, the next stage of town centre regeneration, turning the ambitious new plans for Stockport’s Town Centre West into reality.

The MDC is a new approach to tackling the challenges that town centres face and will lead the creation of a new urban village with up to 3,500 new homes and 100,000m2 of employment floorspace, incorporating a mix of office, workshops, retail, leisure, health and education, which could accommodate 5,300 jobs.

In doing so, it will help provide much-needed housing for Stockport now and for the future, putting low-carbon living and sustainability at its heart.

It will create new jobs and make the most of Stockport’s exceptional transport links, providing new walking and cycling routes and green spaces to encourage healthier lifestyles.

At the launch event Mr Burnham outlined his vision for the long-term regeration of Stockport Town Centre West. He was joined by key representatives from Stockport Council, Homes England, strategic advisers from the private sector and dozens of regeneration professionals from across the region.

Old Tom wins 3 Great Taste Gold Stars

Old Tom really is the cat’s pyjamas and it’s not just 8 out of 10 who agree. Great Taste, the world’s most coveted food and drink awards, has announced its ‘stars’ of 2019. Out of nearly 13,000 products sent in from over 100 different countries, Old Tom – brewed by 180-year-old family brewers Robinsons in Stockport – was awarded the prestigious 3-star Great Taste award after leaving “the judges speechless when they tasted it”. Ginger Tom also scooped a 2-star Great Taste award and was highly praised for its “craftmanship”.

Old Tom – which celebrates its 120th birthday this year – is recognised both nationally and internationally as one of the top cats of the beer world (and arguably one of the most famous strong ales in beer history), winning some of the industry’s most prestigious awards; including World’s Best Ale, Supreme Champion Winter Beer of Britain (5 times), CAMRA’s Champion Beer of Britain (6 times) and World’s Best Design. However, this is the first time the 8.5% abv beer has been recognised by Great Taste – the Oscars of the food and drink world.

Recognised as a stamp of excellence among consumers and retailers alike, Great Taste values taste above all else, with no regard for branding or packaging. All products are blind tasted over 75 days by 500 of the most demanding palates, including chefs like Kenny Tutt, MasterChef 2018 champion, and Ghanaian food expert Zoe Adjonyoh, restaurateurs such as Kavi Thakrar from Dishoom, industry experts, delicatessen owners, top wine writers and award-winning food writers like Melissa Hemsley, Olia Hercules, Georgina Hayden, and Gill Meller, as well as buyers from Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason, Sourced Market and Partridges. The judges then savour, confer and re-taste to decide which products are worthy of a 1-, 2- or 3-star award.

There were 12,772 entries into Great Taste this year (more than any other food awards) and of those products, only 208 (less than 3%) were awarded a 3-star.

Described as “utterly delicious”, “rounded and balanced” with “a stunning aroma, warm comforting flavours and almost no bitterness”, making it a “great food beer” and a “a beer for all seasons and all reasons” that “could only improve with age”, it’s fair to say that the judges positively purred with delight when they tried Old Tom.

Oliver Robinson, Robinsons’ Managing Director (Beer Division), explains why this strong ale is so special: “Old Tom is engrained into our heritage. It’s been in the family since 1899 – ever since our Head Brewer sketched the old brewery cat whilst waiting for the ale to ferment – and even after all this time, it’s still the same great tasting ale, brewed to the same award-winning recipe. Over the last 120 years Old Tom has, without question, positioned itself as a champion beer within the drinks industry and a firm favourite with traditional drinkers and craft enthusiasts alike. We’re very proud of how Old Tom tastes and delighted to receive the 3-star Great Taste award."

In addition to the 3-stars, Old Tom has also been nominated for a Golden Fork Award; the highest accolade presented by the Great Taste Awards. Great Taste 2019 will reach its exciting finale on Sunday 1 September, when the world of fine food gathers at the InterContinental Park Lane Hotel, London to find out the Great Taste Golden Fork trophy winners for each region, with the final applause reserved for the Great Taste Supreme Champion 2019.

There’s little time for a cat nap over the coming months as preparations begin for Old Tom’s 120th birthday on 1st November, followed by the beer’s busiest period: Christmas.

GRAHAM completes major £8m link road in Stockport

A major project, described as Stockport’s single most important strategic highway connection, has been completed by GRAHAM.

The £8m Travis Brow Link Road creates a vital link between the A6 and M60 in Stockport town centre.

It is part of Stockport Council’s £73m Town Centre Access Plan, which will improve access into and around the centre, by easing congestion and improving transport links.

GRAHAM’s work has been recognised, with the scheme named Project of the Year at the 2019 Chartered Institution of Highways & Transportation (CIHT) North West Awards.

Leo Martin, GRAHAM Managing Director – Civil Engineering, said:

“This has been a really successful project and our teams have worked incredibly hard on a scheme which benefits millions of people who will use this link road.

“It forms a key part of an extensive access plan for Stockport town centre. High-levels of expertise were required in order to complete the work – especially when you take into consideration the Grade II listed viaduct and tunnel.

“Our work has been praised for meeting the key objectives of achieving best value, minimising disruption and efficient delivery.”

GRAHAM was appointed through the Highways England CDF Lot 2 Framework.

The project didn’t come without its challenges, with innovation required to support the exposed rock face beneath the viaduct foundations, whilst also restricting movements to negligible levels during the construction phase. Pre-stressed rock anchors were utilised with a near vertical hard shotcrete facing. The retaining structure was then covered in mass concrete, to protect against vehicle impact and corrosion.

Leap into action at the Big Stockport Run

The town’s army of decorated frogs have been given a special role at this year’s BIG Stockport Run.

The colourful amphibians, which have been living on the streets of Stockport for the past two months, will form the trail for the ‘Frog Dash’, a special charity treasure trail organised for families.

The dash will take place on Sunday, September 15, alongside the BIG Stockport Run, which starts and finishes in St Petersgate.

Children of all ages are encouraged to dress up as a frog (although this is not compulsory) and follow a map around the giant decorated frogs, which were put in place as part of The Giant Leap Frog Art Trial, organised by Totally Stockport to engage visitors with the town centre.

Totally Stockport’s BID Manager, Paul Taylor who has led on the Giant Leap project, said:

“Stockport’s Giant Leap Frog Art Trail has been an amazing success! It’s created a massive buzz and, since we launched the art trail of 19 giant frogs sponsored by local businesses, the number of visitors to the town centre has increased by over 20percent.

“Stockport’s 10K and family fun run always attracts huge crowds and we are delighted to be partnering with the team at Life Leisure to bring you the frog dash! This will be a family fun event with the frog dash following the trail around some of the frogs and the first three winners will be presented with a gold, silver and bronze miniature frog.”

Laura Mylotte, Head of Marketing from Life Leisure, which runs the annual event, said:

“We are really excited to partner with Totally Stockport for this year’s event. It’s great to be able to add another event for families in our ever changing town centre.

“Children and families will need to follow a treasure map to find out which frog they need to head to next – so it will take brains as well as brawn! It’s suitable for all ages and it would be great to see children dressing up as frogs for the occasion”. 

The frogs will be hopping off at the end of September, so event organisers hope the event will also be a great opportunity for people who haven’t had chance to visit them yet.

Money raised from the event will go to the homeless charity The Wellspring.  Entries cost just £5 and include entry into the Big Stockport Family Fun Run (which kicks off at 10.15am) and the Frog Dash (which starts at 11.30am).

To enter, for more information about the event, or for details regarding the Big Stockport Run,  go to the Life Leisure website or follow @BIGEventSeries on Twitter.