The old Cheshire town now struggling with an identity crisis

Altrincham is a town which has experienced an identity crisis in recent memory. Traditionally a part of Cheshire, the town transitioned to being a part of Greater Manchester when the region was created in 1974 and there has been confusion ever since about where the area lies.

Now, nearly 50 years after the change, opinions are still divided about whether the area is considered an outlying region of Manchester or whether it has kept its traditional Cheshire spirit.

Marie Duffy, who lives in the area, said: “It feels more like Cheshire, 100 per cent. A lot of people still put Cheshire on addresses at Christmas time, and people ask where you come from in Cheshire but nobody asks where you come from in Trafford. It is where it is, it’s very rural.”

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To some, however, despite having kept a lot of Cheshire characteristics the area is slowly becoming more like parts of Manchester.

Chris, a trader from Liverpool who works at the Altrincham Market, said: “When I was on the way here I was thinking I was going to the posh part of Manchester. In my mind I’ve always thought it was just a part of Greater Manchester.

“You are basically in Cheshire, it could be either. It has more of a Cheshire vibe.”

There are certainly some elements that give the town a feeling of being in between the two areas; sites such as the Altrincham Market give a sense of the town’s traditional Cheshire roots, but also create a feeling that the building could happily sit in the Northern Quarter of Manchester.

Altrincham Market
Altrincham Market

With a lot of independent businesses finding success in the town, trendy taco shops sit side-by-side with traditional cheese stalls, giving the town a split identity. Perhaps just like the town, its population is divided on whether the town keeps hold of its traditional roots or accepts its new identity with open arms.

For Altrincham resident Maurine Williams, the answer is clear. “It should never have moved,” she says.

“I’m from Liverpool but I’ve lived here for 20 odd years. I used to live in Crosby and that went from West Lancs into Merseyside and everyone went mad.

“We’re far enough out of Manchester that it doesn’t need to be a part of Greater Manchester. It’s not the same.”

As time goes by, it remains to be seen whether Altrincham will keep clinging onto its Cheshire identity, or whether the town will fully buy into the Greater Manchester region in which it resides.

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