The regeneration of Altrincham continues
- Credit: Archant
Altrincham has got it’s va va voom back. No wonder it’s the place to be this summer
From a housing and restaurant boom to bespoke facials and plenty of bling, Altrincham has rediscovered its mojo.
The town is a serious contender for those seeking all the benefits of a metropolitan lifestyle without the disadvantages of the city’s urban jungle.
Sitting outside Altrincham’s indoor Market House is just one way to soak up the atmosphere, especially during the languorous days of summer when you can feel you’re seriously part of continental cafe society. You can dine like an Italian and drink al fresco like the French...no wonder there’s a buzz on the streets.
The recent regeneration has been a magnet for the upmarket shopper looking for something different but as Martin Duff of Randalls jewellers on George Street says, they never really went away.
‘They just haven’t had the reason to come back and now they have,’ he says.
‘We have a really good mix of people now. We can get people from Wythenshawe and Bowdon coming in - people with different backgrounds but what they all have in common is they love Altrincham.’
Martin, chair of Altrincham Bid for three years, and now their vice chair explains that the longer term plan for Altrincham is to grow the town ‘organically’ but with a system in place to support that progress.
‘There was no masterplan for parking, no masterplan for development, so we’ve now set up groups who involve the council and landlords and local businesses and we all talk to each other, ‘ he says.
‘I used to think of Altrincham as one big place now I think of it as a collective. You’ve got Goose Green, you’ve got the market, you’ve got King’s Court, George Street and it’s nice to go to those different areas and experience something different. If I want a chilled out time I’ll go to Goose Green and have a glass of wine in the sun and be with lots of other people doing the same thing. If I want that vibrancy in the community I’ll go to the market, if I want to shop I’ll come to George Street, so you’ve got everything and lots of new things happening.
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‘We’ve got the Everyman Cinema coming and that will enliven the top end of George Street. Obviously we’ve got Flannels and the Regent Road car park is going to be revamped, so that will lift the top end of town. It’s about highlighting different areas but it’s a total community effort.’
One person who is feeling the love for Altrincham is Gaynor Morgan-Hoole, daughter of the Manchester United player Willie Morgan, who still lives in the town. Although Gaynor has a house in Prestbury, she now has a little ‘pied a terre’ in a state-of-the art apartment block in the middle of all the action.
We’ve always kept a bolthole there because our friends and family are there,’ she says.
‘It’s great if we just want to spend a weekend there and just want the time on our own. It’s minutes from the town and we go there a lot. It’s a fantastic place to go out in. I just love walking through the town and the market.
‘I used to go to the market with my mum, who has sadly passed away now, and I just love Altrincham market. They’ve managed to keep its charm but it’s a better place to go and obviously you’ve got all the new eateries so it’s fabulous.’
Having grown up in Altrincham, Gaynor has witnessed the changes over the years.
‘It’s unbelievable the way it has been redeveloped,’ she says.
‘I was speaking to dad about this and there’s a guy called Peter Collins who is one of his best friends. He owns most of Altrincham and has done for many years so he’s been key in developing various places over the years and we’ve always known what was coming, which is nice.
Gaynor says that moving out of Altrincham was a hard decision for her as she has so many memories of growing up there.
‘ I went to Loreto prep with all the other footballers’ kids and then on to the convent, the senior school. It has excellent schools. My son, Alex, went to Altrincham prep, there are fantastic schools here, private and state schools too.’
‘‘My son does property development on a small scale and there are at least 10 buyers for every property under £500,000 in Altrincham. It’s gone nuts. The prices have gone up. It’s a fantastic investment place.’
Past and present still converge too, for example, at solicitors Keoghs, Nicholls, Lindsell and Harris, which celebrates its 285th anniversary in September, making it one of the oldest law firms in the UK. They started at a time when courtroom punishment could be measured by the lashes from a whip or time in the stocks!
Senior partner Michael Sandler started at Nicholls, Lindsell in 1971 and has been with the firm ever since.
‘Regrettably I can’t take credit for the firm’s motto but I think it is brilliant. Four words. Traditional values, modern methods.
‘But 285 years ago, we’d be doing land transactions more often than not because you had the industrial revolution, all the mills going up and all the wealthy owners of the mills wanted a house outside the city.
‘Now we are no longer dealing with the wealthy landowners. We deal with some wealthy clients and with ordinary people too.
We’ve had high profile cases. We deal with personal injuries, clinical negligence contentious probate cases, and we do all sorts of litigation and a lot of legal aid.’
And their secret to longevity?
‘I do believe in providing a service. That’s what people want,’ says Michael.
‘It’s what the clients here seem to appreciate. They phone here, see a solicitor and every time they phone up, they see that same solicitor.’