What the locals really think of Poynton

Businesses along Park Lane

Businesses along Park Lane - Credit: Archant

Togetherness in Poynton is not just for Christmas, as Janet Reeder discovers

St George's Church

St George's Church - Credit: Archant

Poynton isn’t the obvious place to find the spirit of Christmas alive and well and making people glow with pleasure. It’s not a huge shopping area – although first impressions are deceptive as the range and extent of its businesses is pretty wide. But it has something rather special, a community spirit that many towns can’t quite manage to achieve.

One can speculate that this is a legacy from the time when Poynton was a coal mining village for nearly 200 years, reminders of which remain in the whitewashed cottages which nestle on the edge of woodland on the hill up to Higher Poynton. The Middlewood Way, bridleway, cycling and walking path, follows the route of the old Macclesfield-Marple railway built to carry coal to Manchester and the Potteries. And one of the most important locations on the Macclesfield canal, designed by Thomas Telford and opened in 1831, was Poynton’s coal wharf.

Perhaps the mining heritage bequeathed Poynton’s keen sense of identity. For back in the early 1970s, Whitehall officials planned to put Poynton, along with Wilmslow, in the newly-created metropolitan county of Greater Manchester but changed their minds when nearly 90 per cent of the electorate sent a petition to Westminster to protest.

Poynton’s sense of togetherness is reflected too in its traffic management system, a ‘shared space’ concept where instead of road signs motorists show courtesy to each other and pedestrians. I’ve crossed the road there and it not only works but makes you admire the place even more.

So it was no real surprise to discover that when Christmas begins in Poynton, at its annual lights switch-on, it embraces everyone from visitors, to businesses to locals.

St George's Church

St George's Church - Credit: Archant

Louise Calvert who owns Zig Zag boutique on Park Lane sets the scene. ‘On the first Tuesday in December this road closes and all the shops stay open until late in the evening. There are stalls outside in the road and there’s a really good atmosphere. It is really well attended and it has been very successful for businesses like mine. We sell such a lot that evening.’

Brenda Acton at the Curiosity Shop agrees that Poynton Festival has a great atmosphere on the night.

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‘I’m from Wilmslow, but here is such a friendly and compact place so I have a lot of returning customers, who even if they don’t come in and buy anything will pop in for a chat.’

Brenda loves to support the local creative community and so Christmas shoppers will be able to chose from a whole range of unique one-off gifts from her selection of wares.

‘Of course there’s always a lot to do here even when it is not Christmas,’ she says. ‘There’s always something going on, like live music in the pubs and we even have our own Gilbert and Sullivan Society. It’s a very active community.’

Luis Troyano of the Hive Bakery

Luis Troyano of the Hive Bakery - Credit: Archant

Spreading festive cheer is Tom Quinn and his team at the Cask Tavern on Park Lane. The pub has scooped The Campaign for Real Ale’s Pub of the Year accolade for north east Cheshire, High Peak and Tameside.

Manager Tom sys the award came out of the blue. ‘We are just an ordinary ale house, a good local pub,’ he explains.

‘I would say the award is down to the staff and my deputy manager Sally Thompson and the fact we have remained focused and also that we enjoy what we do so much. It is a very sociable place and we have customers who come in who we really look forward to seeing, so that makes it so much easier for us.’

For the Christmas event it will be business as usual says Tom, with a few extras too.

‘It’s going to be busy here anyway but we always have a stall outside serving mulled wine as we like to get into the festive spirit,’

King of cakes - Luis Troyano

Luis Troyano is famed as a finalist on The Great British Bake Off and now he’s opened his own bakery called The Hive on the site of a former Greggs.

The name is appropriate as he employs a skilled team to produce hand-crafted bakes every morning at the Park Lane shop - ‘and you have to have lots of hands as everything we make is hand-made’ he explains.

Following his appearance on the GBBO, Luis, who had worked in advertising for 20 years found himself plunged into the world of food and loved it.

‘I was lucky to get a book deal and wrote a book called Bake it Great then fell into the food industry and worked on many different projects which was brilliant’ he says.

‘ Then I just decided I would open a bakery. It was as simple as that.

‘I chose Poynton partly because I live here but also because you need a specific kind of premises for baking. I had looked at Bramhall, Hale and Wilmslow but it just so happened that this shop came up. It was a bit of a coincidence, fate really.

‘Also there was a real gap here for a home bakery. It’s nice to think that people might travel to the bakery from other places - and they do.’

Now he’s planning to cook up some festive delights for the locals who can’t resist the allure of his fresh cakes and pastries.

All our bakes are made on the premises so we will be able to offer homemade style artisan bakes for Christmas. I’ll be doing the traditional Christmas cakes and mince pies but also different things like stollen and festive bakes from different parts of the world. One of the things people say about us is that we are always doing something different but I just think it’s great to keep things interesting.’

He’s also cooking up surprises for the Christmas Festival, but doesn’t want to spoil the surprise by revealing exactly what he’ll be doing.

‘It will be something special - but I don’t want to give it away,’ he admits.

‘Let’s just say we’ll have some very specific things to eat and only for that evening...’

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