Macclesfield is a town of character and contradictions. It’s a historic gem and a modern market town. The birthplace of Hovis and post-punk icon Ian Curtis.

A town of traditional terraced houses, set among glorious countryside and pretty villages housing some of Cheshire’s most desirable homes.

A gateway to North West England and the Pennines.

A Silk Town and a Treacle Town.

It seems all life is here, Macclesfield has a distinct, gritty character, unseen in more gentile Cheshire towns, and its multi-faceted personality helps to make it a great place to live and a fascinating town for visitors to discover.

Business owner Ed Williams says: 'There’s a thriving business community. If you are looking for any service, you can probably find it down a side street in Macclesfield, including, for example, a traditional blacksmith.

'But it is also a place known for its science, tech and pharma sectors.

Ed’s company, William and Crosby Design Marketing, has been based in Macclesfield for more than 37 years, and has offices and a design studio at The Stables in King Edward Street, in the heart of the town centre.

Describing Macclesfield as an 'easy place to live and work', Ed also points to the good schools, both in the state and private sectors and first-class transport link, with Macclesfield’s railway station giving easy access to Manchester and London via the West Coast main line.

Macclesfield ForestMacclesfield Forest (Image: Wirestock/Getty)


Silk is woven into the fabric of the town. Macclesfield FC are known as the Silk Men, there is a Silk Museum and the Silk Road, to name just three references to the town’s most famous export.

But traditionally, Macclesfield was known as Treacle Town, referencing a centuries-old incident where a carriage spilled its load of treacle. It is said the spillage led to a rush of townsfolk taking to the streets to scoop up the sweet liquid.

The name lives on to this day through Macclesfield’s thriving Treacle Market, celebrated as one of the best of its kind in the North West. Held on the final Sunday of each month, the market attracts more than 160 stalls to the town’s cobbed Marketplace, the Old Butter Market, and the area around St. Michael’s churchyard.

Wandering around the market is a treat for your soul and an assault on your senses. All life is here, with stalls selling all manner of artisan goods, food and drink.


The Treacle Market epitomises the shop local movement that has become more popular in recent times as an antidote to online shopping and out-of-town outlet stores.

The silk trade is now Macclesfield’s history, but support for independent traders is a key to the town’s newfound confidence. Walking through Macclesfield’s central core, you will find independent cafés and restaurants, such as Savages Mussels Bar, Flour Water Salt, Plums Kitchen, the Monocle Cafe, and Lord of the Pies. Family-friendly Picturedrome is home to independent kitchens and bars, passionate about regional food and drink

Macclesfield is also home to RedWillow brewery, which has grown an excellent reputation among beer enthusiasts. Its hometown bar, close to the railway station, has a modern atmosphere, with large Chesterfield sofas and seating booths.

Independent pub and bar lovers are spoilt for choice in Macclesfield with hospitality served up with a smile at the historic Castle pub, Five Clouds Tap and Bottle, the Fountain (owned by Bollington Brewery), and 73andPIZZA, home to Happy Valley Brewery.

When it comes to high-class shopping, one name is synonymous with Macclesfield. Arighi Bianchi was founded in Macclesfield in 1869 when master craftsman and cabinet maker Antonio Bianchi followed his brother-in-law Antonio Arighi from the shores of Lake Como to Macclesfield.

Antonio Arighi was already in business in the town, having established a shop supplying clocks and barometers to farmers in the 1850s after travelling to Cheshire to escape the civil war in his homeland.

Construction of the distinctive Arighi Bianchi store – a landmark seen by travellers along the main West Coast train line – began around 1892. The duo bought an old silk mill and commissioned local builder George Roylance to replace the mill with the distinctive four-storey building, which stands to this day.

It wasn’t until 1970 that the building achieved Grade 2* Listed status following a campaign to save it from the threat of demolition to make way for the North-South Macclesfield ring road.

Arighi Bianchi is believed to be the oldest family-run furniture store in the UK, with the fifth generation of Antonio Bianchi’s family taking the reins in 2021. It now includes Caffe AB, an elegant casual-dining space with an all-day menu.

But it’s not just Arighi Bianchi that makes a shopping trip to Macclesfield well worth your time. The town features many unique, sometimes quirky, shops, such as the owner-run Sophia Palucci boutique, haberdasher’s Crafty Corner, Shackleford Pianos, Cheshire Diamonds, Déjà vu vintage and antique furniture and clothing, Mujer boutique, and Spivey’s Web.

Back in the game - Macclesfield FC. Back in the game - Macclesfield FC. (Image: Nigel Howle)


Macclesfield boasts excellent sporting facilities and there’s been much success on the pitch in recent times.

In April 2024, Macclesfield RUFC were crowned champions of North West Division One, a fitting achievement in their 150th anniversary year, which means Macclesfield will play national league Rugby Union next season. The club has top-class facilities at its Priory Park ground, including two function rooms.

Meanwhile, Macclesfield FC is undergoing an incredible renaissance. An English Football League Club as recently as four years ago, Macclesfield Town suffered the ultimate fall in September 2020 when wound up in the High Court owing more than £500,000.

Now reborn as Macclesfield FC, the Silk Men are thriving again and are aiming for a return to the EFL.

The renaissance was sparked by local businessman Rob Smethurst who decided to buy the Moss Rose ground in October 2020, founding Macclesfield FC, and enlisting the support of Cheshire resident, BBC radio personality, and former Welsh international footballer Robbie Savage, as director of football.

As depicted in the BBC Three TV programme Making Macclesfield, the duo had no players, no manager, and no league to play in.

When Smethurst took on Macclesfield, the grass was overgrown, the ground’s infrastructure beginning to fall apart, and fans had become detached from their former club.

In spring 2024, the Moss Rose, now renamed The Stadium, was reborn and promotion on the pitch has been matched by development off it.

many sponsors to come on board, the flagship Bar Twenty-Seven has had a major makeover, there’s a well-equipped gym, a fan zone that’s the envy of many a higher league club, a state-of-the-art 4g pitch, and a well-equipped gym.

Andrew Ball, Bob Trafford, Amanda Penney at Macclesfield FC. Andrew Ball, Bob Trafford, Amanda Penney at Macclesfield FC. (Image: Nigel Howle)

When I visited, at 10am on a cold, wet Monday morning, the ground was alive with the noise of Macclesfield FC’s B Tech students, who combine football training with their studies.

The 4g pitch is in use throughout the week, with teams of all abilities showing their skills. The pitch creates a revenue stream for the club, alongside a modern gym, and Bar Twenty-Seven, featuring food from local company Suburban Green.

Hospitality, sponsors meetings, and a business networking club have also helped bring the stadium alive.

The transformation seems miraculous, but commercial manager Bob Trafford, says it is the product of positivity and hard work.

'When Rob Smethurst brought in Robbie Savage, we thought he might be a figurehead, but he is here every day working hard for the future of Macclesfield FC,' says Bob.

'We’re ambitious and the aim is a return to the EFL. Everything is geared towards that goal, whether it’s the much-improved stadium or development of young players.'

The Macclesfield women’s team, founded alongside the new club, are also doing well, having won their league this year.

Bob is 'Mr Macclesfield', having been around the club as a fan, and then official, for 37 years. He says: 'The football club is ingrained in the town on many levels. It is part of Macclesfield’s identity both for the supporters and the wider community.'


Macclesfield's murals. Macclesfield's murals. (Image: Nigel Howle)


One way to get to know Macclesfield better is to explore its public art.

Cheshire East Council, working with Macclesfield Town Council and Avanti West Coast, has produced a town arts trail.

It details 20 works of public art across the town including works inspired by the bird and animal paintings of Langley artist Charles Tunnicliffe, the Ian Curtis mural by street artist Akse in Mill Street, Macclesfield Forest by Becca Smith, Sunderland Street, Heritage images by Glassball, Waters Green, a Macclesfield townscape by Becca Smith, Churchill Way, and ‘Love Letters to Macc by Arc in Castle Street.

Macclesfield was once the world’s biggest producer of finished silk. Seventy-one silk mills were operating in 1832. Paradise Mill is a working mill museum that demonstrates the art of silk throwing and Jacquard weaving to the public. The four Macclesfield Silk Museums display a range of information and products from that period.

Macclesfield's murals. Macclesfield's murals. (Image: Nigel Howle)

On the outskirts of Macclesfield, heading towards Congleton, lies the picturesque village of Gawsworth and Gawsworth Hall, a Tudor manor house. While you can visit the hall, it’s also the family home of the Richards family. The hall's grounds have an open-air theatre and events for 2024 include a performance, on June 3, by renowned tenor and local resident Russell Watson.

Nearby Capesthorne Hall is also a must-visit for history buffs and nature lovers. Events at Capesthorne this summer include the Cheshire Classic Car and Motorcycle Show on July 21 and on August Bank Holiday (August 25-26), and the spectacular Rewind Festival, from August 2-4 celebrating the best of music from the 1980s and 1990s, with Billy Ocean and Squeeze, Kim Wilde, Bad Manners, Nik Kershaw, Altered Images, Hue and Cry, Peter Hook and the Light, Midge Ure, Gabrielle and Tony Hadley.


The sun sets at Shining Tor, Macclesfield. The sun sets at Shining Tor, Macclesfield. (Image: Andy Freeman, @f_otography1)


As the gateway to the Peak District, Macclesfield is an ideal base for anyone looking to combine a town break with country walks.

Macclesfield Forest has many walking trails ranging from easy to tough. An entry-level walk for all the family starts and finishes at the Trentabank Visitor Centre and takes an average of just 30 minutes to complete. A more challenging seven-mile walking trail takes ramblers from the car park at Tegg’s Nose Country Park into Macclesfield Forest.

From the starting point, walkers are afforded spectacular views over the Cheshire Plain. On a clear day, you should easily spot the Lovell telescope at Jodrell Bank.

The landmark All Saint's Church, Siddington. The landmark All Saint's Church, Siddington. (Image: Andy Freeman, @f_otography1)

Once you enter the forest, you will pass the tiny Church of St Stephen, known as the Forest Chapel.

It is a fairly strenuous walk on good paths, with several inclines, so good walking boots are recommended.

During the walk, you will see both Trentabank and Ridgegate Reservoirs, which are managed by United Utilities and provide drinking water. Trentabank is home to a large heronry of around 20 nests.

The walk also takes you close to the village of Langley, which grew on the strength of button and silk making, because the water of the River Bollin was so pure. At the peak of the industry, there were five mills driven by three water wheels, employing around 400 people.

The route also takes in part of the Gritstone Trail, a 35-mile walk from Disley to Kidsgrove.