cultivation of hemp
and rope manufacture. In the 18th century the town had one of the first
mechanised silk factories in the British Isles. However, Stockport's
predominant industries of the 19th century were the cotton and allied
industries. Stockport was also at the centre of the country's hatting industry,
which by 1884 was exporting more than six million hats a year; the last hat
works in Stockport closed in 1997.
Dominating the western approaches to the
town is the Stockport Viaduct. Built in 1840, the viaduct's 27 brick arches
carry the mainline railways from Manchester to Birmingham and London over the
River Mersey. This structure featured as the background in many paintings by L.