Is this the best museum in the North West? Well, no. But it is a funny and unusual day out! I mean, where else could you see hats belonging to Dannii Minogue and Fred Dibnah under the same roof?
Based in a former hat factory, Hatworks is the only museum devoted to the UK hatting industry. Although it's as bizarre as it sounds, this kitsch Museum is loads of fun. Not least because there are lots of silly hat-related activities, including opportunities to make stuff and try things on. There's a cosy tearoom too. So if you get too excited by all the fancy headwear, you can enjoy a nice sit down and a bit of cake afterwards. Lovely.
Whether heading North to Manchester or South to Stoke, anyone who has been on a train through Stockport will have seen the giant brick chimney and made a comment about the Hat Museum. However, very few people will have actually made a visit to this not so hidden gem of Stockport.
This former hat factory is now a museum dedicated to hats and headwear. There are old hats and new hats, tall hats, bowler hats, trilbies, foreign hats, hats you can try on and expensive old hats behind glass. There is even the opportunity to make your own hats out of large coloured paper (OK, so I think that one was mainly for children, but it didn't stop us!). Best of all, you get to find out where the phrase 'mad as a hatter' comes from.
Even if you don't like hats you don't have anything to lose, as admission is free.
Like all good tourist attractions, there is also a shop and a café.
One time, Friend Since Birth and I were being mad. We 'be mad' quite a lot, and it generally involves drinking gin and wearing our pyjamas and watching The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas and generally being silly like drunk children. Anyway, one time we were being mad and I decided to dress the dog up. Upon trying to do so, the dog ran away and Friend Since Birth shouted "Becca...you are as mad as TWO HATS!" At the time, of course, this made perfect sense. Sober, of course, it was exposed as being nonsensical and abstract, and a bastardisation of the more commonly accepted "mad as a hatter" (but more on that later). However, we use it to this day, to describe anything as mad as, well, trying to put a bowler hat on a spaniel. Its inclusion in our mad vocab meant that when I suggested to Friend Since Birth that we might take a trip to the Hat Works, she positively frothed at the mouth with excitement, and got really rather giddy.
Now, I know nothing about millinery (except that it's a good word to say in a posh Victorian voice. Try it; "mmmmillinrerhhh!") but I do know this: the Hat Works is bags of fun! Wander round looking at hats! Try some hats on! Learn about how they're made! And as Kirsten points out, where the "mad as a hatter" adage comes from, but I won't spoil that for you. Right now there's an exhibition of urban headgear (yes, urban, like trilbies and whatnot), as well as a collection from Philip Treacy, who has recently done hats for Lady Gaga.
It's a lovely quaint little museum and the staff are all lovely and friendly, and helpful too.
It's a great place for families, with loads of drop-in crafting sessions during the holidays and at weekends. I reallllly want to go to their Vintage Photography session, where you get to do old-fashionedy dress-ups and take photos! Exciting stuff, non?
The events here aren't just for amateur hat fiends like myself; coming up in April 2010 is a miniature hat making competition, which will celebrate Stockport's 750th Town Chartr anniversary. I don't know what that means, but if it's an excuse to make a cool hat, I am totally on board with that. It is open to budding and established milliners, and could be a real coup for someone who's serious about hats.
I feel like Stockport often gets ignored, but it's definitely worth a trip out of the city every now and then, especially if you've got some sort of gin-induced love of hats...
This user has arrived from Qype, a European company acquired by Yelp in 2012. We have integrated the two sites to bring you one great local experience.