Stockport's civilian air raid shelters, although far from being the largest in the land as claimed by the city's museum, did open in good time, in October 1939, the month after war was declared. Construction had commenced in September 1938, a rare instance of local authority foresight.
Cut into the soft red sandstone that underlies the city, the shelters provided accommodation for up to 6,500 people. Seven feet high and with a total length of just under a mile, the shelters were fitted out with benches, bunk beds, warden posts, first aid posts, small canteens, tool stores, male and female toilets, and electric lighting.
This was 'plush' by WWII air raid shelter standards, and led to the section of the shelters that can be visited by the public being nick-named the Chestergate Hotel. The nearby Brinksway and Dodge Hill shelters are not accessible to the uninitiated. The shelter complex was essentially closed by 1943.