30 Minutes To A Hidden Gem – The Plaza, Stockport

Stockport isn’t always a place that gets the kindest reviews but there’s more to this town which was once the centre of the country’s hatting industry and by 1884 was exporting more than 6 million hats a year; the last hat works here closed in 1997.

But Explore Buxton visited Stockport specifically to take a look at The Plaza – which, in the last couple of years (with much work completed in 2016) has undergone major restoration works. With our own town home to the fantastic Frank Matcham creation Buxton Opera House, we were really interested to see how The Plaza was shaping up following the work last year.

This superb Art Deco gem in the middle of Stockport is not only a theatre and cinema but houses the Plaza Cafe. As soon as you enter The Plaza and then the cafe upstairs, it’s immediately obvious that the restoration has been carried out with fine detail and the Art Deco design features and accompanying lighting look fabulous.

Photo credit: The Plaza

The menu was very varied but I decided to try the The Connaught Tea, consisting of finger sandwiches, plus a delicious freshly baked fruit scone, strawberry jam and clotted cream together with a pot of Earl Grey tea (or good ground coffee if preferred).

The waitresses, dressed appropriately in the 1930’s style, ensure that you are well looked after and I felt I stepped back in time when manners and good service was the norm.

Photo credit: The Plaza

So often I have been disappointed elsewhere and can happily report to our readers that the very versatile Afternoon Tea menu was delightful; freshly cut sandwiches, generous lashing of clotted cream for your scone, all accompanied by a pot of good quality tea  – and this made my experience at the Plaza memorable and all for only £8.50.

Upon leaving the cafe I enquired with a member of staff in the foyer to ask a few questions about the restoration – and I’m so glad I did; she took me inside the theatre for a quick look whilst pointing out various aspects of the absolutely fantastic auditorium – for any Art Deco fans this is a dream.

Photo credit: The Plaza
Photo credit: The Plaza

I do recommend a visit to the Plaza when you need a change of scenery from Buxton or a break from shopping (which is quite good in Stockport and often easier to negotiate than Manchester, despite what people might say). Stockport is only about a 30-40 minute drive away from Buxton (and a good drive at that, away from rush hour) or 50 minutes on the train, so within reach.

Enjoy the atmosphere and revel in the Art Deco magic – there’s really no need to go to the Ritz or the Dorchester, come to the Plaza instead!

You will not be disappointed.

Reviewed by Christine Francis for Explore Buxton.

For more information about the cinema & theatre programme, the Plaza Cafe and the restoration programme, go to www.stockportplaza.co.uk

Look out for our future articles in our new feature series… 30 minutes to a hidden gem 🙂

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