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After 4 years of art exhibitions, stand up comedy, film nights and more live music than I can remember, Stockport Old Town’s much-loved community hub Seven Miles Out is set to close at the end of April.

We recently added a new page to the Seven Miles out website for people to share their memories of visiting the venue and have received some amazing messages.

It’s also made me think about how much of a positive impact Seven Miles Out has had on myself and shaped the person I am today.

Seven Miles Out and Me

I discovered Seven Miles Out back in 2014. At that time, I was working in Manchester and despite living a short walk away, saw little reason to ever visit Stockport town centre.

Then I spotted a tweet about Foodie Friday, a monthly street food event taking place in the market square, and decided to check it out with my girlfriend.

This was the first time I’d ever explored beyond the perennially grim Merseyway Shopping Precinct so when I arrived at the top of the hill at the market place I was amazed to find this entire new part of town and this fantastic food event happening on my doorstep.

I don’t remember what I ate that evening, but I do remember finding a man made of cellotape sat in a deck chair outside Seven Miles Out. I was admiring this sculpture (one of many created by Brin Morris of Artism) when I was promptly ushered inside by SMO’s co-owner John Barratt in his finest town crier voice.

I often ask people how they found Seven Miles Out and it usually involves being collared by John.

Inside, John and his wife Rosemary talked to us with great enthusiasm about what was happening around “The Old Town”. It turned out that as well as running Seven Miles Out along with their son Joe, they were also organising Foodie Friday, the Screen Stockport Film Festival and The Teenage Market (which encourages young people to set up their own businesses).

A young local band were playing, we drank some beer from Robbie’s brewery and I suddenly felt genuinely excited to be in Stockport.

In the space of a single night my entire conception of my home town had changed for the better.

Seven Miles Out and Us

Not long after that first visit I became self-employed and began visiting Seven Miles Out a lot. John and Rosemary were kind enough to let me work from there (usually in return for carrying a load of chairs upstairs).

I became good friends with Joe and we’ve worked together on a lot of websites for various projects since. I still consider the redevelopment of The Teenage Market website to be among my best work.

John and Rosemary also got me involved in their events, hosting a regular Cryptic Quiz night throughout 2016.

Stockport Foodie Friday

Stockport Foodie Friday in the summer

Stockport Old Town has seen a massive transformation over the past 4 years with the opening of the new Bakers Vaults and Remedy Bar as well as the fantastic Allotment Vegan Restaurant which won the Restaurant of the Year award at the 2018 CityLife awards.

Foodie Friday has gone from strength to strength and won the Best Pop-Up, Event, Club or Project award at the Manchester Food & Drink Festival 2016.

Despite this, the team’s proposal to open a permanent base for the independent traders of Foodie Friday in the market’s Produce Hall last year were rejected by Stockport Council and increased rent has meant running Seven Miles Out is no longer sustainable.

Seven Miles More

The famous Seven Miles Out Frank Sidebottom mural. Photo by Joe Barratt

Seven Miles Out will be sorely missed. The sense of community it represents really cannot be replaced. I’ve met a lot of people there and made great friends. Several times I’ve just turned up to events on my own because I’ll always see someone I know. I can’t imagine doing that anywhere else.

It’s also the only place I know locally that really supports young musicians and bands, giving them a safe environment to play to a friendly crowd.

That said, whilst the hub may be gone, the people behind it remain and I look forward to supporting whatever John, Rosemary and Joe do next.

If you have visited Seven Miles Out, please do share your memories of your time there on their website.

We’ll also be hosting one final Cryptic Quiz on Thursday 26th April so come along for a fun night. I’ll make sure it’s a good one!

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