Romans named the area that we know now as Stretford in Manchester Streta which meant street on a ford – Stretford crossed the River Mersey . The existing main road through Stretford is the A56 which follow the original Roman Road from Deva Victrix (Chester) to Mamucian (Manchester), crossing the Mersey into Stretford at Crossford Bridge, built at the location of the ancient ford. In 78AD and in 429 we know that the area was plundered by the invading Picts and Scots. The first reference to the Trafford family is in 1017 and in 1533 the records show that Sir Edmund de Trafford became the high sheriff of Lancashire.
Now at the entrance to Gorse Hill Park there is what remains of a sad part of Stretford’s history. A big stone with 2 holes in the top side, thought to have originally stood on the south side of the Roman road from Manchester to Chester and probably the remains of a medieval boundary cross.. It was moved to its present site in 1925. It is thought to have been used as a plague stone. Plague stones had holes in, usually filled with vinegar, where money from an infected town could be placed so that trades people delivering food could collect it. This meant they did not have to come in to contact with those infected. The vinegar was thought to act as a disinfectant on the money.
Up until the early 1800s Stretford existed as a cottage community dependent of hand weaving of cotton with 302 handlooms reportedly operating and providing employment for almost 800 workers. Mechanisation of the industry replaced the hand looms and by 1826 only 4 handlooms remained in Stretford. The community turned to livestock production and became an agricultural village known as Porkhampton because of its many pig farms and no doubt the fertilising qualities of the pig manure contributed to the fact that Stretford during this time became an extremely successful market gardening area supplying the centre of Manchester and many of the surrounding suburbs with vegetables and fruit. So successful was Stretford’s vegetable output, that it was described as “ the Eden of Lancashire “and in 1845 over 508 tons of vegetables were reported to be produced by Stretford market gardens for Manchester residents. Rhubarb was a particularly successful product and became so well known that it was nicknamed “ Stretford Beef”.
Stretford changed when the Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894, and Trafford Park Industrial Estate was developed , the population of Stretford increased by 40% in the ten years between 1891 and 1901.