Stockport is a large town in Greater Manchester, England, south-east of Manchester city centre, where the River Goyt and Tame merge to create the River Mersey. The town is the largest settlement in the metropolitan borough of the same name. Historically, most of the town was in Cheshire, but the area to the north of the Mersey was in Lancashire. Stockport in the 16th century was a small town entirely on the south bank of the Mersey, and known for the cultivation of hemp and manufacture of rope. In the 18th century the town had one of the first mechanised silk factories in the British Isles. However, Stockports predominant industries of the 19th century were the cotton and allied industries. Stockport was also at the centre of the countrys hatting industry, which by 1884 was exporting more than six million hats a year; the last hat works in Stockport closed in 1997. Dominating the western approaches to the town is the Stockport Viaduct. Built in 1840, the viaducts 27 brick arches carry the mainline railways from Manchester to Birmingham and London over the River Mersey. This structure featured as the background in many paintings by L. S. Lowry.