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Industrial Development of Tameside


Early Transport in Tameside

Many economic and industrial advances occurred in the region in the 18th century, particularly in the area of communications. The coming of the first turnpike (toll road) from Manchester to Ashton in 1732 saw an immediate improvement in the local economy due to increased trade along its route. Later, as a result of the Canal Acts of 1792 and 1793, traffic unsuitable for road haulage went by the new canal system which was in place by 1800.
The Peak Forest Canal connected Ashton at Portland Basin to the limestone quarries via the Bugsworth Basin near Whaley Bridge; the Huddersfield Canal opened in 1811 linked Tameside with Huddersfield through Stalybridge and Mossley. Canals prospered until the coming of railways, which largely usurped their function by the mid-1840s.The Sheffield, Ashton and Manchester Railway, completed in 1845, crossed the Pennines and ran through Fairfield, Ashton, Dukinfield, Newton, Hyde, Godley and Broadbottom, with a branch to Stalybridge.

St Michaels Church, Ashton Stalybridge Market Hall, Tameside Ashton-under-Lyne shopping centre, Tameside
St Michael's Church, Ashton, Stalybridge Market Hall and Shopping in Ashton

A year later the Manchester and Leeds Railway ran from Miles Platting in Manchester to Charlestown (Ashton) and Stalybridge. Finally, in one last push during the 1880s and 1890s other lines were put in lace to connect Denton, Droylsden, Dukinfield, Stalybridge and Diggle to the railway system.

The Industrial Revolution in Tameside

Also in the 18th century, a series of ingenious mechanical inventions were to transform Tameside's already thriving textile industry, and to convert it from a handmade cottage industry to full factory production. Tameside's first purpose-built cotton mill was built in 1776 at Rassbottom, Stalybridge by Edward Hall, with another, Scout Mill at Mossley, following close on its heels. These were initially run by water power from the River Tame. But, in 1796, Hall introduced a six horsepower steam engine into the mill. Its tall chimney was locally known as "Sootpoke".
By 1795, one writer reported about 100 mills on the River Tame and its tributaries, all powered by water wheels. By the mid-1830s, a second generation of mills appeared, by now all run by steam power, fed by coal along the new canal systems. By 1850, all but a few of Tameside mills had fully mechanised power looms in place. The Mayall family dominated the late 19th century local textile industry. John Mayall, through hard work, entrepreneurial spirit and dogged determination owned the six biggest mills at Mossley, employing over 1,500 local workers. On his death in 1878 Mayall was a virtual millionaire.
Textiles were to remain Tameside's staple industry until well into the 20th century.

Coal Mining in Tameside

Coal mining was an early industry in the borough. As early as 1674, Ashton Parish Register recorded the death of one Elisha Knott who died in a coal pit at Fairbottom. In 1839 Ashton recorded 20 coal shafts in the parish, and in 1842 Dukinfield boasted seven. Most coal went into powering local mills, and many were actually owned by mills. Tameside pits produced enough coal to serve local needs and to create a surplus - in 1836 some 8,000 imperial tons of coal were shipped to Manchester. Most mines survived into the 20th century. As late as 1954 the Ashton Moss Colliery employed 530 men and produced 147,000 tons of coal a year. It was closed in September 1959.

Hatting in Tameside

As a productive industry, Hatting played an important role in Tameside, particularly in Denton where a thriving hatting trade had operated since the 17th century. By 1825 Denton itself boasted 20 hatting firms in the parish. As late as the 1920s hatting provided employment for over half of Denton's population, with a workforce of about 3,700. Few hatting firms survived the 1960s, when hats fell out of fashion, and the industry went into decline.

Iron & Steel Production in Tameside

John Summers first established an iron forge in Stalybridge in the 1840s. Later, he and his sons developed this into a major business, and employed over 1,000 local men in their factory, the largest in the town. In 1929, with no room for expansion at Stalybridge, the sheet rolling and galvanising plants were transferred to Shotton in North Wales, having devastating effects on local employment; this new plant was to become a major component in the British Steel Corporation.

Contemporary Tameside

Tameside is nowadays a thriving bustling Borough, with a great deal to offer the tourist by way of attractions. It still holds its Annual Whit Walks at Spring Bank Holiday, as well as Tulip Sunday, the annual Running Tour of Tameside (a week long 52 mile race), Brass Band Competitions and colourful Canal Festivals every July.
Tameside has a rich multicultural mix of ethnic and racial groups including Afro-Caribbean, Bangladeshi, Chines, East African Asian, Indian and Pakistani, as well as other European nationalities including Irish, Italian, Polish and Ukrainian. Its three temples and five mosques add to its profusion of various Christian churches and chapels. The Moslem Festival of Eid-Ul-Fitr, and the Hindu celebration of Diwali, add colourful events of dance and song to Tameside's own ancient historical ceremonies.
The Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council was formed in 1974 and administers all nine towns which make up the borough. Its provisions include 83 primary schools, 17 high schools and 6 special schools for children with special educational needs. Two Sixth Form Colleges and Tameside College of Technology serve the needs of post-16 and further education.
With the completion of the last link in the M60 Manchester Orbital Motorway which completely encircles Manchester, Tameside stands to increase its connectivity to the rest of the Greater County as this new motorway cuts right through the borough, and should actively encourage new business and industry into the borough.
The Council works with many different agencies who have a role in the development of commerce and industry in the borough, including the Chamber of Commerce, the Training & Enterprise Council, Trade Unions and the voluntary sector of the community as a whole.
To this end Tameside has set up an Economic Development Plan has established many new training schemes to increase both the quantity and quality of skills within the borough. In its commitment to improving the local environment it has established an Environmental Charter, aimed at protecting the local environment and heritage of Tameside.
Leisure facilities for the health and well-being of its residents include the Tameside Leisure Park at Hyde, a multi-million pound 80 metre pool with its wave machine and flume, health suites, saunas, caf� and licenced bar. The floodlit stadium is home to Hyde Spartans, the American Football Team, and to Hyde United Football Club. Other recreational centres have been opened at Longendale, Stalybridge and Droylsden offering a wide range of sporting opportunities including five-a-side football, martial arts, weight training, aerobics, badminton, squash and many more. Swimming pools are located at Ashton, Denton, Droylsden, Dukinfield and at the Copley Recreation Centre in Stalybridge. At the Etherow Centre in Broadbottom there is the Tameside School of Gymnastics. These and many more constitute the widest possible range of sports and health facilities.
The River Tame serves as the focus for many outdoor pursuits, and the whole Tame Valley, hitherto polluted by innumerable industries and mills, has now been fully regenerated and restored to its former green valleys and woodlands, a most pleasant place to walk and stroll, with access from 7 of Tameside's 9 towns.

The Country Warden Services & Visitors Centres in Tameside

These services can advise visitors on access and facilities.

  • Tame Valley Warden Service
    Tel: 0161-344 3306.
  • Brownhill Visitors Centre
    Tel: 01457-872598.
  • Reddish Vale Visitor Centre
    Tel: 0161-477 5637.
  • The Medlock Valley and Etherow Valley These offer extensive outdoor and walking opportunities, as does Werneth Low Country Park, with its stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
  • Daisy Nook Country Park
    Tel: 0161-308 3909.
  • Medlock Valley Wardens & Park Bridge Visitor Centre
    Tel: 01161-330 9613.
  • Lymefield Visitor Centre
    Tel : 01457-765780.
  • Etherow-Goyt Valley Wardens
    Tel : 0161-427 6937.
  • Werneth Low Country Park
    Tel : 0161-368 6667.
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This page last updated 28 Apr 09.