Manchester's Ten  Metropolitan Boroughs




in Greater Manchester

and Districts of Tameside

borough of Tameside is made up of 9 towns and districts. They include:
Ashton-under-Lyne, Audenshaw, Denton, Droylsden, Dukinfield, Hyde, Mossley,
Mottram and Stalybridge.

Ashton Market, Ashton-under-LyneMemorial Gardens, Ashotn, TamesideSt Lawrence's Church, Denton, Tameside
Ashton Market, the Memorial Gardens and St Lawrence’s Church, Denton


disagreements locally about the derivation of the name of Ashton. The
Ashton part is straightforward : “village or town surrounded by Ash
trees”. But the “under-Lyne” part is most contentious. It possibly refers
to the old boundary line between Cheshire and Lancashire which ran through
the town. Another possibility is the Forest of Lyme (Lyme Park) which
once covered the area.
The “under-Lyne” was actually only attached to the town name in the
mid-19th century, to distinguish it from other surrounding towns of
that name (Ashton-in-Makerfield for example).
In medieval
times, Ashton centred on the Parish Church of St Michael’s which was
probably mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. It became a parliamentary
borough in 1832 and by 1847 it was a municipal borough with its own
elected council. Its modern growth dates from around 1850, when its
population reached 36,000, due in the most part to a thriving and expanding
cotton industry.
The town was militant in its support for improved work and living conditions.
Ashtonians were at
Peterloo in 1819, and the town had a reputation for strikes. Friedrich
, said of Ashton in 1844: “It has a more satisfactory
appearance than that of most factory towns” . It was quick to improve
living standards – by 1902 it had electric trams running in the town,
and a sewage works was opened. In the post-war era, Ashton has seen
a great deal of rebuilding and modernisation of the town centre, and
it is a pleasant market town.


origin of Audenshaw is probably from a personal old English name “Aldwine”,
who once owned the land. Evidence for the existence of “Aldwine’s Shaw”
(a small copse or wood) dates from records going back to the 12th century.
Originally part of Ashton Parish, it became a separate Urban District
in 1894, when it was still described as “a pleasant and beautiful hamlet
(a village) lying in a wooded glen ( a vale or small valley)”.
It saw rapid development after 1732, with the opening of the Manchester
to Mottram Turnpike which ran through it, and the setting up of a toll
house in the village. During the 1870s and 1880s, many of Audenshaw’s
old buildings were destroyed when three large reservoirs were built
by Manchester Corporation.
Audenshaw Reservoirs are still a local geographic feature of the district.

Until the 19th century it was still a farming area, with a few local
industries like Hatting, Bleaching a Coal Mining. Aston Moss Colliery
was once the deepest in Britain until its closure in 1968. Robertson’s
Jams and Marmalades began production in their Audenshaw factory in 1891,
and the Jones Sewing Machine Company was founded at Guide Bridge in
1859. Their new factory still stands opposite the site of the original
sewing machine works. Modern Audenshaw has a major light industrial
development at the Shepley Industrial Estate, known locally as “Little
Trafford Park”.


possible explanations are given for the origin of the name Denton. One
has it that it meant “Dane Town”, a reference to the original Nordic
setters of the Tameside region, and another prefers “valley settlement”
from “den” meaning valley and “ton” meaning town or settlement.
The town remained little more than a large village until the 19th century,
when the population expanded dramatically as it became an incorporated
suburb of Manchester. One of Denton’s most remarkable buildings is St
Lawrence’s Church, (above right), built in 1530 and known as Denton
Old Church or “Old Peg” due to its timber construction jointed with
wooded pegs, typical of Tudor building.
Coal mining has existed in Denton for more than 200 years, and it was
at one time the town’s most important industry. Hatting was its second
industry, dating back to the 16th century and a flourishing local wool
trade which provided the town with its raw materials. The Denton Feltmakers
Company Charter dates from 1604. By 1825 Denton had 20 hatting firms.
Its decline dates from the 1920s, though some hats are still made in
the town.


from the 7th century, Droylsden’s origins are somewhat obscure. First
mention of its name appears in the 12th century when it was called “Drygel’s
Valley” – “dryge” being old English for “dry”, and “den” referring
to a small valley, the whole name probably means Dry valley. The Lord
of the Manor was at one time the famous poet Lord Byron, whose family
were the hereditary owners of the land on which the town stands. Droylsden’s
most notable buildings include the Fairfield Moravian Settlement, which
was established in 1783, and occupies some 54 acres. A small religious
community, the Moravians lived separate and isolated lives, centred
around the Sunday School and the several other schools which they established
in the region.


name Dukinfield means literally “ducks open land”, hence “ducks in a
field” – Dukinfield. The ancient Lords of the Manor were Duckenfield
Family, and it once lay in the parish of Stockport. In the 16th century
it was, with Ashton, the chief township east of Manchester. By the early
19th century, Dukinfield was predominantly agricultural land, and supplied
Manchester with most of its fruit and vegetables. Later in the century,
coal mining became its principal industry. It thrived on the demand
for coal to power steam engines in local cotton mills.
The rapid expansion of industry in the late 18th century resulted in
the hitherto largely rural landscape being turned into an industrial
wasteland. Working conditions in the town were the worst in the north
west, and in 1837 the Dukinfield and Ashton-under-Lyne Poor Law Union
was created to help relief the plight of the working poor or the region.

By the beginning of the 20th century most of Dukinfield’s mines were
paid out, or else demand for coal declined, and the Dewsnap and Astley
Deep Pits were closed down. In time these were replaced by light industries
and engineering, which remain its primary local industries.


name derives from “hide” , and old English land measure, (used
in the Domesday Survey of 1086), and roughly equivalent to 120 acres.
The town is largely a creation of the Industrial Revolution, -previously
it was little more than a single row of cottages, known as “Red Pump
Street”, and part of the Parish of Stockport. The present name only
dates from the 1830s.
Hyde became a mill town, with the factory of the Sidebothams dominating
its economy with ownership of mills and coal mines. Its growth was considerably
enhanced by the opening of the Peak Forest Canal in 1800.
The town was a stronghold of the Chartist Movement and its people figured
largely in the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. The Ashton family were the
earliest cotton pioneers in Hyde. From 1800, their family businesses
in coal and cotton made them powerful and wealthy figures in Hyde, and
their calico printing works at Newton Bank was a major local employer.
Thomas Ashton Jnr. was also a prominent local Liberal politician, as
well as being a determined industrialist who was much respected by his
During the so-called “Cotton Famine” of 1861-65, he kept his mills running
and refused to lay workers off, an act which earned him an honoured
place amongst local benefactors. More recently, Hyde has seen considerable
housing development, modernisation and growth, and is a sought after
residential area. A local distinction is the renowned Hyde Seal Water
Polo Team, who from 1904-1914 were three times world champions.


name “Mossley” has two elements – “moss” meaning “bog” or “swamp”
and the old English word ” lea” or “leah” indicating a
clearing in a wood. In 1309, according to records, the land was owned
by Henry, son of William de Mossley, although by the 19th century, it
was little more than a small hamlet included in the Manor of Ashton.

The town was once situated in three counties – Yorkshire, Lancashire
and Cheshire – and its three Parish Churches (St George’s, Lancashire;
St John the Baptist, Yorkshire; All Saints, Cheshire), still mark this
partition. Its pre-Industrial Revolution industries were farming and
woollen cloth manufacture.
1765 saw the building of Andrew Mill on the River Tame, with other mills
following soon after. The abundance of free-flowing water saw steam
power very slow to catch on. Most mills were owned by the Mayall Brothers.
Gradually, the building of new roads and the railway in 1849 saw its
fortunes blossom.
By 1913 the cotton trade had reached its peak, with a million and a
half spindles and 600 mechanised looms working at any time. The cotton
trade began to decline from the 1920s, and over half of its workforce
were unemployed so that Soup Kitchens had to be set up in the town to
relieve the most dire poverty which this promoted.
Since the Second World War, many new light industries have been introduced
into the town, though its population has continued to decline throughout
the 20th century, and residents mainly work outside in neighbouring


a part of the Longendale district which also includes Godley, Hattersley,
Newton, Hollingworth, Tintwistle, Matley and Staley. The name Mottram
derives from the old English word “moot” – a meeting place or
a council. A predominantly outlying rural district, in 1800 the whole
region had a population of only around 100, and Mottram was its main
market town.
In the early 19th century Mottram was a district centre for shoemaking
and tailoring. It lay strategically on the main Manchester to Sheffield
Coach route, and was a major servicing stop for this mode of transport.
The flying coach, “the Umpire”, as well as trans-Pennine packhorse trains,
all stopped at Mottram’s Pack Horse Inn.
Since 1936, Mottram was part of the Urban District of Longendale, and
became part of the Metropolitan Borough of Tameside after boundary changes
and local government reorganisation in 1974.
Mottram also has the distinction of having had the artist
living at “The Elms” on Stalybridge Road in the town
from 1948 until his death in 1976.
Nowadays, Mottram is a popular residential area. The mills have gone
or been converted to light industrial units, and textiles is no longer
the main employer of its people. Mottram still retains many of its ancient
customs, which draw large crowds to observe their performance in summertime
: they include the quaint customs of bell change-ringing, rush carts
and Morris dancing.


name Stalybridge comes from the old English word “staef” ( a
staff or stave) and “leah” , a clearing in a wood. The full meaning
of “Staly” is therefore “a wood where staves are collected”. The “bridge”
part was added in the 19th century, when the town became an important
market crossing point on the River Tame.
In earlier days, Stalybridge was sparsely populated, and for the most
part made up of farmers and cottage weavers.
By 1750 there were already several mills along the Tame, powered by
the plentiful supply of clean water. When Edward Hall installed the
first steam engine in his mill in 1796, it was the signal for the building
of many steam driven mills in the town, and it was at one time dominated
by innumerable such smoke stacks – at that time Stalybridge’s most predominant
The impact of industrialisation saw the population rise from about 140
in 1750 to 20,760 by 1850! Its prosperity brought many civic benefits
: the Police Force and Market in 1828, the Stalybridge Gas Company in
1831 which brought street lighting to the town, and a new Town Hall,
also in 1831.
The mill workers of Stalybridge led the march to Peterloo in 1819, and
in 1817 an association later known as the “Blanketeers” (on account
of the sleeping blankets they carried slewn over their backs) set out
to walk to London to protest against poor working conditions.
Political riots and strikes were prevalent in the town, which
supported the Chartist Movement. This civil unrest was probably
responsible for the setting up of the Stalybridge Police Force in 1827,
two years before the establishment of the Metropolitan Police Force by
Robert Peel
, who is attributed with their invention. Despite
the Cotton Famine of the 1860s, conditions gradually improved in the
town, with the opening of the Mechanic’s Institute in 1825, the first
public park opened by Lord Stamford in 1873, and the Public Library
in 1889. In the 20th century, Stalybridge has seen many changes. Most
of its mills were closed by the late 1930s. New housing estates replaced
the slums, and new light industries were encouraged by the Industrial
Development Committee set up in 1934.
Today the town manufactures rubber goods, plastics, chemicals, packaging
materials and synthetic fibres. It is still a major market town, and
is a sought after place to live, lying as it does within reach of the
Greater Manchester conurbation and the splendours of open countryside


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This page last updated 13 Nov 11.