Discover Tameside: A Vibrant Local Guide (2023)

There’s something a bit special about Tameside —the locals are friendly, the buildings steeped in history, and the town’s such a treat on the eyes, you just can’t help but fall in love with it. Nestled between the Peak District and Manchester, this old Lancashire town has plenty of charm. Throw in a lively market, ancient pubs and historical gems—you’ve got yourself one fine place for exploration.

And what’s more, it has deep-seated roots, too. We’re not talking last week—or last year—even. The roots stretch back centuries—each telling a tale about Tameside’s incredible journey from old market town to thriving industrial centre.

Whether you’re a culture vulture or a history buff—there’s something you’ll find to love. From the picturesque Portland Basin to Asthon Under Lyme’s town hall and market hall, each nook and corner has its own little tale to tell. Be it the history, architecture, or simple local charm, a visit is guaranteed to leave you loaded with stories and feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

The Portland Basin, large canal marina in Tameside

Diving into the History of Tameside

Buckle up because understanding the history of Tameside is like setting off on a thrilling roller coaster ride. The borough has gone through changes galore. Tameside is the metropolitan borough comprising a number of large towns including Ashton Under Lyme, Audenshaw, Denton and Hyde, however with Ashton being the largest town, much of the history of Tameside revolves around the history of Ashton.

Ashton-under-Lyne’s Initial Settlement and Development

The early pages tell us that Ashton-under-Lyne initially grew around the banks of the River Tame. The Portland Basin, now a bustling junction of canals, played a pivotal role in the town’s development. It welcomed traders from far and wide, their goods filling the market hall. And if you want to step back in time, just a tip—take a walk down to the Ashton Town Hall—its grand architecture’s bound to teleport you right back to the old times.

Ashton Under Lyme's Town Hall

Progress Through Industrialisation in Ashton-under-Lyne

Next, we see Ashton-under-Lyne transforming into a hive of activity during the Industrial Revolution. The town was all abuzz, with cotton mills springing up everywhere. And let’s not forget the Ashton Town Hall—it was more than just a structural marvel. The hall was a focal point for local folks, a place where decisions were made and progress was charted—contributing immensely to Ashton’s industrial growth.

20th Century Transformations

The 20th century brought in a fresh wave of evolution for Ashton-under-Lyne. The once thriving cotton mills gave way to modern industries, while the Ashton Moss Colliery and old market hall underwent significant transformations. The changes were palpable, but through it all, the spirit of Ashton-under-Lyne stood unfazed, embracing the new while honouring its rich past. Today, it stands proud—a testament to its vibrant history and an inspiration for the future.

Noteworthy Landmarks and Attraction Sites in Tameside

Tameside isn’t just your ordinary borough in Greater Manchester. It’s a spot filled with historic gems and buzzing attractions that would get your grandpa off his lazy chair. This humble town offers a treasure trove of landmarks, each bound to keep visitors well entertained.

Portland Basin Museum: A Historical Gem in Ashton-under-Lyne

Right off the bat, we have the Portland Basin Museum. This one’s a real head-turner. Housed in an old canal warehouse that’s been around since the Industrial Revolution, it’s a place that invites you to explore how life was during the 1920s in Ashton. The museum has a reconstructed street, complete with shops, and a schoolroom. You feel like you’ve gone back in time, it’s that good.

Don’t just take our word for it. Pop down there and have a look at how the people from back in the day did their thing. From cotton spinning to hat making, there are all sorts of demonstrations. Feels like a magic trick, leaping back in time like that.

Towering Heritage: Hartshead Pike

Then there’s Hartshead Pike. This landmark’s right atop one of the highest points in Tameside. It’s not just a tower. It’s steeped in history and wrapped with breathtaking views. The original tower dates back to the 18th century and was replaced after a storm in 1863. Now, it’s a cracking place for walkers and history buffs.

You’ll feel like you’re standing on the shoulders of giants when you reach the top. It’s a grand view that stretches out over the Peak District and even as far as Snowdon on a clear day. Makes you appreciate how big this world is, doesn’t it?

The Magnificent Ashton Town Hall

Moving on, let’s talk about the Ashton Town Hall. It’s not just another boring, government building. It’s a Grade II listed building with architecture that’ll make your jaw drop to the floor. Built back in the Victorian era, it’s a testament to the grandeur and craft of those times.

Standing tall in the heart of the town, the Ashton Town Hall is nothing short of majestic. It has the ornate clock tower that strikes the hour, adding its chime to the symphony that is Ashton-under-Lyne.

Cultural Delight at the Museum of the Manchesters

Last but not least, the Museum of the Manchesters. This place will get your history geek antenna buzzing. Dedicated to the Manchester Regiment, it showcases a collection that spans over 200 years. From uniforms to weapons, they’ve preserved it all.

One trip here, and you’ll dive into the stories of brave men who served in two World Wars. It’s quite a colourful pageant of history, filled with tales of courage and duty. Makes you appreciate the sacrifices of those blokes who came before us.

However, please be aware as at the time of writing that the museum is actually closed as the Town Hall is currently being renovated and there is no timeframe for when it will reopen.

The Buzzing Ashton Market

A visit to Tameside wouldn’t be truly complete without a trip to Ashton-under-Lyne’s lively market. A vibrant tapestry woven with the threads of local trade and community interaction, Ashton Market is the bustling heart of the town’s activity. Stallholders brimming with local products, from scrumptious eats to colourful fabrics, create an atmosphere that’s as welcoming as it is energetic.

Stroll through the market on a busy day and you can’t help but get swept up in the enthusiastic banter between traders and customers. Fancy a taste of Ashton’s freshest fruits and veggies? Or maybe you’re on the hunt for a unique trinket, a memento of your journey. Ashton Market’s got you covered, with something to entice every visitor. So step right up and immerse yourself in this vivacious market scene.

Fascinating Facts and Figures

Let’s spill the tea on Tameside and Ashton, a borough and town that’s seen its fair share of changes, and it has the glow up to prove it. Now, it might not have the razzle-dazzle of a big city, but this old industrial town has more than a few stories up its sleeve.

If you want to talk about trailblazers, Ashton Library has to be first off the bat. Back in 1906, they shook things up with a new way of doing things. Rather than having to flick through a catalogue like you’re ordering take away, they let people browse the shelves. They had to do a major shuffle, but it was worth it. The impressive feat here is that Ashton was one of the first libraries to adopt the Dewey Decimal Classification. It’s like the bread and butter of libraries today, so no small feat there!

Wellington Works

Not to be outdone, Ashton was also the home ground for the National Gas Engine Company Ltd, established by none other than the pioneer of the gas engine himself, Henry Neild Bickerton. This bloke kicked things off in 1889, and his Wellington Works produced two-cycle gas engines that were the bee’s knees in electric power plants, cotton mills and other works. In 1907, these became part of Mirrlees, Bickerton and Day, which Henry set up to produce.

Exploring Ashton-Under-Lyne’s Vibrant Town Centre

Ashton-under-Lyne, a little market town, sits comfortably on the north bank of the River Tame. Now, don’t let its size fool you. This British town, part of Greater Manchester and adjacent to Stockport, has a town centre that buzzes with life. Turn any which way, and there proudly standing, are traditional terraced houses, listed buildings galore, sprucing up the place.

The market town status of Ashton was bestowed way back if we go down the history lane. A man by the name of Sir Ralph de Assheton had a hand in it. He happened to have the Royal Charter in his back pocket. Legend has it, he made Ashton the market town we see today. Thanks to him, the town centre has a constant hustle and bustle that gives it a life of its own.

Now, if you’re someone who enjoys a good trip, the town centre is just a stone’s throw from Manchester City Centre. Well, a stone’s throw might be a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s not too far to be sure. The streets, lined with quaint shops, are always filled with chatter and bustling activity. It’s a bit like watching a beehive. Everywhere, there’s something happening.

Celebrating the Versatile Charm of Tameside

So, there you have it. Tameside, and by default, Ashton-under-Lyne, a market town with a lively town centre, steeped in history, and as British as they come. It’s a place where every nook and cranny tells a story, where every cobblestone on the street has a tale to tell. It’s a town that holds on to its past, while embracing the future with both hands. It’s a blend of old and new, tradition and innovation.

Ashton-under-Lyne has carved a niche for itself on the British map. A town, standing tall on the north bank of the River Tame, Ashton-under-Lyne is a testament to the spirit of Britain. It bursts with life, exudes charm, and stands proud in its Britishness. A true gem, tucked away in the city of Manchester.


  • Richard

    Hi! I’m Rich, co-founder and writer behind Lets Go Manchester. I grew up in Bournemouth but have been living up here for almost 10 years. I now find myself exploring Manchester and the surrounding counties with my amazing wife and two gorgeous kids.