It’s a common misconception to see British history in terms of kings, queens and cathedrals. Anything of note must have taken place in London. Or at the very least somewhere picturesque like York.
That’s unfortunate, because Tameside is one of the most historic parts of the country. It may not have been the site of famous battles or criss-crossed by armies. However, it was at the heart of the Industrial Revolution – the event which effectively created the world we know. It experienced every bit of the social and political turmoil.
I believe it’s very important that we retain awareness of Tameside’s heritage. That’s why I’m so pleased we have the local studies and archives centre in Ashton. This top-quality facility is visited by people from all over the world and it’s fair to say that its reputation is continually growing. Last year it played a key role in research for the BBC’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” genealogy programme about Seb Coe, chair of the London Olympics organising committee.
Only a few minutes’ walk from the centre is Portland Basin Museum. It stands at the junction of three canals and gives a fascinating glimpse of the borough’s past. There is a 1920s street to show how people lived almost 100 years ago, a transport section, and an industrial gallery. Later this year the site will be home to a new exhibition called Tales of Tameside.
Over at Park Bridge, on the Oldham border, there are still relics of what was once Lees’ Ironworks. This was a huge complex which closed in 1963. Its goods were sold around the world and its rivets were used in the construction of the Eiffel Tower and the Titanic.
Tameside’s history may be grimy rather than glamorous, but there is much to be proud of and much of great interest. You can find out more on the Council’s website at www.tameside.gov.uk/localstudies