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Canals in the Borough of Tameside

Canals In Tameside

Map showing the Cheshire Ring of canalsTameside lies seven miles to the east of Manchester and comprises nine towns brought together in 1974. The Borough takes its name from the River Tame which helped power the Industrial Revolution two centuries ago. During this period a complex network of canals was constructed which linked Tameside with the rest of the country, bringing in supplies of raw material to feed the developing industries and thriving towns of Ashton-under-Lyne, Hyde, Mossley and Stalybridge.

Today the canals have a new role - providing leisure and recreational opportunities for many people - walkers, anglers, canoeists, canal cruisers and many others.

The Guide

This guide tells the story of Tameside's three canals - Peak Forest, Ashton and Huddersfield Narrow - their rise, decline and rebirth. Attractions, events and activities are highlighted for you to enjoy.

The Ashton and Peak Forest Canals form an integral part of the famous Cheshire Ring of Canals.

We look at each of Tameside's canals in turn with their confluence at Portland Basin in Ashton as our focal point.

Portland Basin | Canals and Countryside | Restoration | History and Happenings | Trips | Canals Festival | Wooden Canal Boat Society | British Waterways | Further Information

Portland Basin

The area of Portland Basin is at the hub of Tameside's canal network. Here the three canals meet and it is known as Dukinfield Junction amongst the canal fraternity.

It is a good starting point for exploration along the canals especially as it is the location of the Portland Basin Museum

The Centre tells the history of Tameside from pre-industrialisation to the present day and subjects range from the cotton industry to fish and chips. Admission is free. It is located in a former canal warehouse on the Ashton Canal. The warehouse was built by the Ashton Canal Company in 1834 to cope with the ever increasing traffic on the Canal, particularly to the mills on the west side of Ashton. Much of the building was destroyed by fire in 1972 but was rebuilt by Tameside Council and reopened as a museum in 1988. It has since been extended and enhanced to provide even better visitor facilities and was reopened in Spring 1999. Outside there is a giant waterwheel which was installed between 1839 and 1841 and is now restored to full working order. Nearby there are picnic tables and, of course, the towpaths heading off in three directions and giving you the chance to explore the changing landscape of Tameside's canals.

Canals and Countryside

The Huddersfield Narrow and the Peak Forest canals lie almost parallel to the River Tame from Saddleworth in the north through Mossley Stalybridge. Ashton, Hyde and Denton. The Hollinwood and Fairbottom Branch Canals run through the Medlock Valley linking Littlemoss, Daisy Nook Country Park and Park Bridge. The Valleys provides excellent opportunities for countryside activities.

Countryside Warden Services in Tameside, Oldham, Stockport and Manchester help to look after the countryside facilities throughout the Valleys and organise events all year round - many at canalside locations. Horse riding, canoeing, climbing, Walking and visitor centres are all available.

For further general information about the countryside, or the river valleys in particular, please contact:

Tameside Countryside Service - Park Bridge Visitor Centre, The Stables, Park Bridge, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 8AQ
Telephone Number (0161) 330 9613.

For further information specifically about the Country Parks that lie near to the canals please ring the following numbers:

  • Werneth Low Country Park Telephone Number (0161) 368 6667
  • Stalybridge Country Park Telephone Number 01457 832957
  • Daisy Nook Country Park Telephone Number (0161) 308 3909.

Canal Restoration

The Huddersfield Canal Society Link to External Website founded in 1974, works tirelessly to support the restoration of the unique and historic Huddersfield Narrow Canal. Based in Ashton-under-Lyne, the organisation has both full time staff and numerous volunteers actively involved in fund raising and restoration work.

The Society, in partnership with Tameside, Oldham and Kirklees Councils and British Waterways, has recently celebrated the complete reopening of the Huddersfield Narrow Canal across the Pennines.

If you would like to discover more about the canal and the work of the society, or perhaps become a member, visit Huddersfield Canal Society Link to External Website . Alternatively, use the contact details below:

Huddersfield Canal Society - 239 Mossley Road, Ashton-under-Lyne OL6 6LN.
Telephone Number 01457 871800

Canal History and Happenings

If these pages have whetted your appetite to learn more about the history of Tameside canals, why not visit Tameside's Local Studies Library. There you can learn about the people who lived and worked on the canals.

In addition to a large collection of books, the library has a collection of canal trail guides, maps, photographs, old newspapers and oral history recordings.

Amongst the archives, the library holds the Minutes of the Peak Forest Canal Company between 1794-1845, Ashton Canal Company Minutes 1798-1815, Huddersfield Canal Company Minutes 1794-1843, as well as the Ashton-under-Lyne Canals Acts 1792-1842.

The library subscribes to a number of topical publications such as 'Pennine Link', the quarterly magazine of the Huddersfield Canal Society.

Canal Trips

A delightful way to enjoy Tameside's canals is on a canal boat trip. Journeys of exploration are available along all three canals.

Huddersfield Canal Society

The Huddersfield Canal Society Link to External Website operates popular canal boat trips from Portland Basin throughout the year.
Contact the Society on Telephone Number 01457 871800 for details.

Saddleworth Canal Cruises

The Pennine Moonraker trip boat operated by Saddleworth Canal Cruises Link to External Website can be found at Uppermill.

British Waterways

British Waterways operate trips into the restored Stanedge Tunnel from the Stanedge Visitor Centre Link to External Website

East Manchester Community Boat Project

East Manchester Community Boat Project is a registered charity, run entirely by volunteers, providing free days out on the canal. They have an equal opportunities policy and do not discriminate against any group of passengers.  They can accommodate two wheelchair users and their passengers regularly include those who are mentally or physically disabled, those who are underprivileged or disadvantaged, the elderly, ex-offenders, the young, community groups, and single parent families - the list is almost endless. Their 56ft narrowboat Community Spirit is moored at Portland Basin.
For more information and booking Telephone Number 07503 145146 or Email Address dave@emcbp.org.uk.
Website: www.emcbp.org.uk Link to External Website

Tameside Canals Festival

Tameside's premier event held annually in July since 1976, now takes place at the idyllic canalside location of Portland Basin in Ashton-under-Lyne and is organised by a voluntary committee.

This weekend of family fun, sponsored by the Ashton District Assembly, attracts thousands of visitors to a celebration on and around Tameside’s canals. It features narrowboats, brass bands, children’s entertainment, craft tent, beer tent, stalls and sideshows, plus live music concerts on the Friday and Saturday evenings.

There is a small entry fee for adults (with accompanied children free) and all proceeds are donated to the local Willow Wood Hospice.
For further information please contact Willow Wood Hospice on Telephone Number 0161 330 7788.

The Wooden Canal Boat Society (WCBS)

Traditionally canal boats were wooden but later iron and steel became more common. The Wooden Canal Boat Society Link to External Website exists to build and restore wooden boats thus preserving this important part of waterway heritage. New members and volunteers are always most welcome.
For more information please contact 33, Beauchamp Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, OL6 8LF. Telephone Number 0161 339 8721

Wooden Canal Boat Society Logo   Lottery Funded Logo

British Waterways

Loading wheat at Buckley and Newton's mill, StalybridgeBritish Waterways are the owners of the three canals in Tameside and help to promote their use for recreational purposes. They can provide comprehensive leaflets, events listings and boat hire information. They also issue cycling and fishing permits.

The local office for Tameside is British Waterways, South Pennine Ring, Middle Warehouse, Castle Quay, Castlefield, Manchester, M15 4PR. Tel: 0161 819 5847.

Right : Loading wheat at Buckley and Newton's mill, Stalybridge mid-1920's (Photo courtesy Mr. A Cooke)

Further Information

We hope you enjoy your discovery of Tameside's canals and that you will visit the area again.

Illustration of Tameside's road, rail & canal links

For more generalised information, please visit: www.penninewaterways.co.uk Link to External Website

Page last updated: 16 April 2013