The principal industry of Tameside from the late 18th to the mid-20th centuries was the factory-based production of textiles, dominated by cotton spinning but with significant elements of the woollen and finishing industries. The textile trade was responsible for the hundreds of mills characteristic of the area and directly led to the growth of a large urban population based in the 19th century factory towns of Ashton, Dukinfield, Hyde, Mossley and Stalybridge.
274 textile sites are known from the borough and these were established in Tameside between 1763, when Hodge Mill in Broadbottom is first mentioned, and 1908 when the last mill to be built in the Borough, Ray Mill in Stalybridge, was completed. Only a handful of sites are now engaged in the textile trade, but around 100 sites still have buildings standing on them. These include the Castle Street Mills in Stalybridge, a fine surviving early spinning mill complex from the period 1805-20; Baylefield and Carrfield Mills in Hyde a combined mill spinning and weaving complex built by the Ashton family between 1817-90; Cavendish Mill in Ashton which is an early example of concrete filler-joist floor construction from 1884; and from the same year a large single storey weaving mill known as Carrs Mill. Many cotton mills were established by local tenant farmers in the late 18th century who became prominent factory owners in the 19th century. Particularly noteworthy are the Ashton, Cheetham, Mason, Mayall and Sidebottom families.
Although most of the textile industry has gone there are areas of Tameside where the landscape of striding mills and soaring chimneys can still be seen, in particular along the Ashton Canal between the Portland Basin and its junction with the Huddersfield Canal. The textile village of Broadbottom also has extensive remains open to the public. Yet the valley landscape of the Medlock, Tame and Etherow Rivers ensures that parts of the borough have retained their rural character; the background from which the industrial revolution sprang in this area.
(source: R. Mc Neil and M. Nevell (2000) AIA Guide to the Industrial Archaeology of Manchester)
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Frederick Engels description of Stalybridge in 1845|