The river Tame, a tributary of the Mersey, has formed a natural boundary since prehistoric times. However, during local government reorganisation in 1974 the nine towns between Stockport and Oldham were gathered together to form a hopefully homogeneous whole as Tameside Metropolitan Borough. For family historians this reorganisation has produced many hidden pitfalls, since most if not all research is pre 1974. I shall try to give a simplified description of the history of the civil parishes of the towns that make up Tameside.
It seems that the river Tame has formed a natural boundary since ancient days. It separated the Celtic tribes of Brigantes and Cornavii, the Roman centres of Government of Maxima Caesariensis to the north and Flavia Caesariensis to the south. After the Anglo Saxon invasions, the Angles and Saxons parcelled out the land between themselves with the purpose of trying to live together in peace, but in practice more often at bitter war with each other. North of the river became Northumbria and to the south Mercia. During this period two fortresses were built on rising ground on either side of the river. One on the site of Ashton Old Hall and the other Old Hall, Dukinfield near Hall Green. Both of these were really castles and many fierce battles were fought over the centuries. Evidence still exists for this in the number of incidences of 'Folds' south of the river; Bower Fold, Bradley fold, Wrigley Fold, Tetlow Fold, Taylor Fold etc. There was even a Stanley Fold (back to my own family history) at the top pf Pickford Lane in Dukinfield. J Edward Hickey in his book 'Dukinfield Past and Present' asserts that these were really fortified farms to protect the farmer and his animals from marauders from the northern side of the Tame.
Until the 1974 reorganisation towns to the east and south of the Tame came under Cheshire and either Stockport or Mottram in Longdendale Parish and the Macclesfield Hundred. Towns to the north and west of the borough came under Lancashire and either Ashton or Manchester Parish and the Salford Hundred.
Even though Tameside became one of the boroughs within Greater Manchester in 1974 it still does not have its own post codes. Ashton and Mossley have OL for Oldham codes, Droylsden, Denton and Audenshaw have M codes for Manchester. Stalybridge, Hyde, Dukinfield and Mottram in Longdendale have SK codes for Stockport.
Ashton - Ashton Parish originally had four divisions;Town, Audenshaw, Knott Lanes and Hartshead which included Mossley and parts of Stalybridge. It became a Parliamentary Borough in 1832 and a Metropolitan Borough Council in 1847.
Audenshaw - Until 1874 it was one of the four divisions of Ashton Parish Council. It consisted of the hamlets of Woodhouses, Waterhouses, Littlemoss, Audenshaw, Medlock Vale and Hooley Hill.
Denton - Originally in Manchester Parish. In 1884 the townships of Denton and Haughton were combined as the Denton and Haughton Local Board and ten years later as Denton Urban District Council.
Droylsden - Towards the end of the nineteenth century when Clayton ceded to Manchester and Little Droylsden became part of Openshaw, it seemed questionable as to whether Droylsden would become part of Manchester. Although it remained in the Manchester Parish, it never did and in 1974 became part of Tameside.
Dukinfield- In the Cheshire part of Tameside and originally under Stockport Parish, prior to 1894 it extended as far eastwards as Castle Hall and East Wood. The boundaries were then changed and these became part of Stalybridge Borough Council.
Hyde - Originally a township of Stockport Parish in the Macclesfield Hundred. In 1894 it was extended to include Werneth. In 1923 it was extended again to include Godley and Newton (Previously in Mottram Parish) and lost parts of Bredbury, Romiley and Dukinfield. In 1936 it was extended again to include parts of Compstall, Dukinfield, Hattersley and Matley.
Lees Lees was an area, also known as Hey, in the Knott Lanes "division" of Ashton under Lyne township. In 1859 a Local Board of Health (at first known as Lees with Crossbank, subsequently as Lees) was established for the Lees area. This area was in Lancashire and in Ashton under Lyne poor law Union. In 1894 the area of the Local Board became an Urban District. In 1911 part of the Urban District was added to Crossbank civil parish. In 1914 Crossbank civil parish became part of Lees Urban District. In 1974 the Urban District became part of Oldham Metropolitan Borough.
Mossley - Before 1889 Mossley was split between three parishes; the Lancashire part in Ashton Parish, The Yorkshire Part(Saddleworth) in Rochdale Parish, and the third part in Mottram Parish. In 1889 they all became part of Lancashire.
Mottram in Longdendale - An ancient parish in the Macclesfield Hundred originally comprising,Broadbottom, Godley, Hattersley, Hollingworth, Matley, Micklehurst, Mottram, Newton, Stayley and Tintwistle.
Stalybridge - Stalybridge became a Metropolitan Borough in 1857. In 1894 it was greatly extended to include all the Castle Hall area south of the river (which used to be in Dukinfield), the Stayley township of Mottram Parish and together with its original boundaries north of the river and around Ridgehill now moved out of Lancashire and all became part of Cheshire.