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Facts About Ashton

A comprehensive selection of historical photographs can be found at

  • In 1906, Ashton Library saw the introduction of open access. Ashton was a pioneer of open access - previously readers had to choose books from a catalogue and could not browse among the shelves. The entire stock had to be re-catalogued and classified as it did not need to be in subject grounds under the closed access system. This meant that Ashton became one of the first libraries in this country to adopt the Dewey Decimal Classification - still used in most public libraries today!
  • Henry Neild Bickerton, the pioneer of the gas engine, established the National Gas Engine Company Ltd at the Wellington Works in Ashton in 1889. These works produced two-cycle gas engines which were widely used in electric power plants, cotton mills and other works. In 1907 the National Gas Engine Company LTD became part of Mirrlees, Bickerton and Day, which Henry set up to produce diesel engines. By the time of Bickerton's death in 1929, the company was one of the largest producers of gas engines and oil engines in the world!
  • Ashton's electricity supply began in 1899, originally to power tram cars and later street lights. Ashton Moss Colliery was one of the first businesses to be supplied, but by 1925, a showroom was opened in Stamford Street where domestic appliances could be inspected and bought or hired!
  • Tea retailer and wholesaler and founder of the firm of Brooke, Bond and Co, tea importers, Arthur Brooke was born in George Street Ashton. His father was a tea merchant, but Arthur's first employment was in a local mill. When that closed down Arthur took up a post with a tea merchants in Liverpool, but returned to join his father in his Ashton business, with responsibility for tea sales throughout Lancashire. He opened his first shop in 1869, selling packaged tea retail, a new concept at that time, under the brand name Brook, Bond and Co - however, there was no Mr Bond. The firm became a limited company in 1892 and thereafter concentrated on the wholesale business.
  • The custom of riding the Black Lad or Black Knight was unique in Ashton. History records that the Black Knight was actually a man called Sir Ralph de Assheton, a friend of King Richard III. An event called The Riding of the Black Lad was staged as long ago as 1795. By the twentieth century this had transformed into something resembling a carnival. It then became known as the Black Knight Pageant and a Pageant Queen was crowned by the Mayor and Mayoress each year!

    The Pageant was resurrected during 1999 thanks to the Tameside Lions Club, Sir Ralph will once again climb into the saddle on Saturday 3rd July 1999.
  • The Cordingley family have been surveyors and land agents since the early 19th century and administer the still extensive residue of the Earl of Stamford's estate!
  • Churches and Chapels played an important part in the life of Ashton, as with all the Tameside towns. The Annual Whit Walks is still a very prominent event all over the Borough!
  • The population of Ashton was recorded at 44,385 during the 1991 census - making it the most populated of the 9 towns in the Borough of Tameside.
  • Labour MP Margaret Beckett was born in Ashton
  • Ashton received a Royal Charter to hold a market in 1413 though some authorities believe an earlier charter was granted in 1284.

    The blue plaque can be located at the Market Hall in Ashton
  • Nicknamed the 'Cigarette VC' for reasons which will become clear, Forshaw is honoured in the Museum of the Manchesters in Ashton Town Hall. His Victoria Cross is on display and one of the galleries is named after him.

    The blue plaque can be located at the entrance to Ladysmith Barracks
  • The Green Plaque at The Broadoak Hotel in Ashton-under-Lyne, marks the site where the first 'Gardeners Question Time' was broadcast. On that first panel was Bill Sowerbutts.
  • The blue plaque located at the Territorial Army Centre on Old Street, Ashton-under-Lyne, previously the Drill Hall of the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, was unveiled on 30th October 2000 as a tribute to RQMS Harry Grantham, MBE DCM.
  • Sited at the Central Library, Old Street, Ashton-under-Lyne this plaque commemorates the life of Raymond Ray Jones, a highly talented artist born in Ashton-under-Lyne.
  • Sited on the gate of the former barracks on Mossley Road, Ashton this plaque commemorates the army barracks which stood on this site from 1845 and were the headquarters of the Manchester Regiment from 1881 to 1958.
  • The plaque paying tribute to Hannah Mitchell is on 43 Elizabeth Street, Ashton under Lyne where she lived from 1900 - 1910.
  • This plaque above Kenworthy's Jewellers, 226 Stamford Street, Ashton commemorates local poet Francis Thompson.
  • A plaque on Ashton Town Hall pays tribute to those eight men associated with Tameside who have been awarded the Victoria Cross.
  • The Blue Plaque situated on the bridge at Donkey Stone Wharf recognises Eli Whalley, whose firm was founded in the 1890's and was the last in the country to mass produce donkey stones.
  • Erected on the Odd Whim Public House, Mossley Road, Ashton under Lyne, this plaque remembers Prophet John Wroe who founded the Christian Israelite Church.
  • Geoff Hurst, the only person ever to score a hat-trick in a World Cup final lived in Denton once, although he was born at Tameside Hospital’s forerunner, the old Lake Hospital, Ashton, in 1941.
  • Simone Perrotta who played for Italy in the 2006 World Cup final was born in Ashton on 17 September 1977

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