Portland Basin Museum

Opening times: Tues-Sun, 10am-4pm
Closed Monday except Bank Holidays
Free Admission


Tameside Museums and Galleries are part of the Greater Manchester Museums Group. Find out more about our connected history here.Link to External Website

Photo of a Girl with a sewing machine at Portland Basin Museum Photo of Portland Basin Museum Photo of the old house at Portland Basin Museum


Portland Basin Museum is housed within the restored nineteenth century Ashton Canal Warehouse in Ashton-under-Lyne. The museum combines a lively modern interior with a peaceful canal side setting. It is an exciting family friendly museum, with something for all the family.

Enjoy our temporary exhibition, and step back in time on our 1920s street, as the sights and sounds of bygone Tameside are brought to life. Take a look into our kitchen and parlour to find out how we used to live. Visitors can explore the area's industrial heritage and discover what life was like down the mines, or on the farm. Find out more about local crafts and industries and marvel at our historic machines. Younger children will love our 'Nuts and Bolts' educational play area, suitable for children under 5.

Planning a Visit

Portland Basin Museum is situated just outside of Manchester, accessible by car, bus and train. There is a free car park with disabled parking spaces. The museum is free to enter and is fully accessible. The car park is laid with cobbles, wheelchair users may require support to transfer from the car to the museum. Please contact the museum for more information. We offer lots of activities suitable for all ages, please see our events calendar.

Let's Go...

Portland Basin Museum has always been a great place to visit, but now there are walking and cycling routes starting from the museum, showing you what great countryside and heritage there is to discover on your doorstep.

Gartside special project

The recipe for a famous Tameside beer which was once brewed by Gartside’s brewery remains a mystery despite research into the brewery and its history by a Manchester-based artist. 

Artist Magnus Quaife has been working with staff at Tameside’s Portland Basin Museum to create new artwork and discover more about the brewery, which was once a major employer in the area and well known for producing a strong dark ale called Old Tom.   

Magnus Quaife explains: “I held workshops at the museum where members of the public shared their memories of Gartside’s. The stories and memories which people told me helped to inspire a zine which presents the story of Gartside’s. 

“Despite talking to many people who remember the brewery and its beers, mystery still surrounds the exact ingredients of Old Tom and one theory is that the recipe was hidden away by a former head brewer in the 1960s.”

Magnus will be unveiling the zine he has produced at a special event in Portland Basin Museum’s recreated 1920s pub. Guests will include local brewer Jon Hunt, of Millstone Brewery, who has worked with the artist to brew a new, limited edition beer called Thomas Bell Ale, based on what is known of the recipe for Old Tom.

A limited number of the Thomas Bell Ale bottles will be available at the event, each of which will be numbered. “The beer that is bottled for the museum launch will be numbered in the same manner as a limited edition print, therefore visitors have the choice of whether to open it and try it or to keep the artwork intact,” explained Magnus.

Specially designed beer mats, created by the artist, will be appearing in Tameside pubs over the next few weeks, and the museum will be adding the beer mats, limited edition Thomas Bell Ale beer bottles, and the zine produced by the artist to its collection.

Rachel Cornes, Manager at Portland Basin Museum, said: “We have a number of items in the museum collection which related to Gartside’s, as it is such an important part of our local history. It’s wonderful to be able to add new works created by Magnus to the collection, and we’re looking forward to finding out what the Thomas Bell Ale, brewed by Magnus and Millstone Brewery, tastes like.”

Gartside’s brewery, originally of Stalybridge, moved to the Brookside Brewery on Potinger Street in Ashton Under Lyne in middle of the 19th century. The brewery closed in the early 1970’s shortly after it was taken over by Bass in 1967.

The name of Gartside’s Old Tom is reputedly either a reference to Captain Thomas Gartside, a relative of John Gartside senior who founded the brewery, or the head horse keeper Mr Thomas Bell who served the company from 1876 until his death in 1907.

As well as collecting memories from residents of Tameside, Magnus Quaife worked with experts from Sunderland University to create the new beer recipe, drawing on his research into Gartside’s. 

The Gartside’s event will take place at Portland Basin Museum on Thursday 19 October from 6-8pm. Admission is free and no booking is required.

The project is one of 10 contemporary art commissions as part of Meeting Point2, a year-long project led by contemporary art agency Arts&Heritage. Leading UK and international artists have partnered with the 10 museums in Yorkshire, the North West and the North East to produce new artworks inspired by the museums and their collections.

Funded by Arts Council England’s Museum Resilience Fund, Meeting Point2 presents artworks in unexpected places and supports small and medium scale museums to commission artists, who will create a piece of work in response to the venue.

For more information about Meeting Point2, visit www.artsandheritage.org.uk

Portland Basin's Access Statement


The Portland Basin Museum is part of the Quality Assured Visitor Attraction Scheme.

Cultural Events

Cultural Events 2017 (5.8MB)

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Contact Information
Contact by Post

Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Contact by Telephone
0161 343 2878
Contact by Fax
0161 343 2869

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