The Tame is the main river of the West Midlands’ conurbation and rises in the Black Country, where it was instrumental in the industrialisation of a region widely regarded as the original home of British heavy industry and manufacturing. It has the largest urban catchment in the UK, flowing past 1.77 million people on its way towards its confluence with the River Trent.
Much of the River Tame is in culverts or manmade channels. The construction of the M5 and M6 motorways meant that the course of the river had to be changed, remodelling from the early 1980s tried to prevent flooding and improve the habitat for wildlife. High Speed 2 will lead to further modification.
The previous industries on the banks left a legacy of pollution and poor water quality. By 1900 with the rapid growth of coal mining, iron, steel and associated industries the river had become the waste disposal system for a large industrial region. By 1918 there were no fish in the river and it was considered one of Britain’s dirtiest.
This modification and pollution by man has meant the River Tame has become hidden, neglected and ignored. There is an under appreciation of the part the River Tame played in the story of the region and the communities alongside it: socially, physically and economically. Tame Past Present Future aims reveal and celebrate the river again.