Tame Past Present Future is a project to identify, promote and celebrate the industrial heritage of the River Tame
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 flows 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 and 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.
At present, despite having the largest urban catchment in the UK, 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 played in the story of the region and the communities alongside it: socially, physically and economically. Tame Past Present Future aims to reveal and celebrate the river again.
The project uses themes of industry and place offer a fresh and compelling insight to the regions heritage and an opportunity to restore status to the river, connect communities and inform their future: Industry: The role of the river can be traced through countless industries and places. There are cases where industries specifically sited themselves alongside the Tame to use its waters, these industries in turn then attracted others, to support them transport infrastructure was built to follow the Tame Valley and then these canals, railways and motorways attracted and supported even more industry. Place: By seeking to understand the vast amount of change along the river route over time – and that which came about as industries assembled – there are opportunities for people to understand the place in which they live and how it relates to the river and wider areas.
Beginning in May 2014 and supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) the project helped to train and support community groups from across the region as they researched their local heritage. It then combined this with existing knowledge about sites along the river and together produced an overall picture of the Industrial Tame from pre industrial revolution to the present- you can see the results here on this website. 8 sections of the river are explored in detail with corresponding themes of Chemicals and Iron, Bricks and Coal, Tube Town, Tools and Three Rivers, Ammunition, Electricity and Junctions, Ancient and Modern Industry and Planes, Trains and Automobiles.
The project involved a series of workshops, walks, talks, an exhibition and other events. Two new archives will be created in the Library of Birmingham and the Black Country preserving this knowledge for future generations. The project also included a design competition which challenged entrants to creatively consider the future of four key sites alongside the river and a symposium asking how we can use our knowledge of the past to shape the future of these Tame-side neighbourhoods.
MADE is an organisation dedicated to improving the quality of our towns, cities and villages. We believe that a high quality built environment is essential for economic prosperity and wellbeing.
We believe that the historic environment provides a tangible link with our past and helps provide the character and local distinctiveness that is so important to a positive sense of place. It also contributes to our sense of national, local and community identity.
MADE hopes through this story and celebration of the industrial Tame we can demonstrate the inextricable relationship between heritage, place and identity and contribute to the debate about heritage within the built environment both now and in the future.
For more information visit www.made.org.uk.
To contact us about Tame Past Present Future call us on 0121 348 7980 or email email@example.com