River Tame, Lancashire

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The Tame near Reddish Vale

The River Tame is a river of three counties; principally a border river between Cheshire to the south and Lancashire to the north, though it serves as the border of Cheshire with Yorkshire for a while too.


The Tame rises on Denshaw Moor in the Saddleworth area of the West Riding of Yorkshire.

From the moor, the river it passes through a series of reservoirs down to Denshaw, and south though the Saddleworth villages, through Delph and Uppermill to Greenfield, Yorkshire, below which it runs along the border with Cheshire for a while and then the border between Lancashire (west) and Cheshire (east). The Division Bridge (which spans the river at Mossley), marks the meeting point of Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cheshire.

The Tame marks the Lancashire-Cheshire boundary all the way as it flows though Mossley and down to Stalybridge,where it turns west, and on to Ashton-under-Lyne, Dukinfield, Haughton Green, Denton, Lancashire and Hyde, Cheshire.

At Stockport, the Tame is joined by the River Goyt, and the united river becomes the River Mersey, which marks the county boundary from here to the sea


The 19th century industrial concentrations in the urban areas resulted in the Tame's being a much polluted waterway. As well as industrial pollution from the dyes and bleaches used in textile mills, effluent from specialised paper-making for example cigarette papers, engineering effluents, including base metal washings from battery manufacture, phenols from the huge coal-gas plant in Denton, rain-wash from roads and abandoned coal spoil heaps there was also the sewage effluent from the surrounding population. Up to two-thirds of the river's flow at its confluence with the Goyt had passed through a sewage works.

Efforts to combat pollution efforts of the last thirty years of the 20th century have resulted in the positive fauna distributions.


The name Tame is attached to rivers across the UK in several forms, including Thames, Thame, Taff, and Tamar, alongside two other instances of Tame.[1][2]

The name is Celtic in origin, but the meaning is uncertain.[3][4] Dark river or dark one has been suggested,[5][6] but Ekwall[3] finds it unlikely; Mills suggests it may simply mean river (as does "Avon" and as apparently do "Humber", and "Tyne").[2] The names of the Mersey's co-tributaries Etherow and Goyt are equally ancient and mysterious.[3]

The name of the Mersey is Old English, meaning "Boundary River ". Any earlier name is lost: Dodgson suggests that Tame may have been the name for the whole of the Mersey.[4]


The fish species present vary along the river's length. The lower reaches (near Reddish Vale Country Park) are home to coarse fish such as gudgeon (Gobio gobio), chub (Leuciscus cephalus), and roach (Rutilus rutilus); pike (Esox lucius) and perch (Perca fluviatilis) are also present. The upper reaches (above Ashton) support brown trout (Salmo trutta) and smaller numbers of some coarse fish. The populations are self-sustaining.

Furthermore, certain tributaries are declared as salmonid waters by statute, and as such have set physical and chemical water quality objectives:

  • Carr Brook (from its source to the Tame)
  • Diggle Brook (from Diggle Reservoir to the Tame)
  • Hull Brook (Head of Lower Castleshaw Reservoir to the Tame)
  • Swineshaw Brook (from the Head of Swineshaw Reservoir to the Tame)
  • and the Tame (from the Head of Readycon Dean Reservoir to foot of New Years Bridge Reservoir)

Hull Brook is a "Site of Biological Importance". Hull Brook and Castleshaw Reservoir have populations of White-clawed Crayfish.[7] The river is now clean enough in principle to support otters, but none were found in a survey in 2000–2002.[8]


  • Swineshaw Brook
  • Carr Brook
  • Chew Brook
    • Greenfield Brook
  • Diggle Brook
  • Hull Brook
  • Rams Brook
  • Summer Hill Brook
  • Lumb Hole Brook
    • Cherry Brook
    • Brimmy Brook
  • Readycon Dean Brook
  • Dowry Water

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about River Tame, Lancashire)


  1. Ekwall, Bror Oscar Eilert (1922). The Place-Names of Lancashire. Publications of the University of Manchester, English series, number 11. Manchester. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Mills, A D (1998). A dictionary of English place-names. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-280074-4. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Ekwall, Eilert (1928). English river names. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Dodgson, J McN (1966). The place-names of Cheshire, part 1. Cambridge University Press. 
  5. Ekwall, Bror Oscar Eilert (1947). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place Names. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 
  6. Potter, Simeon M A (1955). Cheshire Place-Names (Reprinted from the Transactions of the Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire). London: International University Booksellers. 
  7. "Report on update of sites of biological importance" (Word document). Oldham MBC. 15 October 2007. http://documents.oldham.gov.uk/edrs/DET07100029.doc. Retrieved 2008-01-20. 
  8. "Fourth Otter Survey of England 2000–2002" (PDF). Environment Agency. 2002. Archived from the original on 2007-12-21. http://web.archive.org/web/20071221233653/http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/commondata/acrobat/4th_otter_survey_1840368.pdf. Retrieved 2008-02-04. 


  • Carter, Charles Frederick (ed), ed (1962). Manchester and its region : a survey prepared for the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held in Manchester August 29 to September 5, 1962. Manchester: Manchester University Press. 
  • Arrowsmith, Peter (1997). Stockport : a history. Stockport: Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council. ISBN 0-905164-99-7. 
  • Holden, Roger N. (1998). Stott & Sons : architects of the Lancashire cotton mill. Lancaster: Carnegie. ISBN 1-85936-047-5. 
  • Williams, Mike; D A Farnie (1992). Cotton mills in Greater Manchester. Preston: Carnegie. ISBN 0-948789-69-7. 
  • Greater Manchester Council (1981). Tame Valley : report of survey and issues. Greater Manchester Council.