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Ashton-under-Lyne
A Metrolink and bus station in front of office buildings. There are hills in the background and a road in the foreground
Ashton-under-Lyne town centre (to left: Tameside Metropolitan Borough building, demolished in Summer 2016)
Ashton-under-Lyne shown within Greater Manchester
Population 45,198  (2011 Census)
• Density 12,374 per mi² (4,777 per km²)
OS grid reference SJ931997
• London 160 mi (257 km) SSE
Metropolitan borough
Metropolitan county
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town Ashton-under-Lyne
Postcode district OL6, OL7
Dialling code 0161
Police Greater Manchester
Fire Greater Manchester
Ambulance North West
EU Parliament North West England
UK Parliament
  • Ashton-under-Lyne
List of places
UK
England
Greater ManchesterCoordinates: 53°29′39″N 2°06′12″W / 53.4941°N 2.1032°W / 53.4941; -2.1032

Ashton-under-Lyne is a market town in Tameside, Greater Manchester, England. The population had increased to 45,198 at the 2011 census. Historically in Lancashire, it is on the north bank of the River Tame, in the foothills of the Pennines, 6.2 miles (10.0 km) east of Manchester.

Evidence of Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Viking activity has been discovered in Ashton-under-Lyne. The "Ashton" part of the town's name probably dates from the Anglo-Saxon period, and derives from Old English meaning "settlement by ash trees". The origin of the "under-Lyne" suffix is less clear; it possibly derives from the British lemo meaning elm or from Ashton's proximity to the Pennines. In the Middle Ages, Ashton-under-Lyne was a parish and township and Ashton Old Hall was held by the de Asshetons, lords of the manor. Granted a Royal Charter in 1414, the manor spanned a rural area consisting of marshland, moorland, and a number of villages and hamlets.

Until the introduction of the cotton trade in 1769, Ashton was considered "bare, wet, and almost worthless". The factory system, and textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution triggered a process of unplanned urbanisation in the area, and by the mid-19th century Ashton had emerged as an important mill town at a convergence of newly constructed canals and railways. Ashton-under-Lyne's transport network allowed for an economic boom in cotton spinning, weaving, and coal mining, which led to the granting of municipal borough status in 1847.

In the mid-20th century, imports of cheaper foreign goods led to the decline of Ashton's heavy industries but the town has continued to thrive as a centre of commerce and Ashton Market is one of the largest outdoor markets in the United Kingdom. The 140,000-square-foot (13,000 m2), two-floored Ashton Arcades shopping centre opened in 1995 and an IKEA store in 2006.

History

Evidence of prehistoric activity in the area comes from Ashton Moss – a 107-hectare (260-acre) peat bog – and is the only one of Tameside's 22 Mesolithic sites not located in the hilly uplands in the north east of the borough. A single Mesolithic flint tool has been discovered in the bog, along with a collection of nine Neolithic flints. There was further activity in or around the bog in the Bronze Age. In about 1911, an adult male skull was found in the moss; it was thought to belong to the Romano-British period – similar to the Lindow Man bog body – until radiocarbon dating revealed that it dated from 1,320–970 BC.

The eastern terminus of the early medieval linear earthwork Nico Ditch is in Ashton Moss (grid reference SJ909980); it was probably used as an administrative boundary and dates from the 8th or 9th century. Legend claims it was built in a single night in 869 or 870 as a defence against Viking invaders. Further evidence of Dark Age activity in the area comes from the town's name. The "Ashton" part probably derives from the Anglo-Saxon meaning "settlement by ash trees", the origin of the "under-Lyne" element is less clear: it could derive from the British lemo meaning elm, or may refer to Ashton being "under the line" of the Pennines. This means that Ashton probably became a settlement some time after the Romans left Britain in the 5th century. An early form of the town's name, which included a burh element, indicates that in the 11th century Ashton and Bury were two of the most important towns in Lancashire. The "under Lyne" suffix was not widely used until the mid-19th century when it became useful for distinguishing the town from other places called Ashton.

Ashton-under-Lyne old hall
Ashton Old Hall, demolished in 1890

The Domesday Survey of 1086 does not directly mention Ashton, perhaps because only a partial survey of the area had been taken. However, it is thought that St Michael's Church, mentioned in the Domesday entry for the ancient parish of Manchester, was in Ashton. The town itself was first mentioned in the 12th century when the manor was part of the barony of Manchester. By the late 12th century, a family who adopted the name Assheton held the manor on behalf of the Gresleys, barons of Manchester. Ashton Old Hall was a manor house, the administrative centre of the manor, and the seat of the Assheton family. With three wings, the hall was "one of the finest great houses in the North West" of the 14th century. It has been recognised as important for being one of the few great houses in south-east Lancashire and possibly one of the few halls influenced by French design in the country. The town was granted a Royal Charter in 1414, which allowed it to hold a fair twice a year, and a market on every Monday, making the settlement a market town.

According to popular tradition, Sir Ralph de Assheton, who was lord of the manor in the mid-14th century and known as the Black Knight, was an unpopular and cruel feudal lord. After his death, his unpopularity led the locals to parade an effigy of him around the town each Easter Monday and collect money. Afterwards the effigy would be hung up, shot, and set on fire, before being torn apart and thrown into the crowd. The first recorded occurrence of the event was in 1795, although the tradition may be older; it continued into the 1830s.

The manor remained in the possession of the Assheton family until 1514 when its male line terminated. The lordship of the manor passed to Sir George Booth devolving through the Booth family until the Earls of Stamford inherited it through marriage in 1758. The Booth-Greys then held the manor until the 19th century, whose patronage, despite being absentee lords, was probably the stimulus for Ashton's growth of a large-scale domestic-based textile industry in the 17th century. Pre-industrial Ashton was centred on four roads: Town Street, Crickets Lane, Old Street, and Cowhill Lane. In the late-18th and early-19th centuries, the town was re-planned, with a grid pattern of roads. As a result, very little remains of the previous town. In 1730 a workhouse was established which consisted of a house and two cottages; it later came to be used as a hospital. The Ashton Canal was constructed in the 1790s to transport coal from the area to Manchester, with a branch to the coal pits at Fairbottom.

Ashton Canal at Ashton-under-Lyne
Following the Industrial Revolution, Ashton became a mill town at the centre of a network of canals and railways.
Ashton-under-Lyne library 2008
Ashton Town Library was built in the second half of the 19th century.

Domestic fustian and woollen weaving have a long history in the town, dating back to at least the Early Modern period. Accounts dated 1626 highlight that Humphrey Chetham had dealings with clothworkers in Ashton. However, the introduction of the factory system in the 19th century, during the Industrial Revolution, changed Ashton from a market town to a mill town. Having previously been one of the two main towns in the Tame Valley, Ashton-under-Lyne became one of the "most famous mill towns in the North West". On Christmas Day 1826, workers in the town formed the Ashton Unity, a sickness and benefits society that was later renamed the Loyal Order of Ancient Shepherds. From 1773 to 1905, 75 cotton mills were established in the town. On his tour of northern England in 1849, Scottish publisher Angus Reach said:

In Ashton, too, there lingers on a handful of miserable old men, the remnants of the cotton hand-loom weavers. No young persons think of pursuing such an occupation. The few who practice it were too old and confirmed in old habits, when the power-loom was introduced, to be able to learn a new way of making their bread.

—Angus Reach, Morning Chronicle, 1849

The cotton industry in the area grew rapidly from the start of the 19th century until the Lancashire Cotton Famine of 1861–1865. The growth of the town's textile industry led to the construction of estates specifically for workers. Workers' housing in Park Bridge, on the border between Ashton and Oldham, was created in the 1820s. The iron works were founded in 1786 and were some of the earliest in the north west. The Oxford Mills settlement was founded in 1845 by local industrialist and mill-owner Hugh Mason who saw it as a model industrial community. The community was provided with a recreational ground, a gymnasium, and an institute containing public baths, a library, and a reading room. Mason estimated that establishing the settlement cost him around £10,000 and would require a further £1,000 a year to maintain (about £600,000 and £60,000 respectively as of 2019), and that its annual mortality rate was significantly lower than in the rest of the town.

A poor supply of fresh water and dwellings without adequate drainage led to a cholera outbreak in the town in 1832. The Ashton Poor Law Union was established in 1837 and covered most of what is now Tameside. A new workhouse was built in 1850 which provided housing for 500 people. It later became part of Tameside General Hospital. Construction on the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Railway (SA&MR) began in 1837 to provide passenger transport between Manchester and Sheffield. Although a nine-arch viaduct in Ashton collapsed in April 1845, the line was fully opened on 22 December 1845. The SA&MR was amalgamated with the Sheffield and Lincolnshire Junction Railway, the Great Grimsby & Sheffield Railway, and the Grimsby Docks Company in 1847 to form the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway (MS&LR). In 1890, the MS&LR bought the Old Hall and demolished it to make way for the construction of new sidings.

Ashton under lyne aerial shot
Ashton-under-Lyne in 2010

In the late 19th century, public buildings such as the market hall, town hall, public library and public baths were built. A donation from Hugh Mason funded the construction of the baths constructed in 1870–1871. The Ashton-under-Lyne Improvement Act was passed in 1886 which gave the borough influence over housing and allowed the imposition of minimum standards such as drainage. Coal mining not as important to the town as the textile industry, but in 1882 the Ashton Moss Colliery had the deepest mine shaft in the world at 870 metres (2,850 ft). Ashton's textile industry remained constant between 1865 and the 1920s. Although some mills closed or merged, the number of spindles in use increased. With the collapse of the overseas market in the 1920s, the town's cotton industry went into decline, and by the 1930s most of the firms and mills in the area had closed.

Ashton became a part of the newly formed Metropolitan Borough of Tameside in 1974. In May 2004, a massive fire ravaged the Victorian market hall, and a temporary building called "The Phoenix Market Hall" was built on Old Cross Street on the opposite side of the Old Market hall. Described as the "heart of Ashton", the market was rebuilt and officially opened on 1 December 2008.

Geography

At 53°29′38″N 2°6′11″W / 53.49389°N 2.10306°W / 53.49389; -2.10306 (53.4941°, −2.1032°), and 160 miles (257 km) north-northwest of London, Ashton-under-Lyne stands on the north bank of the River Tame, about 35 feet (11 m) above the river. Described in Samuel Lewis's A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848) as situated "on a gentle declivity", Ashton-under-Lyne lies on undulating ground by the Pennines, reaching a maximum elevation of about 1,000 feet (305 m) above sea level. It is 6.2 miles (10.0 km) east of Manchester city centre, and is bound on all sides by other towns: Audenshaw, Droylsden, Dukinfield, Mossley, Oldham and Stalybridge, with little or no green space between them. Ashton experiences a temperate maritime climate, like much of the British Isles.

View over Ashton-under-Lyne 2007 (editted)
Ashton-under-Lyne and neighbouring Oldham viewed from Werneth Low

Generally the bedrock of the west of the town consists of coal measures, which were exploited by the coal mining industry, while the east is mainly millstone grit. Overlying the bedrock are deposits of glacial sand and gravel, clay, and some alluvial deposits. Ashton Moss, a peat bog, lies to the west of the town and was originally much larger. The River Tame forms part of the southern boundary, dividing the town from Stalybridge and Dukinfield, and the River Medlock runs to the west.

Ashton's built environment is similar to the urban structure of most towns in England, consisting of residential dwellings centred on a market square and high street in the town centre, which is the local centre of commerce. There is a mixture of low-density urban areas, suburbs, semi-rural and rural locations in Ashton-under-Lyne, but overwhelmingly the land use in the town is residential; industrial areas and terraced houses give way to suburbs and rural greenery as the land rises out of the town in the east. The older streets are narrow and irregular, but those built more recently are spacious, lined by "substantial and handsome houses". Areas and suburbs of Ashton-under-Lyne include Hartshead, Hazelhurst, Hurst, Taunton, and Waterloo.

Demography

Ashton-under-Lyne compared
2001 UK census Ashton-under-Lyne Tameside England
Total population 43,236 213,043 49,138,831
White 82.3% 91.2% 91%
Asian 11.2% 5.6% 4.6%
Black 0.3% 1.2% 2.3%

As of the 2001 UK census, Ashton-under-Lyne had a population of 43,236. The 2001 population density was 12,374 per mi² (4,777 per km²), with a 100 to 96.1 female-to-male ratio. Of those over 16 years old, 30.9% were single (never married) and 50.0% married. Ashton-under-Lyne's 18,347 households included 33.2% one-person, 33.0% married couples living together, 8.9% were co-habiting couples, and 12.4% single parents with their children; these figures were similar to those of Tameside, however both Tameside and Ashton have higher rates of single parents than England (9.5%). Of those aged 16–74, 37.0% had no academic qualifications, similar to that of 35.2% in all of Tameside but significantly higher than the 28.9% in all of England, and 11.9% had an educational qualification such as first degree, higher degree, qualified teacher status, qualified medical doctor, qualified dentist, qualified nurse, midwife, health visitor, etc. compared to 20% nationwide.

In 1931, 10.2% of Ashton's population was middle class compared with 14% in England and Wales, and by 1971, this had increased steadily to 17.3% compared with 24% nationally. In the same time frame, there was the decline of the working class population. In 1931, 33.8% were working class compared with 36% in England and Wales; by 1971, this had decreased to 29.2% in Ashton and 26% nationwide. The rest of the population was made up of clerical workers and skilled manual workers.

Population change

In 1700, the population of Ashton, the Tame Valley's main urban area, was an estimated 550. The town's 18th-century growth was fuelled by an influx of people from the countryside attracted by the prospect of work in its new industries, mirroring the rest of the region. In the early 19th century, Irish immigrants escaping from the Great Irish Famine were also drawn to the area by the new jobs created, The availability of jobs created by the growth of the textile industry in the town led to Ashton's population increasing by more than 400% between 1801 and 1861, from 6,500 to 34,886. The population dropped by 9% during the 1860s as a consequence of the cotton famine caused by the American Civil War. The table below details the population change since 1851, including the percentage change since the last census.

Population growth in Ashton-under-Lyne since 1851
Year 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 1971 1991 2001
Population 29,790 34,886 31,984 36,399 40,486 43,890 45,172 43,335 51,573 46,534 46,794 50,154 48,974 44,385 43,263
 % change +17.1 −8.3 +13.8 +11.2 +8.4 +2.9 −4.1 +19.0 −9.8 +0.6 +7.2 −2.4 −9.4 −2.5
Source:A Vision of Britain through Time

Religion

See also: List of churches in Greater Manchester
St Michaels and All Saints Church Ashton-under-Lyne 2009
St Michael and All Angels' Church is a Grade I listed building.
Ashton-u-Lyne-Mosque01
Masjid Hamza Mosque in West End on Katherine Street

St Michael and All Angels' Church is a Grade I listed building that dates back to at least 1262, although it was rebuilt in the 15th, 16th and 19th centuries. In 1795 it was the only church in the town, and one of only two in Tameside. There was a great increase in the number of chapels and religious buildings in the area during the 19th century, and by the end of the century there were 44 Anglican churches and 138 chapels belonging to other denominations. The most common denomination amongst the chapels were Catholic, Congregationalist, and Methodist.

The 19th-century evangelist John Wroe attempted to turn Ashton-under-Lyne into a "new Jerusalem". He founded the Christian Israelite Church, and from 1822 to 1831 Ashton-under-Lyne was the religion's headquarters. Wroe intended to build a wall around the town with four gateways, and although the wall was never constructed, the four gatehouses were. Popular opinion in the town turned against Wroe when he was accused of indecent behaviour in 1831, but the charges were dismissed. The Church spread to Australia, where it is still active.

As of the 2001 UK census, 68.5% of Ashton residents reported themselves as being Christian, 6.1% Muslim, 5.0% Hindu, and 0.2% Buddhist. The census recorded that 11.4% had no religion, 0.2% had an alternative religion, and 8.7% did not state their religion. The proportion of Hindus in the town was much higher than the average for the borough and the whole of England 1.4% and 1.1% respectively. The percentage of Muslims in Ashton-under-Lyne was nearly double the national average of 3.1%, and was higher than the average of 2.5% for Tameside. In Ashton-under-Lyne are located 6 mosques (October 2013), including on Hillgate Street in Penny Meadow (Ashton Central Mosque, formerly known as Markazi Jamia Mosque) and on Katherine Street in West End (Masjid Hamza Mosque).

Culture

Sports

The most prominent football teams are Curzon Ashton F.C. and Ashton United F.C. Curzon Ashton play at the Tameside Stadium on Richmond Street. They are currently playing in the National League North, the highest level in the club's history following two consecutive promotions, beating town rivals Ashton United in the playoffs. Of the teams who formed the Manchester Football Association Ashton United, under the name Hurst, were the first to win an FA Cup tie, when they beat Turton 3–0 in 1883. In 1885 they were the first winners of the Manchester Senior Cup, beating Newton Heath (who later became Manchester United) in the final. Ashton United play at Hurst Cross stadium. Other sporting venues include the Richmond Park Athletics Stadium, also on Richmond Street, which has an all-weather running track with facilities for all field events and is home to the East Cheshire Harriers & Tameside Athletics Club and the Ashton Cricket Club. This team has won the Central Lancashire Cricket League's first and second division twice each, and the Wood Cup four times.

Landmarks

Ashton-under-Lyne town hall
The Corinthian columns on the facade of Ashton Town Hall

After the Ashton Canal closed in the 1960s, it was decided to turn the Portland Basin warehouse into a museum. In 1985, the first part of the Heritage Centre and Museum opened on the first floor of the warehouse. The restoration of building was complete in 1999; the museum details Tameside's social, industrial, and political history. The basin next to the warehouse is the point at which the Ashton Canal, the Huddersfield Narrow Canal and the Peak Forest Canal meet. It has been used several times as a filming location for Coronation Street, including a scene where the character Richard Hillman drove into the canal.

The earliest parts of Ashton Town Hall, which was the first purpose-built town hall in what is now Tameside, date to 1840 when it was opened. It has classical features such as the Corinthian columns on the entrance facade. Enlarged in 1878, the hall provides areas for administrative purposes and public functions. It is a Grade II listed building. After the Ashton-under-Lyne municipal borough was abolished in 1974, the town hall was no longer required and became the home of the Museum of the Manchester Regiment. The museum exhibits relics related to the Manchester Regiment including five Victoria Crosses awarded to its members.

Ashton under Lyne - Stamford Park
Over 60,000 people turned out to the opening of Stamford Park in 1873; it had taken 17 years of campaigning and fundraising by local cotton workers

There are five parks in the town, three of which have Green Flag Awards. The first park opened in Ashton-under-Lyne was Stamford Park on the border with Stalybridge. The park opened in 1873, following a 17-year campaign by local cotton workers; the land was bought from a local mill-owner for £15,000 (£1 million as of 2019) and further land was donated by George Grey, 7th Earl of Stamford. A crowd of between 60,000 and 80,000 turned out to see the Earl of Stamford formally open the new facility on 12 July 1873. It now includes a boating lake, and a memorial to Joseph Rayner Stephens, commissioned by local factory workers to commemorate his work promoting fair wages and improved working conditions. A conservatory was opened in 1907, and Coronation gates installed at both the Ashton-under-Lyne and Stalybridge entrances in 1953.

Hartshead Pike is a stone tower on top of Hartshead Hill overlooking Ashton and Oldham. The current building was constructed in 1863 although there has been a building on the site since at least the mid-18th century, although the original purpose is obscure. The pike may have been the site of a beacon in the late 16th century. It has a visitor centre and from the top of the hill it is possible to see the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, the Welsh hills, and the Holme Moss transmitter in West Yorkshire.

Ashton War Memorial 01 (crop)
Ashton-under-Lyne War Memorial, in Memorial Gardens

The Witchwood public house, in the St Petersfield area of the town, has been a music venue since the 1960s, hosting acts such as Muse, The Coral, and Lost Prophets. In 2004 The Witchwood came under threat when the area was being redeveloped, but was saved from demolition after a campaign by locals and led by Tom Hingley, drawing support from musicians such as Bert Jansch, The Fall, and The Chameleons.

The main Ashton-under-Lyne War Memorial, in Memorial Gardens, consists of a central cenotaph on plinth, surmounted by sculpted wounded soldier and the figure of "Peace who is taking the sword of honour" from his hand. It commemorates the 1,512 people from the town who died in the First World War and the 301 who died in the Second World War. The cenotaph is flanked on both sides by two bronze lions. The plinth is decorated with military equipment representing the services, as well as bronze tablets listing the Roll of Honour from World War I. Commissioned by the Ashton War Memorial Committee, the statue was sculpted between 1919 and 1922 by John Ashton Floyd, and unveiled on 16 September 1922 by General Sir Ian Hamilton.

The tablet on the front of the memorial reads:

Erected in honour of the men of Ashton-under-Lyne and district who fought for King and Empire in The Great War, especially those who sacrificed their lives, and whose names are recorded hereon
1914–1919

Transport

Roads

Ashton is served by the M60 motorway, which cuts through the west end of Ashton (Junction 23).

In 1732, an Act of Parliament was passed which permitted the construction of a turnpike from Manchester, then in Lancashire, to Salters Brook in Cheshire. The road passed through Ashton-under-Lyne as well as Audenshaw, Mottram-in-Longdendale, and Stalybridge. A Turnpike Trust was responsible for collecting tolls from traffic; the proceeds were used for road maintenance. The Trust for Manchester to Salters Brook was one of over 400 established between 1706 and 1750, a period in which turnpikes became popular. It was the first turnpike to be opened in Tameside, and driven by economic growth, more turnpikes were opened in the area in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Acts of Parliaments were passed in 1765, 1793, and 1799 permitting the construction turnpikes from Ashton-under-Lyne to Doctor Lane Head in Saddleworth, Standedge in Saddleworth, and Oldham respectively. Towards the end of the 19th century, many Turnpike Trusts were wound up as they were superseded by local government; the last in Tameside to close was the Ashton-under-Lyne to Salters Brook road in 1884.

Canals

Portland Basin
The Portland Basin warehouse is now a museum

The town of Ashton-under-Lyne became the focus of three canals which were constructed in Tameside in the 1790s because it was an important centre of coal mining in the Lancashire coalfield. The 1790s has been characterised as a period of mania for canal building in England. The first of the three to be built was the Ashton Canal, which was constructed between 1792 and 1797. Connecting Manchester to Ashton-under-Lyne, with a branch to Oldham, it cost about £170,000 (£13 million as of 2019). The Peak Forest Canal was constructed from 1794 to 1805, and was originally planned as a branch of the Ashton Canal. It connected the Portland Basin with the Peak District and cost £177,000 (£11 million as of 2019). The Huddersfield Narrow Canal was built between 1794 and 1811, to enable cross-Pennine trade between Manchester and Kingston upon Hull; the cost of construction was £400,000.

The advent of the railways in the 19th century signalled the decline of the canal system. The new railways were quicker and more economical than the canals, and the waterways declined. The Huddersfield Canal was bought by the Huddersfield and Manchester Railway in 1844. Along with the Ashton and Peak Forest canals, the Huddersfield canal was later bought by the Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Railway Company. The canals remained in use throughout the 19th century on a smaller scale than in their heyday, but by the mid-20th century all commercial traffic had ceased. Following an extended period of closure & dereliction, when the Huddersfield canal was in parts filled-in or built over, a complete restoration was undertaken resulting in the full reopening of the canal in 2001. They are now used for leisure craft and are still maintained and in good condition.

Ashton-under-Lyne Station 01
Ashton-under-Lyne railway station

Railways

Ashton-under-Lyne railway station sees regular services on the Huddersfield Line between Manchester (Victoria) and Huddersfield.

The present station, known historically as Ashton (Charlestown) as was opened by the Ashton, Stalybridge and Liverpool Junction Railway (AS&LJR) on 13 April 1846. The AS&LJR was absorbed by the Manchester and Leeds Railway in 1847, which was then renamed the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (LYR). The LYR renamed it Ashton (Charlestown) in 1874. The LYR amalgamated with the London and North Western Railway at the start of 1922, and these in turn amalgamated with several other companies on 1 January 1923, to form the London, Midland and Scottish Railway during the 1923 Grouping. It then passed to the London Midland Region of British Railways on nationalisation in 1948. The station was renamed Ashton-under-Lyne on 6 May 1968.

There were once three stations in the town: Charlestown, Park Parade (closed 1956) and Oldham Road (closed 1959) on the Oldham, Ashton and Guide Bridge Railway. Also, Guide Bridge, a few miles away, was known as Ashton & Hooley Hill and then Ashton in its earliest years.

The Sheffield, Ashton-under-Lyne and Manchester Railway Company was founded in 1836 with the purpose of building a line linking Manchester and Sheffield. The line was opened in stages and by 1845 was complete. It included a branch to the nearby town of Stalybridge, the former Ashton Park Parade station was included on this branch.

Trams

Ashton Metrolink station 2
Ashton-under-Lyne tram stop

In 1881, a tramway with horse-drawn tramcars was opened between Stalybridge and Audenshaw, through Ashton-under-Lyne. The first tramway of its kind in Tameside, it was later extended to Manchester. The Oldham, Ashton and Hyde Electric Tramway Company, founded in 1899, operated 13 km (8 mi) of tram lines with electric tramcars. It was the first line around Manchester to use electricity. A line from Stalybridge to Ashton-under-Lyne was opened in 1903 and operated by the Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley & Dukinfield Tramways & Electricity Board. The first bus service from Ashton-under-Lyne ran in 1923 and the 1920s saw a period of decline for the tramways as they suffered from the competition from buses. The last electric tram service in the town ran in 1938.

After a 75-year absence, trams returned to Ashton in October 2013, when the Manchester Metrolink tram system opened the East Manchester Line to the town: Ashton-under-Lyne tram stop in the town centre, lies alongside Ashton-under-Lyne bus station and is the terminus for the East Manchester Line, which runs to Manchester Piccadilly station and Manchester city-centre. Away from the town centre towards Manchester there is also Ashton West tram stop and Ashton Moss tram stop.

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