Tame Past Present Future will be working around four main themes in relation to the industry along the River Tame.
Some of the first industry in the Black Country and Birmingham were along the River Tame as metal mills utilised its waters. These sites developed bringing more industries around them, and others, like the brick makers, used the river water. Larger industries, such as Dunlop and Kynoch’s, used the groundwater along the river in their factories. The Tame also shaped the environment around as it was an easy route in which to take the industrial infrastructure; first came the canals, some using the Tame’s brooks as their routes, then the railroads, and then the motorways. These were the industrial arteries, moving goods and people from place to place, and bringing more industry along with them. How did industry develop along the river, and how did it affect the river and the communities that lived, and still live, along its banks?
OUR FOUR THEMES
MILL SITES: The first industry along the Tame was water powered; corn mills were converted for metal rolling, nail making, wire drawing and slitting, and some were built specifically for the purpose. Many of these sites developed into massive industries, some still surviving today. How did these sites develop and change over time to present day use? Were the first industries in the Black Country and Birmingham along the River Tame? Have the ancient mills informed the industrial use of their sites? What industries were the mills being used for? Find out more.
INDUSTRY AND WAR: With the centenary of World War One there is a great deal going on over the next four years. Industries played a huge role in both World Wars though, supporting the war effort, and sometimes making the ammunition and guns that were used. Obviously, there is a tragic side to this research as so many died in both wars, and many who worked in the factories went off to fight, some to return to their jobs, but many did not. Do you remember the Second World War and how industry changed? Was the area you lived in targeted by bombers because of the local industries? Do you know anything else about a local factory during either war period?
LIVING MEMORY: There is a great deal of industry that has either recently left the Tame area, or is still situated along the river. What are the stories of those who work/worked there? Why were the industries by the river? Is there a long history of industry on the site? What are the effects of these industries on communities today? How can this heritage be preserved for future generations as industries leave these areas?
INDUSTRIAL POLLUTION: The Tame was considered one of the most polluted rivers in Europe at one point; it collected the industrial waste from the Black Country and Birmingham, as well as sewage from both. In Wednesbury the Tame was called the “Black Brook” because of the pollution, in Darlaston the copper works turned the water red and there it was the “Red Brook”, and in Oldbury “blue billy” would get into the waters and make the stream yellow and smell like rotten eggs. How did industries affect the river itself? What went into the river, and what were the processes that caused it? Which industries were the worst polluters? Were there health effects on the workers? Were there other factors that caused pollution other than industry? How did this affect communities along the river? What effects can still be seen today?