The Tame is the main river of the West Midlands' conurbation, it 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, flowing past 1.77 million people on its way towards its confluence with the River Trent.

About the Project

Tame Past Present Future is a project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It will explore the industrial heritage of the River Tame in the West Midlands conurbation and its effects on the development of the neighbourhoods around it. It will focus on the industrial era but also look earlier developments and the possibilities of heritage for the present and future of communities. 

The project will bring together existing information about the key sites along the Tame and combine new information resulting from the explorations of groups who are trained and supported as part of this project. These groups will be in locations where there is potential to uncover heritage which will contribute to the overall picture of the development of industries and communities along the Tame - viewed through the framework of the river.  

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So despite having the largest catchment in the UK, modification and pollution by man has meant that the River Tame has become hidden, neglected and ignored. We believe 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. This project will reveal and celebrate the river again by focusing on the themes of industry and place


There are fascinating opportunities to understand the working lives of communities along the river; 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 in turn then attracted others.

Transport infrastructure was built to follow the Tame Valley, and these canals, railways and motorways then attracted and supported more industry.


By seeking to understand the vast amount of change along the river route through time, and which came about as industries assembled, there are opportunities for people to understand the place they live and how it relates to the river.

Together, these two themes offer a fresh and compelling insight to the regions heritage and an opportunity to restore the status of the river, connect communities and inform their future.

The project will result in a series of activities including exhibitions, walks, workshops, competitions and events which will provide a variety of ways to gather and share information and raise the profile of the river. 

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