Oldham

Oldham /ˈldəm/ is a large town in Greater Manchester, England. It lies amid the Pennines on elevated ground between the rivers Irk and Medlock, 5.3 miles (8.5 km) south-southeast of Rochdale, and 6.9 miles (11.1 km) northeast of the city of Manchester. Oldham is surrounded by several smaller towns that together form the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, of which Oldham is the administrative centre.

Historically in Lancashire, and with little early history to speak of, Oldham rose to prominence during the 19th century as an international centre of textile manufacture. It was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, and among the first ever industrialised towns, rapidly becoming "one of the most important centres of cotton and textile industries in England". At its zenith, it was the most productive cotton spinning mill town in the world, producing more cotton than France and Germany combined. Oldham's textile industry fell into decline during the mid-20th century; the town's last mill closed in 1998.

The demise of textile processing in Oldham depressed the local economy. Today Oldham is a predominantly residential town, and a centre for further education and the performing arts. It is, however, still distinguished architecturally by the surviving cotton mills and other buildings associated with that industry. The town's population of 103,544 lives in an area of around 26 square miles (67 km2).

By Dean Hanley

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