|Area: 140 kmē|
Bolton is a large town in the north-west of England. Located near the West Pennine Moors, it is the largest settlement of the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton in Greater Manchester.
Lying within the historic boundaries of Lancashire, the town rose to prominence during the 19th century as a Mill town. It had a population of 139,403 according to the 2001 Census, and the wider borough a population of 264,800.
Evidence of a Saxon settlement exists in the form of religious objects found when the present Victorian parish church was built.
The town was given a Charter to hold a market in Churchgate in 1251 by King Henry III.
The town's position on the west of the Pennines provides a damp climate. It is this feature which probably led to Flemish weavers, fleeing the Huguenot persecutions in the 17th century, to eventually settle here, as moisture-laden air allows for the spinning of cotton with little breakage. The cotton industry was to provide the catalyst for the town's expansion between the 14th and 19th centuries. Large, steam-powered textile mills eventually dominated the town's skyline, providing the major employment and defining the rhythm of the working week, so much so that an annual shut-down for maintenance in late June became the Bolton Holidays. There were also some large iron foundries in the town as well as other engineering works, many connected with the cotton industry.
In the early 19th Century Bolton was split into Great Bolton and Little Bolton with Little Bolton being approximately the area North of the River Croal. The ancient parish of Bolton le Moors covered a much wider area including many other townships.
On 11th January 1838 a Charter of Incorporation was drawn up by the councils of Little Bolton and Great Bolton. On 11th October 1838 Bolton was incorporated as a municipal borough under the Municipal Corporations Act 1835. The election was held on 30th November 1838 and Mr. Charles James Darbishire became the first mayor. Other outlying areas were incorporated into Bolton later in the 19th Century - Rumworth in 1872 and in 1877 Tonge with Haulgh and Halliwell. The two parts of Bolton continued to be known as Great Bolton and Little Bolton at least until the end of the 19th century.
Bolton was Worktown in the Mass-Observation project which has left us with many photographs taken around the town by Humphrey Spender as part of that project.