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Bolton, a town in Greater Manchester and not to be confused with the much smaller Bolton in Northumberland, the village in East Riding of Yorkshire, the village of Bolton and civil parish in the Eden District of Cumbria, or any of the dozens of other locations in the United Kingdom which have the same or similar names.

In the beginning, Bolton was a small settlement, and in 1251, it had grown and became a market town. This fact drew merchants and craftsmen to move to Bolton in order to sell their products at market.

Bolton became a textile production centre beginning in the 14th century. In 1337, skilled weavers from Flanders were given special permission to settle in England. That permission was given by King Edward III, who had married a Flemish woman named Philippa of Hainault. The Flemish introduced woolen and cotton weaving tradition to the area.

Bolton Grammar School was established in 1516, and in 1623, there was an outbreak of the plague in Bolton. In the 17th century, still more Flemish weavers arrived, having fled the Huguenot persecutions.

By the 18th century and Industrial Revolution rolled around, wool had been replaced by cotton and the demand for fabric and for yarn was growing.

In 1779, Samuel Crompton, born and raised in Bolton, invented the spinning mule, a machine which spins textile fibres into yarn. His first mule produced 0.45 kg (1 lb.) of thread per day. Due to the fact that the mule spun finer gauge and better quality thread, mule-spun thread sold for a minimum of three times the price of the hand-spun, coarser threads. The first spinning mill was opened in 1780. More than thirty bleach works were established around this time, as chlorine was introduced in the last decade of the 1700s.

In 1814, a dispensary where poor people could get their medicine for free was opened. The first railway from Bolton to Leigh began running in 1828, and one running to Preston began in 1843. The inaugural railway to Blackburn ran in 1848, and beginning in 1880, the streets of Bolton were running regularly through the streets. In 1883, the Royal Infirmary opened.

At the turn of the 20th century, electric trams replaced the horse-drawn trams in the streets of Bolton. The first movie theatre in town opened in 1910.

By 1912, more than 36,000 people were employed in Bolton's textile industry and engineering companies seemed to be finding a home in the town as well.

On September 26, 1916, Bolton was targeted by Oberleutnant Kurt Frankenburg of the Imperial German Navy. Frankenburg, who commanded a Zeppelin dropped more than 20 bombs on Bolton, killing thirteen people in their homes and demolishing six houses in the working class area of Kirk Street.

The 1920s saw the decline of the local cotton industry, and large numbers of cotton workers were terminated in the 1930s. Local coal mining began its own decline in the 1930s. Council houses were erected in the 1920s and 1930s, and in the late 1930s, the Council started clearing the slums they replaced. A bombing raid in 1941 killed 11 people.

Still more council houses were build at the end of World War II in 1945. The electric trams were replaced in 1947 by buses. The local coal mining industry ended entirely in the 1960s.

Today, there is a textile industry in Bolton, though much smaller than it once was. Retail and other service industries are a major source of employment.



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