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Bolton (/ˈbɒltən/ (listen), locally /ˈboʊtən/) is a large town in Greater Manchester in North West England, historically and traditionally a part of Lancashire. A former mill town, Bolton has been a production centre for textiles since Flemish weavers settled in the area in the 14th century, introducing a wool and cotton-weaving tradition. The urbanisation and development of the town largely coincided with the introduction of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution. Bolton was a 19th-century boomtown and, at its zenith in 1929, its 216 cotton mills and 26 bleaching and dyeing works made it one of the largest and most productive centres of cotton spinning in the world. The British cotton industry declined sharply after the First World War and, by the 1980s, cotton manufacture had virtually ceased in Bolton.
Close to the West Pennine Moors, Bolton is 10 miles (16 km) north-west of Manchester. It is surrounded by several neighbouring towns and villages that together form the Metropolitan Borough of Bolton, of which Bolton is the administrative centre. The town of Bolton has a population of 139,403, whilst the wider metropolitan borough has a population of 262,400. Bolton originated as a small settlement in the moorland known as Bolton le Moors. In the English Civil War, the town was a Parliamentarian outpost in a staunchly Royalist region and, as a result, was stormed by 3,000 Royalist troops led by Prince Rupert of the Rhine in 1644. In what became known as the Bolton Massacre, 1,600 residents were killed and 700 were taken prisoner.
Bolton Wanderers football club play home games at the University of Bolton Stadium and the WBA World light-welterweight champion Amir Khan was born in the town. Cultural interests include the Octagon Theatre and the Bolton Museum and Art Gallery, as well as one of the earliest public libraries established after the Public Libraries Act 1850.
Wigan (/ˈwɪɡən/ WIG-ən) is a large town in Greater Manchester, England, on the River Douglas. The town is midway between the two cities of Manchester, 16 miles (25.7 km) to the south east, and Liverpool, 17 miles (27 km) to the southwest. The towns of Bolton to the northeast, and Warrington to the south are 10 miles (16 km) and 12 miles (19 km) away respectively. Within the former boundaries of the historic county of Lancashire, Wigan is the largest settlement in the Metropolitan Borough of Wigan and its administrative centre. The town has a population of 103,608, and the wider borough of 318,100.
Wigan was in the territory of the Brigantes, an ancient Celtic tribe that ruled much of what is now northern England. The Brigantes were subjugated in the Roman conquest of Britain and the Roman settlement of Coccium established where Wigan lies.
Wigan was incorporated as a borough in 1246, following the issue of a charter by King Henry III of England. At the end of the Middle Ages, it was one of four boroughs in Lancashire established by Royal charter.
The Industrial Revolution saw a dramatic economic expansion and rapid rise in population. Wigan became a major mill town and coal mining district; at its peak, there were 1,000 pit shafts within 5 miles (8 km) of the town centre. Coal mining ceased in the later 20th century.
Wigan Pier, a wharf on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, was made famous by the writer George Orwell. In his book The Road to Wigan Pier, Orwell highlighted the poor working and living conditions of inhabitants in the 1930s. Following the decline of heavy industry, Wigan Pier's warehouses and wharves became a local heritage centre and cultural quarter. The DW Stadium is home to Wigan Athletic Football Club and Wigan Warriors Rugby League Football Club.