History of Bolton

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Historic information

Bolton began life as a small village that was not considered important enough by the Normans to be given a mention in the Domesday Book of 1086. Over the years however, Bolton began to grow and by the middle of the thirteenth century was considered to be an important place as it was granted town status in 1251. Under the royal charter that made Bolton a town, the inhabitants were also given certain rights among which was the holding of a market. The market drew more inhabitants to Bolton as craftsmen moved in to sell their wares at the market. Bolton was also given permission to hold a fair. Fairs happened on an annual basis and were bigger than the local market so they drew people from further affield.

Bolton was only a small market town even by the standards of the time; the town had a population of several hundred. By the later Middle Ages a wool industry had started to grow in Bolton and Bolton Grammar School was founded in 1516. Bolton continued to grow and there was a cotton industry as well as a wool industry by the start of the seventeenth century. By the middle of the seventeenth century Bolton was growing at a rapid pace and the population had grown to exceed two thousand. During the seventeenth century Bolton was hit by an outbreak of the plague in 1623 and by smallpox outbreaks in 1642 and 1647. Although these illnesses did lower the population the town soon recovered as people were always coming to the towns to look for work.

At the start of the Civil War in 1642 Bolton supported the parliamentarians although most of Lancashire actually supported the King. The Royalists attacked Bolton in 1643 and again in1644 but were beaten back both times by the parliamentarians. The Royalists made a second attempt in 1644 and successfully captured the town, killing the parliamentarians. At the end of the civil war the Earl of Derby, who headed the 1644 massacre of parliamentarians was captured and beheaded in Bolton.

During the eighteenth century the town of Bolton continued to grow until it was radically changed by the coming of the Industrial Revolution. Samuel Crompton invented the spinning mule in 1779 and he opened his first mill in 1780 and Bolton was taken over by the cotton industry. By the start of the nineteenth century the population of Bolton had grown to almost seventeen and a half thousand. The cotton industry continued to flourish throughout the nineteenth century and the coming of the railways brought even more trade and people to Bolton.

Bolton’s population continued to grow in the early years of the twentieth century even though the cotton industry took a sharp decline from the nineteen twenties onwards. There is still a textile industry in Bolton as well as paper making and bleaching, and there is still a considerable engineering industry, Today the population of Bolton is more than a quarter of a million in what is still, largely and industrial town.