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Oldham is a large town in Greater Manchester, England. It lies amid the Pennines on elevated ground between the rivers River Irk and River Medlock, south-southeast of Rochdale, and northeast of the city of Manchester. Oldham is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, of which Oldham is the administrative centre.
Historic counties of England a part of Lancashire, and with little Early Modern Britain to speak of, Oldham rose to prominence during the 19th century as an international centre of Textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution. It was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, and among the first ever Industrialisation towns, rapidly becoming"one of the most important centres of cotton and textile industries in England". At its zenith, it was the most productive Spinning (textiles) mill town in the world,. spinning more cotton than France and Germany combined. Oldham's textile industry began to fall into decline during the mid-20th century, and its 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 List of urban areas in England by population lives in an area of around .