"OLDHAM, a parochial chapelry, township, market town, municipal and parliamentary borough, in the parish of Prestwich, hundred of Salford, county Lancaster, 4 miles N. of Ashton-under-Lyne, 6 N.E. of Manchester, and 190 N.N.W. of London. It has stations on the E. section of the Lancashire and Yorkshire, the Oldham branch of the London and North-Western, and the Oldham and Guidebridge Junction section of the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire railways. It is a large manufacturing town of modern date, situated on an eminence near the right bank of the river Medlock, and skirted by the small rivers Irk and Irwell. The rapid rise of this town is mainly attributable to its situation on the edge of the Lancashire coal-field, which gives employment to a considerable number of its inhabitants, and to the great increase of cotton manufactures, consequent on the important innovations in machinery introduced by Arkwright and others. For manufacturing purposes, Oldham seemed especially adapted by nature, the mill system requiring for its success coal and water power, which were both here combined in the greatest abundance. The first mention of textile manufactures in Oldham is in the reign of Charles I., and subsequently linen websters are frequently mentioned in the parish registers; but the great development of trade did not take place till about a century ago, when mills on Arkwright's plan, driven by water-power, were erected here in 1770, and on the expiration of his patents in 1783 and 1789, a still further development of manufacturing industry took place. The erection of water-mills was shortly followed by the application of steam power, for which the unbounded supply of coal was of great importance. A branch canal, joining the Ashton canal, was cut in 1792, coming up to Hollinwood, and several lines of railway now intersect the township, so that its productions can be carried speedily to all parts of the country, giving to Oldham an important place in the manufacturing system of Lancashire. It was first chartered on the 13th of June, 1849, and is divided into eight wards, the bounds of the municipal borough being conterminous with those of the township, which has an area of 4,617 acres. In 1760 it is said to have consisted of only 60 dwellings.