Swinton is a town within the City of Salford, in Greater Manchester, England. Historically in Lancashire, Swinton is located on the A6 road. It stands on gently sloping ground on the southwest side of the River Irwell, and within the bounds of the orbital M60 motorway. It is west-northwest of Salford, and west-northwest of Manchester. Swinton and the adjoining towns of Pendlebury and Clifton together have a population of 41,347.
For centuries Swinton was a small hamlet within the township of Worsley, parish of Eccles and hundred of Salfordshire. This hamlet is thought to have centred on an ancient pig farm or market; the name Swinton is derived from the Old English "Swynton" meaning "swine town". During the High Middle Ages Swinton was broadly held by the religious orders of the Knights Hospitaller and Whalley Abbey. Farming was the main industry of this rural area during the Middle Ages, with locals supplementing their incomes by hand-loom woollen weaving in the domestic system.
Coal measures underlie the area, and a series of collieries opened during the Industrial Revolution gave rise to Swinton as an important industrial area. Locally sourced coal provided the fuel for a variety of cotton spinning and brickmaking industries. Bricks from Swinton were used for the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater's ambitious industrial projects, including the Bridgewater Canal, which passes Swinton to the south. The adoption of the factory system facilitated a process of unplanned urbanisation in the area, and by the mid-19th century Swinton had emerged as an important mill town and coal mining district at a convergence of factories, brickworks and a newly constructed road and railway network.
Following the Local Government Act 1894, Swinton was united with neighbouring Pendlebury to become an urban district of Lancashire. Swinton and Pendlebury received a charter of incorporation in 1934, giving it honorific borough status. In the same year, the United Kingdom's first purpose-built intercity highway—the major A580 road (East Lancashire Road), which terminates at Swinton and Pendlebury's southern boundary—was officially opened by King George V. Swinton and Pendlebury became part of the City of Salford in 1974. As such, Swinton has continued to grow as the seat of Salford City Council and as a commuter town, supported by its transport network and close proximity to Manchester city centre.
The name Swinton derives from the Old English swin, pigs and tun, an enclosure, farmstead or manor estate - an early form was Swynton.
During the Middle Ages, Swinton belonged to Whalley Abbey. Later, lands at Swinton were granted to Thurston Tyldesley, then of Wardley Hall. Documents record that certain areas belonged to the Knights Hospitaller.
In 1817 some Swinton weavers joined in the Blanketeers' demonstration and marched to London to put their grievances to the Prince Regent. In 1842 some Swinton people took part in Chartist agitations and tried to destroy a local colliery.
Sunday schools and libraries were established in Swinton at quite an early period. The Swinton Industrial School was visited by Charles Dickens. The school was created by the Manchester Poor Law Union. In contrast with other institutions for the poor around that time which were places of final resort, the Swinton Industrial School was built in response to a more enlightened attitude. The Manchester Poor Law Union saw the value in creating a place where children could be cared for and educated. The school opened in 1843 and survived until the 1920s. During demolition of the school buildings in the early 1930s, the foundations proved particularly difficult. Finally explosives were used, which resulted in a huge number of rats being disturbed. It was a number of weeks before council workers were able to remove the rats from the surrounding streets and houses. Huge nests of baby rats were carried out of the rafters of many buildings. The site was used for the present town hall.