Whitefield has been since 1974 a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Bury, in Greater Manchester, England. Its population in 2001 was, according to the UK census, 23,283. It lies on undulating ground above the Irwell Valley, along the south bank of the River Irwell, 3 miles (4.8 km) south-southeast of Bury, and 4.9 miles (7.9 km) to the north-northwest of the city of Manchester. Prestwich and the M60 motorway lie to the south.
Until 1974 Whitefield was in Lancashire. Throughout the Middle Ages, it was a division of the township of Pilkington, itself a part of the ecclesiastical parish of Prestwich-cum-Oldham and hundred of Salford. Pilkington and Whitefield have historic associations with the Earls of Derby. Farming was the main industry of this rural area, with locals supplementing their incomes by hand-loom woollen weaving sold through agents into the commercial markets.
The urbanisation and development of Whitefield largely coincided with the Industrial Revolution. The name Whitefield is thought to derive from the medieval bleachfields used by Flemish settlers to whiten their woven fabrics, or else from the wheat crop once cultivated in the district. The construction of a major roads routed through the village facilitated Whitefield's expansion into a mill town during the mid-19th century. Whitefield was created a local government district in 1866, and was governed by a local board of health until 1894, when the area of the local board became an urban district.
For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Whitefield, Greater Manchester.