Place:Oldham, Lancashire, England

Alt namesOldhamsource: from redirect
Glodwicksource: early division of Oldham
Sholversource: early division of Oldham
Wernethsource: early division of Oldham
Oldham Below Townsource: 19th century division of Oldham
Oldham Above Townsource: 19th century division of Oldham
Coldhurstsource: settlement in parish
Westwoodsource: settlement in parish
TypeTownship, Borough (county)
Coordinates53.55°N 2.117°W
Located inLancashire, England     ( - 1974)
See alsoSalford Hundred, Lancashire, Englandhundred in which it was located
Prestwich and Oldham, Lancashire, Englandancient parish in which it was located
Oldham (metropolitan borough), Greater Manchester, Englandmetropolitian borough of which it has been a part since 1974
source: Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names
source: Family History Library Catalog

the text in this section is based on an article in Wikipedia

Oldham is a town located in Greater Manchester, England since 1974. It is situated amid the Pennines and between the rivers Irk and Medlock, 5.3 miles (8.5 km) southeast of Rochdale and 6.9 miles (11.1 km) northeast of Manchester. It is the administrative centre of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, which had a population of 230,800 in 2015. (The town itself had a population of 96,555 in the UK census of 2011.)

Before 1974 Oldham was in Lancashire, and with little early history to speak of, rose to prominence in the 19th century as an international centre of textile manufacture. It was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, and one of the first industrialised towns, rapidly becoming "one of the most important centres of cotton and textile industries in England". At its zenith, it was the most productive cotton spinning mill town in the world, producing more cotton than France and Germany combined. Due to competition from countries of southeast Asia, Oldham's textile industry fell into decline in the mid-20th century; the town's last mill closed in 1998.

The demise of textile processing in Oldham depressed and heavily affected the local economy. Today Oldham is a predominantly residential town, and the improvement of the town centre is the focus of a project for transforming Oldham into 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.

Coldhurst and Westwood are areas of central Oldham and have been redirected here. For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Coldhurst.


Lying within the historic county boundaries of Lancashire since the early 1100s, Oldham was recorded in 1212 as being one of five parts of the thegnage estate of Kaskenmoor, which was held on behalf of King John by Roger de Montbegon and William de Nevill. The other parts of this estate were Crompton (which became a separate township), Glodwick, Sholver, and Werneth. The latter three remained more closely linked to Oldham and have been redirected here. Oldham later formed a township within the ancient ecclesiastical parish of Prestwich cum Oldham, in the Hundred of Salford.

In 1826 commissioners for the social and economic improvement of Oldham were established. The town was made part of a parliamentary borough in 1832, but it was not incorporated as a municipal borough until 1849. In 1850 the Borough Council obtained the powers of the improvement commissioners (responsible for street paving, cleansing, lighting, providing watchmen or dealing with various public nuisances). In 1880, parts of the Hollinwood and Crossbank areas of Chadderton and Ashton under Lyne townships were added to the Borough of Oldham. Oldham Above Town and Oldham Below Town were, from 1851 until circa 1881, statistical units (sub-registration districts) used for the gathering and organising of civil registration information, and the output of census data.

Image:Prestwich cum Oldham ancient parish.png

The Local Government Act 1888 created elected county councils to administer services throughout England and Wales. Where a municipal borough had a population of more than 50,000 at the 1881 Census it was created a county borough, with the powers and duties of both a borough and county council. As Oldham had an 1881 population of 111,343 it duly became a county borough on 1 April 1889. The borough, while independent of Lancashire County Council for local government, remained part of the county for purposes such as the administration of justice and lieutenancy.

In 1951 parts of the Limehurst Rural District were added to the County Borough of Oldham, and in 1954 further parts of the same district added to it on its abolition. Under the Local Government Act 1972, the town's autonomous county borough status was abolished, and Oldham has, since 1 April 1974, formed part of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham, within the metropolitan county of Greater Manchester.


For more information, see the EN Wikipedia article Oldham.

Research Tips

  • See the Wikipedia articles on parishes and civil parishes for descriptions of this lowest rung of local administration. The original parishes were ecclesiastical (described as ancient parishes), under the jurisdiction of the local priest. A parish covered a specific geographical area and was sometimes equivalent to that of a manor. Sometimes, in the case of very large rural parishes, there were chapelries where a "chapel of ease" allowed parishioners to worship closer to their homes. In the 19th century the term civil parish was adopted to define parishes with a secular form of local government. In WeRelate both civil and ecclesiastical parishes are included in the type of place called a "parish". Smaller places within parishes, such as chapelries and hamlets, have been redirected into the parish in which they are located. The names of these smaller places are italicized within the text.
  • An urban district was a type of municipality in existence between 1894 and 1974. They were formed as a middle layer of administration between the county and the civil parish and were used for urban areas usually with populations of under 30,000. Inspecting the archives of a urban district will not be of much help to the genealogist or family historian, unless there is need to study land records in depth.
  • Civil registration or vital statistics and census records will be found within registration districts. To ascertain the registration district to which a parish belongs, see Registration Districts in Lancashire, part of the UK_BMD website.
  • The terms municipal borough and county borough were adopted in 1835 replacing the historic "boroughs". Municipal boroughs generally had populations between 30,000 and 50,000; while county boroughs usually had populations of over 50,000. County boroughs had local governments independent of the county in which they were located, but municipal boroughs worked in tandem with the county administration. Wikipedia explains these terms in much greater detail.
  • Lancashire Online Parish Clerks provide free online information from the various parishes, along with other data of value to family and local historians conducting research in the County of Lancashire.
  • FamilySearch Lancashire Research Wiki provides a good overview of the county and also articles on most of the individual parishes (very small or short-lived ones may have been missed).
  • Ancestry (international subscription necessary) has a number of county-wide collections of Church of England baptisms, marriages and burials, some from the 1500s, and some providing microfilm copies of the manuscript entries. There are specific collections for Liverpool (including Catholic baptisms and marriages) and for Manchester. Their databases now include electoral registers 1832-1935. Another pay site is FindMyPast.
  • A map of Lancashire circa 1888 supplied by A Vision of Britain through Time includes the boundaries between the parishes and the hamlets within them.
  • A map of Lancashire circa 1954 supplied by A Vision of Britain through Time is a similar map for a later timeframe.
  • GENUKI provides a website covering many sources of genealogical information for Lancashire. The organization is gradually updating the website and the volunteer organizers may not have yet picked up all the changes that have come with improving technology.
  • The Victoria County History for Lancashire, provided by British History Online, covers the whole of the county in six volumes (the seventh available volume [numbered Vol 2] covers religious institutions). The county is separated into its original hundreds and the volumes were first published between 1907 and 1914. Most parishes within each hundred are covered in detail. Maps within the text can contain historical information not available elsewhere.
  • A description of the parish of Prestwich with Oldham from British History Online (Victoria County Histories), published 1911
  • A description of the township of Oldham from British History Online (Victoria County Histories), published 1911
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Oldham. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.