Lancashire

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Lancashire is a non-metropolitan county of historic origin in the North West of England, bounded to the west by the Irish Sea. It takes its name from the city of Lancaster and is sometimes known as the County of Lancaster. Its county council is based in Preston, the county's administrative capital. Lancaster, however, is still considered to be the county town. Commonly, Lancashire is referred to by the abbreviation Lancs, originally used by the Royal Mail. The population of the county is 1,449,700. People from the county are known as Lancastrians.

The history of Lancashire is thought to have begun with its founding in the 12th century. In the Domesday Book (1086), some of its lands had been treated as part of Yorkshire. The area in between the rivers Mersey and Ribble (referred to in the Domesday Book as "Inter Ripam et Mersham") formed part of the returns for Cheshire. Once its initial boundaries were established, it bordered Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire, and Cheshire.

Lancashire emerged during the Industrial Revolution as a major commercial and industrial region. The county encompassed several hundred mill towns and collieries. By the 1830s, approximately 85% of all cotton manufactured worldwide was processed in Lancashire. Accrington, Blackburn, Chorley and Burnley were major cotton mill towns during this time. Blackpool was a major centre for tourism for the inhabitants of Lancashire's mill towns.

The county was subject to a significant boundary reform in 1974, which removed Liverpool and Manchester with most of their surrounding conurbations to form part of the metropolitan counties of Merseyside and Greater Manchester. At this time, the detached Furness peninsula was made part of Cumbria. Today the county borders Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and North and West Yorkshire. The Duchy of Lancaster exercises the right of the Crown in the area known as the County Palatine of Lancaster.

The county was established in 1182 and later than many other counties. In the Domesday Book, its lands between the Ribble and the Mersey were known as "Inter Ripam et Mersham" and were included in the returns for Cheshire. Although some have taken this to mean that south Lancashire was, at that time, part of Cheshire, it cannot be said clearly to have been part of Cheshire. It is also claimed that the territory to the north formed, at that time, part of the West Riding of Yorkshire. It bordered on Cumberland, Westmorland, Yorkshire, and Cheshire. The county was divided into the six hundreds of Amounderness, Blackburn, Leyland, Lonsdale, Salford and West Derby. Lonsdale was further partitioned into Lonsdale North, which was the detached part north of Morecambe Bay (also known as Furness), and Lonsdale South. The Red Rose of Lancaster is the traditional symbol for the House of Lancaster, immortalized in the verse "In the battle for England's head/York was white, Lancaster red" (referring to the 15th century War of the Roses).

Lancashire is now much smaller than its historic extent due to a local government reform. In 1889 an administrative county of Lancashire was created, covering the historic county except for county boroughs such as Liverpool and Manchester. The area covered by the Lord-Lieutenant (termed now a ceremonial county) continued to cover the entirety of the administrative county along with the county boroughs, and thus was expanded slightly whenever boroughs annexed areas in other neighbouring counties. Examples of this include Wythenshawe (an area of Manchester south of the River Mersey and historically in Cheshire), and southern Warrington. This area also did not cover the western part of Todmorden, where the traditional border between Lancashire and Yorkshire runs through the middle of the town.

During the 20th century the county became increasingly urbanised, particularly the southern part. To the existing county boroughs of Barrow-in-Furness, Blackburn, Bolton, Bootle, Burnley, Bury, Liverpool, Manchester, Oldham, Preston, Rochdale, Salford, St Helens and Wigan were added Blackpool (1904), Southport (1905), and Warrington (1900). The county boroughs also had many boundary extensions. The borders around the Manchester area were particularly complicated, with narrow protrusions of the administrative county between the county boroughs - Lees urban district formed a detached part of the administrative county, between Oldham county borough and the West Riding of Yorkshire.

Wording courtesy of http://www.wikipedia.org/

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