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Manchester's history is concerned with textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution.The great majority of cotton spinning took place in the towns of south Lancashire and north Cheshire, and Manchester was for a time the most productive centre of cotton processing, The industrial revolution brought about huge change in Manchester and was key to the increase in Manchester's population.Manchester Liverpool Road railway station was the world's first inter-city passenger railway station and in the city scientists first split the atom and developed the stored-program computer. These are generally thought to represent a Latinisation of an original Brittonic name, either from mamm- ("breast", in reference to a "breast-like hill") or from mamma ("mother", in reference to a local river goddess).Both meanings are preserved in Insular Celtic languages, such as mam meaning "breast" in Irish and "mother" in Welsh.Although not long-lasting, Cromwell granted it the right to elect its own MP.Charles Worsley, who sat for the city for only a year, was later appointed Major General for Lancashire, Cheshire and Staffordshire during the Rule of the Major Generals.Its fortunes declined after the Second World War, owing to deindustrialisation, but the IRA bombing in 1996 led to extensive investment and regeneration.

Manchester is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The recorded history of Manchester began with the civilian settlement associated with the Roman fort of Mamucium or Mancunium, which was established in about AD 79 on a sandstone bluff near the confluence of the rivers Medlock and Irwell.

The church is now Manchester Cathedral; the domestic premises of the college house Chetham's School of Music and Chetham's Library.

Manchester became an important centre for the manufacture and trade of woollens and linen, and by about 1540, had expanded to become, in John Leland's words, "The fairest, best builded, quickest, and most populous town of all Lancashire." During the English Civil War Manchester strongly favoured the Parliamentary interest.

On the canal's banks, just outside the borough, the world's first industrial estate was created at Trafford Park.

Large quantities of machinery, including cotton processing plant, were exported around the world.