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Town and metropolitan borough (pop., 2001: 301,417), northwestern Greater Manchester, historic county of Lancashire, England. It lies along the River Douglas and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Coal was mined from the 14th century, and textiles were produced in the area as early as the 16th century. Industrialization in the late 18th century was accelerated by the building of canals and railways. Textiles have declined in importance, and the last coal mine closed in 1993. New industries, including food processing, paper and packaging, and electrical engineering, have broadened the economy. Tourism was spurred by George Orwell's treatise The Road to Wigan Pier.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Wigan, visit Britannica.com.