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Royton (pop. 21,000) is a town within the Metropolitan Borough of Oldhammarker, in Greater Manchestermarker, England. It lies by the source of the River Irk, on undulating land at the foothills of the Pennines, north-northwest of Oldhammarker, south-southeast of Rochdalemarker and northeast of the city of Manchestermarker.

Historically a part of Lancashiremarker, Royton and its surroundings have provided evidence of ancient British, Roman and Viking activity in the area. During the Middle Ages, Royton formed a small township centred on Royton Hall, a manor house owned by a long succession of dignitaries which included the Byrons and Radcliffes. A settlement expanded outwards from the hall which, by as late as 1780, "contained only a few straggling and mean-built cottages". Farming was the main industry of this rural area, with locals supplementing their incomes by hand-loom woollen weaving in the domestic system.

Royton has the distinction of being the first town where a powered cotton mill was built; at Thorp in 1764, and is one of the first localities in the world to have adopted the factory system. The introduction of textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution facilitated a process of unplanned urbanisation in the area, and by the mid-19th century Royton had emerged as a mill town. At its zenith, there were 40 cotton mills—some of the largest in the United Kingdom—employing 80% of the local population. Imports of foreign cotton goods began the decline in Royton's textile industry during the mid-20th century, and its last mill closed in 1998.

Today, fewer than a dozen mills are still standing, the majority of which are used for light engineering or as distribution centres. Despite an economic depression brought about by the demise of cotton spinning, Royton's population has continued to grow as a result of intensive housing redevelopment which has modernised its former Edwardian districts.

History

Toponymy

The name Royton is Anglo-Saxon in origin, and it has been suggested that the Rye crop is the root of the name; "Roy-" is derived from Rye, with the Old English suffix -ton added to imply "rye farm" or "rye settlement". The first known written record of the name Ryeton (or Ryton) was in a survey of Lancashire in 1212, although the name is believed to date from the 7th century as a result of Anglian colonisation which followed the Battle of Chestermarker.

Early history

There is evidence of Stone Age human activity in the area, by way of a Neolithic stone axe found at Royton Park. The ancient Britons are thought to have inhabited the area, and the Romans to have traversed it; the remains of a Roman or Early Medieval bloomery was discovered in 1836. There is no physical manifestation of the Vikings/Norsemen in the locality, but toponymic evidence implies they have been present; the hamlet of Thorp is the oldest settled locality in Royton, and its name is of Old Norse origin meaning "farm, estate or village".

Unmentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, Royton does not appear in records until 1212, when it was documented to have been a thegnage estate, or manor, comprising twelve oxgangs of land, with an annual rate of 24 shillings payable by the tenant, William Fitz William, to King John of England. From William, who died in 1223, Royton passed to his son Thomas, who was still alive in 1254. Thomas's daughter Margery, who married Alexander Luttrell of Somersetmarker, sold the majority of Royton and its outlying land to John de Byron in around 1260. It is from this exchange that the Byron family came to use Royton as their chief place of residence until the early part of the 17th century.
The early history of Royton is linked closely with what was then its manor house, Royton Hall, which was inhabited by the Byron family for over 350 years. During that period the Byrons' involvement in regional and national affairs added prestige to what was otherwise an obscure and rural township. John de Byron was a witness to the charter of incorporation of 1301, which elevated the township of Manchestermarker to the status of a borough. A descendant of John—John Byron—served as High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1572, and was knighted by Elizabeth I in 1579. John served as Deputy Lieutenant of Lancashire at the time of the Spanish Armada, and sourced infantry from Royton towards the English military. His son, also called John, fought during the English Civil War on the side of the Cavaliers. His actions led to making him John Byron, 1st Baron Byron of Rochdale by way of a peerage granted by King Charles I. Following the regicide of Charles I, and the rise of Cromwellian England, Baron Byron's possessions, including his lands in Royton, were confiscated. Royton Hall was then purchased by Thomas Percival, a wealthy linen manufacturer whose descendants continued to occupy the hall until around 1814. The hall was then inherited by the Radcliffe Baronets.

Textiles and the Industrial Revolution

Apart from the dignitaries who lived in Royton Hall, the population of Royton during the Middle Ages comprised a small community of retainer and farmers, most of whom were involved with pasture, but supplemented their incomes by weaving woollens in the domestic system. The area was thinly populated and consisted of several hamlets, including Thorp, Heyside and Royton village itself as the nucleus. During the Early Modern period, the weavers of Royton had been using spinning wheels in makeshift weavers' cottages, but as both the demand for cotton goods increased and the technology of cotton-spinning machinery improved during the early-18th century, the need for larger structures to house bigger, better and more efficient equipment became apparent. The construction of a water powered cotton mill by Ralph Taylor at Thorp Clough in 1764, is said to be the first structure of its kind. The construction of more mills followed, which initiated a process of urbanisation and socioeconomic transformation in the region; the population moved away from farming, adopting employment in the factory system. The introduction of the factory system led to a tenfold increase of Royton's population in less than a century; from 260 in 1714 to 2,719 in 1810. Despite its growth as a centre for cotton-cloth production, and the construction of a chapel of ease in 1754, in 1780 Royton was said to have "contained only a few straggling and mean-built cottages". The people of Royton continued to produce cotton goods (mainly cloth) and sell them at the market in Manchester.



During this period of growth, Royton's parliamentary representation was limited to two Members of Parliament for Lancashire, and nationally, the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 had resulted in periods of famine and chronic unemployment for textile weavers. By the beginning of 1819 the pressure generated by poor economic conditions, coupled with the lack of suffrage in northern England, had enhanced the appeal of political Radicalism in the region. The Manchester Patriotic Union, a group agitating for parliamentary reform, began to organise a mass public demonstration in Manchester to demand the reform of parliamentary representation. Organised preparations took place, and a spy reported that "seven hundred men drilled at Tandle Hillmarker as well as any army regiment would"; a few days later, on 3 August, a royal proclamation forbidding the practice of drilling was posted in Manchester.

On 16 August 1819, Royton (like its neighbours) sent a contingent of its townsfolk to Manchester to join the mass political demonstration now known as the Peterloo Massacremarker (owing to the 15 deaths and 400–700 injuries that followed). Royton's contingent was of particular note, in that it sent a sizable female section to the demonstration.

Royton's damp climate provided the ideal conditions for cotton spinning to be carried out without the cotton drying and breaking, and newly developed 19th century mechanisation optimised cotton spinning for mass production for the global market. By 1832, there were 12 steam powered mills in Royton, of which its former hamlets had begun to agglomerate as a town around the cotton factories, a number of small coalpits and new turnpike road from Oldham to Rochdale, which passed through the town centre. The Manchester, Oldham, and Royton railway and a goods yard was constructed in the 1860s, allowing improved transportation of textile goods and raw materials to and from the township. Neighbouring Oldham (which by the 1870s had emerged of the largest and most productive mill town in the world) had begun to encroach upon Royton's southern boundary, forming a continuous urban cotton-spinning district. The demand for cheap cotton goods from this area prompted the flotation of cotton spinning companies; the investment was followed by the construction of 22 new cotton mills in Royton. Together with Oldham, at its peak the area was responsible for 13% of the world's cotton production.
Supplies of raw cotton from the United States were cut during the Lancashire Cotton Famine of 1861–1865, leading to the formation of the Royton Local Board of Health in 1863, whose purpose was to ensure social security and maintain hygiene and sanitation in the locality. The Great Depression, and First and Second World Wars each contributed to periods of economic decline in Royton. However, in as late the 1950s, 80% of Royton's population was employed in the textile mills. As imports of cheaper foreign yarns increased during the mid-20th century, Royton's textile sector declined gradually to a halt; cotton spinning reduced in the 1960s and 1970s, and by the early 1980s only four mills were operational. In spite of efforts to increase the efficiency and competitiveness of its production, the last cotton was spun in the town in 1998. Less than a dozen mills are still standing in Royton, the majority of which are now used for light engineering or as distribution centres.

Post-industrial history

Since deindustrialisation, Royton's population has continued to grow as a result of intensive housing redevelopment which has modernised much its former Edwardian terraced housing districts, and the construction of retail and business parks, which provide employment. The town has subsequently been described as "doing better than most [...] in [Greater] Manchester". Despite this, since the turn of the millennium Royton has been earmarked for cosmetic gentrification. In the 2000s, Royton was used as a filming location for the BBC One police drama Life on Mars, particularly the area near Lion Mill. Life on Mars is set in 1970s Manchester.

Governance

Lying within the historic county boundaries of Lancashiremarker since the early 12th century, Royton anciently constituted a thegnage estate, held by tenants who paid tax to the King. Royton during the Middle Ages formed a township in the parish of Prestwich-cum-Oldham, and hundred of Salfordmarker. Anciently, law and order was upheld in the locality by two constables, chosen by the community and appointed annually by Vestry meetings.

Following the Poor Law Amendment Act 1834, Royton formed part of the Oldham Poor Law Union, an inter-parish unit established to provide social security. Royton's first local authority was a Local board of health established in 1863; Royton Local Board of Health was a regulatory body responsible for standards of hygiene and sanitation in the township. In 1871 Royton was noted as a large village-chapelry, and a sub-district of the Oldham registration district. In 1879, a part of the neighbouring township of Thornhammarker was amalgamated into the area of the local board. Following the Local Government Act 1894, the area of the Local Board became the Royton Urban Districtmarker, a local government district within the administrative county of Lancashire. The urban district council was based out of Royton Town Hall, which had been purpose built for the local board in 1880. In 1933, a part of the neighbouring Municipal Borough of Middletonmarker was transferred to Royton Urban District. Under the Local Government Act 1972, the Royton Urban District was abolished, and Royton has, since 1 April 1974, formed an unparished area of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldhammarker, a local government district of the metropolitan county of Greater Manchestermarker. Royton has two of the twenty wards of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham: Royton North and Royton South.

In terms of parliamentary representation, Royton after the Reform Act 1832 was represented as part of the Oldham parliamentary borough constituency, of which the first Members of Parliaments (MPs) were the radicals William Cobbett and John Fielden. Winston Churchill was the MP between 1900 and 1906. Constituency boundaries changed during the 20th century, and Royton has lain within the Royton (1918-1950), Heywood and Royton (1950-1983), and Oldham Central and Royton (1983-1997) constituencies. Since 1997, Royton has lain within Oldham West and Roytonmarker. It is represented in the House of Commonsmarker by Michael Meacher, a member of the Labour Party.

Geography

At (53.566°, -2.121°) and north-northwest of Londonmarker, Royton lies at the foothills of the Pennines, roughly above sea level. The larger towns of Rochdalemarker and Oldhammarker lie to the north and south respectively. For purposes of the Office for National Statistics, Royton forms part of the Greater Manchester Urban Areamarker, with Manchester city centremarker itself southwest of Royton.

Described in Samuel Lewis's A Topographical Dictionary of England (1848) as being in "aspect rather wild", Royton lies in a shallow valley amongst undulating land. The sources of the rivers Irk and Beal are to the northeast and east respectively. The Irk meanders southwesterly into Chadderton, and then onwards to Middletonmarker into Manchester before uniting its waters with the River Irwell in Manchester city centre. The general slope of the land decreases in height away from the Pennines, from east to west, but reaches high points of at Tandle Hillmarker and at the summit of Oldham Edge, a ridge of elevated land which leads to Oldham. The soils of the town are broadly sand with subsoils of clay.

Royton's built environment follows a standard urban structure, consisting of residential dwellings centred around a High Street in the town centre, which is the local centre of commerce. There is a mixture of low-density urban areas, suburbs, semi-rural and rural locations in Royton, but overwhelmingly the land use in the town is residential. Tandle Hill is a country park consisting of open grasslands and mature beech woodlands.


Suburban localities in Royton include Haggate, Heyside, Holden Fold, Long Sight (or Longsight), Oozewood, Royley, Salmon Fields, Stott Field, Thornhammarker, and Thorp. Thornham was formerly a township in itself, but was amalgamated into Royton in the late-19th century.

Demography

Royton compared
2001 UK census Royton Oldham marker England
Total population 22,238 217,273 49,138,831
White 97.4% 86.1% 90.9%
Asian 1.1% 11.9% 4.6%
Black 0.3% 0.6% 2.3%
According to the Office for National Statistics, at the time of the United Kingdom Census 2001, Royton (urban-core and sub-area) had a total resident population of 22,238. Royton considered as a combination of the 2001 electoral wards of Royton North and Royton South, had a population of 20,961. The 2001 population density of the urban area was , with a 100 to 92.3 female-to-male ratio. Of those over 16 years old, 25.3% were single (never married) 46.8% married, and 8.4% divorced. Royton's 9,204 households included 26.1% one-person, 42.1% married couples living together, 9.3% were co-habiting couples, and 9.6% single parents with their children. Of those aged 16–74, 31.7% had no academic qualifications.

As of the 2001 UK census, 84.8% of Royton's residents reported themselves as being Christian, 0.8% Muslim, 0.4% Hindu, and 0.1% Buddhist. The census recorded 7.9% as having no religion, 0.1% had an alternative religion and 5.9% did not state their religion.

Royton's population has been described as broadly working class with pockets of lower middle class communities, particularly in the southwest of the town, near the border with Chaddertonmarker.

Population growth in Royton since 1901
Year 1901 1911 1921 1931 1939 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001
Population 14,881 17,069 17,194 16,689 14,771 14,781 14,474 20,394 21,098 21,475 22,238
Urban District 1901-1971 Urban Subdivision 1981-2001


Economy

From the 18th century onwards, Royton's economy was closely tied with that of Britain's textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution, particularly the cotton spinning sector. However, Royton also lies on the Oldham Coalfield, and coal mining had an economic role for the area in as early as the 17th century. Mining peaked in the 19th century with over 200 collieries in the town. Royton's pits were prone to repeated flooding, and owners began to close them. Coal production began to decline even before that of the local spinning industry, with the last pit closing in 1902.

Since deindustrialisation, Royton's economic activity has been focused around a business park at Salmon Fields which includes distribution companies such as 3663 and Holroyd Meek, manufacturing firms including bed manufacturers Slumberland, and vehicle assembly at Seddon Atkinson. Formerly an area of "green fields", the Salmon Fields Business Village was proposed in 1983, and developed into a business park later that decade despite objections that the estate would ruin a "beautiful area", and cause noise pollution. There are additional retail parks in the locality, including The Centre (formerly Elk Mill Retail Park), which lies at the start of the A627 motorway.

Opposite Royton Town Hall is a shopping precinct containing 23 shop units and a Somerfield supermarket. The site was opened in 1971 and occupies the town's former market street, which was demolished in 1969. In 2004 a report noted that a weakness of the precinct is that it lacks a variety of shops.

Landmarks

Historically, Royton's only landmark was Royton Hall, the township's former manor house which was inhabited by local dignitaries from its construction (in as early as the 13th century) to 1814. Part of the hall was erected during the 16th century, but the east wing was crafted in the Elizabethan or Jacobean architectural style. In 1794 it was described as "pleasantly seated in a deep valley, surrounded by high grounds. It is a firm, well built stone edifice of ancient date". During World War I, Royton Hall was used to house Belgianmarker refugees, and following the war was bought by Dr John Thomas Godfrey. After he took his family to South Africa, it stood empty until it was converted into flats. The hall fell into disrepair in the 1930s and was demolished in 1938. The foundations of the structure were excavated in 2005 leading to the discovery of original panes of glass and a Tudor stair tower.

Royton Town Hall is a purpose-built municipal building opened in September 1880, by James Ashworth, the first Chairman of Royton Local Board of Health. It was constructed in a free style of architecture, and includes a domed roof and clock tower topped by a copper cupola. By the entrance is a flagstaff which flies the Union Flag. The clock tower is inscribed on three sides with Latin mottos: "Tempus Fugit" (time flies), "Sic Labitur Aetas" (so the years pass by) and "Finem Respice" (have regards to the end). The clock face on the east side, facing Shaw and Cromptonmarker is half the size of the other three. A local tale is that when the Church of Holy Trinity at Shaw was constructed in 1869, it had no clock on the western facade of its clock tower, which faced Royton. The reduced clock face size at Royton Town Hall is said to have been a retaliation.
Royton War Memorial
Royton War Memorial lies at the summit of Tandle Hillmarker, and was erected "in memory of the men of Royton who gave their lives for the freedom and honour of their country" during the First World War. It is a Portland stone obelisk, that originally bore plaques listing the fallen, and had a bronze sculpture of Victory at its base. It was commissioned by the Royton War Memorial Committee and unveiled on 22 October 1921 by Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby. The original plaques were stolen in 1969, and replacements were later installed in the grounds of Royton's Church of St Paul.

Royton Library is a Carnegie library, a gift of Andrew Carnegie. It was opened in 1907 by Edward Stanley, 4th Baron Stanley of Alderley, an aristocrat and former Member of Parliament for the area. The surnames of four prominent writers—Bacon, Carlyle, Spencer and Milton—are inscribed above one of four windows on the building face, by the entrance.

Transport

Public transport in Royton is co-ordinated by the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive. Major A roads link Royton with other settlements, including the A671 road. Originally built as a turnpike between Oldham and Rochdale, the A671 bisects Royton from the southeast, forming the town's main street, before continuing northwards through Rochdale, Burnleymarker and terminates at the village of Worstonmarker in Lancashire. The M62 motorway runs to the north of the area and is accessed via the A663 at junction 21 and junction 20 via the A627 motorway, which terminates at Royton's southwestern boundary.

Royton railway stationmarker lay on a spur of the Oldham Loop Line, a line which connected Manchester, Oldham and Rochdale. The station was constructed in 1864 and closed in April 1966. In February 1961, a four-coach runaway train crashed through the buffers at Royton railway station, continued on over Highbarn Street and then destroyed a pair of terraced houses. No one was killed, although the driver received serious head injuries after leaping from the train.

There are frequent buses running through Royton with services to a variety of destinations in Greater Manchester. Bus services operate to Ashton-under-Lynemarker, Manchester, Middletonmarker, Oldham, Rochdale, Shawmarker and Stalybridgemarker are operated by First Manchester on their 20, 24, 64, 181, 182, 408, 409 and 428 services. The remainder of services are operated by Bluebird, who also operate the 181/182, as well as the 402 service, which serves some of the smaller roads in Royton and providing a link for those areas to Oldham town centre.

Education

The Village School of Royton was founded in 1785, and continued to provide education until 1833, when a new school linked with Royton's parish church of St Paul, was opened. The village school became the local Sunday School, but split from St Paul's in 1838, reopening as a day school. The village school closed in 1907 and was demolished in 1969.Almost every suburb of Royton is served by a school of some kind, including some with religious affiliations. All the schools in the town perform either at or above the national average for test results. Royton has several primary schools, including St Annes, Thorp Primary School and S.s. Aidan and Oswalds Primary. Royton has two secondary schools, Royton and Crompton Schoolmarker and Our Lady's R.C.marker High Schoolmarker. Royton and Crompton is a coeducational, secondary comprehensive school for 11–16 year olds. It has Science College status and was constructed in 1968. Our Lady's is a coeducational Roman Catholic high school and sixth form college for 11–19 year olds. It was established in 1961 and specialialises in Mathematics and Computing. In the 2000s, Oldham Council and the Diocese of Salfordmarker agreed to merge Our Lady's with the St Augustine of Canterbury R.C.marker High Schoolmarker in Wernethmarker. However, the proposal, which would have a newly built Catholic secondary on a new site in the 2010s, has been met with protest.

Sports

Royton Town F.C. is an amateur association football club which was established as the Stotts Benham works side in the Rochdale Alliance League, but changed its name to Royton Town in 1985. The team won the Rochdale Alliance Premier Division treble and were unbeaten for two and a half seasons, progressing to the Lancashire Amateur League in 1994. Since 2001–2002 it has played in the Premier Division of the Manchester Football League. Royton Cricket Club, plays in the Central Lancashire Cricket League (winning it on two occasions in 1914 and 1980). The Crompton and Royton Golf Club lies on the western fringe of the town, and has a prime heathland 18-hole golf course, spanning . The club operates a variety of open competitions.

Religion

Royton had no medieval church of its own, and for ecclesiastical purposes, lay within the parish of Prestwich-cum-Oldham in the Diocese of Lichfieldmarker, until 1541, when this diocese was divided and Royton became part of the Diocese of Chestermarker. This in turn was divided in 1847, when the present Diocese of Manchestermarker was created. For ritual baptisms, marriages and burials, the people of Royton, a Christian community, had to travel to churches that lay outside of the township's boundaries, including Oldham, St Mary'smarker, Middleton, St Leonard'smarker or Prestwich, St Mary'smarker.

A chapel of ease under the mother church of Prestwich, St Mary's, was built between 1754 and 1757, paid for by voluntary contributions. The chapel was consecrated on 1 July 1757, dedicated to Paul the Apostle. St Paul's Chapel was extended throughout the 19th century as the population of Royton grew, with a tower and clock added in 1828 and extensions in 1854 and again in 1883. The nave of the chapel was demolished in 1889 and the existing church building in neo-Gothic style was erected. St Paul's lies in the Tandle Deanery of the Diocese of Manchester.

In addition to the established church, a variety of Reformed denominations have been practiced in Royton. The Religious Society of Friends were recorded as holding conventicles in Heyside in as early as the 1650s. A Baptist meeting place was erected in 1775. Congregational preachers regularly visited Royton, but it was not until 1854 that a workshop was established in the town. Primitive Methodism was established in Royton in a room in a Royley building, with its first purpose-built church being erected in 1867.

Roman Catholicism in Royton after the English Reformation began in 1874, when a disused factory was used as a chapel. Sir Percival Radcliffe, the then owner of Royton Hall, gave land and £2,000 towards the construction of a new Catholic school-chapel which opened in 1880; the local priest lived at Royton Hall. A rectory was built in 1901 and in 1966 the church, dedicated to saints Aidan and Oswald, was rebuilt. Royton, which forms part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salfordmarker, continues to have a Catholic community, supported by Our Lady's R.C.marker High Schoolmarker.

Public services

Home Office policing in Royton is provided by the Greater Manchester Police, and one of the force's police stations is located in Royton town centre. There has been a police station in Royton since 1855. Public transport is co-ordinated by the Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive. Statutory emergency fire and rescue service is provided by the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

There are no hospitals in Royton, although the Royal Oldham Hospitalmarker lies at Royton's boundary in neighbouring Coldhurstmarker, in Oldham; some local health care is provided by Royton Health Centre, an NHS surgery under the Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust. Royton Health Centre has been criticised for its limited space and poor layout, and thus been the subject of a redevelopment scheme intended to extend the centre and improve its internal design. Work on a new Royton Health and Well-being Centre is expected to begin in 2009. The North West Ambulance Service provides emergency patient transport in the area. Other forms of health care are provided for locally by several small specialist clinics and surgeries. Dr Kershaw's Hospice was opened in 1989, but traces its origins to a cottage hospital built in the 1930s with a legacy from Dr John Kershaw, a local General Practitioner and Medical Officer for Health. Dr Kershaw’s Hospice, a registered charity, provides specialist palliative care for adults with non-curable life-threatening illnesses.

Waste management is co-ordinated by the local authority via the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority. Locally produced inert waste for disposal is sent to landfill at the Beal Valley. Royton's Distribution Network Operator for electricity is United Utilities; there are no power stations in the town. United Utilities also manages Royton's drinking and waste water; water supplies are sourced from several local reservoirs, including Dovestonesmarker and Chewmarker.

Notable people

People from Royton are called Roytoners or Roytonians. Historically, Royton was chiefly distinguished by the presence of the Byrons and Radcliffes, both lines of dignitaries who lived in the locality. John Lees of Turf Lane in Royton was an inventor who made a substantial improvement to machinery for carding cotton in 1772. John Hogan was a Royton-born recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the British and Commonwealth forces.Although described as the "quintessential Cockney kid" Jack Wild was born in Royton in 1952, eight years before he moved to Londonmarker with his parents in 1960. Wild played the role of the Artful Dodger in the 1968 musical film Oliver!, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance. Other notable people from Royton include actor Kieran O'Brien, who gained notoriety for his role in the 2004 film 9 Songs, and glamour model Michelle Marsh.

References

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