Bury is regionally notable for its open-air market - Bury Market - and its popularity has been increased since the introduction of the Manchester Metrolink tram system, which terminates in the town. The market is known for its supply of a local traditional dish - Black Pudding, served hot and eaten as a takeaway snack.
One of Bury's most famous residents was Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and founder of the Metropolitan Police Service. A monument to Peel is outside Bury parish church and another, the austere Peel Monument, stands on a hill overlooking the locality.
The most imposing early building in the town would have been Bury Castle, a medieval fortified manor house. The castle was built in 1469 by Sir Thomas Pilkington, lord of the manors of Pilkington and Bury and a powerful member of Lancashire's gentry. It sat in a good defensive position on high ground over looking the Irwell Valley. At that time the Pilkingtons had been lords of Bury for nearly a century, having inherited the manor from a family named de Bury.
The Pilkington family suffered badly in the Wars of the Roses when, despite the geography they supported the House of York. When Richard III was killed in the Battle of Bosworth, in 1485, Thomas Pilkington was captured and later executed. The outcome of the battle was that the Duke of Richmond, representing the House of Lancaster was crowned Henry VII by Sir William Stanley. As a reward for the support of his family Thomas Stanley was created Earl of Derby and amongst other land the confiscated Pilkington estate in Bury was presented to him.
The ancestral home of the Earls of Derby is Knowsley Hall on the outskirts of Liverpool. The family maintain a connection with Bury in various ways - the Derby High School is named after them. When the school opened in 1959 the Earl of Derby was patron and the school's badge is based on the Earl's coat of arms.
For many years the castle remains were buried beneath the streets outside the Castle Armoury. From time to time it was the subject of archaeological excavations. These established that there was an earlier manor house on the site. In 2000 the castle site was properly excavated as a focal point in the town centre. The remains of the old walls are now displayed in Castle Square.
Between 1801 and 1830 the population of the town more than doubled from 7072 to 15086. This was the time when the factories, mines and foundries began to dominate the landscape with their spinning machines and steam engines.
Development was swift in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The establishment of Brooksbottom Mill, in Summerseat north of the town, as a calico printing works in 1773 by the family of Sir Robert Peel marked the beginning of the cotton industry in Bury. By the early 19th century cotton was the predominant textile industry with the River Roch and River Irwell providing power for spinning mills and processing water for the finishing trades. Development was further promoted when the town was linked to the national canal network by the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal, fully opened in 1808. The canal is provided with water from Elton Reservoir, fed by aqueducts from a weir on the River Irwell, north of what is now the Burrs Country Park. The Burrs is also the site of another mill developed by the Peel family, first founded in 1790. The remains are displayed for the public. There were seven cotton mills in Bury by 1818 and the population grew from 9,152 in 1801 to 58,029 in 1901.
Following this, railways opened, linking the town from Bury Bolton Street railway station to Manchester, Radcliffe, Rawtenstall and Accrington, and from the old Knowsley Street railway station to the neighbouring mill towns of Bolton, Heywood and Rochdale. As well as the many cotton mills other industries which thrived included paper–making, calico printing and some light engineering. The town expanded to incorporate the former townships of Elton, Walmersley and Heap and rows of terraced housing encircled the town centre by the turn of the 19th century. Districts such as Freetown, Fishpool and Pimhole were transformed from farmers' fields to rows of terraced housing, beside the factories and mills.
The houses were of the most limited kind without basic facilities, sewers or proper streets. The result was the rapid spread of disease and high mortality rates in crowded areas. In 1838 out of 1058 working class houses in Bury investigated by the Manchester Statistical Society 733 had 3-4 people in each bed, 207 had 4-5 and 76 had 5-6. Social reformers locally and nationally were concerned about such issues, including Edwin Chadwick. One report that prepared the ground for the reform of public health matters, commissioned by Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister, asked local doctors for information. King Street, Bury was highlighted. It had 10 houses, each with one bedroom, and a population of 69. The average age of death in Bury was 13.8 years. Towns like Bury were likened to 'camps'where newcomers sought work in mill, mine or forge. Many, often from Ireland found shelter in lodging houses. 38 in Bury were surveyed. 73% had men and women sharing beds indiscriminately, 81% were filthy and the average was 5.5 persons to a bed.
Although Bury had few of the classic late 19th century spinning mills that were such a feature of other Lancashire towns a group, known as Peel Mills, are still in use at Castlecroft Road, immediately north of the town centre, their name another reminder of the link with the Peel family.
A history of Bury is not complete without reference to its role as regimental town of the Lancashire Fusiliers.
In 1688 Prince William of Orange (later King William III) landed at Brixham. He was met by a number of noblemen who were then commissioned to raise Regiments to help him oppose James II. Colonel Sir Robert Peyton raised a Regiment containing six independent companies in the Exeter area. In 1782 the title was changed to the XX or East Devon Regiment of Foot and from 1 July 1881 became the XX The Lancashire Fusiliers. The link with Bury and the Fusiliers started at this time when, following successful recruiting in Lancashire a Regimental Depot was established in Bury, Wellington Barracks, in 1881. Wellington Barracks became XX The Lancashire Fusiliers Regimental Headquarters in 1961.
The Regiment has been involved in many campaigns and peace keeping duties including the Jacobite uprising, the American War of Independence, the Napoleonic Wars, the Indian Mutiny and both World Wars. Since moving to Bury the Lancashire Fusiliers were part, in 1898, of the force that relieved Khartoum and fought in the Battle of Omdurman and in 1899 - 1902 during the Boer War took part in the battles of Spion Kop and the Relief of Ladysmith.
In 1914 the regiment was 4th Battalion of the British Expeditionary Force, the first force to enter France against the Germans. On 24 April 1915 the taking of W beach at Gallipoli six men were awarded the Victoria Cross. The six were chosen by their comrades for the 'action before Breakfast’.
The losses in the Dardanelles had a sharp impact on the town. They were all the more pronounced because many of those killed and wounded were from the regiments Territorial Battalion based in the town. Like the Pals battalions, it recruited from a small area. It also comprised largely of part-time soldiers who had volunteered for regular service at the outbreak of war and who therefore had strong community ties. They were literally, the local butcher, baker and candlestick maker - who had wives and children resident in the town.
As a consequence, for many years afterwards Gallipoli Day was as much a part of the town's mourning for the Great War dead as Armistice Day or latterly Remembrance Sunday.
During World war II the regiment fought at the Battle of Monte Cassino, where Fusilier Jefferson won a VC in July 1943. They were also involved in the D-Day landings, with a successful attack on Villers-Bocage in July 1944. Subsequently they were involved in Burma, at the Suez canal and Kenya at the time of the Mau Mau rebellion.
In 1968 four regiments, the Lancashire, Northumberland and Warwick Fusiliers and the Royal Fusiliers were amalgamated to create the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. The bringing together of the various regiments saw the demise of the Lancashire regiment's distinctive primrose hackle - the yellow feathers worn above the cap badge. In its place all the battalions adopted the red and white emblem of the Northumberland Fusiliers who were the senior (oldest) regiment to be absorbed into the newly created Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
After the end of national service, with less need to recruit and train soldiers most of Wellington Barracks was redeveloped for housing and playing fields. Parts of the perimeter wall are still visible but the only part of the site still in military use is the Regimental Headquarters, museum building and social club.
There is a memorial to the Lancashire Fusiliers who died in the First World War at the front of the former Barracks. Designed by Lutyens, architect of the Whitehall cenotaph, the memorial is a grade 2 listed monument. Because his father and great uncle had been officers in the regiment Lutyens declined a fee for his work. The monument, 5.88 m high and built of Portland stone, was unveiled in April 1922.
Sited in Elton on the west side of Bury the barracks fronted Bolton Road, the A58 at the corner with Haig Road. This and other local streets in the estate opposite, including Kitchener, Connaught, White, Buller and Powell Streets were named after prominent Army figures. Work is currently underway to relocate the Regimental Museum to a town centre location.
There is already a connection between the regiment and the town centre. In 1859, the 8th Lancashire (Bury) Rifle Volunteer Corps was formed and a new Drill Hall was proposed. In 1868 the Drill Hall, or Castle Armoury, was built on the historical site of Bury Castle. To reflect the 'castle' the Drill Hall has a fortified style with castellations, gargoyles, turrets, towers, arrow slits and other Norman architectural features on the façade. Above the main gate, with a large semi-circular arch, is a large Coat of Arms incorporating the Lancashire Fusiliers badge and motto “Omnia Audax”, translating to “Dare Anything”. Three plaques on the East wall of the Drill Hall commemorate those who fell in two World Wars and the Boer War.
A platoon of Fusiliers still resides at Castle Armoury. It is also HQ East Lancashire Wing of the Air Training Corps and the Bury Detachment of the Manchester Army Cadet Force and accommodates G Squadron of 207 (Manchester) Field Hospital (Volunteers).
However, outside of the Millgate is a large shopping area known as The Rock, populated mainly by pound shops and charity shops. Work is now underway to redevelop these areas into a modern shopping centre with plans for completion in 2009. They will bring a large department store and a multi screen cinema to the town centre, together with other facilities including a large new medical centre. Other areas of the town centre, near the Town Hall and Interchange are also to be developed. Overall, the town centre will become a more attractive proposition to visit and competitive as a destination with Bolton and Rochdale. A recent decision by Marks and Spencer to vacate their present store and move into a large new one in The Rock scheme emphasises the changes that are on their way. The owners of Millgate have objected to this latest development and it remains to be seen how their malls will fare against the competition on The Rock.
The town centre is still famous for its traditional market, with its "world famous" Black Pudding stalls. Bury Market was also once famous for its tripe, although this has declined in the past few decades. The last 30 years has seen the town developing into an important commuter town for neighbouring Manchester. Large scale housing development has taken place around Unsworth, Redvales, Sunnybank, Brandlesholme, Limefield, Chesham and Elton. The old railway line to Manchester Victoria closed in 1990, and was replaced by the light rapid transit system Metrolink in 1992. The town was also linked to the M66 motorway network, opening in 1978, accessed from the east side of the town.
In terms of local administration the town was originally a parish, then a Select Vestry, first with a Board of Guardians for the Poor. Improvement Commissioners were added before full Borough status was granted. The Borough Charter was received in 1876 and by 1889 this was raised to that of a County Borough.
The Coat of Arms was granted in 1877 and the symbols represent local industry. In the quarters are representations of the Anvil, for forging, the Golden Fleece, for wool, a pair of Crossed Shuttles, for the cotton industry and a Papyrus plant for the paper trade. Above them is a closed visor capped by a mayfly and two red roses. The Motto 'Vincit Omnia Industria' means 'Work conquers all'.
With the passage of the Local Government Act 1972, Bury merged with the neighbouring municipal boroughs of Radcliffe and Prestwich, together with the urban districts of Whitefield, Tottington and Ramsbottom to become the Metropolitan Borough of Bury in 1974. This borough is part of the Metropolitan county of Greater Manchester. On the 3rd of July 2008 there was a referendum in Bury MBC to decide whether the borough should be ruled by a directly elected Mayor. The proposal was rejected by the voters.
Bury is located in the foothills of the western Pennines in North West England in the northern part of the Greater Manchester Urban Area. The River Irwell flows through the town and this position has proved important in its history and development. Flowing from north to south the river effectively divides the town into two parts on the east and west sides of the valley respectively. The town centre sits close to and above the river on the east side. Bury Bridge is a key bridging point linking the east side of town and the town centre to the western suburbs and Bolton beyond. Other bridges across the river are limited - there is one at Radcliffe Road to the south and at Summerseat to the north. There is also a bridge at the Burrs but this serves a cul-de-sac and does not allow full east–west access. To the south the main tributary, the River Roch, flowing from the east, joins the Irwell close to another significant bridging point, Blackford bridge. This carries the main route south, now the A56, towards Manchester.
Bury has a football club, Bury F.C., which plays at Gigg Lane. The club was formed in 1885 and in 1889 they finished runners up in the inaugural season of the Lancashire League. They were elected to the Football League Second Division in 1894, at the same time as Manchester City. They were promoted to Division One at the end of their first season, beating Liverpool in a play-off. More success came in 1900 when they won the FA Cup followed by a further win in 1903. On the second occasion they beat Derby County 6-0 - a record victory for a Cup Final that still stands. The most recent run of success was in 1996 and 1997 when they won promotion from Football League Division Three and Football League Division Two, being Champions in that Division, in successive seasons.
The club plays in League Two, with a thriving Youth and Centre of Excellence department which has recently produced players such as David Nugent, Simon Whaley and Colin Kazim-Richards. Current players such as Andy Bishop and Richie Baker have all been catching the eye of the press as well as other larger teams and all look to have a bright future. Former legends include free scoring Craig Madden, old timers Norman Bullock and Henry Cockburn, Neville Southall, Dean Kiely, Lee Dixon, Colin Bell, Terry McDermott, Alec Lindsay, John McGinlay, Trevor Ross and John McGrath.
Gigg Lane is also used by FC United Of Manchester of the Unibond Northern Premier Division. FC United is a breakaway group of former Manchester United fans adhering to the anti Malcolm Glazer movement and outright commercialism in modern football. F.C. United's attendances are extremely competitive with those of Bury F.C. themselves. Until 2002 Manchester United Reserves were also hosted by Gigg Lane in Bury.
Bury Art Gallery and Museum on Moss Street is home to a fine collection of Victorian and 20th century art, including works by Turner, Constable, Landseer and Lowry. In 2005 a £1.2 million refurbishment was carried out, designed to provide a brand new museum, art gallery and library all under one roof. This includes a combined Museum & Archives Centre which, based on a radical re-think, uses artefacts, documentation and art to tell the story of the town. The most recent renovation includes modern artefacts such as iPods and electric iRobit hoovers.
The council decided in 2006 to sell Lowry's "The Riverbank" at auction in order to fund part of its Social Services budget shortfall. This has resulted in the government's Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) removing Bury Council's accredited museum status. The authority will now have limited funding options and will be ineligible for some grants. The Lowry sale raised more than anticipated and some of the money will be used to develop of a new town centre museum for the Lancashire Fusiliers. This will move into the old School of Arts and Crafts on Broad Street opposite the town's Museum, Art Gallery and Library, from the existing, inadequate building on Bolton Road. .
Bury is also at the heart of the largest public art scheme in the UK -the Irwell Sculpture Trail. Works in Bury include ones by Ulrich Ruckriem, at Radcliffe and Edward Allington, at Ramsbottom with his "Tilted Vase". Ulrich Ruckriem is one of Germany's most eminent artists best known for his monumental stone sculptures. His sculpture in Radcliffe, on the site of the former Outwood Colliery, is one of his largest stone settings to date. Edward Allington's Tilted Vase sits in the Market Place in the centre of Ramsbottom and has become a distinctive feature of interest.
Attractions in Bury include: .
Bury is known for its black puddings so much so, that it is not uncommon to see it as "Bury Black Pudding" on a menu. Bury simnel cake is also a variant of the cake originating in Bury. Bury is also notable for tripe, though there is little demand for this in modern times.