Ancestor Project: Albert Carter

We might never have the chance of meeting our ancestors but sharing what they’ve left behind could be the next best thing…

This is the sentiment behind our new project which connects members of the community to their past by combining photographs, props and film footage in such a way that it brings their stories to life.

Betty Chapman being interviewed by BBC Radio Manchester on the day of the Photo Shoot

Our first participant is Betty Chapman, who along with her son, Ian, told us the story of their ancestor, Albert Carter.

WW1 Soldier

Albert Carter

Creative Historian, Scott Carter-Clavell, who has been assisting us with the project, has uncovered some facts whilst researching Albert’s military history:

The story starts years before when an old tin was found in the back of a cupboard by a family member. Within the tin were medals and a memorial plaque.

Tin box containing medals and notebook

The name on the medals and plaque is inscribed Albert Carter, who was Betty’s maternal uncle.  With this information and service number inscribed on the medals, Betty researched who this man was and what happened to him. A notebook kept by Albert, describing his departure from Bury and movements through France, years of research and perseverance saw more and more come to light culminating with a visit to the War graves in 2003.

Albert’s Medals

Albert was born on 29th July 1896 to Isiah and Ellen Carter of Woolfold. On the 1911 census the Carters were living with Ellen’s mother and two siblings at 72 Crostons Rd (now demolished); Isiah being employed in a Papermill while Albert was listed on the census as a Croft Boy at a Cotton bleach works with his elder brother, Herbert. Following this, the family moved to 38 Livesy St, Elton and afterwards to 380 Rochdale Old Rd, Bury.

1911 Census

After the declaration of war on 4th August 1914, Albert Joined up the following month, one of the many from local businesses who volunteered during Kitchener’s drive for recruitment.  At the time Albert had been employed at Messrs Horridge & Cornell at the Bolholt Works.

September 1914 saw a huge surge of recruitment; on 3rd  September alone, 33,000 men joined the colours nationwide. In the industrial towns recruitment drives did the rounds of various industries with some companies publishing the monthly total of volunteers from amongst their workforces.

Albert had enlisted in the 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers (No5 Platoon, X Company). After leaving for Southport on 11th November for training, moving on in the following April for Folkestone.

In his notebook Albert recorded:

…. We left Southport on 18/4/15 arrived at Boulogne at 1 o clock on 4/5/15, we then walked it to a rest camp at Boulogne and it was pouring down all the time we were wet. We arrived at 2:30 in the morning of 4/5/15, we left the rest at 4 in the afternoon and walked it to the station which was about 5 miles away and the sun was boiling all the time…

WW1 notebook

Albert’s Notebook

After another period of training at Arques lasting about two months, they were sent to the front line in July 1915. Albert also mentions a number of casualties suffered by his company in artillery bombardments of their trenches.

Less than a year later Albert was one of 56 Other Ranks and 4 officers selected for two weeks’ special training behind the line for raiding the German trenches.

Trench raiding was a brutal business  – often conducted during the night  – to grab prisoners for intelligence gathering, to take out machine gun posts and reconnoitre enemy positions. Silence being a necessity in such operations meant that many raiders left their rifles behind and used their own home-made weapons and later some were produced professionally on both sides. These were primitive looking clubs with spiked iron heads, though some were little more than wooden clubs with nails or studs hammered into the head.

In the prelude to the opening of the battle of the Somme a few miles to the south – further up the line – there were diversionary raids across no man’s land attacking enemy trenches and positions in an attempt to divert German eyes away from events to the south.

One of six such attacks was planned for the 28th June near Blaireville, south of Arras. For four days prior, the Royal Artillery had systematically shelled the enemy’s front and rear areas. Late afternoon, on the 28th, after much delay due to the wind, Royal Engineers opened the valves on the gas cylinders and the assault began. The Artillery opened on enemy frontline again before switching to the support trenches at 5:35pm.

At this time the Raiding parties went over the top. The 2/5th Lancashire Fusiliers raiders were split into three detachments under the overall command of Captain Bloy. The sections were led by Capt. Hutchinson, Lieutenant Young and Second-Lieutenant Ainscow, all three groups suffered casualties crossing no man’s land.

The right-hand party got to the German trench and in bombing out two dugouts with hand grenades were themselves attacked with the same weapons from German Soldiers defending their positions. The party was then ordered to retire. The other two groups entered the enemy line but fared little better.

Lt Ainscow, in the central party, led five men up an enemy communication trench for forty yards until German troops began throwing hand grenades. Ainscow was wounded and later captured. His men were ordered to retire.

The party on the left led by 2nd Lt Young was reduced to nine men in the German trench and found the way barricaded, which did not hold them back for long as they climbed over and continued throwing hand grenades down dugouts. It was in this action that Pte. Hutchinson won the Victoria Cross for holding back the enemy whilst the other men evacuated the trench and returned across no man’s land.

Albert did not return and was reported missing.

A letter received by the family from Major J Barnsdale reads: You have now heard the bad news that Pte. Carter is reported missing. Some day you will learn the whole story of the magnificent work done the battalion on the day he did not return. It is my sincere hope that when you do hear the story it may be from Pte. Carter himself.…

It was at some point during the action that Pte Albert Carter, aged 20, lost his life. It is impossible to say whether this was in no man’s land or in enemy trenches as Albert has no known grave and is commemorated on the Arras memorial.

Albert’s Memorial Plaque

Still remembered by his family a hundred years on, one of the missing who will never be forgotten.

Photo Shoot of the Chapman family in the search room Bury Archives

To think, behind every memorial, behind every inscribed name there will be a story; a family like Albert’s who might never know of their forebears’ sacrifice. A sobering thought, especially when beneath the Menin Gate or the Thiepval memorial are the many thousands of others around the globe.

Scott Carter-Clavell

We will be displaying images from this very special photo shoot in our search room during the next few months. And a short film will be played on our open day event on Saturday 14th October 2pm – 4pm. All welcome! 


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Photograph of the Month: Market Place Bury

What do you do if you haven’t got the technology to create a panoramic photograph of a scene you greatly admire? If all you have is an image with a narrow field of view which irritatingly cuts through the windows and upsets the grandeur of the beautiful architecture you wish to capture and preserve and remember? It’s quite simple – you cut out a long piece of card, attach the photograph to it with added bits of paper either end and sketch in the rest by hand. Genius!!

Image of Market Place, Bury

This is August photograph of the month showing an early 20th century ‘panoramic’ scene of Market Street, Bury. There is no record to advise whether photographer and ‘sketcher’ are the same person but we’re all in agreement here that it’s one of the most unusual Bury Street Scenes we’ve discovered in our photographic archive.


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You are invited to a MURDER!

This gallery contains 5 photos.

Originally posted on Library Reader Blog:
? ? Join us at Bury Library on Thursday 7th September for a celebration of crime fiction. With scripts written by Ann Cleeves herself, this promises to be a fantastic evening that celebrates Ann…

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Your Archive Needs You!

This gallery contains 9 photos.

Originally posted on Bury Remembers The First World War:
Would you like to be INSPIRED? After our two most recent blog posts have brought you up to date with all the wonderful work that the project has achieved so far…

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Mill Gate Shopping Centre: 25 Years Old

On Saturday 29th July, The Mill Gate will be celebrating its 25th birthday. There’ll be all sorts of activities going on over at the shopping centre itself but we thought we’d have a mini-celebration by sharing some images of how the area used to look – from cobbled streets, to paved-over precincts to shiny tiled floors. Let’s take a look:

Everyone loves a cobbled street, so here is the entrance to Princess Street with the Royal Cinema to the right and the Queens Hotel on the left. c1960s.

Princess Street, Bury

Image taken from Bury Photographic Society Collection/Courtesy of Thomas Birtwhistle

And from the same perspective a few decades later.

Princess Parade

Image taken from Bury Photographic Society Collection. c2000

Before the Mill Gate Shopping Centre was constructed, the main shopping area in Bury was dominated by The Precinct. This consisted of a network of pedestrianised shopping areas with predominately two-storey grey concrete units. An early 1990s’ report made by the Council described it as ‘an unattractive, austere environment which has undoubtedly discouraged shoppers and additional investment’.

Bury Precinct

The Precinct outside Boots Store c1970s
© Graham Cooper

How to entice shoppers? Well for a start Bury needed to attract more quality retailers such as BHS, C&A and W.H. Smiths – if anyone from Bury wanted to visit these stores they would have to nip over to Manchester or Bolton. As the central retail area of Bury had a low vacancy rate it was obvious that the Precinct’s shopping floor area had to be extended to accommodate more units. And if Bolton and Manchester had their beautifully covered areas such as Crompton Place and The Arndale Centre then Bury should have them too!

Union Square c1960s

Union Square c1960s
Image taken from Bury Photographic Society Collection/Courtesy of Thomas Birtwhistle

Union Arcade

Union Arcade c2000
Image taken from Bury Photographic Society Collection

Work on the £6 million redevelopment for Bury Town Centre began in May 1991 and Buryites eagerly awaited their glazed-over bright and airy shopping mall which was fully completed just over a year later.

Mill Gate opening 1992

Official Opening of the Mill Gate’s Information Centre by Inspector Mill Gate and his dog, Millie


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Bury Town Centre 1960s: Photograph of the Month

This month’s photograph is of an unspecified area of Bury Town Centre taken in 1963. As many of the photographs within this set are marked as ‘Central Dereliction Area’, it is possible that the houses shown in the image were listed in the Borough’s eleven-year slum clearance programme which began in 1956. Slum Clearance Progress Reports were printed regularly in The Bury Times and one such report, written in the summer of 1963, explained that ‘911 condemned dwellings have been cleared. Of the remaining 553 on the doomed list, some are already included in clearance orders. Among these are 76 houses in the town centre scheduled to be demolished to make way for Bury’s new shopping centre.’

Bury Town Centre

Whether or not the houses are inhabited it certainly looks like the gentleman seated is using the backstreet as a storage area for his carts; a ‘rag and bone man’ perhaps? Who are the couple on the left-hand side of the picture and do they know the man in the cap? Is the photographer on friendly terms with these people? Does he even notice they are there as he presses the shutter or is he concentrating more on the state of the buildings in front of him?

Bury Town Centre Photos

The three figures pictured, their attire and body language, the way they are positioned within the frame, encourage us to create our own narrative; for me it’s a familiar one, based on the kitchen-sink-dramas produced in the 1960s: a bit of Social Realism acted out on the backstreets of Bury! Yet the fact that I’ve been drawn into the image through its story-telling appeal has made me see other, more subtle, elements in the scene. For example, the way the two chimneys in the top centre of the frame mirror the intimacy of the couples’ pose in the far left; the fact that every single window is unique – a different design, shape and frame than the one next to it. I could go on but I’ll stop here before I get too carried away! You just can’t help being inspired by Archives.


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Richmal Crompton Library Display

After recently installing a glass cabinet in the main library area at Bury (to be used for promotional material and reading displays), we thought it might be a good idea for one of our first displays to feature a local author! And it’s no surprise we unanimously decided upon Bury’s most famous writer, Richmal Crompton. Her Just William series have delighted millions of children through several decades and although those readers are now all grown up, we hope that the younger generation might swap their ‘Horrid Henry’s’ for an alternative ‘naughty boy’ story from a different era!

Photograph Display

Photographs taken from 1990 Richmal Crompton Centenary Exhibition

Here are 10 facts surrounding Richmal Crompton’s life taken from various Local Studies sources:

  • Richmal Crompton was born on 15th November 1890 at number 519 Manchester Rd, Bury.
  •  The name Richmal is derived from the names Richard and Mary and has been in the family since the early 1700s.
  • Richmal’s father, Edward Lamburn, took up his first full-time teaching post at Bury Grammar school in 1876. In 1884 he was ordained deacon and obtained the curacy of Radcliffe Parish Church.

Richmal Crompton’s father, Edward Lamburn, seated with his form at Bury Grammar School c1890s

  • Richmal’s maternal grandfather, John Battersby Crompton, owned a chemist shop on Stanley Street, Bury. In 1892 he took his own life by drinking prussic acid.
  • Richmal’s younger sister, Phyllis, died prematurely in 1895 after contracting whooping cough at the age of 14 months.
  • Richmal and her family moved to Malvern Villas, at Chesham Rd, Bury in 1896.
Lamburn Family Photograph

The Lamburns (Richmal seated) in the garden of No. 4 Malvern Villas c1897

  •  Richmal left Bury at the age of 23 and lived most of the rest of her life in Kent.
  •  Richmal’s first volume of William stories Just William was published in 1922.
  • Richmal wrote over 40 William books, the final one being completed after her death by her niece, Richmal Ashbee.

  •  Richmal Crompton died on 11th January 1969 following a heart attack.
Photograph of Richmal Crompton

Richmal Crompton 1925

Next time you pop into Bury Library, please take a look at our display and why not discover (or re-discover) the delights and escapades of William Brown by borrowing one of the novels?! Alternatively, browse our library catalogue for available titles and reserve your copies.



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Springwater Mill: Photography Project

It’s always satisfying to assist visitors with their research and we were more than happy to help photography student, Andrew Carson, with his university degree project on Springwater Works in Whitefield. Up until Andrew visited the Archives he could find very little information on the Bleach Works, whose remains lie in Springwater Park. Through consulting the archived papers of Oxford Archaeology North – who carried out an investigation of the area in 2013 for United Utilities – Andrew was able to piece together a history of the site and add useful context to the images he has created.

Photo Book

Andrew’s Photo Book which contains additional images and a brief history of Springwater Works

We were very pleased to learn that Andrew’s Springwater Project, whose resulting images illustrate the way nature reclaims our industrial past, is now complete! And we were equally pleased to provide Andrew with a way of exhibiting his hard work here in the Archive’s Search Room in one of our display cabinets.

One of the 12 images on display in the Archive’s Search Room

Springwater Park Pathway

Pathway into wooded area and mill remains from new workings in Springwater Park                ©Andrew Carson 2017


Old mill building

Part of old mill building fallen and broken surrounded by new tree growth                                    ©Andrew Carson 2017

The photographs above are just two of the resulting 12 which Andrew chose from well over 100 images taken of Springwater Works.

Andrew’s photographic exhibition (along with a digital display and print book with more images from the project) will be available to view in the Archive’s Search Room for the next few months. If you are interested in photography and/or our industrial heritage this is well worth a visit!

For more information on Andrew’s project, please visit his blog posts:


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WW1 Project Retrospective: Secondary School Sessions

I was so excited when Bury Archives asked me to be a part of the ‘Bury Remembers the First World War’ Project as a Secondary School Facilitator. What a great opportunity to be more involved with the Archives, connect with schools and learn so much more about World War One in the Bury area. My […]

via WW1 Project Retrospective: Secondary School Sessions — Bury Remembers The First World War

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Donation Of The Month – A Family’s Story

tvr-gkeq_400x400We were absolutely thrilled to be approached by Michael,  a life long Bury man, who wondered if his own family’s story would be of any interest to the Archive. Michael’s wonderful photographs and documents give us an insight in to a local family who have been resident in Bury for many generations. Although at this time Michael is not ready to part with the original documents, we are still able to capture this valuable information as fantastic digitalised copies; so all of this wonderful local and family history is being gathered and preserved for the future.


Michael was kind enough to tell his story here:

The history of the local families in Bury Lancashire from past times

Why I have chosen to donate pictures to the Bury Libraries Archives? It is because I wish for the past times to be shared with people who have a real passion for research, learning and the history of men who served in the Wold Wars and their families, such as my descendants, my Great Grandparents, second Uncles and Aunts and Grandparents.

My Great Grandfather Thomas Read, who was a private in the 2nd and 5th Fusilier’s, was one of the many from his battalion who went into battle in France and suffered the drastic effects of the Battle of the Somme.  He, and others from the British military who experienced the gassing in the Somme, suffered serious lung damage and consequently endured respiratory effects throughout the rest of his life.  In my donation to The Borough Archive I have included a picture which shows Thomas Read and men from the 2nd and 5th Fusilier Battalion.  I have also included a picture of my great grandfather Thomas Read who was promoted to a sergeant in the 2nd and 5th regiment of fusiliers.  He is among all the other men who served in the Great World One who need to be remembered for their gallant and loyal characters.  My great grandfather was given a full military funeral when he passed away later in life. I am unclear as to what age he was when he died, as I do not have the exact date of his death, but he was born in 1876 and died in the late 1940’s.  I am aware of his wife, Isabella who was born in 1879 and lived into the age of 92 years old and passed away in 1971.  I have also included the picture that shows Isabella, in her nineties outside her doorstep with her pet dog, Prince.  At the time that picture was taken Isabella lived in Franklin Street Bury, Lancashire, with her son Tom Read.  My great grandparents both worked, Thomas was a labourer and enjoyed carpentry and I have included a picture of him when he was dressed for this pastime. Isabella was a factory worker and was a weaver in a local mill within the town of Bury, Lancashire.

I have included a picture of Thomas and Isabella on their wedding day which was at Holy Trinity church in 1911.  In the donation, there is also a painted picture of their two children, Florence and Eddward, alongside their mother on a holiday.  People who read this information will be aware of how hard life within a World War would have been, unfortunately, the family faced their own tragedy when Eddie was killed tragically in 1915.  I have also donated a birthday card that was sent to the young Eddie whilst his father was away in France involved in the Great World War 1.  The card is written to ‘Dear Eddie happy birthday from mama papa and Florence’.  I have also included other birthday cards that were sent to Florence and other members of the family.  They reflect the social history of the times which was very religious, however, some of the birthday cards are of film stars of the time.

The pictures, photographs and other documents relating to the Read and Shorrock branches of my family, that I have donated, are going to be left in place at Bury Libraries Archives for any member of the public with an interest in the past or any remaining family members who wish to learn something about our descendants.  I genuinely hope these records and the historic detail that I have submitted will be of some help to them.

Armed with some Ancestry information, and inspired by Michael’s visit, I tracked down the newspaper report that details Edward’s accident. The following article was published in the Bury times on Saturday October 2nd 1915:

Bury Times Newspaper Article 'Killed While At Play'

This is exactly the type of local history that we love to capture. History is not, and should not, just be made up of the stories of ‘the rich and famous’; it is the stories of the every day people of the Borough that paint the richest and truest picture.

A huge thank you to Michael. If you have any documents that you feel help to capture the history of the Borough and it’s residents please contact us:



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