Eyewitnesses Say Project

Over the past months we’ve had the pleasure of working with artist and illustrator, Bob Nutts Jr who is leading an inspirational project: Eyewitnesses Say. The project focuses on articles and stories published in the Prestwich & Whitefield Guide (1921-26 and 1946-2017). This archive of newspapers is held on microfilm here at Bury and at Prestwich Library and although well-used has never before been explored with such a keen eye for the weird, the wonderful and the whacky!

Artwork inspired by Prestwich & Whitefield Guide

Alongside creating original artworks inspired by the newspaper archive, Bob Nutts Jr has interviewed a number of people featured in the original articles or who have a connection to the Prestwich area. This combination of art and community voices really helps us engage with archive collections in a new and exciting way! Below you can listen to a series of interviews recorded in the past few weeks:

Trevor Williams

Bob Nutts Jr with Trevor Williams

Thank you Trevor Williams for a wonderful chat about being a Hell Driver.

Trevor took part in Destruction Derbies throughout his younger years destroying dozens of cars in the process before he moved onto drag racing.

Prestwich & Whitefield Guide image 1971, where a 19 year old Trevor is stood next to his car nicknamed ‘The Fumigator’ because of all the smoke that came out of it due to its illegal engine.

Dr Carole O’Reilly

Bob Nutts Jr and Dr Carole O’Reilly

A fabulous chat on journalism, newspapers and the buildings that contained them. Former journalist and published author, Dr Carole O’Reilly discusses her book on the history of newspaper buildings which is coming out in November this year.

Ian Taylor

Bob Nutts Jnr and Ian Taylor

Brilliant interview with Ian Taylor who started a glam rock band called ‘Pressure’ in 1972/3.

Who would have known that the conversation would lead onto appearances on Top of The Pops, The Wombles and David Essex playing drums at the Christmas Do!

Martin Harper

Bob Nutts Jnr with Martin Harper

Here we have local history enthusiast Martin Harper speaking about his passion for the area he grew up in and his favourite historical finds. Martin is no stranger to both Prestwich Library and Bury Archives and has used the Prestwich & Whitefield Guide archive on many occasions to inform his research.

Lisa Dalgarno and Shaun Connelly

Lisa and Shaun, owners of the Crooked Man Bar in Prestwich, discuss running the bar and how creating a sense of community is an important aspect of their business.

Nigel Holmes

A huge thank you to Nigel Holmes for enlightening us on the world of backward running (aka retro running)! He’s a world champion half marathon backwards runner.

Nigel Holmes holding up his gold medal from the 2016 World Championships in Berlin

Peter Butterworth

Bob Nutts Jnr with Peter Butterworth

On November 25th 1921 the first issue of the Prestwich & Whitefield Guide was distributed to the local community. It’s founder, Mr. Walter Butterworth recognised the need for a local informative newspaper. 101 years later Peter Butterworth, grandson of Walter, is interviewed about life and times at the family-run newspaper.

Thanks to Bob Nutts Jnr for these fantastic interviews from the community. If you want to learn more about the project you can follow on Facebook

There will also be an opportunity to join in at Prestwich Library on the 24th & 25th September 2022 at the Prestwich Arts Festival for two days of exhibition, workshops and archives.

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Resettlement of Ugandan Asians in Bury

After nearly 50 years here I feel like I am now part of the furniture in Bury. My siblings are here and I have brought up my own family here. It is the town that I love.

Naushad Majothi

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the expulsion of Asians from Uganda by the country’s leader, Idi Amin. Given just 90 days to leave their homeland, many of the Ugandan Asians held British passports and around 30,000 of them came to the UK. The Home Secretary, Robert Carr, established a resettlement board for the Ugandan Asians in August 1972 to co-ordinate arrangements for their arrival. Local Authorities then stepped in to provide accommodation and allocate school places for children. There were three families who resettled in Bury under the scheme and it is our absolute pleasure to introduce you to one of those families. 

The Majothi family, c.1973. Manchester Road, Bury (family photograph)

After a Freedom of Information Request from the family was received by Bury Council, we were contacted here at the archives for any historical documents relating to the resettlement in 1972. We were delighted to be able to help Mr Majothi and his family delve into this part of their history and produced a file of information on how the Town Council helped to make Bury their home. And 50 years on, Naushad (aged 6 when he first arrived in Bury) lives here still.

Family photograph of Mrs Majothi and her children

We asked Naushad to share some memories of the early years of the family’s resettlement in Bury:

I was born in Jinja, Uganda. When I was 6 years old we were told by the government to leave the country within 90 days, along with the rest of the Asian community. My dad had to queue for many, many hours at government buildings to get passports and travel documents for our family (mum, my brother and two sisters) to leave.
We packed our lives into suitcases and headed for England. There was havoc at Entebbe airport. I remember seeing soldiers with guns and being afraid. People were being stopped at departure points and money, watches and jewellery were taken from them. I got separated from my parents but saw other members of our family at the airport so boarded the plane with them.
It was a long flight, and we were tired when we landed at Stansted. I remember being taken on a bus to a resettlement camp in Somerset which used to be an army barracks. We were fed and given army blankets and thick army coats to keep us warm. This was in the winter of 1972 – we were unprepared for the cold of England! As we settled into our new lodgings, families began making their own entertainment to pass the time…music /radio/singing.
We travelled to Bury by train to start our new life. I hadn’t been on a train before, it was exciting. Our first home, on Manchester Road, had a nice back yard to play in. On the first night, my dad found an old TV upstairs and got it working for us to watch.
It was a strange feeling being in a new land much colder than Uganda and where we didn’t speak the language. Also, I had never met any white people before so that was odd! We were sent to school at Holy Trinity in Bury. I remember having extra English lessons in an upstairs room and being given sweets as a reward for good work. My earliest memory of English food at school was fish fingers, chips and beans and I loved it! We made new friends. Our next-door neighbour was a retired councillor and would help if we had any problems. Our schoolteachers were helpful, and I made a good friend at school who gave me chewing gum sticks. That made a 6 year old happy!
There were very difficult times too. Unfortunately, we did experience some racism in the early years from organised groups and individuals – name calling, graffiti on walls and more; but my parents were steadfast and chose to ignore them as best they could. It must have hurt them so very much though, it hurt me when I came to have an awareness of it. Happily, this behaviour did diminish over the years.
I remember meeting Prince Charles when he visited Bury in 1977. We were in the crowd and he came and spoke to us, asking where we were from and whether we were happy.
Generally, I can say that people were really nice, friendly and welcoming. After nearly 50 years here I feel like I am now part of the furniture in Bury. My siblings are here and I have brought up my own family here. It is the town that I love.

Family photograph taken in 2021 whilst on holiday in Scotland

The Majothi family were the first Ugandan Asians to set up home in Bury and were featured on the front page of The Bury Times in February 1973, having been visited by the Mayor, Councillor David Owen Davies. The report tells us that the family “were impressed by the friendly attitude of the local people”, Naushad’s father, Abdul, is quoted to have said, “everyone has been very nice to us and Bury seems a nice place to live although it has been very cold”.

Bury Times report 9th February, 1973

An earlier report in January describes another Ugandan Asian family who had arrived from a resettlement camp in North Wales to live in Whitefield. They too commented on the colder climate but were “willing to suffer the cold” in order to catch their first glimpse of snow.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the Majothi family for sharing this fascinating part of their family history. We believe an Archive Service should reflect the community it serves in all its diversity. With this in mind, we are particularly keen to develop our collections and enable histories like these to be told and preserved. We would love to hear more from Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic members of the Borough with histories to share; the more community voices we listen to, the better our archive becomes resulting in a greater collective identity! so please do get in touch.


Archive Material:
Resettlement and Housing of Ugandan Asians, Cat Ref: ABU/17/2/20

Newspaper Reports:
Bury Times, 5th Jan 1973 and 9th Feb 1973


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The Queen’s Silver Jubilee

We look back to June 1977 by sharing some of the images featured in The Bury Times of local Jubilee celebrations. It’s unfortunate that we do not hold the original press photographs, however, we hope that this collection of newspaper cuttings will help capture the carnival atmosphere present in the borough 45 years ago!

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Visit of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the official opening of the New Town Hall, Bury

Crowds gather outside the new Town Hall, Bury, to welcome the Queen and Duke. Archives Cat Ref: ABU/2/1/1/1. ©Bury Archives

We’re continuing our celebration of Royal occasions this time with a visit of Her Majesty in October 1954 on the occasion of the official opening of the new Town Hall. Accompanied by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen was enthusiastically welcomed by the people of Bury despite the persistent October rain; a Bury Times reporter described the crowd as “one mass of raincoats and umbrellas”, while those without pulled down peak caps and tied scarves tighter. This would have been the first visit to Bury for the Queen, perhaps made memorable for her by the scenes just described. With such inclement weather it may have been fleeting glimpses the crowd enjoyed of the Queen and Duke, yet the reporter heard many comment, “she is so young and lovely”.  

Bury Times description of Her Majesty’s outfit “The Queen wearing a peacock-blue princess-styled coat; a close-fitting hat with a small rolled-back brim and black suede gloves. Her handbag and shoes were also black; the shoes, with a small bow trimming, had medium heels”. The Queen is accompanied by The Mayor, James Edward Blakemore. Archives Cat Ref: ABU/2/1/1/1. ©Bury Archives

The New Town Hall

The foundation stone was laid by the Earl of Derby on the 14th April, 1939. Work began at the site on Knowsley Street at the end of 1938 and continued until 1940, when the outer shell was complete. Due to WWII it remained in this state until 1947 when interior work commenced. The joinery work in the main rooms (which include the Council Chamber, Mayor’s Parlour and the Principal Officers’ rooms), was made on site to the architect’s design by local craftsmen. The Site Manager, Fred Haley, of Spencer and Clarke Ltd, Bury, was responsible for the specialist joinery and panelling.

On site joiner’s workshop, Bury Town Hall. Man pictured first right is Fred Haley. Archives Cat Ref: MLP/71/2 ©Bury Archives
Group photograph of the joiners who worked on the Town Hall, Bury. Second man in on the right of the middle row is Granville Haley, son of Fred Haley. Archives Cat Ref: MLP/71/3. ©Bury Archives

Fred Haley’s effort and skill, displayed in the decorative panelling, did not go unnoticed. He was one of the select few who were presented to the Queen during her visit for the official opening. What a proud moment for Fred and his family, particularly his son, Granville, who worked under his father during construction. But what did the Royals think of Fred’s handiwork and how did it compare with Buckingham Palace? They were clearly impressed and singled Fred out especially to congratulate him on, “a very fine building”. The Duke continued to share his enthusiasm for the interior decoration as he inspected the Council Chamber with its mahogany framed wall panelling; his remarks once again acknowledged Fred’s talents:

I am very much impressed by all I have seen, especially with the woodwork and the colour scheme. Mr Haley must be a very clever man indeed.

Bury Times, Oct 23rd, 1954

The commemorative album, along with photographs, forms part of the displays currently on show in our search room to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee.

Search Room Display, Bury Archives
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The Queen’s Jubilees

Helen has been a huge help with our Jubilee celebrations, arranging a very fine selection of photographs for our corner display cabinet: a showcase of local Royal celebrations! In this article she offers a timeline and synopsis of the Queen’s Jubilees.

Helen Wilson, on work experience at Bury Archives

The Queen is the longest reigning British monarch, the longest serving female head of state and the oldest living current monarch. The Queen has reigned during a lifetime of tremendous change, from the birth of the television to the daily usage of social media in our lives, the modern world has much transformed since her coronation. 

Elizabeth’s coronation in 1953 faced controversy for its broadcast on live television for the first time. The Queen overruled the judgment of her advisers and allowed the film crew and cameras into Westminster. The move revolutionised the monarchy’s reception of the media. 

Items on display at Bury Archives

 The Queen’s Silver Jubilee marked the 25th anniversary of her reign and was celebrated throughout the commonwealth. In Bury, the Jubilee was celebrated through a series of sponsored events, including the Queen’s Sliver Jubilee Walk. The route can be seen below on this large poster from the time. The walk starts at the Town Hall, and takes the walkers through Prestwich, Radcliffe, Walshaw, Tottington, Ramsbottom and Walmersley, finishing back at the Town Hall.

Map of The Queen’s Silver Jubilee Sponsored Walk

The celebrations for the Jubilee in 1977 reaffirmed the Queen’s popularity.  Her reign up to the Silver Jubilee had been one of evolution. Elizabeth had begun decolonisation in Africa and the Caribbean with 20 countries gaining independence from the Commonwealth realm. The change from a ruling Empire to a Commonwealth signified an equal partnership with Britain. In 2022, the Queen is the head of state of 15 countries in the Commonwealth realm.

A Radcliffe Silver Jubilee Street Party ©Bury Archives

In 1992, the Queen celebrated her Ruby Jubilee marking her 40th year on the throne. During this year the Queen faced turbulence within the Royal Family. The Queen herself described 1992 as her annus horribilis (horrible year). Elizabeth did not undertake any official engagements as she chose to celebrate the day with her family. In July, Her Majesty returned to Bury after 38 years to open the Metrolink. She spoke of how much things had changed since she had last visited Greater Manchester and expressed her pleasure at schemes aimed at the regeneration of the area.

Bury Times, July 24th 1992

The Golden Jubilee in 2002, signified the 50th anniversary of the Queen’s reign. Only two years prior she opened the Millennial Dome in London to mark the beginning of the third millennial. In Ramsbottom, the town came together to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee at the Ramsbottom Country Show, which featured the special Commonwealth Games Gateway Structure. The music was provided by Tottington Public Band, Cotton City Band and The Accrington and Oldham Pipe bands.

The Queen visited Preston in the last leg of her Jubilee tour in the United Kingdom. During this visit she officially announced Preston as a City.

Detail taken from a commemorative item, on display at Bury Archives

The Diamond Jubilee in 2012 was celebrated to honour the Queen’s 60th year on the throne. The Jubilee took place alongside the highly anticipated London Olympic Games, and the Queen’s entrance alongside James Bond was a welcome surprise. The Queen embarked on an extensive tour of the country and visited Manchester unveiling the Jubilee Garden in Albert Square. A beacon was lit at Peel Tower on Holcombe Hill along with more than 4,000 beacons across the UK.

The Platinum Jubilee will be celebrated with a four-day weekend and the May bank holiday being moved to June. The celebrations will include a Platinum Party at the Royal Palace which will be broadcast on BBC.

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Royal Visits to Lancashire

Helen, who is on work experience with us at Bury Archives, continues her study of Royal occasions, this time focusing on visits the Royal family made to Lancashire.

Helen Wilson

The Royal Family has visited Lancashire several times: in this blog post I will look back at some of these occasions. By using a microfilm reader, I have been able to view the Bury Times newspapers from the time to understand the public’s reaction and anticipation of these visits.                                                                            

Over a century ago, George V and Queen Mary embarked on their Lancashire tour. At the time it was the largest tour their Majesties had undertaken. It was intensive, lasting a week and visiting 30 towns. The tour started in Warrington and finished in Manchester, with the Royals visiting Bury on the 12th July, 1913. The event was the first time the borough had been visited by a reigning monarch and their consort. The Town Hall was transformed for the visit, with the windows being treated with thick rich hangings and a canopy to protect them from the elements to and from their carriages.

The Bury Times displays the timings for the Royal Visit
George V and Queen Mary visit Bury, 12 July 1913. Cat Ref B16276. ©Bury Archives

It was during this tour of Lancashire, that his Majesty laid the foundation stone of King George’s Hall in Blackburn. The stone as it appears today is pictured below.

In 1938, the borough was visited by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.  The Royal Tour of Industrial Lancashire lasted four days with the Majesties being based at Knowsley with The Earl of Derby. The tour stopped at Wigan, Bolton, Radcliffe, Bury, Heywood, Rochdale, Oldham and concluded in Ashton- under-Lyne before they travelled back to London.

They visited again in 1945 with a brief two-day tour of Lancashire. The visit had no preliminary announcement, however, thousands of people greeted them as they drove from Bolton to Bury and then on to Heywood. The Royal visit included chats with ex-servicemen and voluntary workers which gave the keynote to this Royal visit.

In 1954, a year after her coronation, Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh visited Lancashire on her first tour as Queen. The visit took place on the 22nd of October and included the official opening of Bury Town Hall.

The Bury Times from the 20th of October describes the anticipation of their arrival. Two days before, the streets had been decorated to the fullest being described ‘as gay with flags and bunting’.

The typical Lancashire weather arrived on the day of their visit, the crowds are ‘rain-soaked but happy [to] greet [the] royal pair’. The Queen is described to have chatted to Alderman T. Toon who was the Mayor in 1943 when her father the late King George VI and her mother had visited the town.

More recently Queen Elizabeth visited Bury after opening the Metrolink in St Peter’s Square. After the ceremony she boarded the tram and travelled to Bury. She paid a visit to the Town Hall which she had opened 38 years before. She was greeted with the familiar cheers and a ‘collective wave of red, white and blue’.

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Ramsbottom’s Coronation Procession

To celebrate our Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, Helen Wilson, who is on work experience with us here at the archives has been learning more about how the borough celebrated the Queen’s Coronation in June 1953. Here is Helen’s account of what she discovered in the Ramsbottom Heritage Society Collection:

Helen Wilson

To mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee this year we are sharing a selection of blog posts discussing the impact of the Royal Family on Lancashire.

The Queen will be the first Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee in 2022 after seventy years of service. The former record was held by Queen Victoria who celebrated her Golden and Diamond Jubilees. The Jubilee will mark the accession of Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation across all of the commonwealth. The event will pay heed to her life and reign as a monarch, as the longest serving female head of state.

The anniversary of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee prompted myself to look back to 1953 when the Queen was coronated. Across the country and worldwide the Queen’s Coronation was televised for the first time.

In Ramsbottom, the Queen’s Coronation was commemorated by a number of celebrations and festivities held by the Ramsbottom Urban District Council.

The Official Programme of Celebrations lists the Coronation events that were being held throughout Ramsbottom for Elizabeth II’s coronation:

Among these events in Ramsbottom was the Procession that was held on the 6th of June. The celebration Procession comprised the following:

  • Sunday School Children and Adults walking.
  • Historical Tableaux.
  • Industrial Tableaux.

The procession followed the route from the Marshalling Points in Dundee Lane and Nuttall Lane the Parade proceeded via Bolton Street, Bridge Street, Bury New Road and Nuttall Hall Road to Nuttall Park.

Looking through photographs from the Ramsbottom Heritage Society the procession can be impressively looked back at almost 70 years later.

Pictured below are some of the children who took part in the procession, dressed in costumes suitable for the occasion. Alongside a historical float and an industrial exhibit which showcases Sir Richard Arkwright, born in Lancashire, who was a leading figure in the Industrial Revolution.

Ramsbottom Coronation Procession 6 June 1953, Cat Ref: RHS/21/12/1/11 © Ramsbottom Heritage Society
Ramsbottom Coronation Procession 6 June 1953, Cat Ref: RHS/21/12/1/11 © Ramsbottom Heritage Society
Ramsbottom Coronation Procession 6 June 1953, Cat Ref: RHS/21/12/1/11 © Ramsbottom Heritage Society

The Ramsbottom Heritage Society is a charity that promotes the history of Ramsbottom alongside recording photographs, of which 6,000 are held in their collection. Many of their documents, including the Programme pictured above, are held in Bury Archives.

The Platinum Jubilee will be a yearlong event of celebrations, with an extended bank holiday in from Thursday 2 June to Sunday 5 June to give communities an opportunity to celebrate the occasion.

There will be many events held across the country for the Platinum Jubilee, to find out how to be involved in the Bury celebrations click the link below:






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Donation of the Month: Peel Mills Ltd

These impressive volumes for Peel Mills Ltd were donated to the archives by Mr and Mrs Blakeledge from Bolton. Mr Blakeledge, whilst being employed at the firm, remembered rescuing the items from being dumped in a skip during a clear-out. Mrs Blakeledge explained how she had enjoyed hours of pleasure reading the Minute Books and learning the ups and downs of the textile industry in Bury during the interwar years and towards its final decline.

Volumes for Peel Mills Ltd. Bury Archives Cat Ref: BPM.

The volumes consist of: Stock Book 1920 to 1952; Minute Books 1925 to 1943; Cotton Contract Book 1944 to 1954 and Salaries Book 1954 to 1964.

Peel Mills under construction circa late 1880s. The site at Castlecroft was adjacent to the home of the Peel family. Bury Archives Ref: B01449 ©Bury Archives

Brief History of the firm

Peel Mills Limited, Bury, was incorporated on 30th April 1920 with a capital of £900,000 in £2 shares, to take over the business from the Peel Spinning and Manufacturing Company at Chamber Hall. The cornerstone for the original mill buildings was laid on August 15th 1885 by the chairman of the Peel Spinning and Manufacturing Co. Ltd., Mr Abraham Rothwell. These buildings were extended in 1892 and again in 1913 and formed three five-storey factories – a huge enterprise for the new directors of Peel Mills Ltd in 1920! In 1975, however, the company decided to shut its cotton spinning operations retaining only its winding and beaming sections at Chamber Hall. A report in the Bury Times blamed the company’s rationalisation plans on cheap imports. In 1981 the company changed its name to Peel Holdings and from that time the principal activities became the letting of freehold and long leasehold properties.

Original building plan for The Peel Spinning & Manufacturing Co Ltd approved by Bury Corporation 4th June 1885. Archives Cat. Ref ABU/15/1/2/1287 ©Bury Archives

Company profile: John Lindley

John Lindley joined the firm in 1921 as a salesman. The Minute Book reveals that by 1925 he had been promoted to manager, then becoming managing director before finally arriving at chairman of the Board of Directors, a position he filled for 26 years. His obituary in the Bury Times portrays a man passionate in his pursuit of modernising the industry in which he worked, the headlines announced:

Cotton Industry loses influential leader

Bury Times, December 24th, 1960

A forward thinker – he supported schemes which sought to revolutionise methods of textile manufacture, his knowledge and enthusiasm equipping him with the necessary expertise to be involved in many organisations including: British Cotton Industry Research Association; British Rayon Research Association; Yarn Spinners’ Association; International Federation of Cotton & Allied Textile Industries and Joint Standing Committee on Health & Welfare in the Cotton Industry. 

There is much testimony to Mr Lindley’s proficiency as manager of Peel Mills in the Minute Books. However, I think the letter below illustrates the foresight needed to avert possible damaging consequences to his firm and workers during the November storms of 1931:

Shortly before the date of the letter, there were many reports in the local press of Bury’s worst deluge for many years and a number of mills had to postpone work or close completely due to flooding. The River Irwell was reported to have swollen 4 or 5ft above normal level, once this had subsided the river, “flowed with great velocity, and large quantities of timber floated down” causing damage to the weir owned by Messrs. Spencer & Curedale, Ltd. This letter from John Lindley highlights how the steam-driven cotton mill was vulnerable to extremes in weather – both flood and drought – and how imperative it was that those in charge took responsibility without delay.

OS Map 1937 showing Peel Mills and the River Irwell weir

As a service, we are indebted to individuals like Mr & Mrs Blakeledge who appreciate the importance of preserving the past. Archive treasures such as these volumes for Peel Mills Ltd are key to understanding important aspects of our local heritage. Thanks to them both for being our preservation heroes of the month!



Bury Times, 7th Nov 1931, Dec 4th 1960, 21st Feb 1975.

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Ethel Goodall: First Woman Mayor of Bury

To mark International Women’s Day this year we are sharing with you this portrait of Ethel Goodall, Mayor of Bury 1945 – 1946.

Ethel Goodall, Mayor of Bury 1945-1946. Image © Bury Archives

Ethel was the 50th Mayor of Bury but more importantly, she was the first woman to be honoured with the title in the Borough. Somewhat a pioneer for women in local government – before becoming Mayor – she was the first woman Labour Councillor, the first woman Alderman, the first woman Chairman of the Markets Committee and later becoming the first woman to serve as a Council representative on the Irwell Valley Water Board.

Her speech at the election ceremony acknowledges the pride she feels in being the chief citizen of Bury and offers her gratitude to the Council Chamber for the example being set to the rest of the town:

It is no small thing to be elected Mayor of such a town as Bury, and when I realise that for the first time in its history such an honour has been conferred on a woman, it seems a greater distinction than ever. You have shown the women of Bury that there is no office or distinction beyond their reach.

There is real substance behind Ethel’s empowering address when we consider her achievements: apart from the many ‘firsts’ – she had served as a member of the Boarding Out Sub-Committee for the Bury Guardians; a member of the Bury, Rawtenstall and District War Pensions Committee; secretary of the Women’s Section of The British Legion and a member of the Bury Labour Party Executive. What incredible service to the town! Had the war not intervened (suggested an earlier report in the press) the accolade would have been granted sooner, “but some members of the Council held that during the war years it was preferable that a man should be the chief citizen”.

Thomas Toon, Mayor of Bury 1944-1945. Image © Bury Archives

It’s not hard to imagine the fierce opposition and even hostility Ethel would have experienced to prove her worth in local government. Yet attitudes towards women in workplaces traditionally dominated by men had been changing steadily since WWI. Throughout WWII women again played their part. Ethel saw no reason why this could not continue into peacetime; she believed women had created an “…opportunity to give their services to the local community, just as they gave service to their country in its hour of need”.

And women were rallying together: dedicating time throughout their busy lives to make their opinions heard; continuing improvement in working conditions for themselves and others in the wider community. In the same year in which Ethel became Mayor, two new women’s groups formed in Bury: The Townswomen’s Guild and the Bury branch of Business and Professional Women’s Club. At the latter’s inaugural meeting the national organiser, Nancy Anderson, spoke of the war years and how “women have worked together splendidly, many running both a home and doing a job. We must not lose that spirit of fellowship.”

Ethel Goodall remained on the Council until she was defeated in the aldermanic elections in 1949. However, her dedication to public service did not end there; she continued to serve on the Youth Employment and Youth Advisory Committees and became honorary member of the Bury Branch of the British Legion. Ethel died at her home in Shakespeare Ave, Bury, on 3rd April 1957, aged 70.


Bury Times, September 8th 1945, November 10th 1945, April 6th, 1957.
Bury Archives Ref: ABU/2/1/2 Commemorative Photographs of Mayors and Officials  

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Photos of the Month: The Opening of Prestwich Tramways

Friday the 5th December 1902 was a grand day for the folk of Prestwich as they celebrated the opening of the Prestwich Tramways by Salford Corporation Tramways. Two special tramcars had been decorated for the occasion and here’s one of them:

The Opening of Prestwich Tramways with officials, 5 Dec 1902. Bury Archives Cat Ref FDM/7/35/1 (Dorothy Moran Collection)

The Salford Reporter marvelled at them being “tastefully decorated with shrubs, flags, garlands of flowers and evergreens”. An occasion such as this one demanded one’s best dress coat, cane, and hat. Just look, not a bare head in sight! Amongst this well-dressed and moustachioed assemblage are: the Mayor of Salford, Alderman W. Stephens; the Chairman of Prestwich Urban District Council, James Hislop, along with other members of the Prestwich Urban District Council.

Off they all went to the residence of Alderman Frankenburg at Kersal and enjoyed a sumptuous lunch which included cuts of lamb, beef and pheasant followed by jellies, cream, and cheeses.

The new electric tramway route from Kersal Bar to Prestwich Station was certainly something to celebrate; all agreed it was a remarkable achievement considering only a few weeks ago Prestwich had not a tram rail laid. It would surely only be a few weeks before Salford Tramways continued the rails into Whitefield. The Chairman, clearly on a roll, joked: “if they proceeded at such a rate they would be beating the Americans”.

There was much talk amongst the officials of what a great convenience this linking up of Salford and Prestwich (and later Whitefield in April 1903) would be to the public – which made me wish for another photograph, one which would show said ‘public’. Here’s what I found:

Salford Corporation Tramcar, post 1903. Description on reverse of photograph tells us that Whitefield Station is in the background. Bury Archives Cat Ref FDM/7/35/2 (Dorothy Moran Collection)

On top we have two women so deep in conversation they appear oblivious to the photographer! While seated down below is a young lady whose shy smile belies a certain satisfaction: it’s not every day you get to show off your smartest coat and hat. Move over moustachioed gentlemen!

Without the adornment of foliage you can see the full splendour of these first electric tramcars. The one here (Car number 4), manufactured by G. F. Milne and Co, was one of the first hundred cars delivered to Salford Tramways in 1901-2. They were painted maroon and cream and (according to Edward Grey in his book The Tramways of Salford) were “fully lined out in gold in different styles”. No wonder our passenger was smiling – everyone knows that a fur collar needs some complementary glitz!

The two photographs featured were taken from our Dorothy Moran collection. Some of these can now be viewed over on our image website and we will be adding more from the collection in the coming months.


Gray, Edward, The Tramways of Salford, (The Trustees of the Manchester Transport Museum Society 2nd Edition 1967). Bury Archives Cat No. FDM/2/7.

Extracts taken from the Salford Reporter, December 13th 1902, transcribed by Dorothy Moran. Bury Archives Cat No. RMX/18.


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