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: archives@bury.gov.uk



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Archives in the Community: photographing Radcliffe Parish Church

We were extremely saddened to learn about the Boxing Day Floods back in 2015 and how this affected the communities in and around Bury, not to mention the rest of the UK. We can’t imagine how devastated we would be if anything happened to the precious documents in our care and so our hearts went out to the parishioners of St Mary’s church in Radcliffe when they learned that priceless historic artefacts were in danger of being destroyed by the flood water.


While work to repair damage to the church is still ongoing, our visit to the Grade 1 listed building on Monday 23rd January was warm and welcoming: Volunteer and archaeologist, Carol, gave Helen and I a tour of the church and church member, Barbara, supplied us with coffee and cake and plenty of fascinating snippets about the church and its history. It was hard to imagine that just over 12 months ago the flood waters had reached over the top of the pews! The porch, aisles and chancel were decked with wonderful arrangements of flowers (organised by Barbara) in place to commemorate the licensing service of Revd. Carol Hayden and Revd Elizabeth Binns which had taken place the day before.


The aim of our visit was to photograph the church: a record both for the Parish community and one which we will preserve in our own image archive.


And so armed with my trusty tripod and camera I made my way around the building to capture what I could. Carol suggested I take some images from the gallery – she wanted an elevated scene of the nave and beautifully-lit chancel for the new church leaflet; the way up looked narrow and precarious – through a tiny hobbit-like door and upwards into the darkness. How I missed the door to the gallery I’ll never know but up to the belfry I went! My ears were soon smarting as the bells of St Mary’s rang out to announce a new hour!


We take every opportunity we can to collect and preserve documents and images which record the religious history of the Borough and are pleased to announce that Close Methodist Church (again in Radcliffe) will be donating material to our archive next week. We love working with the community and if you are part of a religious organisation (or indeed any organisation) who is interested in the preservation of its history please do get in touch.




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The Day The Circus Came To Town.


Local newspapers are available on microfilm.

It is a funny old thing when we are asked to perform a piece of research using our local newspapers; you just can’t help it when your eyes and attention are swayed by other interesting snippets of information, pictures, adverts and headlines! But, you know what, when this happens it adds to our teams local knowledge and that will, in turn, help with future enquiries. Every little bit of information helps!

This was exactly the scenario when the lovely Christine – Local and Family History Library Assistant – was performing her latest piece of research. She was thrilled when she came across this article detailing Broncho Bill’s Circus’s visit to Bury in 1929.


Extracted from The Bury Times April 27th 1929


You can smell the grease paint; hear the band and the animals, and feel the crowds excitement! The following extracts from the article sum up the Circus’s impact on Bury beautifully:

‘A circus in fact has a strange fascination for young and old alike, and wherever it appears eager crowds flock to witness deeds of daring. Such was the case on Thursday, when Bury was favoured with a visit from the original Broncho Bill’s great Wild West exhibition and mammoth circus. During the whole of the day the fairground, the centre of attraction, was a scene of great animation. The mushroom-like growth of the huge marquee is ever a source of wonderment, and the circus derives much of its fascination from the fact that it comes and goes “like a ghost in the night.”

‘The brass band , under the efficient leadership of R. Goaling, A.F.M, played a series of popular selections throughout the performance, adding to the attractiveness of a show which will long be remembered by those who were privileged to be present.’

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Back to the 1990s – Images from the Bury Times on Display

Archives preservation is not just about caring for records from long ago! Yes it’s always exciting to handle photographs from a far distant era but it can be just as fascinating to study and preserve images from more recent times: The 1990s to be exact! Bury Archives invites you back to the decade which brought us Britpop, the first Harry Potter book and the rise of the World Wide Web!


Our new Display takes our visitors on a mini time-travel ride to the end of the last millennium with a stunning collection of beautiful glossy images all published in The Bury Times – just before digital replaced film for many newspapers. As a nation of happy-snappers we are constantly reminded to back-up our digital files and many archives are now preparing for the efficient transferring, storing and presenting of their ‘born-digital’ records.



Of course, digital files get corrupted and hard drives fail, precious memories get accidentally deleted and perhaps the only way to ensure an image lasts a lifetime and beyond is to print it! With this in mind these fabulous prints – produced just over 20 years ago – take on extra resonance for us; with careful preservation they should still survive the decades and even centuries while their digital counterparts – which are always going to be subject to technological change – might not.



To ensure the photographs do not suffer damage while on display, they are carefully supported using acid-free card. Specialist transparent tape is used to secure the image to the card which prevents the corners curling while they are on display. We’d like to thank Susan Lord, curator from Bury Art Museum, who very kindly offered us her advice and instruction on preparing archival documents for display – it was a bit fiddly securing the photograph to the card but we got there in the end!




Did you know that we hold the Bury Times on microfilm from 1855 to the present day? This is an extremely useful resource for family researchers and local historians alike. Be careful though, looking through all those old newspapers can be addictive – you never know what you might find!! For more information please refer to our summary of catalogue resources.




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Bury Postcards

As you are probably aware we are really proud of our image archive and take every opportunity to show off what we have!! To celebrate the New Year we have two exciting projects coming your way! A fabulous new display of more recent photographs all published in the Bury Times during the 1990s (more of this in a later posting) and a beautiful pack of eight postcards on sale here at the archives.


Included in the pack are four prints from original art work by the talented Lee Crocker: vibrant and lively watercolour renditions of local landmarks you will instantly recognise plus a very special lino-cut print of Peel Tower! The rest of the pack contains images of Bury, Prestwich and Ramsbottom from a variety of decades. The postcards will soon be available in other outlets in and around Bury – a great gift for relatives who have moved out of the area or something for you Buryites to keep and treasure; a memento of the town we all love.







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Christine – Volunteering for the Borough Archive

Hi my name is Christine. Having made the decision to retire from full time work two years ago, I discovered that Bury Archives were looking for volunteers to work on the WW1 project. Having studied History and English, a keen interest in my own family history and having a little more ‘me’ time, I thought this opportunity might be right up my street. I saw it as a way of using my free time in a meaningful way whilst giving something back to the community. I completed the paperwork, went along for an informal chat and that was the start of an interesting alternative to paid work.


Initially I worked on the WW1 project, extracting information from local newspapers about soldiers, their experience’s and all too often their demise. Every time I captured an image of a soldier and with one click, saved it to the pen drive, I felt a sense of how quickly such young lives had been snuffed out in a split second. Poems, letters, advertisements and the effect the war was having on industries made interesting reading and added a real sense of the effect of war on people and places. having worked on this project for over twelve months it was time for a change.


Other volunteers were steadily working their way through a mountain of archive boxes containing a whole range of information totally unrelated to the WW1 project. My next task was to input the information they extracted onto a data base. week after week I sat quietly on the computer typing away and as soon as I saw the end of one file, the volunteers had catalogued yet more!


Three months ago I was asked if I would like to get involved in the latest project, Made in Greater Manchester. This involves volunteers from various Archives across greater Manchester working together as a team to catalogue specific archives from a locally based company. I have attended two morning courses held at Manchester central Library, one an insight into cataloguing and the other about digitisation of images and documents. Both courses were informative and also gave me the opportunity to meet other volunteers across Manchester. It seemed strange revisiting  central library again after so long as this was where I had my first job after leaving school in 1970.


Back to the MiGM project. In Bury we are working on the archives held for Thomas Robinson and Company Limited who were bleachers and dyers. I have had my first taste of opening an archive box and wading through the papers and samples looking for items of interest. I have found many samples of materials including some flannelette printed with little characters e.g. Bo Peep, rabbits etc. which transported me back in time when such material was used for children’s pyjamas back in the 50’s and 60’s. Another interesting discovery was that Thomas Robinson were forward thinking and clearly valued the importance of its employees’ suggestions. I have found several suggestion slips completed by individuals and if management felt the ideas were viable, the Company gave the employee a bonus. I am really looking forward to finding out more about the company at the archive boxes reveal more gems as the weeks go by.



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Love Dickens at Christmas!

We always look forward to the Christmas decorations going up here at Bury Libraries! And Library Staff have really made this year’s display look especially festive by creating strings of beautifully crafted snowflakes to drape across the Children’s library; lovely twinkly lights, a Christmas tree and Santa’s little helpers have transformed the space into something quite delightful.  Why not come along to our Winter Wonderland where you can choose a book to read over the Christmas holidays?!


Chiming nicely with the festivities in the library, Archives have another treat in store for our customers! Right next to the Christmas tree in the Search Room we have our newly installed Christmas Display cabinet which contains … wait for it the genuine signature of Mr Charles Dickens!! This is held within a Victorian autograph book which forms part of our Hutchinson collection. Dickens just loved performing and regularly journeyed throughout Britain and beyond on reading tours in which he would read sections of his writings to what must have been an enthralled audience. Presumably, it was from one of these Readings where the signature was obtained.



Published in 1843, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol  became an instant bestseller and sold 6,000 copies on Christmas Day 1843. It would certainly have been a favourite amongst the many people who attended Dickens’ Reading Performances. Sadly (for me anyway who reads the novel every year!) the quote accompanying Dickens’ signature and photograph is not from A Christmas Carol but from The Old Curiosity Shop. Some may be moved by the lines quoted, others may think they are overly sentimental but we are absolutely thrilled to have on view the ‘death of little Nell’ written so beautifully by the hand of the great author himself!



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Radcliffe Library Archive Display


Here in the Archive department, we are always really pleased when we find a way to display the Borough’s historic documents within the communities where they were originally created. This month we have had the opportunity to temporarily transfer one of our Heritage Lottery funded – Bury Remembers WW1 – cases to Radcliffe Library; to display some letters from the WW1 period.



Received by Close Methodist Church; the letters express the gratitude  of local soldiers for parcels and correspondence sent to them by the congregation. The display case houses only a few examples of over one hundred letters that have been donated into the care of the Borough’s Archive.

You may notice that the documents on display are copies, rather than the originals. The Archive’s principle aim is to protect and preserve all documents that help to tell the story of the whole Borough. As this moveable, temporary display case does not provide enough protection for original documents; we have produced high quality ‘like for like’ surrogates to enable the display to be installed in their home town. As with all handwriting, some is easier to read than others, so we have produced transcriptions of all of the letters on display to accompany the case. We have included a transcription of one of the letters here;  if you can’t get in to Radcliffe library and wish to have a copy of them all please email:  archives@bury.gov.uk


Dec 8th 1915

Dear Mr. Charles,

Please convey my heartiest thanks to the members of the Sunday School and Church for their splendid gift of socks, mits etc., also for the Season’s greetings, which I most heartily reciprocate.

Trust you are in the best of health.

Kindest regards,

Yours very sincerely


In future months we will share more of this collection of letters with you. We will be using different themes to guide the our choice of items for display. This time we were lucky enough to have an example of some knitting produced by Alma Gardner, a proud resident of Radcliffe Hall for her whole life, 92 years. Sadly Alma passed away in October 2015 so we have worked with her daughter, Carol Kemp, to choose letters from 1915 that mentioned the packages and the knitted items that some – perhaps all – local soldiers received.


Archive volunteer Carol Kemp and her mum Alma Gardner

We hope you enjoy this display. Let us know your feedback or ideas for future displays, by commenting on this blog, sending an email to archives@bury.gov.uk or by having a chat to the library staff.



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Elvis has left the Building …

The last days of Save Records

Bury Indoor Market recently bade farewell to Lawless’s, an indoor market institution since the 1960s, and on 29 October another long-serving market trader pulled down the shutters for the last time.  Save Records, since 1968 the purveyors of all things recorded, be it vinyl, cassette, CD and DVD, will, like a Betamax video, be no more.




Here at Bury Archives we believe that it’s really important to continue to capture and record what is happening in and around Bury right now, as one day in the future someone will be looking back on 2016 as “olden times” and maybe wondering, “…what were these places called shops?”



In 1968 the first Save outlets were opened by footballer Simon Jones, a goalkeeper (hence the name!) on Rochdale and Lincoln indoor markets.  In 1974 Save Records opened in Bury’s indoor market, where it has remained up until the present day.   Maxine began working there in 1978 and has seen numerous stalls around it come and go, like the changing fashions in music-lovers’ listening habits as records and tapes (and the 8-track cartridge, anyone?) gave way to CDs and MP3s.

img_0634‘Elvis’, the portrait by local artist and music-lover Eddie Kilner, was commissioned by Simon.  A painter of landscapes, Eddie was apprehensive about painting a portrait.  However, as we can see, his worries were unfounded and the portrait became an integral part of the stall’s identity.  Despite several offers, Maxine is keeping him!

img_0627The stall built up a regular and loyal following, many of whom have been coming here over the past few weeks to reminisce and grab a bargain amongst the well-stocked racks of vintage vinyl, which are being continually topped up.




Maxine and I reminisced also, about other record shops of Bury that have come and gone: Javelin, Disc and Tape Exchange, Muse, Vibes (where I spent many a happy hour loitering on a Saturday afternoon back in the 1980s) and Our Price and not to mention the well-stocked record departments of our local Boots and NSS Newsagents.   Of all of them, just HMV remains.  Maxine’s own musical tastes vary  “…from Celine Dion to Def Leppard” – which would be a perfect name for a record store!




By one of those happy coincidences, during our visit, a presentation of flowers, balloons and gifts was made to Maxine by other stallholders as a mark of their appreciation.




In recent years, Save’s other outposts have gradually disappeared, with just the Bury branch flying the flag since the closure of its Rochdale stall in 2005.  Ironically Save’s closure comes at a time when good old vinyl is enjoying something of a comeback, with recent initiatives such as ‘Record Store Day’ attracting wide media coverage.


Cherish your local record shop!










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