In The South African War (or Second Boer War) 1899 – 1902, over 200 Lancashire Fusiliers lost their lives. Unveiling the statue and the ceremony which took place to commemorate those who died must have been a momentous occasion for the many who gathered in the Market Place that day. As remarked by a reporter in The Bury Times on 18th March 1905, “…the soldiers whose memory is to be honoured this afternoon were in many cases lads whose deaths have left a blank in Bury homes.”
The striking bronze figure mounted on the stone pedestal is an interesting one: executed by George Frampton, R.A., it depicts a victorious Fusilier who is waving his busby high in the air with one hand and holding his rifle butt to the ground with the other hand. Up until then, most figures on war memorials in Britain would have been represented in repose to depict a soldier mourning the loss of his comrades. Frampton clearly had a different idea and is quoted in the Bury Times saying: “When cannons roar and rifles crack and sword and bayonet are red with blood, the soldier thirsts for battle … there is little chance of his mourning for a dead or wounded comrade. Instead he will raise a cheer of triumph for duty nobly accomplished and to inspire his fellows to fight on for King and country.”
During 1920, a decision was made to transfer the Fusilier Memorial from the Market Place to occupy the place where it stands today in Whitehead Gardens. It is not completely clear why this decision was made. However, entries in the Council Minutes Book from March 1920 suggest the tramways committee had plans to build a tram shelter in the place where it once stood.