You are invited to a MURDER!

This gallery contains 5 photos.

We know the amazing detective skills that are involved in tracing your local and family history; so we thought this event hosted by Bury Libraries may be right up your street! Advertisements

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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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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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