9 Bury p18
Trams were once an integral part of our transport system, especially in large cities and conurbations where it was possible to connect with adjacent towns via an intricate network of different coloured vehicles. It was a slow and arduous business, though, and one rarely travelled far.
The picture above was taken in the centre of Bury, a medium- sized town in Lancashire where trams once ran to Bolton to the west and Rochdale to the east, with direct links to Manchester in the south. However, they were already being phased out before the Second World War and the last tram ran in February 1949.
The image is from Market Street looking towards The Rock from where an expensive looking vehicle is emerging across the cobbles. The building to the right is part of the Derby Hall complex while behind the tram on the left is Union Buildings, an intricate large Victorian edifice similar to thousands of grand Victorian structures erected in once flourishing industrial towns. It remains in situ in the modern picture but although Grade II listed, has been empty for years.
The modern picture was taken slightly to the left and shows Bury parish church and the town’s war memorial. Next to it, on the now pedestrianised section, is a statue of Sir Robert Peel, the town’s most famous son, his dignity being somewhat diminished by a bird sitting on his head. The cobbles have been replaced by paving slabs and, out of the picture, the town centre has been almost completely rebuilt.
Who could have imagined that trams would ever return but they have, and Bury is now connected, via the old electric railway line to Manchester, to a speedy and regular network which radiates out to surrounding towns. Known as the Metrolink ( left), it has provided ease of access which our tram- riding forebears could only have dreamt about.