9 Bury p18

Bury, Lan­cashire

Evergreen - - Contents - HENRY SPENCER

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.

BOB HAR­G­REAVES

ALIS­TAIR CHEA­DLE

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