Bury is a town in Greater Manchester, England. It lies on the River Irwell, east of Bolton, west-southwest of Rochdale, and north-northwest of the city of Manchester. Bury is surrounded by several smaller settlements, which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Bury, with Bury as the largest settlement and administrative centre.
Bury is regionally notable for its open-air market - Bury Market - and its popularity has been increased since the introduction of the Manchester Metrolink tram system, which terminates in the town. The market is known for its supply of a local traditional dish - black pudding, served hot or cold and can be eaten either as a takeaway snack, or more commonly as an accompaniment or main ingredient of a meal starter or main course.
One of Bury's most notable residents was Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, founder of the Metropolitan Police Service and the Conservative Party. A monument to Peel is outside Bury parish church and another, the austere Peel Monument, stands on a hill overlooking the locality.
The name Bury, (also earlier known as "Buri" and "Byri") comes from an Old English word, meaning "castle", "stronghold" or "fort", an early form of modern English borough.
Bury was formed around the ancient market place but even prior to this there is evidence of activity dating back to the period of Roman occupation. Bury Museum has a Roman Urn containing a number of small bronze coins dated for AD 253-282 and found north of what is now the town centre. Under Agricola the road building programme included a route from the fort at Manchester (Mamucium) to the fort at Ribchester (Bremetennacum) that ran through Radcliffe and Affetside. The modern Watling Street, that serves the Seddons Farm estate on the west side of town, follows the approximate line of the route.
The most imposing early building in the town would have been Bury Castle, a medieval fortified manor house. The castle was built in 1469 by Sir Thomas Pilkington, lord of the manors of Pilkington and Bury and a powerful member of Lancashire's gentry. It sat in a good defensive position on high ground overlooking the Irwell Valley. At that time the Pilkingtons had been lords of Bury for nearly a century, having inherited the manor from a family named de Bury.
The Pilkington family suffered badly in the Wars of the Roses when, despite the geography they supported the House of York. When Richard III was killed in the Battle of Bosworth, in 1485, Thomas Pilkington was captured and later executed. The outcome of the battle was that the Duke of Richmond, representing the House of Lancaster was crowned Henry VII by Sir William Stanley. As a reward for the support of his family Thomas Stanley was created Earl of Derby and amongst other land the confiscated Pilkington estate in Bury was presented to him.
The ancestral home of the Earls of Derby is Knowsley Hall on the outskirts of Liverpool. The family maintains a connection with Bury in various ways - the Derby High School is named after them. When the school opened in 1959 the Earl of Derby was patron and the school's badge is based on the Earl's coat of arms.
For many years the castle remains were buried beneath the streets outside the Castle Armoury. From time to time it was the subject of archaeological excavations. These established that there was an earlier manor house on the site. In 2000 the castle site was properly excavated as a focal point in the town centre. The remains of the old walls are now displayed in Castle Square.
Between 1801 and 1830 the population of the town more than doubled from 7072 to 15086. This was the time when the factories, mines and foundries began to dominate the landscape with their spinning machines and steam engines.
Probate evidence from the 17th century and the remains of 18th century weavers' cottages in Elton, on the west side of Bury, indicate that domestic textile production was an important factor of the local economy at a time when Bury's textile industry was dominated by woollens and based upon the domestic production of yarn and cloth as well as water-powered fulling mills.
Development was swift in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The establishment of Brooksbottom Mill, in Summerseat north of the town, as a calico printing works in 1773 by the family of Sir Robert Peel marked the beginning of the cotton industry in Bury. By the early 19th century cotton was the predominant textile industry with the River Roch and River Irwell providing power for spinning mills and processing water for the finishing trades. Development was further promoted when the town was linked to the national canal network by the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal, fully opened in 1808. The canal is provided with water from Elton Reservoir, fed by aqueducts from a weir on the River Irwell, north of what is now the Burrs Country Park. The Burrs is also the site of another mill developed by the Peel family, first founded in 1790. The remains are displayed for the public. There were seven cotton mills in Bury by 1818 and the population grew from 9,152 in 1801 to 58,029 in 1901.
Following this, railways opened, linking the town from Bury Bolton Street railway station to Manchester, Radcliffe, Rawtenstall and Accrington and from the old Knowsley Street railway station to the neighbouring mill towns of Bolton, Heywood and Rochdale. As well as the many cotton mills other industries which thrived included paper–making, calico printing and some light engineering. The town expanded to incorporate the former townships of Elton, Walmersley and Heap and rows of terraced housing encircled the town centre by the turn of the 19th century. Districts such as Freetown, Fishpool and Pimhole were transformed from farmers' fields to rows of terraced housing, beside the factories and mills.
The houses were of the most limited kind without basic facilities, sewers or proper streets. The result was the rapid spread of disease and high mortality rates in crowded areas. In 1838 out of 1,058 working class houses in Bury investigated by the Manchester Statistical Society 733 had 3-4 people in each bed, 207 had 4-5 and 76 had 5-6. Social reformers locally and nationally were concerned about such issues, including Edwin Chadwick. One report that prepared the ground for the reform of public health matters, commissioned by then Prime Minister, Sir Robert Peel, asked local doctors for information. King Street, Bury was highlighted. It had 10 houses, each with one bedroom, and a population of 69. The average age of death in Bury was 13.8 years. Towns like Bury were likened to 'camps' where newcomers sought work in mill, mine or forge. Many, often from Ireland found shelter in lodging houses. 38 in Bury were surveyed. 73% had men and women sharing beds indiscriminately, 81% were filthy and the average was 5.5 persons to a bed.
Although Bury had few of the classic late 19th century spinning mills that were such a feature of other Lancashire towns a group, known as Peel Mills, are still in use at Castlecroft Road, immediately north of the town centre, their name another reminder of the link with the Peel family.
In 1688 Prince William of Orange (later King William III) landed at Brixham, Devon. He was met by a number of noblemen who were then commissioned to raise Regiments to help him oppose James II. Colonel Sir Robert Peyton raised a Regiment containing six independent companies in the Exeter area. In 1782 the title was changed to the XX or East Devon Regiment of Foot and from 1 July 1881 became the XX The Lancashire Fusiliers. The link with Bury and the Fusiliers started at this time when, following successful recruiting in Lancashire a Regimental Depot was established in Bury, Wellington Barracks, in 1881. Wellington Barracks became XX The Lancashire Fusiliers Regimental Headquarters in 1961. The front of the Castle Armoury building has been used regularly as the fictional entrance to 'HMP Weatherfield' in the soap opera Coronation Street.
In the post-war period, there was a major decline in the cotton industry, and in common with many neighbouring towns, Bury's skyline was soon very different, with countless factory chimneys being pulled down and the associated mills closing their doors forever. The old shopping area around Princess Street and Union Square was demolished in the late 1960s, and a concrete precinct emerged to replace it. This development was replaced by the Mill Gate Shopping Centre in the late 1990s.
Another large shopping area is located around the Rock. The main street is populated mainly by independent shops and food outlets. At the top end of the street, however, is a modern shopping area. It has a multi screen cinema, bowling alley and department stores including Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Boots UK, Clarks, Poundland, The Body Shop and Warren James Jewellers.
Bury has also benefited from other facilities in the early 2010s including a new medical centre and office accommodation close to Bury Town Hall. Bury is competing as a destination with Bolton and Rochdale. A decision by Marks and Spencer to vacate its store in the Mill Gate Shopping Centre and move into a large new one on the Rock emphasised a change in the makeup of the town.
The town centre is still famous for its traditional market, with its "world famous" black pudding stalls. Bury Market was also once famous for its tripe, although this has declined in the past few decades. The Bury Black Pudding Co provides black pudding to retailers such as Harrods as well as supermarkets and the Market is a haven for people from all over Greater Manchester and beyond. The last 30 years have seen the town developing into an important commuter town for neighbouring Manchester. Large scale housing development has taken place around Unsworth, Redvales, Sunnybank, Brandlesholme, Limefield, Chesham and Elton. The old railway line to Manchester Victoria closed in 1990, and was replaced by the light rapid transit system Metrolink in 1992. The town was also linked to the M66 motorway network, opening in 1978, accessed from the east side of the town.