History of Bury

Join us in exploring the rich history of Bury, a captivating town nestled in northern Greater Manchester. With roots dating back centuries, Bury has witnessed the ebb and flow of civilisations, evolving from a humble settlement to a thriving urban centre.

Through this page, we invite you to embark on a fascinating journey through time, uncover the growth of industries, and the remarkable heritage that has shaped Bury into the vibrant town it is today.

Join us as we unravel the captivating story of Bury’s past and discover the enduring legacy it holds.

History of the name

The origins of the names Bury, Buri, and Byri can be traced back to the Saxon language, where they signify “a stronghold.” During ancient times, it is believed that the entire region was predominantly covered by forests, marshes, and moorlands, serving as a habitat for nomadic herdsmen.

Roman Bury

Bury town centre was formed around the ancient market place, there is evidence of activity dating back to Roman times. Bury Museum has a Roman urn containing a number of small bronze coins dated for AD 253–282 and found north of the town centre. To the west side of the town centre is Seddons Farm Estate, which is on the approximate line of the Roman road that’s route ran from Manchester north

Bury Market

The original Bury Market would have included farm produce, livestock, and woven goods as well as fish. In 1839, a new Open Market, set out within a walled triangle, opened on the area of land now known as Kay Gardens. In 1876 the responsibility for the market was passed to the Town Council.A new market hall and grounds were opened in 1901 and a new market was opened on the same day. In November 1968 a fire devastated the market hall and the building was raised to the ground, but this did not stop trading. Outdoor traders gave up parts of their stalls to indoor traders demonstrating camaraderie by everyone. A new market hall was opened in March 1969. In 1971, the old Bury Market moved to the current site. The New Market Hall described as one of the best equipped and most architecturally striking market halls in the north-west with its ‘gull-wing’ roof. This magnificent hall is still the home of the indoor market. The final construction phase for the existing Bury Market was completed in 1999.

Thomas Pilkington & Bury Castle

One of the town’s earliest buildings was Bury Castle a medieval manor house built in 1469 by Sir Thomas Pilkington. Its location provided a good defensive position over looking the River Irwell on high ground. The castle remains can still be seen outside the Castle armoury in the town.

During the Wars of the Roses (1455-1487) the Pilkington Family supported the House of York. Thomas Pilkington was captured and killed in the wars. Thomas’s land was confiscated and given to Thomas Stanley as a reward for supporting Henry VII in the wars.

Industrial Bury

Sir Robert Peel

In 1773 Sir Robert Peel’s family set up a calico printing works which marked the beginning of the cotton industry for Bury town centre, the works were located at Brooksbottom Mill in Summerseat just north of the town.

Cotton Mill

The Industrial Revolution

The industrial revolution was further supported in the town in 1808 by the introduction of the Manchester, Bolton and Bury canals. There were seven cotton mills in Bury by 1818.

Between 1801 and 1830, the population of the town more than doubled from 7,072 to 15,086. This was the time when the factories, mines and foundries, with their spinning machines and steam engines, began to dominate the landscape. The population grew further to 58,029 by 1901.

The railways soon followed and in 1846 Bury Bolton Street Station opened to link to Manchester.

Work Conquers All

The coat of arms was granted in 1877 with symbols representing local industry. In the quarters are the anvil (for forging), the golden fleece (the wool industry), a pair of crossed shuttles (the cotton industry) and a papyrus plant (the paper industry).

Above them are a closed visor capped by a mayfly and two red roses. The Latin motto “Vincit Omnia Industria” translates as “work conquers all”.

Art & Culture in Bury

Bury Art Museum

Building began in 1899 of Bury Art Museum. Architectural historian Sir Nickolaus Pevsner described the building as ‘probably the best building in Bury’

Modern Bury

Princess Street and Union Square in the town were demolished in the 1960s and shopping precinct was built. This development was replaced by The Mill Gate shopping centre in 1995. In 2010 The Rock development was built.