BURY, 1965: Regeneration Of A Town

Bury experienced substantial redevelopment in the mid 1960s. A short piece of amateur film purchased on ebay gives a fascinating insight into the Greater Manchester town at a time of great change.

Who Found This Old Film?

GuilfordGhost is a channel on YouTube which regularly uploads old cine films and home videos of places around Britain.

This 8mm film lasting 3 minutes and 47 seconds charts Bury’s regeneration in 1965. GuildfordGhost found it on ebay and subsequently uploaded it to YouTube for the world to enjoy.

Because it was made by an enthusiastic amateur, the quality of the sound and images on this footage sometimes falters. The contents, however, allow modern audiences to see how familiar Bury streets were in a process of change more than half a century ago.

Bury Changes in 1965

CHANGING PLACES – REGENERATION OF BURY (8mm, 1965)

When this film opens in 1965, the Bury regeneration programme is behind schedule because of financial constraints.

Permission had been granted to build the bypass road, which was to form the centre of the new planned environment.

We see the site of the now demolished Derby Hotel in the town centre’s Market Place. Already the replacement Ribblesdale House is nearing completion. In 2020, the building is home to a GP practice and domestic apartments. 

The old fire station is still standing. Its replacement right next door is nearing completion in 1965, although the new control centre is already in operation.

Nearby the new premises for the Trustees Savings Bank (TSB) are open, following completion in September. Previously, they were located in Silver Street. Created in 1810, TSB ceased to exist in December 2005 when they merged with Lloyds Bank.

The narrator refers to a dispute over the new building’s modern design. A protest group worked to save a terrace of Georgian houses lower down the same road.

The Grammar Schools In Bury In 1965

Next, the film looks at the two Grammar Schools in the centre of Bury.

In 1965, the old Grammar School in Pemberton Street was recently reconditioned to become a girls school.

Over the road is the new Grammar School for boys, which cost £240,000 to build. It was officially opened on 27th September by notable educator Eric John Francis James, Baron James of Rusholme.

The new school boasted a language laboratory, extensive library, and large assembly hall. A small weather station sat in the school grounds.

Bury’s Vacant Shops In 1965

Back in the town centre, we see Lester House in Market Street. Unlike the busy business centre with occupied shops in 2020, back in 1965 the same building suffered a long line of unoccupied windows. The shop premises were advertised ‘at low rent’, with applications directed to Isaac Neild & Co in Mosley Street, Manchester.

Furthermore, in Bolton Street a group of shop premises have stood unoccupied throughout the summer, notes the narrator.

Walshaw Under Threat In 1965

The film now moves west of Bury town centre to the quiet village of Walshaw.

We see the village cross, period houses, and the church which dominates the landscape.

Earlier in 1965 the then-minister of Housing and Local Government Mr Richard Crossman put forward an order for the compulsory purchase of 164 acres to be used housing. There was also a further area identified for overspill development.

Objections to these plans came from the councils of Bury and Manchester, Lancashire county council, and several independent bodies. At the time of filming, Bury town council was seeking an appeal to the order.

Closing scene to this short film is the big tree on Dow Lane, looking across the lane and fields towards Walshaw. The tree has survived.

Finally, we see a slide stating this film was a B.C.S. production.

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