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1868 - The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland

"BURY, a parish, market town, and parliamentary borough, partly in the hundred of Salford, and partly in the higher division of the hundred of Blackburn, in the county palatine of Lancaster, 9 miles to the N. of Manchester, and 198 miles from London, by the London and North-Western (via Trent Valley), and the Lancashire and Yorkshire railways, on the latter of which it is a station. It is situated in a fertile but partly hilly district, on the banks of the rivers Irwell and Roche, which meet a little below the town. The parish extends over an area of 24,320 acres, and comprises the townships of Bury Coupe with Leach, Newhall-Hey, Hall-Carr, Elton, Heap, Henheads, Heywood, Musbury, Higher Tottington, Lower Tottington, and Walmersley-cum-Shuttleworth. Bury is a very ancient place, and was anciently the site of one of the twelve baronial castles of Lancashire, the last remains of which were destroyed during the civil war of the 17th century. It stood by the Irwell, the course of which has since changed. The site of the fortress is still called Castle Croft. Bury is an important and flourishing manufacturing town. Its original staple was the woollen manufacture, which was first established here in the reign of Edward III., and had attained such importance in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, that an aulnager (or measurer) was stationed here to stamp the cloth produced. This manufacture is still carried on in several large establishments, employing a great number of hands. But the present staple of the town is the cotton manufacture in all its branches. To the ingenuity of the Kays, of this place, several valuable inventions and improvements in the manufacture are owing, especially the picking-peg, or flying shuttle, the drop box, and the card engine. The establishment of the great print-works of Sir Robert Peel, father of the late statesman, gave a great impulse to the trade of the town and neighbourhood. Besides numerous large cotton-mills, there are also extensive print-works, bleach-grounds, several iron foundries, falling-mills, hat and other factories. The district abounds in coal; and good stone for building purposes is quarried in the hills. The town has increased in extent, and been considerably improved during the present century. A large proportion of the houses are modern and well built; the streets are mostly paved and lighted with gas, and the drainage has been improved. There is a good water supply. A townhall has been erected by the Earl of Derby, which contains assembly rooms, a police-office, and court-rooms. It is a handsome structure of stone, in the Italian style. Close to it is the athenaeum, a handsome new building, comprising a large hall, a museum, reading and other rooms. The local government, formerly entrusted to three constables, appointed yearly by the lord of the manor, is now vested in the county magistrates and a body of commissioners, appointed under a Local Improvement Act. Bury was constituted a parliamentary borough by the Reform Act, and returns one member to parliament. The borough limits include the township of Bury, and part of the township of Elton, extending over an area of 3,360 acres. It comprises 7,241 houses, inhabited by a population of 37,564, against 31,262 in 1851, showing an increase of 6,302 in the decennial period. Petty sessions are held regularly twice a week in the town. Bury is the seat of a Poor-law Union, the head of a County Court district, and one of the polling places for the south division of the county. The town contains a dispensary, founded in 1829, and a savings-bank, established in 1822. The Union poorhouse is in the neighbouring township of Birtle. The living is a rectory in the diocese of Manchester, of the annual value of £1,937, in the patronage of the Earl of Derby. The church, which was rebuilt with the exception of the tower in 1776, is dedicated to St. Mary. A new tower and spire were erected about 1845. A chapel of ease, dedicated to St. John, was built in 1770, the living is a perpetual curacy, worth £170, in the patronage of the Rector of Bury. A new church, dedicated to St. Paul, was erected about 1848, the living of which is a perpetual curacy in the patronage of trustees. There are eleven other district churches in the parish, situated respectively at Edenfield, Elton, Holcombe, Heywood, Heap St. James, Musbury, Ramsbottom, Shuttleworth, Tottington, Walmersley, and Waterfoot. The livings of all are perpetual curacies, varying in value from £345 to £110. There is in the town a Roman Catholic chapel, an elegant Gothic structure, erected about 1840. There are three chapels belonging to the Independents, and one each to the Unitarians, Wesleyans, Association, New Connexion, and Primitive Methodists. A free grammar school was founded and endowed by Roger Kay in 1726, the revenue of which is now about £500 per annum. Two exhibitions at the universities are attached to it. The school is under the management of trustees. The National school was established in 1815, and is partly supported by the endowment of a previously existing free school for 80 boys and 30 girls, founded in 1748 by the Hon. and Rev. John Stanley; most of the children are clothed out of the funds of the charity. There are in the town various other schools. There is a branch canal, formed about 1790, connecting Bury with the Manchester and Bolton canal. North of the town is Chamber Hall, the property of the Peels, and the residence of the first Sir Robert Peel. The late statesman was born at this mansion, or in a cottage close by it, in 1788. Thursday was the day fixed by the original grant for holding the market, which is now held on Saturday. Annual fairs are held on the 8th March, the 3rd May, and the 18th September."