Welcome to the Community Memories Section – where anyone can share their Bury New Road stories and photos…
Please email stories to firstname.lastname@example.org…
Jane Murphy has lived around Bury New Road since the 1970s, worked at Prestwich Hospital and met her love on the 95 bus at Sedgley….
2. Jane’s Story…
I grew up in the Rossendale valley and as a teenager in the 70s, Bury New Road (BNR) was the final part of the magical bus journey that led to the Free Trade Hall. Rod Stewart, David Bowie, Elton John, Pink Floyd, the Kinks, Sparks and many more – each for about £2 a ticket…
These journeys back and forth involved the bus passing Prestwich Hospital which at that time had a large hoarding displayed in the grounds, adjacent to BNR, saying something along the lines of ‘You too could work here – ring, write or call’…Hmmm. I had no plans and I would be closer to the Free Trade Hall…so, I applied and in no time at all was sitting in a classroom situated in a large imposing Victorian building situated on BNR (which is now KFC).
I could have moved into the nurses home but being an independent spirit, I rented what I regarded as a bohemian attic flat (stupefyingly hot in summer, freezing in winter!) on the Cliff in Lower Broughton just off BNR. And so began bus journeys of a different kind – standing waiting for the 95 at 6.15am and again at 7.15pm to take me up and down BNR for the long 12 hour shifts that were the norm at Prestwich Hospital.
These journeys were gradually enhanced by the presence of a fellow student, who got on the 95 at the toll booth stop at Sedgley Park. He lived at No. 463 BNR, one of a pair of very handsome Victorian semis (now sadly demolished), that we retrospectively found had housed numerous friends and acquaintances over the years. (Spoiler alert – we get together!)
We would travel up BNR to the gates of the hospital and walk down the drive under a canopy of blossom in spring or a lash of hailstones in winter, to our separate wards.
Despite the long days, we still had the energy to socialise in the evenings and were spoilt for choice on BNR – the Wilton, the Nats, The Foresters, the Red Lion and, if you weren’t on duty the next day, The Catholic Club. There was live music from local bands like The Fall, Last Chicken in the Shop and Smack, and poetry from John Cooper Clarke. These pubs were packed with local people, students and staff from the hospital, student teachers from Sedgely Park/De la Salle and the Labour Party crowd. A diverse band in which friendship groups overlapped and house parties were numerous!
Our first house together was off BNR in Prestwich with a mortgage from the Nat West Bank and furniture on HP from the first floor of Tower Buildings. Our three children went to Park View school, just off BNR, plainly visible from upstairs on the Ribble bus that took me to the Free Trade Hall all those years ago. They have grown up having similar connections to us with BNR – they variously worked in Tesco and Blockbusters as students, played pool in Riley’s, socialised in the Nats and the Grapes, watched football in the Red Lion, did the pub quiz in The Foresters, enjoyed food in the Anatolian Grill and Remal, ran a poetry night in Rufus and worked in All the Shapes.
We lived in Prestwich until 12 years ago when we ‘emigrated’ to Whitefield! We now live off Lily Hill Street, which runs parallel, and was the predecessor to BNR before its construction in 1828. When our grandchildren visit, we take them to the soft play centre in Whitefield Methodist, Hamilton Park and trips on the Metrolink – all reassuringly situated on BNR.
What a deep vein this road has been throughout my life and thank you to the Bury New Road project for bringing it to my attention…
Rita Higginbottom, originally from Lower Kersal, on the Rialto, Mike Leigh, Saint Phillips School, Our Lady of Dolours Church, Sedgley Village, the sweet shop at Kersal Bar and babies sleeping in drawers…
1. Rita’s Story…
I lived in Lower Kersal, just off Littleton Road, but I went to Saint Phillips School, near Bury New Road. Every weekday the No 2 bus took me back and forth, past Cussons (my first job) and up Moor Lane. If I missed the bus after school I used to walk home, detouring across Kersal Moor, my favourite fantasy playground. On Saturdays, the Moor was a shortcut past the reservoir (broken promises never to go near there) to Sedgley to visit my friend, Janet Green. I loved Janet’s family; five girls and a baby brother. Her mum was a Tupperware agent and her kitchen was like a showroom. Sedgley Park teachers training college offered drama lessons on Saturdays and we were regulars.
One winter, when I was about six, we waited hours for the school bus to arrive. The arctic wind howled straight across Littleton Road playing fields and right through my thin coat and around my bare legs. The mothers had been campaigning for years to get a bus stop but the council didn’t agree. When we finally reached school, everyone greeted the kids from Lower Kersal, wrapped us in their coats, gave us their shoes and socks while ours dried out on radiators.
I remember everyone from school being given Union Jack flags and lining both sides of Bury New Road watching the Queen go by in a beautiful black limousine. 1965 maybe? What an amazing experience. Me, seeing the Queen! When I was 25, it was me organising the Queen’s visit – to the newly opened Liverpool Road Science Museum.
We used to buy a penny brick to help build the new Our Lady of Dolours church. We were so proud to see the new church and know that we had bought some of the bricks! I loved that church. Ours was like an old shed in comparison. And I loved the priests – most were young and great fun with tales of adventures in Africa – and they gave us photos of babies that we could give names to when they returned to Africa to baptise them.
I always wanted to live on Bury New Road and not in a council house in Lower Kersal. It seemed like everyone who lived near my school was well off. Everyone in my street was poor. One woman had burned all the inside doors to keep her kids warm in winter. To see a new baby sleeping in a drawer was normal. Some girls who took the bus with me had no knickers. I was lucky, I got a new dress and coat every Whitsun. Sometimes new shoes too. Meat and two veg for tea even if it was sometimes fried Spam, chips and beans. My friends nearby mostly lived on toast. I was always running away from home, running up Oaklands Road and Moor Lane to my beloved Bury New Road. Then I would return home to an angry father, a tearful mother and a burnt dinner.
In our last year at St Phillips we used to run errands to Sedgley Village during lunchtime for the teachers. I felt so grown up! Such freedom! My favourite was the florist’s shop and I remember saving up the change we were often allowed to keep to buy my mum a bunch of daffodils there for Mother’s Day.
We were also curious about the Jewish community living around King’s Road, so one of our teachers arranged a visit to a school and synagogue. My dad’s family all lived in Bury so, Sundays and holidays we would often be waiting for the 95 bus outside the Hazledean Hotel. Christmas was my favourite time when you could look through the entrance and see the enormous Christmas tree lit up with coloured lights! So now, I place my Christmas tree so you can see it when you open the front door.
There was also a little shop at the corner of Moor Lane which sold sweets and newspapers. The old lady had a tin for those of us with a penny – or even a halfpenny – to buy a couple of bazookas or even a tiny bar of Cadbury’s milk chocolate. That was such a treat!
During school holidays, I would often walk to Heaton Park to spend the day with school friends. It seems we walked everywhere then.
When I was 13, my friend Mavis Greenhalgh introduced me to North Salford Youth Club. We had no bus money so we used to run across the fields behind Kersal Flats and up through the forest past the lanny (landslide). Then walk down Bury New Road towards the Rialto cinema. This area was all new to me and Saturday morning cinema at the Rialto became the place to meet boys from the youth club.
My first kiss was on Bury New Road! Later, the Roller Rink and new swimming pool were the places to go, but money was short so sometimes it was just a walk. Mavis and I were jealous of Linda Thompson who was very pretty and whose boyfriend could afford to pay for both of them to see a film and kiss on the back row. But he always paid in shillings which was strange. Then Linda told us he was in borstal for robbing gas meters!
This was also where Jimmy Savile lived and I remember hearing stories of the lucky kids who were invited up to his flat. How envious I was…
I met Mike Leigh a couple of years ago and we traded stories about Salford. My mother’s family had all lived in Lower Broughton (where I was born). He had lived near Cheetham Hill. We talked about watching Manchester United youths at The Cliff training ground, some of which I had met at the Youth Club (Sammy McIlroy). The Cat Lady also lived near the Cliff and we regularly took our kittens for her to find homes. I never knew her name!
Jimmy Kehoe was the teacher who changed the course of my life. Unsurprisingly he later became headmaster of Saint Phillips. Along with a few others, he plucked me from under the nose of Sadistic Sister Jane, who was big on singing folk songs and nice handwriting, and taught us maths and enrolled us to sit the 11-plus. By some miracle I passed and got a place at Adelphi House Grammar. I had no idea anywhere like this existed and was completely thrown by the whole thing.
Another insane nun running the place and girls from places like Eccles and Oldham. No money for uniform so Aunty May’s knitting needles went into overdrive on the school jumpers and every Christmas and birthday was another bit of uniform from Henry Barry’s in St Ann’s Square. My mother insisting that clothes two sizes too big could be easily adjusted and would last six years. She was right, even if the skirt fabric was shiny by the end of it.
By 14 I wouldn’t be seen dead wearing my glasses so had many adventures on the wrong buses, some of which involved long walks down Bury New Road.
When I was researching my family tree, I was surprised to discover that my dad’s family had once lived in exactly the area I so wanted to live. Why couldn’t they have stayed there?