About Bolton


Topics + People

Townships + Places



Terms + Disclaimer

Carnival time outside the Spinners Arms
Mary Ann with Bertha Banks
New Bury Women's Hockey Team

New Bury 'Village Life'

by Phoebe Holden

According to Phoebe Holden, the area round the Community Centre (once St James Junior School) had all the trappings of a small village. It even had a row of thatched cottages on Buckley Lane, just where the chippy (once the CO-OP) is now. Phoebe's mother told her that they were still there around the turn of the century.

At the hub of this village were the streets around the old school. These were, the bottom end of Piggot Street, Buckley Lane, St James Street, and Barton Road and in between these last two were Lower Street and Higher Street, with a passage between them called the 'Wint'.

These two streets have gone now, but there are still remnants of them left, such as the cobbled street next to the Community Centre and the row of terraced houses on, what's called Thornton Close. But in their day they were a real hive of activity and life. There was even a pub called the 'Spinners Arms' it was next to the 'Wint'.

Practically all round the outside of the area was fields, apart, from Blindsill, Blindsill Road, Gorton Street and George 3 Street, Dixon Green to the North area and Albert Road area to the East. This gave the area its own identity and the people there organised their own activities. For example, there used to be carnivals in New Bury. These were held in the fields at the back of Barton Road (where Greenfold and that are now), which used, to be called 'Black Lane' because it was a muddy, dirt road.

For the carnival there was a procession through the village. All the streets had decorations across them and there were tableaus, such as "Lilac Time" and so on. There were competitions for Morris Dancers and Jazz Bands. Adelaide Street Jazz Band, from Daubhill, used to compete in that, but there were local lads in the New Bury Jazz Band who competed against them. As well as this there were walking days, when the girls wore frilly dresses and carried Lilac Baskets with ribbons attached.

There were also a lot of organised sports going on in the village. It had its own women's hockey team, made up of all local girls, and based at the Church Army Centre. On Piggott Street, they played in a local league against teams from Little Hulton and Farnworth etc. There was a local football team, based at the same centre and another local cricket team apart from Social Circle. Phoebe's Uncle George was captain of them.

So, this gives us some idea of the spirit of the place, but what about the place itself? We've already heard about Barton Road being called Black Lane, Pheobe also reckons that the stretch between the centre (or school) and the cricket ground was called the 'Sinkhole'. It had four cottages on it, which seemed to be down a dip.

Lower Street had four rows of terraced houses on it, the middle row was the old back to backs, and it curved at the end towards the school. Between Lower Street and Higher Street was a very narrow cobbled lane. It was too narrow to get a cart down it, so if people wanted something taken to the backs of their houses they had to carry everything on foot.

There were a lot of flies around the streets because they had open 'middens'. In those days there weren't the flush toilets, going into the sewers that we have now.

All the 'stuff' went into these middens behind the toilets and the 'midnight muckmen' would come after dark. They had big carts, with four high sides, big wheels and a lamp hung on the back. These men had to open the wooden doors to the 'midden' arid shovel everything out into the cart. It must have been a lonely life being on of these men.

Anyway, because of this there were "loads of flies in those days", according to Phoebe. So when the milkmen came round (there were no milk bottles then), they left the milk in Jugs on the windowsills, the Jugs had to have lids on with beads hanging round the bottom to keep the flies off.

As for shopping, for things other than milk, there were all the local shops, especially the Co-op, which was very popular. But there was also Phoebe's Grandad Jack Thorpe. Not only did he have a 'peg leg', he also had greengrocers on Barton Road (where the flats are now). While his wife, Phoebe's Grandma, worked in the shop he went round Plodder Lane with a horse and cart selling greengroceries. He was a local character who must have been busy, because he also owned three houses in Lower Street and did his own roofing, even with his 'peg leg'.

Apart from the local shops, people used to travel into Farnworth for the market and all the other shops. People used to walk it a lot, but there was public transport if you had enough for the fare. At first there were Horse Drawn Waggonettes. These picked up at the market for New Bury, the driver used to shout "any more for New Bury?"

Then came the trams. Phoebes uncle, George Thorpe, - a professional footballer with Leeds, Huddersfield and Bury, he was a goalie as were all Phoebes male relations - travelled on the first tram from New Bury to the Black Horse. It went down Buckley Lane and Long Causeway and the fare was 1d. George only had the money to get there, he had to walk back, and this was around 1919.

After the trams came the trolley buses, which went from Brackley Street in Farnworth, down Buckley Lane and on to Little Hulton and Walkden. Then, one Christmas time, buses started running. They came from Farnworth to Dixon Green and turned left into George Street, terminating opposite St James' Church, just past Tudor Avenue.

Even with this transport, most local people still walked it to work. The bulk of the men worked in the pits. Local ones were Ashton Field and Brackley in Little Hulton. While the New Bury men walked to Little Hulton, to work down the pits, many Little Hulton girls were walking the other way to work in the mills. There were no mills in Little Hulton, so they'd come over here to Century Mill on George Street, Eli Dysen's on Piggott Street, Barnes on Glynne Street and Gladstone Road, Nuttall's and Prestwiches on Longcauseway and so on.

If they worked at Century Mill they'd walk past the pens on Barton Road. These used to be called the "owd garden" before that, and the locals played cricket on it. Anyway, Phoebe's granddad used to keep geese in these pens and these geese seemed to know when the mill girl's were coming. They'd get excited waiting for them, so when they walked past the geese would chase the girls, who'd throw their breakfasts down and run like mad.

To give some idea of what the people were like, there was Mrs. Birtles who lived in Lower Street, when the local lads were at a loose end, she'd welcome them into her house and give them a brew to cheer them up, she'd never have any trouble. There was also Mrs. Janson and Mrs. Cranshaw, who laid everyone out when they died. But the most famous of all the locals we're Tommy and Ralph Banks, who lived on George Street. Not only was their Great Grandma the village "knocker up" (woke everyone up in the mornings), they both played football for Bolton Wanderers. Tommy even played for England at full back, yet he still got the 42 or 143 bus to Burnden Park with all the fans. And he'd mix with them too. They now live in Elsie Street Farnworth.

This has been Phoebe Holden's story of, what was, a local village. Her opinion of the people that lived in it is that "They were very nice", " all were friendly and everyone helped one another"

We'll end with these words.