I'm from Bury

Originally uploaded by fred pipes
...sings Mark E Smith, even though he's from Prestwich, closer to Manchester. I'm from Bury, Lancs - or now Greater Manchester - in the North of England. I was born two years after World War II ended in a maternity hospital in a district called Jericho and lived for my first three years in Wyndham Street, in an area of central Bury called The Mosses. After that we went up in the world and moved nearer Whitefield (and Prestwich) to an estate of semis called Sunny Bank, when it was just three or four streets off Manchester Road, surrounded by fields. The fields were being built on - so lots of places to play, including lime pits - and today it's a huge sprawling suburb, a mainly Jewish overspill from North Manchester. Dad, being a travelling salesman for a paper-machinery company, had the only car, well, a green Commer van actually, in the street for many years. We weren't the first to get a television, however.

The Mosses was demolished and lay empty for years, the grid of streets still visible, hosting the annual fair, with its black pea stalls, nude show, steam yachts, big wheel and waltzers, which as kids were our discos, playing all the hits - Johnny and the Hurricanes, Del Shannon and Lord Rockingham's XI - at full volume, trying to mask out the noise of the huge throbbing generators ringing the fair's edges. Today it's buried under the 'world-famous' market and Angouleme Way (named after Bury's twin town in France).

School was a long walk away back in the direction of Bury: St Chad's near Gigg Lane, home of Bury FC 'The Shakers', and then after my 11+ Bury High School, which became The Derby School, and is now a sixth-form college. I failed to pass the entrance exam into Bury Grammar School so never met Victoria Wood! The other place to hear pop music was at football matches and I can remember first hearing The Shadows' Apache at Tranmere Rovers' ground, when Bury thrashed them 7-1 (on 1 October 1960).

Another place I lived for about a year 1961-62 was The Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Hospital in Oswestry, Salop, where I was 'cured' of a congenital defect - well, they tried their best. Treatment for the condition is much more successful nowadays. Soon after returning home, we moved to the other side of Bury, off Bolton Road, to a dormer bungalow. It was still a long walk to school! My sister and her children all live nearby to this day. In 1965 I travelled south, to London (along with pop star Peter Skellern), a place Down South I'd read about in Melody Maker, the NME and Sounds - where it was all happening.

The reason I'm writing this is to preface some reminiscences that I'm going to move over from my Geocities site to this blog, as Geocities will be closed down at some point.

Other reminiscences:
British Blues: part 1 Bury
British Blues: part 2 Manchester
British Blues: part 3 London
Glad Day and Guildford Arts Lab

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