JAMES DALY: We can save the Bury Art Museum as part of a shared heritage

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Thomas Wrigley was born in Bury in 1808 on the Bridge Hall estate and inherited his father’s stationery near Heap Bridge in 1846.

Under his ownership, the business flourished and Thomas became an important figure in the city and county.

He was an active activist and wrote many pamphlets.

He campaigned for the abolition of import duties on raw materials for papermaking and for the abolition of stamp duty on newspapers.

Thomas wrote extensively on railway management and reform; he even proposed a general education system years before the passing of the Education Act of 1870.

These are just a few of Thomas Wrigley’s great accomplishments, but he is a figure lost in time for many in our town, but he shouldn’t be.

Civic pride encompasses many things and can mean different things to different people.

Yet, in my opinion, a crucial part of the pride you have in the city you come from is knowing its history and how we can all play a part in safeguarding the legacy of those who have preceded.

Thomas died in 1880, leaving an important collection of private paintings.

The Wrigley Collection is the reason the Bury Art Museum was built in the late 19th century.

The collection was given to the Township of Bury by the Wrigley family, on the condition that there be a building for lodge which led to the construction of the Bury Art Gallery between 1897 and 1901.

At the opening ceremony, the Mayor of Bury, Colonel Walker, said: “It is a happy thing for the people of Bury that our friends, the members of the Wrigley family, have inherited not only the pictures of their father, but that they inherited his generous and good-hearted impulses.

“We honor them and are grateful for this wonderful gift.”

Indeed, our town and its elected officials honored the words of Colonel Walker and safeguarded this magnificent building and its contents for the benefit of all in Bury until recent times.

Out of rank incompetence, Bury’s Labour-led council, at a cost of tens of thousands of pounds, reduced the footprint of the ground floor library to install a sculpture center no one wanted or asked for .

Tory councilors in Bury campaigned for many years to reinstate the library, but this was ignored by Labour.

It is now reported that local residents are being asked to have a say in the future of the historic building, with an options assessment report from the council potentially proposing it be used as a ‘creative’ space.

I invite you all to participate in this consultation. Bury’s Art Gallery and Public Library has survived two World Wars, the Great Depression and many other challenges, but Labor’s mismanagement of council finances in recent times has brought it to its knees .

We can still save this important part of our common heritage and ensure that it continues to be used for the purpose intended when it was built over a century ago.

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