2 nights in Manchester for a gig (Low at the Cathedral) and an “event” (IndyManBeerCon) gave me time for a long overdue trip on the tram to Bury, one of my favourite traditional market towns, and not just because of some memorable wins at Gigg Lane over the years.

Bury displays a fair bit of the architectural legacy of mill town status, though the very centre is a bit modern and functional compared with, say, Preston or Rochdale.  It’s cultural and leisure facilities more than compensate for this though, and parts of the town look absolutely glorious.  The old and new tiling dotted around are really attractive, and the civic buildings show how wealthy the town was a century ago.

The Clarence, a very smartly refurbished pub in the centre, show some real investment in central Bury’s pub scene, which is higher on quality than quantity.  The centre has a couple of decent Wetherspoons, a Holts, the usual night-time pubs, a steam train station buffet, and the Clarence’s big brother, the wonderful Automatic Café Bar, which is my breakfast choice.

I rate the “brunch” here one of the world’s great meals, up there with tripe in Florence, and not just because of the black pudding.  No doubt when I return they will include the calorie content on the menu and spoil it for me like Wetherspoons do.  The Automatic has a beer range (local Silver Street and Outstanding) as good as anywhere in Chorlton or Shoreditch.

The cultural tour in Bury should really include the Market (closed on Thursday) and take in the new potatoes stand, moving on to an Art Gallery as good as any in a town this size, and specialist Fusiliers and Transport Museums.  The town looks very spick and span in the autumn sunshine, which also show off the fantastic hills towards Rossendale and Ramsbottom to great effect.  With more time a walk north to Holcombe Brook would taken in some great suburbs as well.

It’s just a shame the centre doesn’t have more budget hotel options.

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