ONCE thought to be consigned to the dustbin of musical history, or at best the bedrooms of a handful of faithful enthusiasts ­— vinyl is back. And from records to turntables Bury is at the cutting edge of the vinyl revival.

During the late 80s and early 90s vinyl record sales plummeted as people turned first to cassettes and CDs, and later to downloading and streaming services, as the preferred way to consume their music.

But starting in the mid 2000s a revolution got underway which has seen vinyl sales explode in the UK.

Although paid-for streaming services still command around 80 per cent of recorded music sales, vinyl purchases grew for the 12th consecutive year in 2019.

A whopping 4.3 million LPs were snapped up over the last 12 months ­— equivalent to one in every eight album sales ­— of which the biggest sellers were records from artists as diverse as Liam Gallagher, Amy Winehouse and Jeff Wayne.

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This renewed interest has also cultivated a renaissance in high street record shops, reversing years of decline and closures which saw dealers outside major cities almost go extinct.

Last summer new independent record store Wax and Beans opened at The Art Picture House ­in Haymarket Street and proved in instant smash hit.

Voracious appetite for vinyl has meant the outlet is already drawing up blueprints to relocate to larger premises to better meet the needs of Bury’s music lovers.

Ben Soothill, Wax and Beans’ owner, said: “I think interest in vinyl has always been there, it’s just that it has not been completely accessible.

“With the push we have given it on social media and the service we provide in store I think it has struck a chord with people.

“They realise it’s there, and it’s a format they have always loved, and it’s really taken off.

“We have sold the best part of 10,000 records in the last seven months which from a standing start is fantastic.”

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High street stalwarts HMV are also riding high on the vinyl wave, with Bury’s store recently expanding its vinyl section, which is stocked alongside cleaning equipment, accessories and a range of turntables and decks.

Steve Toolan, manager at HMV Bury, said: “I look at it like an investment. An investment in a band or artist that you admire, an investment in the ritual of listening to two sides of vinyl and taking in the artwork and sleeve notes ­— and hence therefore an investment of your time as well.

“Get a limited edition first pressing and it could be a financial investment. Plus, it’s a cool thing to do again and 50-year-old blokes are bonding with their teenage sons and daughters over it.

“Personally, I think the 'collecting' part might be a bigger reason for its success than the quality reasons. Look at how popular Record Store Day is and how many people lost their collections on Discogs. It’s a huge subject of conversation.”

For the bargain-hunting vinyl connoisseur Bury’s charity shops also furnish a treasure trove of unique finds.

Among these is Bury Hospice’s shop in Ramsbottom which has been taking in records for the last five years and has recently started accepting cassettes.

In the last month the shop has even sold two Sony Walkmans and, at time of writing, had a record player for sale.

Another recent addition to the town is a huge record fair, where people can pour over crates of records from dozens of traders, which has made Bury Market one of its regular fixtures.

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A defining features of the resurgence of sales and interest in vinyl has been its transcendence of genre and age boundaries, as older music fans dig out favourites and classic cuts, while teenagers hunt out the latest releases.

Many also point to vinyl and record shops' essential physicality, both in format and the way fans and retailers interact ­— in rejection of the dehumanised digital divide.

Ben said: “For me its an interactive experience, something social, and about having a face to face chat with another person about music. That’s the over arching thing that’s going on in Bury and it’s really exciting.

“Sometimes its about the hunt, about finding that lost album that you need in your collection, or upgrading your favourite album in your collection.

"But young people are also buying new music on what is perceived to be an old format. For them it's new and something worth discovering."

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For others, like turntable restorer Tim Morgan-Barrett, vinyl is a way of life.

Tim started collecting back in 1979 when he bought his first single, Tubeway Army’s Are Friends Electric, and Pink Floyd’s The Wall, with money saved from his paper round.

Four decades on and his Nangreaves home is stacked wall to wall with more than 6,500 records.

Vinyl's ultimate appeal, says Tim, comes from its “tangibility”.

"It's a kickback against the instant download culture," he added. "Plus there's also old farts like me who want to go back to a time when you could go to a shop and buy it. People want to browse a bit and look at things before they buy.

“Bury seems to be up and coming again. We’ve got a couple of decent record stores, music festivals and for a town this size it punches well above its weight.”