BURY has been prominent in the political arena in recent weeks.

The high coronavirus infection rate across the borough, coupled with the rates in Greater Manchester and tier three restrictions being introduced, has meant Bury is often cited in parliament and national media.

But, what has it been like when Bury hosts politics?

The town has often welcomed Prime Ministers and leaders of the opposition during election campaigns and party rallies - and there’s always something going on.

Edward Heath, when still in opposition in March, 1970, was even tempted to do a little sailing when he made a brief unscheduled visit to Elton.

The trip to Elton Sailing Club came a couple of months before the General Election in June, with Mr Heath hoping to become PM following six years of a Labour government.

However, talented yachtsman Mr Heath didn’t take to the water, despite “a good breeze”, as “he hadn’t really the time.”

Mr Heath’s campaigning in the borough did work in the end - the old Bury and Radcliffe constituency, as well as Middleton and Prestwich, changed hands and went blue during the election, as the Conservatives commanded a majority with 330 seats.

Due to the borough’s results, perhaps it was sensible for Harold Wilson to visit the area prior to the next election - and he did just that.

During one visit in November 1972, Mr Wilson made a trip to Radcliffe Civic Hall in Mellor Street to meet local party members.

About to enter his 10th year as leader of the Labour Party, Mr Wilson gladly accepted petitions and autographs from those in attendance.

However, the visit seemed to affect one woman slightly more than she would have liked, as she collapsed while waiting to give Mr Wilson a petition.

Mrs Elsie Ormerod, 66, of James Street, Radcliffe, had been standing outside the Civic Hall while Mr Wilson was meeting other members.

Two General Elections occurred in 1974 - one in February and one in October - as neither party managed to obtain a majority in the former.

Middleton and Prestwich returned to Labour for both, under Jim Callaghan (not related to to the former PM of the same name), who remained an MP until his retirement in 1997.

Bury and Radcliffe remained conservative in the February election, with Michael Fidler holding a tiny majority of 345.

However, Labour’s Frank White managed to win the seat in October, albeit with another small majority of 442. He would hold the seat again in 1979 - with a majority of 38.

Bury and Radcliffe and Middleton and Prestwich would be replaced in the 1983 election, with various parts going on to form Bury North, Bury South and Heywood and Middleton.

Prime Minister John Major visited Bury North and Bury South MPs, Alistair Burt and David Sumberg in February 1992, ahead of the election that year.

Mr Major enjoyed a cup of tea and a biscuit or two aboard the East Lancashire Railway with the duo, while also stopping to shake hands with children who had gathered at the Bury station.

His visit was not without its detractors however, as protestors gathered outside of the town hall to demand education for adults.

Mr Major would go on to win the 1992 election in a shock result, with both Bury MPs retaining their seats.

Both would lose their seats in 1997, as Tony Blair was swept to power in a landslide.

Bury North wouldn’t go blue again until 2010, while Bury South remained in Labour’s hands until 2019.