WITH the news that several vaccines with high percentage rates of success are in production, the end of the current pandemic could well be in our grasp.

Of course a mammoth effort is required and has many times in the past when battling disease outbreaks across Bury and the country.

Foot and Mouth disease has reared its head several times over the last 100 years and has brought chaos to the country’s farming industry.

While not nearly as threatening to humans, the highly contagious condition has brought chaos to the country , with two major outbreaks hitting the United Kingdom in recent decades.

In 1967, an outbreak saw more than 400,000 animals destroyed across more than 2,000 farms.

In the thirteen years before the 1967-8 epidemic, there were only two years with no recorded outbreaks of foot-and-mouth. Most were rapidly contained, but in the early 1950s there was also a substantial epidemic.

The disease was confirmed at four farms in the Radcliffe area - Openshaw Fold Farm and Coggra Fold Farm, off Bury and Bolton Road; Hampson Fold Farm, Red Bank; and Old Hall Farm, Bank Top. Ninety cattle and 40 pigs were destroyed and buried. Among those killed was a pedigree Friesian bull.

The farms involved were isolated and put under police supervision. People were only allowed in and out of the farm on necessary business and had to disinfect their footwear when they left.

Movements of cloven-hoofed animals within a two-mile radius of the farms was prohibited.

None of the Radcliffe farms involved had retail milk rounds.

Of course, the issue of infected milk had long been debated, and Colonel Charles Ainsworth, MP for Bury between 1918 and 1935, asked several questions to ministers regarding the importing of milk.

In 1927, he asked the Minister of Health whether, in view of the existence of foot-and-mouth disease in Switzerland, he was satisfied that the large quantities of condensed milk imported into Great Britain from that country are free from contamination.

The Minister of course informed him that the processes were safe - but in 2001, it wasn’t the UK fearing imports from Europe, it was Europe fearing imports from the UK.

The 2001 outbreak saw the delay of that year’s local elections and dwarfed the events of 1967.

More than 6 million cows and sheep were put down in an effort to contain the disease, which cost the country billions of pounds.

The buzzwords and phrases that we’ve come to groan at during this pandemic were ever-present in 2001.

Then Prime Minister Tony Blair said that the UK was “open for business”, while Shadow Home Secretary Anne Widdecombe accused the government of “dithering and delay.”

Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy said that the Tories were “”playing politics with the issue.”

However, the actions of councils and government were remarkably similar to their words.

Footpaths in Ramsbottom, Holcombe and Hawkshaw were closed to try to stop the foot and mouth disease reaching Bury.

Whitehall chiefs had declared the areas “at risk” because of a confirmed outbreak across the West Pennine Moor at a farm in Chorley.

Under powers granted to Bury Council, footpaths, tracks and bridleways crossing farm land in north Bury were shut until further notice.

Several children from local farms were also kept away from school as part of the quarantine efforts.

As will occur with this pandemic, several reports and inquiries took place - livelihoods were destroyed, the country worried and events were cancelled. But, slowly, life got back to normal.