THIS year marks the 40th anniversary of the opening of Bury Interchange.

The £4.5 million road-rail interchange was opened for business on March 17, 1980, by British Rail and combined a terminus for the heavy rail line between Bury and Manchester and a new bus station.

At the time Bury town centre had undergone a radical transformation including the construction of new section of Angouleme Way.

Over the decades the borough has been home to no less than 17 railway stations and the opening of Bury Interchange also marked the closure of the historic Bolton Street Station which was shut on the same day after 134 years of serving as the town’s main station.

Bolton Street had been opened by the original East Lancashire Railway company ­— a name that would later be taken by the preservation group which has operated the line and station as a heritage attraction since 1987.

By the time the interchange opened only one passenger service was still operating out of Bolton Street ­— that connecting to Manchester Victoria ­— as lines to Holcombe Brook, Accrington, Bacup, Clifton Junction, and finally Rawtenstall were axed from the 1950s to the 1970s.

Bury Interchange also replaced the Knowsley Street Station which had stood nearby since 1848 until it was closed in 1970 as part of the Beeching Cuts to the British Rail network.

The station had provided services west to Bolton and Wigan and east to Heywood and Rochdale which were severed, and the Bolton line permanently dismantled, after its closure. However the Heywood line was reopened by the East Lancashire Railway in 2003.

Bury Interchange’s own heavy rail infrastructure proved short lived as a huge transport experiment got underway in a bid to increase connectivity around Greater Manchester.

Ever since the railway had arrived in what has become the city-region in the19th century, infrastructure and traffic had predominantly passed east-west, leaving north-south routes chronically under-served.

To overcome the disparity ­— and to improve urban public transport in Manchester ­— a light rail project was created.

This evolved into the Metrolink which opened in 1992. Its first phase comprised conversion of the two heavy rail lines between Bury and Manchester Victoria, and Altrincham and Manchester Piccadilly, as well as a street-level tramway through the city centre.

Since then the Metrolink has expanded to become the UK’s biggest light rail network, connecting Bury Interchange to more than 90 stops and stations.

In 2011 the interchange underwent a long overdue refurbishment including a £250,000 remodelling of the 1980s toilets following a lengthy public campaign.