Here are some lovely memories of people’s holiday experiences from the 50s onwards. It will form the basis of my next piece in The Bolton News (Wednesday June 30th):
Bolton Holidays – or Bolton Wakes? People’s recollections
Roni Cunliffe: In the 70s we went to Margate on the coach every year for 6 years while there we went to the shell grotto and Margate caves ,we also used to go on the hovercraft in the times we went there we went on the swift the on the sure , we also went to Broadstairs to the beach on the bus from Margate
Carol Walsh: I remember Wakes Weeks, my grandma used to take me and my brother on the train to Blackpool, the same boarding house in York St. (Central ) every year. Great memories.
Jayne Littler: My dad was an engineer and had the Wakes weeks off. We went to a B and B in Scarborough twice, bus to train station and train to Scarborough . Can’t remember if we changed trains or direct . We also hired a little bathing hut above the open air swimming pool on south shore. My brother had to be rescued by a lifeguard when he fell in and couldn’t get back up. When I was little went to see family in Cornwall on the train I think it was fourteen hours and we had a compartment for us four plus grandparents. Often my dad would say I wish we had enough money on holiday to buy you an ice cream everyday
Joanne Campbell: We did go away during Bolton Holidays, but not sure where. However, i remember 1 year we didn’t go away and I went to get a paper from the terminus at Andrew Lane, Astley Bridge, and staying there, sorting the papers and selling them for a least on one of the weeks, for nothing. It gave me something to do as I was an early riser. The local shops, at the bottom of Sharples Ave would close at dinner every day.
Andrea Coward: When British Rail was British Rail – my dad worked there and got free family tickets , we went to St Ives every year , didn’t have to pay for trains , we got a sleeper carriage , a very long way to St Ives from Bolton but was possible on the holiday express. One steam train to Manchester then the electric fast train, (holiday express) dad always got the Bolton Holidays weeks off from work, I remember spending many happy holidays on the beach with mum and dad , holidays are more difficult to book with work these days , didn’t realise how lucky I was.
Lesley Rayton: remember them being called Wakes Weeks… We used to go en masse from Moor Lane on Ribble Coaches to Torquay, usually coaches split up into 2/3 that more or less drove down together and used different stop offs for Drinks/Toilets etc… Loved it I was a young teenager at the time…Also during these holidays the Newsagents would close and you’d buy your Papers from allocated places on the Streets/Roads
Christine Salt: I worked in the travel office at Ribble, Bolton, for many years. Bolton holidays, (last Saturday in June and first week of July ), were mad busy, dozens of coaches going to places such as Rhyl, Llandudno , Newquay , Bournemouth etc, and every day hundreds of customers taking day trips to Blackpool, various zoos, Betws-y-Coed in Wales, and many more. Some days we didn’t even manage a cup of tea. Even when Continental holidays really took off, we still lots at day and weekly excursions, as well as cruise bookings and many package holidays. Obviously none of us were able to go away for Bolton Holidays.
David Collier: In the Bolton Holiday Weeks the Bolton Evening News could be bought in the more popular resorts. I can remember being sent to buy one in Rhyl!
Nigel Greensitt: As a kid we would go away, maybe to North Wales or Torquay. I was impressed that the shops on the caravan sites would know where we came from “just by the way you talk” when in all probability it was because they knew when the various towns had their ‘wakes weeks’ ( Bolton always the two weeks following the last Saturday in June ) .
Jon Heath: I still go on holiday first week of what was Bolton holidays, we used to all pile in our auntie and uncles car and go to Robin Hood camp then we started to go to Towyn caravan sites as there was more going on, down the main Rd there sandbank, led to the sea wall and the beach, later years still we started travelling by coach from Moor Lane, was very hectic and dad would be cursing, grandma made us sandwich spread butties to eat on the coach, like having a picnic on arrival the trolleyboys would be waiting to load your cases and take you to your campsite, dad would obviously have to tip them, the coaches only went to Rhyl then not Towyn, you could buy Bolton evening news there, it was very exciting from start to finish, some of my friends never went away, and we would bring friends next door bars of rock, I loved the memories made and because of this took my own children, grandchildren and now me and my husband still go, wakes week, first week, last Saturday in June.when we came home the fair was still on Moor Lane and we would go on the fair, great 2 weeks
Arthur Singleton: In the 1950’s we always went for a weeks holiday in Bolton’s Wakes Week. Always went to Fleetwood. Did this for a decade. Lunch at the same Fish and Chip Shop near the Euston Hotel. Not surprisingly saw a few of my Uncles ( not my real uncles ) and Families there every year. Always stayed with Mrs Hawkins B&B at 16 Windsor Terrace just opposite the Pier. Always fascinated with a Fortune Teller on the sea front , the Marionette man near the Bowling Greens and remember glorious long days in the Open Air Swimming Pool. Too dangerous to go in the sea because of the River. Always by Steam train from Bolton and when we got there we always went to Knott End by Ferry. For years my Dad convinced me we had been to the Isle of Man. I don’t remember it ever raining. What made me laugh were all the Bolton workmen sat in deck chairs sleeping the Lunchtime boozing off – with suntanned faces and arms and white bodies that looked as though they had never seen the sun. Don’t mention the woollen Swimming trunks which could hold 20 lbs of spuds when they were wet.
Vincent Malcolm Wright: I remember them being called Wakes Weeks and everyone knew when all other local towns Wakes Weeks were too. We always went to Blackpool to a Boarding House in Derby Road, near the baths and I have lots of old photos. When I was around 7 or 8 we started going to Northern Island for two weeks to a place called Warrenpoint and I have quite a lot of photos from those years too. As I got to 10 or so we began going to North Wales, originally Rhyll then later to Abergele, oddly I don’t have any photos from that period. I do remember pestering my Dad to leave soon enough on last Saturday so I’d be home in time for Roller Skating at Bridgeman Street Rink.
Cheryl Green: I remember it being called Bolton Holidays in the 70s although my nan from Atherton used to call wakes week. I never understood what she meant. We were fortunate enough to go on holiday Easter week, June week and Sept week but only to Pontins and Butlins and mum and dad used to take us to Cheetham Hill for all our holiday gear a couple of weeks beforehand . We were each given a black bin liner at the door and we’d pick out our own stuff and wasn’t allowed to wear any of it until the holiday started so everything was brand new. Not sure if that was the norm in them days or if it was just mum’s thing.I remember those times fondly
Margie Hodgetts: Day trips to Blackpool on a charabanc (coach) communal singing all the way home and a flat cap passed around for a tip for the driver! Holidays in Fleetwood with the highlight of the evening being the first to spot the Isle of Man ferry coming onto the horizon! Simple pleasures!
Ada Evans: I remember Wakes Weeks when all the shops used to close and I mean allthe shops and Bolton used to be like a Ghost Town. Every body used to go on Holiday Happy Days.
Mosie Wild: Lots of people from Farnworth used to go down to Cornwall when I was younger full they went for Bolton holidays. But we used to go to Scarborough. And even one year my dad got a coach trip up to take other people from Falmouth over to Scarborough for Bolton holidays.
Jackie Richards: Bolton Wakes, oh what lovely memories. 1955 Kent Street, Farnworth. I was 7 and there was something up. A burning hot Friday even the tarmac on the road was melting and the factory workers were running up the street, laughing and shouting and singing, ‘We’re off, we’re off, we’re off in a motor car, 50 bobbies are after us and we don’t know where we are’. At 8.00 after a wash and change I was bundled into a coach waiting in Frederick Street along with half the street. We were going to Fleetwood to catch the Lady Of Man to the Isle of Man. Such excitement I had never known before. It was a rough overnight crossing but no one minded, all the fellas during in the bar whilst women and children are butties and cake in the lounge. We slept eventually and woke to a glorious morning and the first sight of a magical island with it’s own little castle in the middle of the sea. (Tower of Refuge) I thought it was heaven, from 2 up 2 down terraced houses and mills to this wonderful place was magic to me. There were so many people from Kent Street and surrounding areas on the boat and during the week we saw most of them every day. I cried when we had to go home, as I wanted to stay forever in this lovely place. I did return many times during wakes weeks but that first trip with my nan and grandad was the best.
Michael Matthews: I can’t remember my mother and father taking me and later on my siblings away before 1959, up to the age of eight my grandmother and my aunt would take me to Blackpool for a week by charabanc usually, I joined the church lads brigade which along with the lads brigade was very popular at the time, and with them I went to camps in Abergele North Wales and Whitby! We lived under canvas and had a mess tent and practised marching and we had several bugle and drum bands it was very healthy for us kids living in sub standard houses near factories and mills belching out smoke, the people who ran these organisations had their wives and children there to, so it was very family orientated, when I was thirteen I joined the air training corps and spent the holidays on RAF bases learning to be young airmen and we even had a chance to fly!
Salveson’s half-nakedly political digest of railwayness, tripe and secessionist nonsense from Up North. Sometimes weekly, usually not; definitely Northern. Read by the highest and lowest officers of state, Whitmanites, weirdos, misfits, steam punks, yes women, no men, gay Swedenborgians, cat-spotters, discerning sybarites, bi-guys, non-aligned social democrats, pie-eaters, tripe dressers, nail artists, self-managing VIMTO drinkers, truculent Northerners, grumpy Norwegians, absurd Marxists, sleepy Hungarians, members of the clergy and the toiling masses, generally. All views expressed are my own and usually nobody else’s. Official journal of the Station Cat Improvement Network, Pacer Dining Club, Station Buffet Acceleration Council and the Campaign for a North with a capital ‘N’.
“We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.” – Jo Cox, maiden speech in House of Commons, June 3rd 2015.
The 5th anniversary of Jo’s murder was on June 16th. Still in our hearts.
Greetings from Bolton (Lancs). Thankfully, our premier position at the top of the Covid infection league has been usurped by our neighbours and Bolton seems to be the only place where infection rates are going down, at least in the North-West. Maybe some lessons there – throw substantial resources at the problem, vaccinate as many people as possible and behave sensibly.
Down south, the outcome of the Chesham and Amersham by-election gives hope that the apparently indestructible Johnson may not be as invincible as he seems. The Lib Dems scored a great victory and there’s no reason to think that it is that much different from other constituencies in the leafy south-east. Maybe HS2 was a factor (and good on them if it was) but it wasn’t the whole story. What it does point to is a very pronounced realignment of English politics, with Labour struggling to find a role outside the major cities and Wales. More on that below.
Elsewhere in this Salvo there’s news about the Williams-Shapps ‘Plan for Rail’ and the Rail Reform Group’s less than enthusiastic response. Much will depend on the people running the new entity – railway people are good at making even the most unpromising structures work, after a fashion. They’ve had enough practice these last 30 years.
Light shines in Buckinghamshire, but will it in Batley?
After all the pre-election publicity about Hartlepool, the Chesham and Amersham by-election was little noticed, but the result was equally significant, maybe more so. While Johnson may try to justify the Tories’ drubbing as being down to a few ‘local difficulties’ (HS2, planning law changes) the reality is more complex, with many longstanding Tory voters deserting their party in disgust at the lurch to a populist, anti-European agenda where corruption is obvious. Let’s see what happens in similar seats in the south-east, there is talk that there might be a vacancy in Maidenhead quite soon.
Meanwhile, the outcome of the Batley and Spen by-election will be of more immediate interest. A few days ago I would have put money on Labour hanging on, but now I’m not so sure. Starmer has become a lame-duck leader and switching a few of his back-office staff isn’t going to make much difference. Batley and Spen isn’t ‘solid’ Labour (like many of the other so-called ‘red wall’ constituencies) and had a Tory MP not that long ago. I hope it doesn’t go back to that.
The harsh reality is that the grand coalition that once made Labour such a powerful force no longer exists. The classic industrial working class, organised in strong, Labour-affiliated unions, has gone. In the large former industrial towns where it once ruled supreme, its influence has waned. Its support in Scotland has all but disappeared. Where it is doing OK is in the major cities of England as well as some of the south-eastern towns and cities with large university populations and Labour-inclined migrant ex-Londoners. And Wales. Taking these areas of support together, it isn’t enough to form the basis for a majority Labour government. In fact it is very hard to see how Labour, for the foreseeable future, could regain power on its own. Boundary changes may not help, but with current voter realignment who knows.
Going back to Chesham and Amersham, people voted intelligently; there was no need for a formal deal between Labour and the Lib Dems, people were shrewd enough to see that voting Lib Dem was the only way to get rid of the Tories (and many of these were of course traditional Tory voters who have fallen out with Johnson’s lot). While the Greens did considerably better than Labour there’s no doubt as to who was the winner in all this. It’s fine saying that proportional representation would solve the problem, and I’m a strong supporter of it – but there’s the inconvenient fact that you first need to get a Government elected that will legislate for it, under the existing unfair system. As things look today, that means a coalition government led by Labour with Lib Dem, SNP and Green support. Much as I’d like to see the Greens having more MPs to work alongside the excellent Caroline Lucas, I think they will struggle to increase their seats in the short term, their focus should be on local government where they can do well if they target places. I just wish Bolton’s hard-working Alan Johnson could get himself elected onto the Council.
Back to Batley then. I hope Labour’s gamble in selecting a candidate whose main claim to fame is being the sister of the late Jo Cox comes off; it could prove to be a tactical error. If Labour is defeated that will put a big question mark over Starmer’s future. Several leading figures are already dropping hints that they could step into his shoes, including Andy Burnham and possibly Angela Rayner. I think both could make a half-decent job of it, but nether have them have the talent of previous Labour leaders, including Wilson and Blair (cries of shock! horror! from some readers). They (Andy and Ange) both have ambition but not much substance beyond basic rather old-fashioned social democratic policies with a bit of ‘greenwash’ added in Angela’s case. A key battleground within Labour is going to be around building a new democratic Britain, with democratic devolution to the English regions and PR. Neither of them get those issues. The one person who does is, ironically, not a ‘Northern MP’ – I’m thinking of Clive Lewis, the sparky and thoughtful left-of-centre MP for Norwich who is closely linked to the ‘Compass’ think tank.
If Labour wants to re-unite a future United Kingdom (which may or may not include Scotland and Northern Ireland) it needs to devolve itself. Welsh Labour has shown that where the party can meld a progressive national identity with sensible centre-left politics, it can win. In the case of England, that means progressive regionalism, with the creation of a ‘Northern Labour’ that isn’t beholden to an increasingly out of touch party HQ in London. So the Salvo solution, in a nutshell is: get rid of Starmer and bring in Clive Lewis as leader. Make Andy Burnham the leader of a ‘Greater Greater Manchester (aka Lancashire and Cheshire) which has an assembly elected by PR. Angela Rayner to become head of ‘Northern Labour’.
But, of course, it isn’t just about leaders: Labour needs to rebuild as a popular grass-roots party which speaks a language that people recognise and identify with. Trying to struggle on with a plain vanilla politics that tries to speak to all of Britain (and will fail) isn’t the way to go.
Great British Railways, coming to you soon
The Department for Transport published its long-awaited ‘plan for rail’ in early June. It was co-authored by former British Airways boss Keith Williams and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, though the hand of Johnson’s transport advisor Andrew Gilligan is all over it.
After such a long time in gestation the Williams-Shapps Report is sadly disappointing. There is no analysis of the deep-rooted problems in the industry which led to the report’s commissioning two years ago, following the May 2018 timetable meltdown. Nor is there much reference, let alone, analysis, of the other key issues that need to be addressed, such as decarbonisation (electrification) and infrastructure development (e.g. Northern Powerhouse, Midlands Engine) or of why Great Western electrification costs rose so dramatically out of control.
The imminent demise of the franchise system is over-stated in the document. The proposed new ‘National Rail Contracts’ are merely franchises with the revenue risk, to operators, stripped out. The same
issues that currently exist, including ‘delay attribution’ – which is detailed as an example of how contractual (and costly) the railways have become – will continue across the wheel/rail divide (viz., the separation of infrastructure management from train operations), which has been perpetuated for no obvious reason and with no justification.
The re-branding to ‘Great British Railways’ (GBR) covering both the English passenger railway and the Great Britain-wide network will add complexity and confusion as well as reducing accountability for the railways run by devolved administrations, (particularly Scotland and Wales, but also Merseyside and London) each of which has their own strong identity. It seems to be a political ploy to support the Government’s ‘defend the union’ agenda. And I don’t mean RMT.
The claims to reform fares and ticketing are also over-stated. Some of the suggestions for fares reform have already been available with some operators – there are no new major proposals.
It would be silly to say it’s all bad. The support for community-rail partnerships is welcome, but the Government should put its money where its mouth is and give them further funding to develop their work. However, expecting them to bid on their own for ‘micro-franchises’ could be over-optimistic unless resources are made available to assist them. Who will be the CRP’s main partner? GBR, or the ‘contracted’ train operator? In London, this has caused some difficulties with TfL wanting to micromanage more things than they really ought. The new contracts should clealry set out what is expected of the CRP and whom should be their primary partner (I’d say the train operator).
Railway people have proved adept at making the best out of a bad job and one cause for hope in the Government’s plan is the likelihood that Network Rail leaders Peter Hendy and Andrew Haines will run the new ‘GBR’. Both are highly respected and committed transport professionals, but they will have their work cut out in making the new body a success. I hope they will be brave and sensible enough to give real power to the proposed regional divisions and encourage them to work with regional partners such as the combined authorities.
There are fears among many rail professionals, such as the Rail Reform Group, that the new GBR “could be a return to the old days of London-based centralisation with little understanding of regional, let alone local, markets…..Centralised control of timetables and fares lacks any link to local markets which are key to growing rail business, yet whilst reference is made to the five current regions (one of which is Scotland and run quite differently) there is no indication that the regions will be the key specifiers and drivers.”
It appears that the ‘single guiding mind’ translates into a highly centralised operation, much like the railway of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Anyone who thinks that this represents a change back to a publicly-owned and accountable railway are deluding themselves. In many ways it is the worst of all worlds, with the likelihood that the private operators who will operate the ‘national passenger contacts’ having little incentive to develop new products and services, and will look at ways to cut costs wherever they can. The response from some will be that the contracts won’t allow them to do that, but you end up with a railway that is specified down to the tiniest detail, making any change, for good or bad, incredibly difficult to do.
There is an alternative. In previous Salvoes I’ve argued for mutually-owned and vertically-integrated regional companies to run the railways that Government and the public can trust – creating a railway for the Common Good, that is there for the long term, not just a few years. The ‘plan’ is a wasted opportunity, but Labour doesn’t seem to be offering much of an alternative, other than a return to a different model of highly-centralised bureaucracy.
Running a national railway network well involves a delicate balance with some degree of national co-ordination other issues such as fares, core timetables and passenger standards, with regional and even local initiative. If you think that’s pie-in-the-sky, have a look at the railways of Switzerland.
Make Greater Manchester Greater
As a proud Boltonian I have never been comfortable with the idea of being part of ‘Greater Manchester’ preferring the original, admittedly cumbersome title of ‘South East Lancashire and North-East Cheshire’ used by the buses. SELNEC. They could have added ‘with bits of The West Riding of the Yorkshire’ recognising Saddleworth’s inclusion in the area.
Greater Manchester doesn’t really work; ironically, I think it’s not big enough. And I deeply disagree with the contemporary obsession with ‘city regions’ in which the ‘city’ will always dominate the satellite towns.Years ago I remember my friend David Begg talking about ‘Greater Manchester’ in a transport context pointing out that its hinterland goes well beyond its current boundaries. He was right then (1990s?) and that perception is truer today than ever. Blackburn and North-East Lancashire are very much part of the wider hinterland that relates to Manchester itself. So is Preston and – more arguably –
Warrington. Lancashire itself, in administrative terms, is a total shambles, with unitary authorities for Blackpool and ‘Blackburn with Darwen’ and talk of carving up what remains of local government into larger and even less accountable districts.
There is an alternative! Make Greater Manchester into a much bigger entity, more or less recreating ‘Lancashire’ but with boundaries which make political, economic and cultural sense now. I’d be inclined to leave Merseyside (or ‘Liverpool City Region’) as a separate entity with Chester. But it would all need a lot of debate and discussion rather than the forced imposition of an alien concept, as we got back in 1974. The new ‘Greater Lancastria’ should have an elected assembly along similar lines to the existing devolved administrations, with re-constituted local authorities which should have more, rather than less, power. Simple, eh?
Did they exist? If not, it would be necessary to invent them, for alliterative correctness. Bollington is a small town just a few miles from Macclesfield. It was once a southern outlier of the Lancashire cotton industry, with a couple of large spinning mills. One, Clarence Mill, survives and prospers as a mixed-use hub with an excellent gallery
(Northern Makes, specialising in Northern art), cafe and a number of other small businesses, with living space on the upper floors. It is superbly situated alongside the Macclesfield Canal. It no longer has a railway – the link from Macclesfield to Marple (Rose Hill) now forms part of the Middlebrook Way and makes for a good bike ride.
Hearty art in Hale
Another trip in place of our Scottish holiday was an afternoon and evening in Hale and Altrincham, easily reached by rail from here. The station is very much unchanged, even with the signalbox at the end of the platform. Needs a bit of TLC though – in comparison, Altrincham is looking much better. I love the artwork, sponsored by the community iial partnership. How integration should be – trains, trams and buses check by jowl with good cycling facilities. Someone should enter it for an award. The booking office staff are excellent, which
really makes it special. Back to Hale then – it has a couple of very good art galleries. The Clarendon specialises in contemporary works and has some great stuff. Clark Art (which seems to sponsor the station and is very close to it) must be the leading gallery for specifically ‘Northern’ artists (and has some similarities with Northern Makes in Bollington – see above). It had some originals by Adolphe Vallette for sale, but also showcased several contemporary Northern artists. In a way, talk of ‘Northern’ artists and a ‘Northern School’ is a slight misnomer. They’re really ‘Lancastrian’. But let’s not get too picky. A final point, you may be wondering how we spent our evening (or maybe you’re not). We had an excellent meal in a superb Sri Lankan restaurant, Sigirya, just down the high street from the station.
Publish and be bxxxxxd
In the last Salvo I optimistically suggested that a new edition of Socialism with a Nortehrn Accent would be out in July. Mmm. Don’t think so. It’s in a queue, with my new edition of the Allen Clarke biography first in line. Allen Clarke (‘Teddy Ashton’) Lancashire’s Romantic Radical will be back from the printers by the end of June and I’m going delay a full launch until September when something approximating ‘normality’ might be back, allowing a proper launch (Bolton and Blackpool). The first edition was published in 2009 and the new one substantially improves on the original, in my estimation. There’s some new information about his life and work and entirely new chapter on his railway writings (‘Teddy Ashton Takes the Train’).
The current plan is once the Allen Clarke is duly launched I’ll do a new book on the Lancashire –Whitman connection. This will incorporate most of With Walt Whitman in Bolton (published in 2019) with an entirely new section on Whitman’s wider influence on Northern socialism. It will be called Unlikely Pioneers – Walt Whitman, the Bolton Boys and Northern Labour 1885-2022. I’m not sure whether to do it as a print edition or just by kindle, which is much less trouble, but less fun. Comments welcome, I still have some copies of With Walt Whitman in Bolton left, which I’m selling for a fiver.
After that I may do a pre-Christmas ‘Bolton’ book, which will hopefully repeat the success of Moorlands, Memories and Reflections which came out in November last year and caught the ‘Christmas present’ market. After that, we’re into 2022 – a new edition of Socialism with a Northern Accent would be a good project, with time to reflect on post-Covid politics and whether Labour is able to turn the tide in its former ‘red wall’ strongholds. My usual optimism struggles with that.
So no shortage of things to do and I’ve hardly started on that ‘Farnworth’ novel which I’d really like to do next year, as well as a railway title (Lines of Attraction: Railways of the North-West). Or maybe, cheekily, ‘Great Northern Railways’.
I’ll be doing a pre-publication offer on the Allen Clarke book – it will sell at £18.99 in the shops and on Amazon (plus postage) but I’ll do it for £15 with free local delivery c/o Bolton Bicycling Bookshop, or £3 postage in the UK. I will start sending it out early in July, see www.lancashireloominary.co.uk for details of how to buy it.
Roaming around Radcliffe and Little Lever
Radcliffe is a medium-sized town north of Manchester, within the metropolitan district of Bury. Like many similar towns it once had its own local authority and the town hall survives, as a reminder of how local government was once just that. Recently, a ‘hyper-local’ party, Radcliffe Independents, have made sweeping gains in local elections. They now have four councillors elected onto Bury Council. The issues include a perceived lack of control over local issues, as well as proposal for huge housing development east of the town towards Bury, close to Elton Reservoir. They state: “We are not politicians we are everyday people who care about Radcliffe. At Radcliffe First we are not trying to build careers in politics, our only reason for wanting to become councillors is to make a difference for Radcliffe. Being a councillor is not a stepping stone to something greater it is our final destination. We want to give Radcliffe a voice in Bury Council, something it has been lacking for a long time. We are involved in the community not to boost our political careers but simply because we care about Radcliffe and want to make a difference. We need your vote to allow us to do that.”
The rise of ‘hyper local’ parties in places like Radcliffe, Farnworth and Failsworth is one of the more interesting political developments in the North, predictably un-noticed by the media.
But what of Radcliffe today? It is on the Bury – Manchester Metrolink route though the line from Bury to Bolton via Black Lane closed. There are aspirations to extend Metrolink into Bolton with the option of using at least some of the old trackbed. Don’t hold your breath, stupid planning decisions resulted in much of the former trackbed being built on.
The town itself has, for a long time, had a run-down look to it. That is starting to change. It is nicely situated on the River Irwell, with ‘Radcliffe Bridge’ being a prominent landmark. The parish church, just
up the hill, is a very fine building. If you carry on along the road towards Bolton you get to the point where the Bolton – Bury Canal once crossed. It’s a pleasant walk in either direction, east towards Bury or west, as we did, towards Bolton. There are some attractive ‘Radcliffe in Bloom’ displays by the road so you get off to a good start.
The towpath is well maintained and takes you past some examples of Radcliffe’s old industry, mainly cotton spinning and paper. You reach the site of Ladyshore Colliery (on the right) at Little Lever and a little way further on the spot where the canal burst its banks, in 1942. This closed the canal to all traffic, and the breach has never been repaired. It would be a big job. A housing developer, Watson’s, has said it would help fund the restoration if it gets planning permission for the 270 houses it wants to build. It would be good to see the canal restored though part of me likes it just as it is. Beyond the diversion (you
actually go into the bottom of the former canal for a short way) you reach Nob End. Here, the canal split with one section continuing to Darcy Lever and Bolton and the other descending to Prestolee, down an impressive flight of locks. The local canal society would love to see the locks re-instated; a big job but why not?
Radcliffe has the usual supermarket brands like ‘Lidl’ which is OK if you like that sort of thing. There are a number of smalls shops dotted around the town centre. But what is really special is the re-opened Radcliffe Market, next door to Lidl in the town centre, at Radcliffe Bridge. It was probably not the best time to re-open a local market, in the middle of the Pandemic last year. However, this brave effort deserves support. It is well designed with a god mix of shops and places to eat. It also hosts events including music and theatre. Its website (www.radcliffe.market) says “We are a community owned and run market hall. Our aim is to bring you fresh and local food, ethical products, local services that you cannot find in any other place in and around Radcliffe and North Manchester. We want to be that place you spend time to do a bit of shopping, relaxing and unwinding with your friends over a drink and a bite to eat and watch the world go by from the riverside. We want to help bring our community together by providing thriving community venue for great events that allows you to enjoy this wonderful market hall.” The market is run as a co-operative – it’s a community benefit society. I’ll go back to Radcliffe, for the market and another walk along th’cut.
Looking back on our history: Bolton’s Other Railway
Readers of The Bolton News will know about my fortnightly ‘Looking Back’ feature, which has grown to a double-page spread on aspects of Bolton’s history. A recent one featured ‘Bolton’s other railway’ – the London and North Western, which ran into (and occasionally through) Bolton’s Great Moor Street station. The Bolton and Leigh Railway opened in 1828 and was Lancashire’s first public railway, though it didn’t start passenger services until 1831, connecting with the Liverpool and Manchester at Kenyon Junction. I think I can say that I was on one of the last passenger trains (apart from enthusiast railtours) to leave the station, on a Bolton Holidays’ special to North Wales in June 1957. I can just about remember going up the stairs and being thrilled at the sight of a long train headed by a ‘Black 5’. The feature is on this link – possibly the most interesting bit is the tale of Bolton School Classics Master ‘Butch’ Ingham who did a bit of loco driving during his commute to and from Bolton.
We recently enjoyed a trip over to Leeds on the Calder Valley Line, in my view the most scenic of the trans-Pennine railways and one I used to ‘sign’ when I was a guard at Blackburn (or at least the bit over Copy Pit and then through to Healey Mills). It was the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway’s main line and was once graced by Aspinall’s ‘Highflyer’ locomotives, which feature in Andrew Martin’s novel, The Blackpool Highflyer, mostly set in Sowerby Bridge loco shed (56E). I remember getting to Sowerby Bridge when I was about 8, by train from Bolton via Bury and Rochdale. After getting round the shed (no Highflyers by then, obv.) I decided to try and get to Low Moor shed. I was informed that there was a bus that would take me there so I jumped on, only to find I didn’t have enough money for the fare. A kindly lady sitting opposite gave me the 2d (or whatever it was) to make up the difference and I got to Low Moor. I can’t remember what was on either shed, though I’ve never forgotten that act of kindness from the lady on the bus. And if anyone thinks that these things are dead and gone, my friend John in Portrush was recently helped out by a fellow shopper when he realised that he had forgotten his wallet and couldn’t pay his (fairly modest) bill at the checkout.
But anyway, the Calder Valley Line always reminds me of that song, recited by Ewan MacColl, called ‘Moses of the Mail’. He collected the song from a visit to Newton Heath shed in 1951, it appeared on his LP Shuttle and Cage. Moses – actually Henry Poyser – was an L&Y driver at Newton Heath and the song is about his misadventures working the night ‘mail’ from Manchester to York. It’s an amusing ditty, though MacColl misheard some of the lines, when he sings:
It was a dark and stormy night
The snow was falling fast,
I stood at Thorpbridge Junction
When the reckless Moses passed
His hair was wildly waving
As through the air he sped,
He’d never had such doings since
He started at the shed…
So error number 1 – did you spot it? Thorpe’s Bridge Junction, not ‘Thorpbridge’. OK, small point. He goes on to trill:
In Moston’s dreary cutting
The struggle was extreme
Both front fenders failed to work
And the engine wouldn’t steam…
He obviously means ‘injectors’ not ‘front fenders’ – the dangers of oral transmission! Some lyrics show it as ‘front sanders’ but that’s not right either. But anyway, it’s a great song.
The Lancashire Loominary Secondhand Bookshop has stirred some interest. There’s still some quite good stuff there – you can view it at http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/second-hand-books . I’ve added a few more things to it and I’m happy to consider swops for interesting books on Lancashire, politics, railways etc.
My photo gallery – an emphasis on steam (but not completely)
I’ve been making some changes to my website/s…I’m keeping www.lancashireloominary.co.uk for all publications, including The Salvo. However, www.paulsalveson.org.uk has been re-born as Paul Salveson Photography: places, trains and factories or summat like that.
There are several pages dealing with different aspects of my photography: BR Steam, Continental Steam, The Modern Railway, Industrial Steam, Northern Rural Landscapes, Mills and Mines, and Strikes, Riots and Demonstrations. This is my current favourite: Industrial Railways UK 1966 – 1980 – Paul Salveson Photography
Good places to buy my books and other things
As lockdown eases, more shops are opening which sell my books. These include Carnforth Bookshop, Wrights’ Reads in Horwich, Pendle Heritage Centre in Barrowford and Kelsall’s in Littleborough. Please support your local bookshops, it’s vital they survive. A great feature of any walk up Rivington Pike is the Pike Snack Shack on George’s Lane – a long way up, the last place before you get on the track to the summit. They do coffee, pies, sandwiches and cakes for takeaway and you can sit amidst the heather and savour the view across the West Lancashire Plain. You can also buy copies of Moorlands, Memories and Reflections. Another popular addition to my list of retail
outlets is Bunbury’s real ale shop at 397 Chorley Old Road, Bolton. Another slightly unconventional outlet is A Small Good Thing, on Church Road. This is a great little shop mainly selling organic fruit and veg and a range of ‘small good things’. Fletcher’s Newsagents on Markland Hill Bolton are stockists. Justicia Fair Trade Shop on Knowsley Street, Bolton, is handy for the town centre and has a full set of my books available (and some great gifts from around the world, ethically sourced).
Winter Hill 125 – this September, have a walk o’er Winter Hill
Plans to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the 1896 Winter Hill ‘mass trespass’ continue to evolve with strong interest from a wide range of groups and individuals. The celebration will take place on Sunday September 5th 2021 – get it in your diary now! We now have a superb banner made by Andy Smith – it was unveiled on a wet and windy day at the start of Coalpit Road (the trespass route) a few weeks ago. We were joined by people from Country Walking magazine – a feature on the ‘mass trespass’ will appear in their September issue, out in August.
My book on the mass trespass is available price £5 (plus postage if not local) – see below. It is hoped to have some major events this year, circumstances permitting. More details to follow. The best way of keeping updated is to join the Winter Hill 125 facebook page.
The Alternative Economy
Bolton Diggers are running a series of talks on ‘The Alternative Economy’ in the town’s Victoria Hall. The first one kicks off on June 30th, at 6.00 These free talks and participative workshops will take place every Wednesday evening at 6pm in the old coffee bar at Victoria Halls between June 30th and September 1st. This will be followed by a ‘Made in Bolton’ local products fair (date to be arranged.) The first talks are as follows:-
June 30 Domestic Production : Vicky Urmston (Olive & Co.) on home-made soaps and Helen McGlynn on home made balms.
July 7 Local Brews: TBA a local micro brewery
July 14 Food Growing: Chris and Helen from the Kindling Trust have been promoting food growing initiatives in Greater Manchester for decades. From training up horticulturalists to distribution systems for existing growers, they have recently been raising funds for a new organic farm.
July 21 Including the Excluded: Tony Stephenson of Bolton Emmaus links up on social enterprise with formerly homeless people. At their Fletcher Street base he and his team have spearheaded the development of a variety of imaginative social enterprises.
July 28 Alternative Retail Distribution Systems: Established local permaculturalist Steve Jones looks at the pros and cons of locally accessible systems of retail distribution from car boots to online sites.
This weekend (June 19th) sees the launch of Bolton’s Macfest 2021 – a Muslim arts and culture festival with a wide range of speakers, performers and more. The launch is on Saturday at 11.00. Details here: macfest.org.uk
Bolton Food and Drink Festival will happen this year, over the August Bank Holiday. Bolton Station will hold its ‘Mela’ on the same weekend with a wide range of food and music.
My latest piece for The Bolton News ‘Looking Back’ supplement was on the novels of Allen Clarke. You can view it here: https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/19384298.boltons-literary-great-shaped-home-town/
Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events
See above for talks on ‘The Alternative Economy’ starting June 30th. I’ll do an extended STN in the next issue now things are opening up a bit
The following are all available from The Salvo Publishing HQ, here at 109 Harpers Lane, Bolton BL1 6HU. Cheques should be made out to ‘Paul Salveson’ though you can send cash if you like but don’t expect any change. Bottles of whisky, old bound volumes of Railway Magazine, number-plates etc. by negotiation. If you are local you are welcome to call round and pick books up on the doorstep, or the Bolton Bicycling Bookshop can deliver to yours.
Moorlands, Memories and Reflections (2020) A hundred years ago Lancashire writer Allen Clarke published a forgotten masterpiece – Moorlands and Memories, sub-titled ‘rambles and rides in the fair places of Steam-Engine Land’. Clarke’s biographer, Professor Paul Salveson, has published a new book celebrating Clarke’s original and bringing the story of Lancashire’s moorland heritage up to date. Maxine Peake, in her foreword to Paul’s book, says “Hill walking, cycling, literature, philosophy, protest and The North…. these are a few of my favourite things.” She adds “Paul Salveson’s new book on Allen Clarke is irresistible.” Price £20 – see the website for details of how to buy: http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/order-form
The Works (2020). My first novel , set in Horwich and Bolton in the 1970s and 1980s but bringing the story up to the present and beyond. Much of the action takes place in Horwich Loco Works and the campaign to save it from closure. In real life, it closed down in 1983. In the novel, after a workers’ occupation it is run as a co-operative, building both steam for heritage railways and modern eco-friendly trains for the world market. Price £6 (special offer) . Also on Kindle £4.99.
Will Yo’ Come O’ Sunday Mornin’? The Winter Hill trespass of 1896 (1996). Quite a few copies have re-surfaced and are available price £5 – with all proceeds going to Bolton Socialist Club, which played the main part in organising the original demonstrations in 1896. This was Britain’s biggest-ever rights of way battle with a series of demonstrations which peaked at 12,000 one Sunday afternoon in September 1896.
Lancashire’s Romantic Radical – the life and writings of Allen Clarke/Teddy Ashton‘ (2009). The story of Lancashire’s errant genius – cyclist, philosopher, unsuccessful politician, amazingly popular dialect writer. This book outlines the life and writings of one of Lancashire’s most prolific – and interesting – writers. Allen Clarke (1863-1935) was the son of mill workers and began work in the mill himself at the age of 11. Currently out of print but new and enlarged edition out in July. Pre-publication offer of £15 plus free local delivery or £3 postage
With Walt Whitman in Bolton – Lancashire’s Links to Walt Whitman This charts the remarkable story of Bolton’s long-lasting links to America’s great poet. Bolton’s links with the great American poet Walt Whitman make up one of the most fascinating footnotes in literary history. From the 1880s a small group of Boltonians began a correspondence with Whitman and two (John Johnston and J W Wallace) visited the poet in America. Special offer April £5 plus postage if you’re not local. New and extended edition under preparation – should be out late July
The Settle-Carlisle Railway (2019) published by Crowood and available in most bookshops price £24. It’s a general history of the railway, bringing it up to date. It includes a chapter on the author’s time as a goods guard on the line, when he was based at Blackburn in the 1970s. The book includes a guide to the line, from Leeds to Carlisle. Some previously-unused sources helped to give the book a stronger ‘social’ dimension, including the columns of the LMS staff magazine in the 1920s. ISBN 978-1-78500-637-1
You can get a better idea from going to my website: http://www.lancashireloominary.co.uk
A new and completely updated edition of my book on Allen Clarke – ‘Allen Clarke (Teddy Ashton) Lancashire’s Romantic Radical’ will be back from the printers next week. It has lots of new material and a completely new chapter on his railway writings…(‘Teddy Ashton Takes the Train’)
Clarke (1863-1935) was one of Lancashire’s most prolific writers, producing over 20 novels, selling hundreds of thousands of his dialect sketches, as well as political and philosophical works. This working class lad born in Daubhill deserves to be better known.
I’m holding off a public launch until early September to let things settle down in terms of Covid. But there will be advance copies available at a special price of £15, with free local delivery (by bike) around Bolton, or add £3 on for postage. Please enquire for overseas rates.
You can pay cash on delivery, post a cheque or pay by bank transfer:
Dr P S Salveson (it’s a personal account)
Sort code: 53-61-07
Don’t forget to email me with your address details! firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheques to: 109 Harpers Lane, Bolton BL1 6HU
I should be able to start sending copies out from July 1st. Let mne know if you’d like them signing and/or dedicating (and to whom)