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Northern Weekly Salvo 293

The Northern Weekly Salvo

Incorporating  Slaithwaite Review of Books, Weekly Notices, Sectional Appendices, Tunnel Gazers’ Gazette and Northern Umbrella. Descendant of Teddy Ashton’s Northern Weekly and Th’Bowtun Loominary.

Published at 109 Harpers Lane Bolton BL1 6HU email: paul.salveson@myphone.coop

Publications website: www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

No. 293 May 10th 2021              

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

General gossips

We live in interesting times all right, and challenging ones. The election results across England, Scotland and Wales send so many different messages, though none of them are particularly good ones for Keir Starmer.

Where now for left-behind towns? Or is it Labour that’s left behind?

He should go. His sacking of Angela Rayner was mean-minded and counter-productive (though now being spun as just a change in jobs). She is the sacrificial lamb for Starmer’s own failings as a leader. When many are saying that Labour has lost trust with the Northern working class, Starmer responds by dumping the most high profile Northern, working class woman in his shadow cabinet. I feel very, very angry. I’m not saying this from a knee-jerk leftist position, scorning ‘Blairite’ Starmer. We need a bit more ‘Blairism’ if it means Labour can win, but it needs a vision that meets the needs of today, not 1945, and not the 1990s. We need to move on from these silly ‘Blairite’ insults which mean nothing to people outside the Left.

The areas where Labour did well were no thanks to Starmer – above all Mark Drakeford’s Welsh Labour, Andy Burnham in Greater Manchester and the mayors in Liverpool City Region, West Yorkshire  and London.

While the two regional parties standing in Hartlepool didn’t make an impact, Bob Buxton of the Yorkshire Party came third in the West Yorkshire mayoral elections with a very respectable 58,851 votes. Mick Bower, standing in Sheffield City Region elections, came third with an even higher percentage vote. The North-East party won four seats on Durham County Council and 17 out of 22 seats on Peterlee Town Council.

In this issue of The Salvo I reflect at greater length on a possible solution to Labour’s ‘Northern Question’. I argue that the solution doesn’t lie with a bit of re-branding, nor even a new national leader (though we certainly need one)  – but a radically devolved ‘Northern Labour’ which can develop its own identity and its own policies that can win back support. Apologies to non-Labour readers, but there is a good argument for democracy as a whole which says we need a strong opposition. One other point – Labour didn’t do badly because it was too ‘right-wing’. I don’t think people really knew what wing it was, but retreating to a comfortable Corbynite world isn’t going to solve anything.

By Pendle Hill at Clarion House

A very good place to go and reflect on current politics is the wonderful Clarion House, on the side of Pendle, up above the former textile powerhouses of Burnley and Nelson. It was set up by the Independent Labour Party over a century ago and its full name is Nelson ILP Clarion House.

Sue at Clarion House, near Nelson

The ‘Clarion’ was the socialist newspaper run by Robert Blatchford in the 1890s which spawned lots of spin-offs, above all the Clarion Cycling Club, which is still very much alive today with sections across the country. There were several ‘Clarion Houses’, mostly in Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cheshire where cyclists and walkers could visit at the weekend. The Nelson house is the last of a long heroic line. Although not open for inside catering you can get a mug of tea and a Mars bar and sit outside on the comfortable picnic tables. It was good to see the ‘memorial bench’ for Denis Pye who loved this place, and we enjoyed some demanding back rides to the tea rooms back in the 1980s. Clarion House is one of the very last physical reminders of that ethical socialism which swept the North of England in the 1890s and early 1900s.

Lancashire’s fair face: Clarion House is just to the left of the picture

Inside, there are pictures of the early Labour leaders like Keir Hardie as well as local heroes and heroines like Selina Cooper who helped forge Nelson into a centre of socialist politics and culture. The philosophy of that ‘socialism with a Northern accent’ was summed up in the words of William Morris ‘Fellowship is Life’. That reminds as true as ever, and the early ILP’s linkage of region, class and community has a lot to offer the modern day Labour movement. Clarion House will be fully open from May 23rd, on Sundays. It is well worth a trip – and enjoy a walk around Pendle while you’re here. Maybe Keir Starmer might like to visit.

Taking us to Rivington

An equally delightful place to Pendle is Rivington. It doesn’t have a socialist tea room though the Villege Green’s cafe, in the former Unitarian church hall, comes near.

A special run for local community stakeholders, thanks to Diamond Buses. We made a slight deviation to Rivington Hall…

It gets thousands of visitors (even over the last year) but it is decades since it has had a bus service. Thanks to South-East Lancashire Community Rail Partnership, with funding from Community Rail Network, Cross Country Trains and Horwich Town Council, it now does. It operates every Sunday and Bank Holiday, running as an extension to the half-hourly 575 from Bolton to Horwich, operated by Diamond Buses NW (part of Rotala). The CRP is exploring other possibilities in neighbouring areas for integrated rail/bus links.

Welsh lessons for Northern Labour

I’m writing this from the perspective of the North of England, and my particular place in it – Bolton. The results within the region, but also in other parts of the UK, have some important messages for progressive politics in the North. A number of things are clear:

  • Labour in Wales has done remarkably well
  • The SNP has consolidated its position and Labour in Scotland has not made its hoped-for breakthrough under its new leader
  • Labour in many English towns and cities has done badly, contradicted to a degree by its performance in some cities – for example London, Manchester, Liverpool
  • Small, in some cases ‘hyper-local’ parties have done very well in certain areas where the incumbent party (usually Labour) is seen as ineffective
  • The small English regional parties have struggled to make a breakthrough, with poor results in Hartlepool but localised succeses in Co. Durham and a good vote in the West Yorkshire mayoral elections
  • The Green Party has made modest progress in places where it has put in consistent local campaigning (but by no means everywhere)

The main focus of this short paper is on why Labour did so well in Wales and why it has struggled in the North of England outside the mets (and even there the picture is complicated); with some lessons for Labour in the North. In some ways, the two places are very different: Wales is a nation with its own history and culture, including language. The North of England is (at least) three regions, with identities revolving round locality and historic counties, such as Yorkshire and Lancashire.

However, there are some similarities between Wales and the North of England, particularly in the traditionally working class former industrial areas: the Valleys in particular, but also the former mining and steel-making areas around Wrexham and North Wales. Whilst these areas voted strongly for ‘Brexit’ it has not stopped them, by and large, for remaining with Labour in the Assembly elections. The pattern in similar ‘left-behind’ areas in the North of England has been very different, with swings to either the Tories or ‘hyper-local’ parties in towns such as Bolton, Oldham and Bury.

The political pundits have put forward a number of suggestions for why Welsh Labour has done so well. These include the ‘incumbency’ factor and the competent way in which the Labour-run Welsh Government has handled Covid. There is also the historic hatred of the Conservatives in many parts of Wales.

But maybe there is something else – that Labour in Wales did not present itself as a sort of ‘local’ version of Starmer’s Labour, but something distinctly ‘Welsh’. Proud of the nation and its heritage, but not aggressively ‘nationalistic’ in a way that might have scared some people – including the large number of English ex-pats in many parts of the country. ‘Welsh Labour’ was clearly seen as something very distinctive, still marking out that ‘clear red water’ between Wales and England which former leader Rhodri Morgan first coined as a metaphor for relations with what was then a Blair-led Labour Party.

Welsh Labour, under the unassuming leadership of Mark Drakeford, comes over as responsible, progressive, in tune and helping shape a ‘green’ agenda and committed to further devolution within a reformed UK. And I’m not entirely sold on the ‘incumbency’ argument – up to a point maybe, but lots of ‘incumbent’ Labour councils in the North of England have taken a hammering. The fact is, a Welsh Labour Government has been seen to be doing a good job.

Up here in the North of England, the politics are very different. Traditional Labour-held councils which once included Bolton have seen further shifts to the Tories or to ‘hyper-local parties’, which should not be written off by Labour as ‘right-wing’ fall-outs from the Brexit party and UKIP.

Yet there’s a counter-movement. Andy Burnham has done very well in Greater Manchester. He was able to capitalise on anti-Tory instincts during the Covid situation and earn the title of ‘King of the North’ (not, note, ‘Greater Manchester’ which is a made-up entity with little legitimacy amongst many of its residents).

However, that very embryonic ‘Northern’ identity politics didn’t make any headway in Hartlepool with the Northern Independence Party and its rival North-East Party, both getting poor results.

Age of Austerity: a WD 2-8-0 at Hartlepool loco shed, August 1967

Yes, the voting system is against them but even so it’s interesting that in the face of disillusionment with a Labour Party seen as ‘not for us’, people opted for the Tories in Hartlepool and many local councils.

So let’s unpick the idea that Labour ‘isn’t for us’ up North a bit more. We are talking about those parts of the North which historically have strongly supported Labour – the Boltons, Oldhams, Blackburns over on this side and the likes of Huddersfield, Bradford, Halifax, Rotherham over on t’other. Hartlepool, Sunderland (where the LibDems made gains), Middlesbrough. Not Manchester nor Leeds where Labour wins support from the middle-class professionals but beyond them too; and results in Sheffield point to a very different political tradition emerging with the Greens doing very well.

So, going back to the lessons from Wales.

Labour could rebuild in the North if it was able to build an identity around class, community and region. Class in the sense that it has to show it is representative of the communities it is part of and speaks their language and understands the issues – including the paramount issue of jobs. Community in that it brings people together and champions local issues and concerns – whether it’s local bus services, developing ‘green spaces’, supporting local culture and heritage or fighting inappropriate development. Region in that it is part of the North, in the way that Labour in Wales has promoted itself as being Welsh but a very inclusive Welshness.  Labour in the North of England needs to rebuild its trust with the ‘white’ working class but not ignore its support amongst BAME communities and amongst middle-class professionals. A shared, inclusive, Northern identity can help do that. A shared ‘Northernness’ brings people together. Not in any ‘anti-South’ sense but through pride in our heritage and our present-day identity. Welsh Labour and also the SNP have been able to construct a ‘civic nationalism’ that is inclusive and generous. Labour could do the same for a civic regionalism.

This is about more than a bit of clever marketing. Just as Labour in Wales and Scotland have become effectively their own distinct political parties within an overarching UK Labour, we should have our own devolved ‘Northern Labour’ with its own domestic regional policies which include democratic devolution (based on an extension of the Greater Manchester and Merseyside mayoral system with an elected membership and covering a broader geographical area to create ‘Greater Lancastria’). I’ll expand this further later but Greater Manchester has never been the right size: it should be expanded to include all of Lancashire and create a strong region with empowered local authorities within it.

If we continue having to take orders from the London-based Labour HQ, including having candidates as well as policies foisted on us, people will carry on rejecting us. There have been suggestions that Starmer might move Labour Party HQ out of London, which wouldn’t be a bad thing (rents are very cheap in Farnworth if Keir wants to have a look at the grand – and largely empty – former town hall) but it doesn’t really address the issue.

Does this mean all parts of England should have their own ‘regionalised’ Labour parties? If that’s what the party membership wants, why not? London Labour makes obvious sense and something like it already exists organisationally (www.londonlabour.org.uk), but the same could work for the Midlands, South-west and eastern England.

If Starmer and the Labour leadership really want to look at radical solutions, they need to do that most difficult thing for politicians to do – surrender power. A ‘Northern Labour’ wouldn’t be deciding foreign policy, like whether to invade France or have its own air force. But there are lots of domestic policies that a ‘Northern Region’ within the UK could have responsibility for, and we need look no further than Wales to see how that could work (and Scotland too, of course).

A Northern Railway, accountable to a Northern government? Yes please!

The political expression of Northern devolution must be a devolved political party. It can’t be done by policy wonks in London.

Would ‘Northern Labour’ stem the decline of Labour in the so-called ‘red wall’ seats? Yes, I’m sure it would.

My book REGION: CLASS: COMMUNITY: Socialism with a Northern Accent will be out in July, published by Lancashire Loominary www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

Rise of the hyper-locals

A neglected aspect of the election results in the North has been the very strong showing of what have become known as the ‘hyper-local’ parties. I’ve written about them in previous Salvoes, particularly the inexorable rise of Farnworth and Kearsley First, but it has spread to many other ‘middling’ towns including Radcliffe (Bury), Horwich and Westhoughton (Bury) and Failsworth (Oldham). What these have in

Farnworh Town Hall: units to let, would suit national political party

common is a common industrial heritage – primarily textiles but engineering and mining in some cases. All of which has gone. In addition, crucially, they all once had their own strong local government which was swept away in 1974 by local government reform. Some kept parish/town councils, others just merged into large metropolitan districts. Labour has never liked parish councils and so Farnworth lost its once-proud and progressive local authority to be merged with big brother Bolton. It went into a steady decline, with industrial wipe-out, loss of its municipal voice and the inevitable rise of drugs and anti-social behaviour.

Farnworth and Kearsley First now has five councillors on Bolton Council, covering two wards. I’m not close enough to them to know whether they will now push for their own town council, but I hope they will. Radcliffe First, only formed a few months ago, immediately won two council seats. So did Failsworth whose ‘Failsworth Independent party’ unseated the incumbent council leader.

In many ways these results are every bit as significant as Hartlepool. And I would put money on many people voting ‘hyper-local’ in Farnworth, Radcliffe and Failsworth voted for Labour’s Andy Burnham in the mayoral election. Shifts in the composition of metropolitan councils like Bolton, Bury and Oldham take time as only one seat is up for election each year. So the rise of the ‘hyper-locals’ is far from complete. In councils like Bolton, for now the larger parties – Conservatives in this case – are dependent on the hyper-locals for survival.

The Dignity of Labour

Jon Cruddas is one of the more thoughtful members of parliament. He represents Dagenham constituency in east London. His book The Dignity of Labour is a fascianting engagement with the nature of work in the 21st century and how Labour should respond to the huge changes that have taken place since the days that Ford’s Dagenham employed thousands of workers. ‘Dagenham’ summed up the modern ‘Fordist’ economy and the politics that flowd from it – huge concentrations of highly organised workers whose politics would be usually Labour.That world has gone but it’s too easy, as Cruddas argues, to say goodye to the working class, or even ‘work’ itself and put all your political eggs in the basket of the new ‘networked young professionals’. As events of the last few days have shown, the working class is still with us and Labour has paid the price of assuming ‘they’ll always vote for us’. That hasn’t been the case for quite a while but consciousness usually lags far behind reality.

Cruddas doesn’t offer simple remedies and parts of his book are an interesting theoretical encounter with Marxism and Catholic Social Teaching, which Maurice Glasman’s ‘Blue Labour’ tendency has done much to promote. A central message is that work must be not only well paid but meaningful; something that the workers can take pride in. This has echoes of some aspects of Buddhism where it teaches that the most seemingly ‘menial’ job should be treated with dignity, pride and a sense of spirituality.

The Dignity of Labour is published by Polity Press and is available in paperback

Allen Clarke book out soon

He was friends with Keir Hardie, corresponded with Tolstoy and met Thomas Hardy. He was loved by tens of thousands of Lancashire mill workers and had a bewildering output of novels, sketches in Lancashire dialect and works of philosophy. Yet today Allen Clarke is little known, even in his native county. My book on him – Lancashire’s Romantic Radical – the life and writings of Allen Clarke/Teddy Ashton was published in 2009. For various reasons it wasn’t an ideal time to launch a book but I have managed to shift 500 copies. It’s time for a new edition. Here is a bit about him…

I first discovered Allen Clarke when I was a student at Lancaster in the 1970s. Mooching about in the university library I came across a collection of dialect sketches set in my home town, Bolton.  They were funny, perceptive and politically incisive. The author was ‘Teddy Ashton’ whom, it turned out, was a writer called Allen Clarke. It began a close life-long friendship, though we have yet to meet. Clarke was born in Bolton on February 27th 1863. He became one of the North’s most popular dialect writers, following in the footsteps of Edwin Waugh, Ben Brierley and Samuel  Laycock, a generation later. He was at his peak between the mid-1890s and late 1920s, with thousands of devoted readers amongst the mill workers of Lancashire and Yorkshire.

He was best known by his ‘Teddy Ashton’ pen-name which he used for his ‘Tum Fowt Sketches’ set in ‘Tum Fowt’ (or ‘Tonge Fold’) just outside Bolton. He was, in the broadest sense, a ‘libertarian socialist’. He was friends with Tolstoy and tried to set up a co-operative community near Blackpool in 1903-5. His writings did much to turn public opinion against child labour. In the 1890s the ‘half-time’ system was still in general operation across Lancashire, with working class kids going to work in the mill at 6 a.m. then school in the afternoon.

He had complex spiritual interests – he helped to popularise eastern philosophy in his newspapers and in books such as What is Man?  and The Meaning of Life. He was a spiritualist; his book The Eternal Question is probably the best statement of his religious beliefs. Running through all his work is his passion for Lancashire, and cycling.

The new edition of my book is a) significantly enlarged with a new chapter on his railway writings b) properly referenced and c) has an index. Maybe there’s a d) as well – hopefully most of the typos have been removed. The book is at the printers – Minerva Press, Bolton. The same firm which printed Moorlands, Memories and Reflections last year, so they’ll do a good job. It should be ready in May and I’m hoping to keep the price around £15. There will be a pre-publication offer for Salvo readers.

Looking back on our history: Life in the Tannery

My dad worked for most of his life at Walker’s Tannery – my most recent piece in The Bolton News’ ‘Looking Back’ pages features the history of this very smelly place. One of the great things about researching the piece was coming across lots of people with memories of the ‘The Tanner’ – people who worked there, or whose mums, dads, grans and grandfathers worked there. I’d very much like to develop the material and maybe get a book out about this fascinating company and local industry.

Walker’s Tannery Limeyard, June 1953 (Coronation photo). Dad is on back row, 3rd from right

It was very much a Bolton-based firm and the Walkers saw themselves as creating an industrial ‘family’. It was a form of social partnership, with a decent company pension, benevolent fund and a social club. I was one of the hundreds of kids who went along to the Christmas parties in the Welfare Centre, built after the war. Alongside the paternalism was a hard, dangerous environment with not particularly good pay. The entire place went in the late 1970s and only a hint of the smell still remains.

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/19289137.walkers-tannery-brought-prosperity-smell-bolton/

Illuminating books from the Lancashire Loominary

I mentioned other books in the pipeline, so here goes. After Allen Clarke I’m bringing out a new edition of my Walt Whitman (With Walt Whitman in Bolton: spirituality, sex and socialism in a Northern Mill-town) book which includes a new section on ‘Walt Whitman and Socialism in the North of England’. It effectively doubles the size of the original which despite having gone through four editions hasn’t changed much

Copies of’Will Yo’ Come O’Sunday Mornin’?’ are still available

since I did the first one in 1984. This will be a significant change and hopefully improvement. Again, it’s well referenced and has an index, keeps most of the illustrations and adds a lot of new material. It includes a piece by Stuart Murray on the more recent history of the Bolton-Whitman connection, mostly the annual Whitman Walk. The new book will probably be called Unlikely Pioneers: Walt Whitman and Northern Socialism 1885-2021. I’m aiming to have it out for the summer, sadly missing Whitman Day on May 31st.

After that, I’m bringing out a new edition of Socialism with a Northern Accent. The original was published in 2012 and the world has moved on, even in the last few days. The early history of socialism in the North of England is all still valid but I’ve added new material and brought the story up to date. There will be a lot more on politics in the North today and prospects for a radical Northern political revival that can challenge the Tories. That should be out in September, maybe sooner.

I’m thinking about a completely new book which incorporates bits of Northern Rail Heritage(2009)  and Railpolitik (2011) into a new production called, provisionally: Lines of Distinction: Railways of North-West England. Volume 2 would cover Yorkshire and the North-east. Alongside all those, I am toying with a new novel. More on that soon.

Books in print or kindle

The main sales items at the moment are my book celebrating the West Pennine Moors – Moorlands, Memories and Reflections and a sudden rush of interest in my novel (set in Horwich Loco Works) The Works. This could be related to the special offer of £6 while stocks last. The ‘Bolton – Lancashire’ face mask is now sold out and has raised about £500 for local charities. I’m also doing a half-price offer on the current With Walt Whitman in Bolton, for £5.

I’m in the process of putting books onto kindle (well, Simon is on my behalf, far too complicated for me). The life and work of Allen Clarke/Teddy Ashton – Lancashire’s Romantic Radical (see above) – will be going on the kindle list, as well as With Walt Whitman in Bolton – which may help sales in America.

Full details of all publications are on my website here (or see summary below): www.lancashireloominary.co.uk or email me for details at info@lancashireloominary.co.uk

Second-Hand Department

The Lancashire Loominary Secondhand Bookshop has stirred a bit of 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 starts to ease, more shops will be opening in the next few weeks 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. The bar side of the business is currently shut but they are open for takeaway. I can recommend their oatmeal stout and some superb German lager. 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, join us for 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 The Woodland Trust, local unions, The Ramblers and many more groups and individuals. The celebration will take place on Sunday September 5th 2021 – get it in your diary now! 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 zoom conference on march 12th went very well – though we were over-subscribed with 170 people registered. We could only allow in 100! However, it is now available on youtube, take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdDUgiWz1lg

Small Salvoes
  • The January 7th issue of the London Review of Books contains reference to Green Lane Bridge, Bolton. This was where I did much of my early trainspotting, a few years later than Ian Jack, who wrote the article – about ‘the Railway Hobby’. It’s worth looking at if you can download it. The subsequent correspondence was also interesting, with some readers mentioning the relatively modern
    The ‘Hellifield Flyer’ taken from Green Lane Bridge c 1961 by Steve Leyland

    practice of ‘bashing’ (as opposed to gricing). I suspect it’s a much bigger and more complex world than Ian imagines, or feared. I can remember many years ago reading a fascinating article called ‘Revolutionary Politics as a Hobby’ which used railway enthusiasm as a comparator to far-left political activity. Slightly worrying. Still I wonder how many other trainspotting haunts have made it into the London Review of Books, or Vogue, whose editor is supposed to be a bit of a crank? (there’s another description and one that I rejoice in).

  • 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.
  • Poetry from the Platform is selling well and you can buy it via pay pal on the CRP website. Details here: https://www.boltoncommunityrail.org.uk/2021/02/26/poetry-platform-for-boltons-creative-community/#more-307

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Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events

Nothing specific as yet but a programme of steam specials starts in May including trains from Carnforth via Preston and Blackburn to Carlisle and the east coast.

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The Salvo Publications List  – see www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

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 May. There will be a pre-publication offer.

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 to end of April £5 plus postage if you’re not local. New and extended edition under preparation – should be out late May, in time for the annual ‘Whitman Day’

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

 

 

 

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Welsh Lessons for Northern Labour

Welsh lessons for Northern Labour

Paul Salveson (Member of Hannah Mitchell Foundation)

I’m writing this from the perspective of the North of England, and my particular place in it – Bolton. The results within the region, but also in other parts of the UK, have some important messages for progressive politics in the North. As the election results come in, a number of things are clear:

  • Labour in Wales has done remarkably well
  • The SNP has consolidated its position and Labour in Scotland has not made its hoped-for breakthrough under its new leader
  • Labour in many English towns and cities has done badly, contradicted to a degree by its performance in some cities – for example London, Manchester, Liverpool
  • Small, in some cases ‘hyper-local’ parties have done very well in certain areas where the incumbent party (usually Labour) is seen as ineffective
  • Small English regional parties have failed to make a breakthrough, with poor results in Hartlepool
  • The Green Party is making modest progress in places where it has put in consistent local campaigning (but by no means everywhere)

The main focus of this short paper is why Labour did so well in Wales and why it has struggled in the North of England – with some lessons. In some ways, the two places are very different: Wales is a nation with its own history and culture, including language. The North of England is (at least) three regions, with identities revolving round locality and historic counties, such as Yorkshire and Lancashire.

However, there are similarities between Wales and the North of England, particularly in the traditionally working class former industrial areas of Wales: the Valleys in particular, but also the former mining and steel-making areas around Wrexham and North Wales. Whilst these areas voted strongly for ‘Brexit’ it has not stopped them, by and large, for remaining with Labour in the Assembly elections. The pattern in similar ‘left-behind’ areas in the North of England has been very different, with swings to either the Tories or ‘hyper-local’ parties in towns such as Bolton, Oldham and Bury.

The political pundits have put forward a number of suggestions for why Welsh Labour has done so well. These include the ‘incumbency’ factor and the competent way in which the Labour-run Welsh Government has handled Covid. There is also the historic hatred of the Conservatives in many parts of Wales.

But maybe there is something else – that Labour in Wales did not present itself as a sort of local version of Starmer’s Labour, but something distinctly ‘Welsh’. Proud of the nation and its heritage, but not aggressively ‘nationalistic’ in a way that might have scared some people – including the large number of English ex-pats in many parts of the country. ‘Welsh Labour’ was clearly seen as something very distinctive, still marking out that ‘clear red water’ between Wales and England which former leader Rhodri Morgan first coined as a metaphor for relations with what was then a Blair-led Labour Party.

Welsh Labour, under the unassuming leadership of Mark Drakeford, comes over as responsible, progressive, in tune and helping shape a ‘green’ agenda and committed to further devolution within a reformed UK. And I’m not entirely sold on the ‘incumbency’ argument – up to a point maybe, but lots of ‘incumbent’ Labour councils in the North of England have taken a hammering. The fact is, a Welsh Labour Government has been seen to be doing a good job.

And up here in the North of England, the politics are very different. Traditional Labour-held councils which once included Bolton have seen further shifts to the Tories or to ‘hyper-local parties’, which should not be written off by Labour as ‘right-wing’ fall-outs from the Brexit party and UKIP.

Yet there’s a counter-movement. Writing before the mayoral elections come in, it is a reasonable assumption that Andy Burnham will do well in Greater Manchester. He was able to capitalise on anti-Tory instincts during the Covid situation and earn the title of ‘King of the North’ (not, note, ‘Greater Manchester’ which is a made-up entity with little legitimacy amongst many of its residents).

However, that very embryonic ‘Northern’ identity politics didn’t make any headway in Hartlepool with the Northern Independence Party and its rival North-east Party, both getting poor results. Yes, the voting system is against them but even so it’s interesting that in the face of disillusionment with a Labour Party seen as ‘not for us’, people opted for the Tories in Hartlepool and many local councils.

So let’s unpick the idea that Labour ‘isn’t for us’ up North a bit more. We are talking about those parts of the North which historically have strongly supported Labour – the Boltons, Oldhams, Blackburns over on this side and the likes of Huddersfield, Bradford, Halifax, Rotherham over on t’other. Not Manchester nor Leeds where Labour wins support from the middle-class professionals; and results in Sheffield point to a very different political tradition emerging with the Greens doing very well.

So, going back to the lessons from Wales.

Labour could rebuild in the North if it was able to build an identity around class, community and region. Class in the sense that it has to show it is representative of the communities it is part of and speaks their language and understands the issues – including the paramount issue of jobs. Community in that it brings people together and champions local issues and concerns – whether it’s local bus services, developing ‘green spaces’, supporting local culture and heritage or fighting inappropriate development. Region in that it is part of the North, in the way that Labour in Wales has promoted itself as being Welsh but a very inclusive Welshness.  Labour in the North of England needs to rebuild its trust with the traditional ‘white’ working class but not ignore its new areas of support amongst BAME communities and amongst middle-class professionals. A shared, inclusive, Northern identity can help do that. Not in any ‘anti-South’ sense but through pride in our heritage and our present-day identity.

This is about more than a bit of clever marketing. Just as Labour in Wales and Scotland have become effectively their own distinct political parties within an overarching UK Labour, we should have our own devolved ‘Northern Labour’ with its own domestic regional policies which include democratic devolution (based on an extension of the Greater Manchester and Merseyside mayoral system with an elected membership and covering a broader geographical area to create ‘Greater Lancastria’).

If we continue having to take orders from the London-based Labour HQ, including having candidates as well as policies foisted on us, people will continue to reject us. There have been suggestions that Starmer might move Labour Party HQ out of London, which wouldn’t be a bad thing (rents are very cheap in Farnworth if Keir wants to have a look at the grand – and largely empty – former town hall) but it doesn’t really address the issue.

Does this mean all parts of England should have their own ‘regionalised’ Labour parties? If that’s what the party membership wants, why not? London Labour makes obvious sense and something like it already exists organisationally (www.londonlabour.org.uk), but the same could work for the Midlands, South-west and eastern England.

If Starmer and the Labour leadership really want to look at radical solutions, they need to do that most difficult thing for politicians to do – surrender power. A ‘Northern Labour’ wouldn’t be deciding foreign policy, whether to invade France or have its own air force. But there are lots of domestic policies that a ‘Northern Region’ within the UK could have responsibility for, and we need look no further than Wales to see how that could work (and Scotland too, of course).

A Northern Railway, accountable to a Northern government? Yes please!

The political expression of Northern devolution must be a devolved political party. It can’t be done by policy wonks in London.

Would ‘Northern Labour’ stem the decline of Labour in the so-called ‘red wall’ seats? Yes, I’m sure it would.

My book REGION: CLASS: COMMUNITY: Socialism with a Northern Accent will be out in July, published by Lancashire Loominary www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

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The North’s Game – Rugby League

The North’s Game: Rugby League, Identity and Northern-ness By Ian Martin

The social history of Rugby League is one of the most inspiring examples of progressive self-determination by working class communities in the industrial North. It’s a culture rooted here that is now also alive and progressing in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, France, Lebanon, Jamaica, Canada, USA, Brazil and more. It was a culture that many see as having strong democratic socialist foundations. The founding values and social history of Rugby League are an inspiration to anyone committed to a vibrant, progressive and self-reliant North – or Northumbria.

Rugby League was created by people far away from the dominant national capital of the time. It could only happen because people decided to do more than just have a whinge – and instead sort things out for themselves.

Billy Boston, Wigan’s greatest

It was to be very different from the game that was led by the London-based establishment. When Rugby League was created, it embraced people who were excluded by this elite – and did what was necessary to ensure they could be included. Rugby League was created as an act of dissent, of rebellion.

On the 29th August 1895, 20 rugby football clubs met at the George Hotel in Huddersfield and formed the Northern Rugby Football Union, which became the Rugby Football League in 1922. All 20 clubs were rooted in industrial communities in Yorkshire, Cheshire and Lancashire and all wanted to be able to make ‘broken time’ payments to players who had to take time off work to be able to train and play. This was against the rules of the London based Rugby Football Union and effectively discriminated against those who were otherwise unable to afford to take time off work.

This radical move was later reflected in the many people involved in Rugby League in the North who were also involved in progressive political causes, from Batley player Dai Davies and Hull director Joe Latus who both fought with the international brigades in the Spanish Civil War to Rugby League magazine editors Stan Chadwick who was involved in the Independent Labour Party and Communist Party member Norman Berry. The Nazi collaborationist regime in Vichy France were so aware of the game’s progressive potential that Rugby a Treize was made illegal and all its assets handed over to Rugby (a Quinze ie. rugby union). Leading figures in the campaign to make rugby a XIII legal again after the war included resistance fighter Paul Barriere, after whom the Rugby League World Cup is named.

Northumbria continues to be the heartland of the game in the Northern Hemisphere and the vast majority of those playing and coaching in its clubs grew up in its deep Rugby League culture, an infrastructure of schools, junior clubs, amateur clubs, businesses, media and supporters who are all an essential element of that culture. At the same time, professional clubs across the UK, France, Canada, USA, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Australia and New Zealand have also benefited at various times from the playing, coaching and other abilities of people who learned the game here.

The North is therefore the birthplace of a sport that has been adopted by people around the world. It gives many parts of the region an essential part of their identity and something about which to be proud. In fact, 2019’s Rugby League Dividend report found that Rugby League “provides a sense of belonging and identity even to those individuals who do not identify as Rugby League fans.”

For some people throughout Rugby League’s history, the game’s distinctiveness has been about what happens on the pitch. And there was a time when that might have been obvious. A sport that could only survive by being entertaining enough to get people without lots of money to hand some of it over at the gates. And in doing so, recompense the players for the broken time from their regular job. Often in the same role and location as the fans themselves. An attitude in stark contrast with Bertram Fletcher Robinson’s 1895 statement that rugby union’s gentlemen did not wish to “pander to the howling mob that crowd the circular stands of some Yorkshire coliseum.”

And yet, it was exactly that demographic and those places that stood up for broken time and who welcomed and made into heroes, players like Roy Francis, Billy Boston and Clive Sullivan whose careers had been capped by their African heritage in their Welsh birth towns. The people who made these things happen weren’t in London, they were here in the industrial Northern towns that sustained the game.

This is all within the context of Rugby League’s leading role amongst all sports in breaking down barriers to ideas of what constitutes a national hero. For example, Steve Matene, was the first Maori to captain any New Zealand national sports team.  Arthur Beetson was the first indigenous Australian to captain any Australian national sports team and the first black Briton to captain any British national sports team was Clive Sullivan. They were all Rugby League players. So too the first black professional sports coach in the UK, Roy Francis, and Ellery Hanley, the first black coach of a national sporting team in the UK.

Nevertheless there is still some way to go to make Rugby League a truly racially just sport. For many people, they would have had little chance of ever knowing about a man like Roy Francis without Carolyn Hitt’s BBC Wales documentary The Rugby Codebreakers – An epic story of race, class, privilege, hypocrisy, rebellion and the sheer ecstasy of scoring a try that challenged the London Hegemony’s narrative of racist, working class Northerners. Interestingly though Hitt’s final line described how it was “the English who embraced (the working class Welshmen of all races) and hold them in their hearts to this very day.” A description that doesn’t adequately do justice to the distinctiveness and identity of people in Rugby League towns in the industrial North.

Given that England and Great Britain Rugby League teams throughout most of their history have mostly been made up of working class Northerners playing the game they gave to the world, for many others this is the closest that they have felt to an international sporting identity. For people here, their only international Rugby League representative team has always been called ‘Great Britain’ or ‘England’, but their love of Rugby League is such that if they were called Elmet, Yorkshire, Northumbria, Europe or whatever, they’d still want to see them in action.

In fact, even when cheering on the ‘Great Britain’ team, symbols of its establishment have been rejected in favour of regional identity, such as in 1933 at Bradford’s Odsal Stadium when the home crowd rejected “God Save The Queen” before Great Britain v Australia and chose instead to sing “On Ilkley Moor” (as described by Anthony Clavane in his book, ‘A Yorkshire Tragedy’).

The team has also provided industrial working class communities in Northumbria with opportunities to represent its distinctive perspective on the political issues of the day, such as in 1992 when players and fans covered up the British Coal sponsors logo on the Great Britain Rugby League shirt in protest at pit closures.

 

Many of the areas that sustained Rugby League through the dark times are themselves now struggling to move forward past the impact of economic and demographic change. Which in itself is affecting the status of the local club. According to Rugby League historian Tony Collins, Hunslet lost over 50% of its population between 1951 and 1981. This reduction in local population had an unsurprising effect on the club. Although the record attendance for the Myrtle and Flame was 24,000 at the old Parkside for a cup match in 1924, the club have been averaging less than a thousand paying supporters per game in recent years at South Leeds Stadium.

There is no doubt that the political schism caused by Brexit gave the Conservative Party a chance to follow in the wake of UKIP and break through during the 2019 General Election in the ‘Red Wall’ of longstanding Labour voting towns, many of which are RL towns. So called ‘Workington Man’ towns. This led to lots of new Tory MPs who wanted to keep their seats understanding the significance of RL. In fact, one Conservative enthusiastically championing Rugby League was Jonathan Caine, a Tory baron and Leeds Rhinos fan. Another was Ken Davy, Huddersfield Giants’ chairman and unsuccessful Tory candidate for the town in 2019.

For so long, Rugby League being tightly bound with working class communities in the post-industrial North has been portrayed as a liability by those who want the game to ape rugby union. And yet the Brexit effect led to the longstanding party of the establishment recognising exactly that bond as a strength with which to associate. In fact, when the Government loaned the RFL £16 Million for its member clubs in 2020,

RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer’s described the rationale a “confirmation of why Rugby League is important – our USP – the sport’s significant social impact in northern communities in particular. Rugby League is not a wealthy sport but is rich in the things that matter most – outstanding sporting and life chances in often disadvantaged communities”. At the same time, leading Rugby League journalist Steve Mascord described the Westminster government’s perception of Rugby League as “some sort of de facto welfare agency of the north…. it has been typecast by the government as some sort of public asset, like an old bridge or a church – and therefore condemned to act that way.“

The key question for Rugby League is therefore what happens when London based political parties don’t need marginal Rugby League constituencies to win Westminster elections anymore? Interpreting Rugby League’s founding values for today means working actively towards self-determination (whether regional democracy or independence) so that its future is much less dependent on whether it is noticed and valued in Westminster and much more about taking responsibility here for building something better.

Perhaps Ross Peltier is an indication of that future, of a rooted and progressive North. The Bradford-born Jamaica Rugby League international stood for the Green Party in Birstall during the 2021 local elections.

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Weekly Salvo 292

The Northern Weekly Salvo

Incorporating  Slaithwaite Review of Books, Weekly Notices, Sectional Appendices, Tunnel Gazers’ Gazette and Northern Umbrella. Descendant of Teddy Ashton’s Northern Weekly and Th’Bowtun Loominary.

Published at 109 Harpers Lane Bolton BL1 6HU email: paul.salveson@myphone.coop

Publications website: www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

No. 292 April 2nd 2021      EASTER EXCURSION                     

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

A snowy Easter Monday, Blackburn 1967. 45593 Kolhapur returning from Blackpool to Leeds on a bank holiday special – we photographed the Jubilee at Kirkham in the morning in bright sunshine.

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

General gossips

Another long gap. What I’ve been doing? Mind’s a blank, increasingly. I know I’ve been spending a lot of time gazing at this screen which isn’t  good. So a late New Year resolution was to cut down on that sort of thing unless I have to. But going back to a life of endless committee meetings doesn’t inspire either, so I’ve made a decision to cut down on ‘committee’ work, as I approach my 70th year. One of the more creative things I’ve been doing is a writing a new edition of my biography of Allen Clarke. The slightly revised title (thanks everyone for suggestions) will be Allen Clarke (‘Teddy Ashton’) Lancashire’s Romantic Radical. It’s with the printer now and will be ready next month. I may even be able to do a public launch – will keep you posted. See below for more details. That will be followed by a completely new edition of my ‘Whitman’ book and a similarly enlarged and enhanced Socialism with a Northern Accent, first published nearly ten years ago.

Nigel Todd – an outstanding chap and a sad loss

My good friend Nigel Todd died suddenly at his home in Newcastle-on-Tyne last week. He was 73.

I first new him at Lancaster University in the early 70s. He was active in IS (International Socialists) and I was a member of the International Marxist Group. Despite our irreconcilable differences over the class nature of the Soviet State, we hit it off, with a shared interest in working class history. We’ve stayed in touch ever since. My strongest memory is being in his living room in 1982 when he was hosting Tony Benn, who was speaking at an event in Newcastle the following day. While Benn was holding forth to a small gathring of comrades – talking a lot of crap, I felt, on how to resolve the current NHS dispute – Nigel’s daughter Selina (named after the great Lancashire socialist and feminist Selina Cooper) was playing with a clockwork mouse which kept whizzing and wurring beneath the great man’s feet as he was holding forth. Benn completely ignored the interruptions and carried on giving us the benefit of his wisdom, which was even funnier.  Selina went on to become a professor of history at Oxford; I wonder if she still has the mouse?

Nigel was involved in the Co-operative movement for all  of his adult  life. He chaired the Co-operative College’s board of trustees, and recently joined the board of the Co-operative Heritage Trust. He also chaired the Newcastle Fairtrade Partnership and was a keen advocate for co-operation, equality and peace. He dedicated his life to tackling poverty, racism and inequality – and was passionate about life-long learning.

Nigel was first elected to Newcastle City Council in 1980, and served as a councillor in Elswick and later, following boundary changes, in Wingrove Ward and more recently the Arthur’s Hill Ward.  Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council, paid tribute to Nigel’s work: “He was widely known, and hugely popular, across the West End of the City; everywhere he went people would stop, say hello, and ask him for advice or help. He chaired the New Deal for Communities initiative, which brought millions of pounds of regeneration funding into the Inner West. He was active in the Labour Party, most recently chairing the city-wide Local Campaign Forum. And he was also passionate about the co-operative movement; he lived by these values and was a keen advocate of co-operative housing developments.”

Joe Fortune, general secretary of the Co-operative Party, said: “Really saddened to hear this news. Nigel was a very lovely person and a very passionate and knowledgeable co-operator. We will be much missed by his many friends across our team and our Party.”

It was characteristic of Nigel that politicians from other parties paid sincere tribute to him. Alistair Ford and Tay Pitman of Newcastle Green Party said: “Nigel was a shining beacon for kind, caring politics. He was a true community leader, representing the residents of Arthur’s Hill and Newcastle with passion and compassion, bringing people together, and fighting for fairness and peace. His tireless work for organisations like Greening Wingrove showed that he understood the importance of the local environment in our lives. He will be truly missed by people of all political colours, and we are proud to have called him a friend.”

Cllr Nick Cott, leader of the Lib Dems on Newcastle City Council, added: “We are deeply saddened and shocked to hear of the passing of Cllr Nigel Todd. …Nigel was a well respected representative of the local community who cared passionately about tackling poverty and inequality and championing lifelong learning. Members of our party speak highly of his anti-racism work.”

Tribute was also paid by the WEA, the adult educational charity, with whom Nigel worked with for many years. “We’re deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our dear friend Nigel Todd,” the organisation said in a statement. “His knowledge and passion for adult education (and the North East) and pioneering work in supporting environmental agenda are just the tip of the legacy he leaves behind. Our thoughts are with his family.”

In many ways Nigel belonged to an earlier political tradition – that ‘ethical socialist’ culture that informed the Independent Labour Party which we could do a lot worse than re-visit. For Nigel, I shall miss your Christmas cards! We shall not see his like again.

ALL CHANGE: What future for rail travel now?

I joined in with an interesting and mercifully short (don’t like long zoom meetings) stakeholder conference for TransPennine Express the other day. It was a useful and lively discussion and a few important points emerged. Research done by the rail industry is suggesting that long-term commuter travel is going to be down by about 40% of the pre-pandemic levels. Business travel will be down less, but a still thumping 25%. On the other hand, leisure travel is likely to grow by

Leisure travel as it was: a class 40 arrives at Bolton’s Platform 4, early 1980s, on a special to Blackpool

around 10%. The implications of these figures is huge, turning on its head so many assumptions that have governed thinking in rail for the last forty years or more. The main drivers of rail development have been commuting and business travel, with ‘leisure’ coming generally a poor third. The methodologies underpinning demand forecastlng have been based largely on commuting and business travel. These approaches are now discredited. We need to build an entirely new approach to forecasting demand for rail travel in which leisure travel plays a much bigger part. Another aspect of this emphasis on leisure is questions around the journey itself. The conventional wisdom within the industry has been to push for faster and faster end to end journey times. Yet leisure travellers are less bothered about super fast journeys and more concerned with avoiding changes,  reliability, good information, getting seat and general comfort.  So that means putting in more stops (within reason) on many services and not obsessing about knocking a few minutes of the end to end journey. And while I’m on this particular tack, what does all this mean for HS2? If it ever had any justification, it doesn’t any more.

Rail travel should be about quality of life not dashing from A to B. Here we are at Poulton-le-Fylde with its lovely gardens

Will it be scrapped as a result? No, it will carry on swallowing up resources that are desperately needed to support the regional and conventional InterCity and inter-regional networks. That said, I can’t see it getting beyond Crewe, and for all that Leeds might huff and puff, I don’t think it will get there either. By the time we realise what a huge white elephant HS2 is we will have squandered eye-wateringly large sums of money that could have been put to far better use. I’ll be dead and gone by then but will look down from the skies and say ‘see- told you so’.

Another England is reasonably possible

Like many northern regionalists, I love many aspects of England including its rich diversity and radical history. The North can take credit for much of what was and often still is good about England, but by no means all of it: the beauty of its landscape, its ingenuity and industry; its music, painting, architecture, science, literature and engineering. Many of these achievements were not seen as specifically ‘English’ so much as part of a Great Britain and an empire which had emerged triumphant but drastically weakened in its war against fascism.

A strong British economy with major centres of industry in the North of England, South Wales and the central belt of Scotland had compensated for the structural inequalities, including the centralisation of political power, between London and the rest of the UK. When that traditional industrial base collapsed, from the 1980s, it marked the

Quintessentially English? Accrington, a few years ago

beginning of the end for ‘Great Britain’, at least as we know it. The end of Britain, whether we mourn it or not, does offer real opportunities, with a very different ‘England’ working positively with Scotland, Wales and Ireland (north and south, but re-unification is beginning to look like a serious possibility) as well as Europe.

We must not succumb to an England of the stereotypes – of the village green and the quaint church with the flag of St George flying high. That awful term ‘quintessentially English’ has no space for the North, nor for urban, multi-cultural London and Birmingham. And a I wish they’d stop patronisingly referring, in lower case, to ‘the north’, that land of the supposed ‘red wall’ constituencies, which actually have changed hands throughout much of the last century.

We need to create a new England which is re-balanced, with the historic exploitation of its regions reversed. The germ of a decentralised, progressive England is already there and it has been highlighted – perhaps clumsily – by the proponents of ‘progressive Englishness’. Another England is possible, but it’s an England of the regions.

What could an ‘England of the regions’ mean in practice? The alternative to a unitary, centralised English Parliament should be a de-centralised England which reflects the regional diversity of the country and sits comfortably with its neighbours. Could ‘English regionalism’ be just as reactionary as English nationalism? Experience from elsewhere in Europe, suggests not. Regionalism tends to be inclusive and socially progressive, with no ‘empire’ baggage.  When I was campaigning for the small regionalist party Yorkshire First (now The Yorkshire Party) I found that regional identities were predictably strong in white working class areas but also in working class South Asian communities. Regional identity can be a very unifying force.

And it’s ‘identity’ which is key. We need to re-think the ‘regional’ map of England and not take the post-war regional boundaries (through the standard planning regional structure) as given. People’s identities are as important as what works economically. Some English regions form an obvious shape – Yorkshire and its neighbour the North-East being perhaps two of the most obvious. Others, including the North-West, don’t. We should be careful of drawing arbitrary distinctions which ignore people’s strong sense of identity – which is one of the biggest cards that regionalism has to play. And there’s no doubt that ‘identity’ is a tricky thing, with people having identities that are national, regional, local and neighbourhood; as well as ‘European’ and wider.

Within ‘The North’ regional identity is often strongest at a lower, more regional, level than ‘The North’. As  Ian Martin has argued: “…it is important to recognise that for many people in Yorkshire, their primary sense of identity is not Northern or English, but Yorkshire. English parliament supporters often point to the 2011 census and use it to suggest increasing numbers of people in Yorkshire feel primarily English. In reality however, the census doesn’t give people in Yorkshire a fair opportunity to identify with identities other than ‘English’ or ‘British’. When the option to identify as Yorkshire is given, as described by Pete Woodcock, the overwhelming majority identified as ‘Yorkshire’ with only a smaller proportion identifying as ‘English’ as well. The most common identity was ‘more Yorkshire than English’ and around 15% of residents surveyed rejected the idea of English identity completely.”

My gut feeling is that a similar response would come from Lancashire (including some of those parts which are now in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cumbria), if people were asked. The mayor of ‘North of the Tyne’ (a strange concept), Jamie Driscoll, captured a sense of regional versus ‘English’ identity in the North-east when he said recently “Up here, we talk about defending the North-east. Bringing up the union – well, that’s a reminder of the Establishment down south, isn’t it?”

So perhaps a revived and enlarged ‘Lancashire’ alongside Merseyside and Cumbria would be an option instead of a ‘North-West’ region which few people identify with. The obvious solution is to ask people, using citizens’ assemblies and other grassroots participative approaches rather than the blunt instrument of a referendum which would easily be swayed by the media, as we saw in the North-East in 2004 (still held up by centralists as a reason why ‘regional democracy’ is not wanted). If any of this is of interest, why not sign up to membership of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation? It’s free – we are currently updating the website but here it is: www.hannah-mitchell.org.uk

NIP in the bud

An interesting new feature on the political landscape is the Northern Independence Party (NIP). It was formed in October 2020 and has skilfully used social media to gain a lot of interest, not least among the young folk. It is politics with a Northern accent and a sense of humour (it has a whippet as its mascot). It is fielding former Colne Valley Labour MP Thelma Walker as its candidate in the Hartlepool by-election and will be up against the North-East Party, as wella s the mainstream parties and oddballs. More on NIP and prospects for a ‘Northumbrian nationalism’ in the next Salvo, but see www.freethenorth.co.uk

Around Hoghton Bottoms and Withnell Fold

The focus of our local walks has shifted to the north-east slightly. We haven’t quite exhausted the area around Coppull and Standish but probably done most of it, including discovering remains of the colliery branch from Coppull to Welsh Whittle pit, once the stamping ground of preserved 11456, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Rly saddletank. The area for our wanderings now is around Hoghton and Withnell. The

Withnell Fold – the old paper mill, looking up from canal bridge

Leeds – Liverpool Canal runs through it making for a nice ‘outward’ walk and through fields and woodland to return. Withnell Fold is a good place to start, a former mill village that is hidden away, off the Chorley – Blackburn road. The old paper mill is still largely intact and used for small businesses. The fine company houses are well preserved and there seems to be a very active community based around the cricket ground and its social club. The canal is just to the north of the village – we walked in Blackburn direction as far as the bridge that takes you to Ollerton Fold, then along paths back to our starting point. A subsequent walk was from Hoghton, starting from the railway bridge at the ‘summit’ of the line and a good place to photograph steam specials when they re-commence (soon). The path down to Hoghton Bottoms is attractive and the view of the railway viaduct from the river is stunning. The River Darwen bursts through rocks in a scene that is quite stunning. The path takes you under the viaduct and along the river bank, ending up near Feniscowles. If you cross the main road and walk by the remains of the former paper mill (there was a lot of paper making round here) you get onto the canal. Head back towards Wheelton and pick up a path to Riley Green. Crossing fields, you’ll reach Hoghton, passing the fine village pub, The Royal Oak, which will shortly re-open for outside drinks and meals. Can’t wait.

Allen Clarke – remembering Teddy Ashton

He was friends with Keir Hardie, corresponded with Tolstoy and met Thomas Hardy. He was loved by tens of thousands of Lancashire mill workers and had a bewildering output of novels, sketches in Lancashire dialect and works of philosophy. Yet today Allen Clarke is little known,

Portrait of the author as a young lad

even in his native county. My book on him – Lancashire’s Romantic Radical – the life and writings of Allen Clarke/Teddy Ashton was published in 200,. For various reasons it wasn’t an ideal time to launch a book but I have managed to shift 500 copies. It’s time for a new edition. Here is a bit about him…

I first discovered Allen Clarke when I was a student at Lancaster in the 1970s. Mooching about in the university library I came across a collection of dialect sketches set in my home town, Bolton.  They were funny, perceptive and politically incisive. The author was ‘Teddy Ashton’ whom, it turned out, was a writer called Allen Clarke. It began a close life-long friendship, though we have yet to meet. Clarke was born in Bolton on February 27th 1863. He became one of the North’s most popular dialect writers, following in the footsteps of Edwin Waugh, Ben Brierley and Samuel  Laycock, a generation later. He was at his peak between the mid-1890s and late 1920s, with thousands of devoted readers amongst the mill workers of Lancashire and Yorkshire. He was best known by his ‘Teddy Ashton’ pen-name which he used for his ‘Tum Fowt Sketches’ set in ‘Tum Fowt’ (or ‘Tonge Fold’) just outside Bolton. He was, in the broadest sense, a ‘libertarian socialist’. He was friends with Tolstoy and tried to set up a co-operative community near Blackpool in 1903-5. His writings did much to turn public opinion against child labour. In the 1890s the ‘half-time’ system was still in general operation across Lancashire, with working class kids going to work in the mill at 6 a.m. then school in the afternoon.

He had complex spiritual interests – he helped to popularise eastern philosophy in his newspapers and in books such as What is Man?  and The Meaning of Life. He was a spiritualist; his book The Eternal Question is probably the best statement of his religious beliefs. Running through all his work is his passion for Lancashire, and cycling.

The new edition of my book is a) significantly enlarged with a new chapter on his railway writings b) properly referenced and c) has an index. Maybe there’s a d) as well – hopefully most of the typos have been removed. The book is at the printers – Minerva Press, Bolton. The same firm which printed Moorlands, Memories and Reflections last year, so they’ll do a good job. It should be ready in May and I’m hoping to keep the price around £15. There will be a pre-publication offer for Salvo readers.

Looking back on our history

Johnston’s important book on child labour was published by the Fabian Society in 1912

My most recent piece in The Bolton News’ ‘Looking Back’ pages was on Dr John Johnston – GP and railway doctor, Whitmanite, poet, cyclist and supporter of Bolton Labour Church. A close friend of Edward Carpenter’s and advocate of ‘beauty in civic life’. The full article is here: https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/19191649.boltons-illustrious-doctor-johnston—man-many-talents/

The previous feature celebrated four exceptional women – Alice Foley, Sarah Reddish, Susan Isaacs and Alice Collinge: https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/19154232.celebrating-legacy-four-pioneering-women-bolton/

Illuminating books from the Lancashire Loominary

I mentioned other books in the pipeline, so here goes. After Allen Clarke I’m bringing out a new edition of my Walt Whitman (With Walt Whitman in Bolton: spirituality, sex and socialism in a Northern Mill-town) book which includes a new section on ‘Walt Whitman and Socialism in the North of England’. It effectively doubles the size of the original which despite having gone through four editions hasn’t changed much since I did the first one in 1984. This will be a significant change and hopefully improvement. Again, it’s well referenced and has an index, keeps most of the illustrations and adds a lot of new material. It includes a piece by Stuart Murray on the more recent history of the Bolton-Whitman connection, mostly the annual Whitman Walk. The new book will be called Unlikely Pioneers: Walt Whitman and Northern Socialism 1885-2021. I’m aiming to have it out for Whitman Day – May 31st. After that, I’m bringing out a new edition of Socialism with a Northern Accent. The original was published in 2012 and the world has moved on. The early history of socialism in the North of England is all still valid but I’ve added new material and brought the story up to date. There will be a lot more on politics in the North today and prospects for a radical Northern political revival that can challenge the Tories. That should be out in September. I’m thinking about a completely new book which incorporates bits of Northern Rail Heritage (2009)  and Railpolitik (2011) into a new production called, provisionally: Northern Railways: Trains as if people mattered. Alongside all those, I am toying with a new novel. More on that soon.

Books in print or kindle

The main sales items at the moment are my book celebrating the West Pennine Moors – Moorlands, Memories and Reflections and a sudden rush of interest in my novel (set in Horwich Loco Works) The Works. This could be related to the special offer of £6 while stocks last. The ‘Bolton – Lancashire’ face mask is now sold out and has raised about £500 for local charities. I’m also doing a half-price offer on the current With Walt Whitman in Bolton, for £5.

I’m in the process of putting books onto kindle (well, Simon is on my behalf, far too complicated for me). The life and work of Allen Clarke/Teddy Ashton – Lancashire’s Romantic Radical (see above) – will be going on the kindle list, as well as With Walt Whitman in Bolton – which may help sales in America.

Full details of all publications are on my website here (or see summary below): www.lancashireloominary.co.uk or email me for details at info@lancashireloominary.co.uk

Second-Hand Department

The Lancashire Loominary Secondhand Bookshop has stirred a bit of interest. There’s still some quite good stuff there and I’ve added a few things recently – 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 starts to ease, more shops will be opening in the next few weeks 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

Leonie Smethurst, Pike Snack Shack owner – Rivington Pike is the traditional destination for Boltonians on a Good Friday but the crowds are being discouraged this year. But if you do go, get a cake and a brew from the Snack Shack

outlets is Bunbury’s real ale shop at 397 Chorley Old Road, Bolton. The bar side of the business is currently shut but they are open for takeaway. I can recommend their oatmeal stout and some superb German lager. 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). The shop is open and they’re planning a special event on Saturday April 17th with more stock on display and other groups having stalls (including me!).

Horwich Heritage Centre stock some of my books. They will be opening the shop in two weeks – check website for details: www.horwichheritage.co.uk. They have a great selection of railway memorabilia.

Winter Hill 125 – this September, join us for 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 The Woodland Trust, local unions, The Ramblers and many more groups and individuals. The celebration will take place on Sunday September 5th 2021 – get it in your diary now! 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 zoom conference on march 12th went very well – though we were over-subscribed with 170 people registered. We could only allow in 100! However, it is now available on youtube, take a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdDUgiWz1lg

Small Salvoes

  • Radio 3’s week of ‘music from Manchester’ had some really interesting material. The Manchester Collective performed a marvellous piece by Wojciech Kilar called ‘Orawa’ which I’m going to get as a CD.
  • Civic Revival held a very good zoom conference last Sunday on ‘Empowering Communities’ with stimulating contributions from a  range of speakers including Cllr Matthew Brown, leader of Preston Council. It can now be viewed online: https://www.civic-revival.org.uk/video-of-empowering-our-communities/
  • 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.
  • Poetry from the Platform is selling well and you can buy it via pay pal on the CRP website. Details here: https://www.boltoncommunityrail.org.uk/2021/02/26/poetry-platform-for-boltons-creative-community/#more-307
  • M.D. Smith has just brought out  Horwich Locomotive Works Re-Visited – it’s available price £20 from Horwich Heritage Centre.
  • The former Horwich Loco Works site has largely been cleared for housing development. However, the former offices have survived and the Millwrights’ and Pattern Shop is being converted into a food and drinks hall, ‘well-being centre’ with heritage displays

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Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events

Nothing specific as yet but a programme of steam specials starts in May including trains from Carnforth via Preston and Blackburn to Carlisle and the east coast.

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The Salvo Publications List  – see www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

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 May. There will be a pre-publication offer.

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 to end of April £5 plus postage if not local. New and extended edition under preparation – should be out late May, in time for the annual ‘Whitman Day’

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

 

 

 

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Another England is possible

Another England is possible: a Northern response to ‘The English Question’

Paul Salveson, Hannah Mitchell Foundation

This paper argues that the quest for a ‘progressive English’ politics that doesn’t recognise the nation’s regional diversity is a dead-end. It makes the case for an ‘England of the Regions’ with a new democratic settlement founded on regional assemblies elected by PR. It makes the case for developing new , progressive policy networks (‘ideas mills’) which may be regionally-based – but which talk to each other and similar fora in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. These networks must have deep roots in their communities, reflecting regional distinctiveness. Keir Starmer’s apparent tilt towards ‘patriotism’ is unlikely to win support in the North but could well lose members across the UK. There is an alternative, based around progressive regionalism which embraces the strong radical traditions in different parts of Britain.

The Holy Grail of ‘Progressive Englishness’

The quest for a ‘progressive English politics’ has become a growing trend recently amongst sections of the English Left. Recent articles in The Guardian and Observer suggest that ‘re-capturing’ English identity from the Right could be key to Labour re-building its popularity in a post-Brexit world. Writing in The Guardian recently Andy Beckett suggests that the nature of Englishness matters – “not least because a less prickly and entitled version would be better for our neighbours. And it might even stop a lot of the English from feeling like foreigners in their own land.” [1]

There’s much to agree with Andy’s arguments, which recognises that the nature of England has changed dramatically in the last few decades and our relationship with a potentially independent Scotland needs to be carefully defined so that a vindictive and reactionary nationalism doesn’t take hold in England. In a subsequent piece in The Observer [2] Julian Coman is more specific about how a progressive Englishness could be articulated. Illustrated by a photo of ‘quintessential England’ – a rural English church with the flag of St George flying next to it – Julian takes us on an ‘English Journey’ which culminates in the idea of an English Parliament which would sit, comfortably we must assume, with devolved or independent governments for Scotland and Wales.

Professor John Denham of the Centre for English Identity at the University of Southampton joins in, condemning ‘the Left’ for its neglect of English identity suggesting “That this more liberal Englishness still lags behind multicultural Britishness is in large part because the Left has shunned English identity or promoted reactionary caricatures of it (perhaps like the photo used in The Observer story). Where British multiculturalism combined grassroots demands for inclusion with state endorsement, Englishness has had no such support. The surprise is not how little Englishness has changed, but how much. But it has too often been left to sports people – most recently Marcus Rashford, perhaps – to embody this developing Englishness. The engagement of political leaders and the state in shaping English identity – as Scotland’s leaders have done with Scottish identity – is long overdue.”[3]

To a limited extent they are right, though the deeply embedded conservatism within ‘English’ culture can hardly be blamed on the Left for failing to engage with it. It’s inherently reactionary, reflecting England’s ‘great’ imperial past and all that went with it. One of the strong slogans of the Leave campaign was ‘take back control’. But for most of us, we were never in control in the first place. It was England’s ruling class that had control, and still largely does, though how ‘English’ it is in these days of global capitalism is questionable.

The political conclusion of their arguments for ‘progressive Englishness’ is deeply worrying. A unitary English Parliament would stimulate what the Scots-born Irish republican James Connolly, in a different context, called “a carnival of reaction”. Not only would it even further institutionalise the political dominance of England’s south and embolden a very nasty strain of right-wing Toryism, it would drive a very large wedge between us, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.  Any sort of federation between Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and a unitary England would inevitably be dominated by England, which numerically alone would vastly outweigh its would-be federal partners. It would re-inforce the current concentration of power in London and the south-east and leave the North of England even more marginalised and excluded. It would set in stone the supremacy of English Toryism at its worst. A ‘left-wing’, or even mildly progressive, English nationalism is fool’s gold and will end in tears.

 ‘The Left’ and questions of identity

Much is made in all three contributions about what is seen as a coherent view of ‘the Left’ assuming a coherent political movement embracing a particular set of attitudes, including hostility to ‘England’ and ignorant of ‘place’ and ‘identity’. I’d argue that’s mistaken in many ways. Hostility to ‘English nationalism’ doesn’t have much theoretical underpinning, but is an understandable reaction to the re-emergence of a nasty form of right-wing Toryism. There isn’t, and probably never has been, a cohesive ‘Left’ with an agreed set of values, ideas and assumptions, at least in England. Scotland and Wales do have their networks and institutions which are developing some exciting approaches to their national political debates, such as Common Weal in Scotland and the Bevan Foundation in Wales. But what of England itself?  Perhaps the Communist Party came nearest to providing it but that has long gone as a serious political force.  E.P. Thompson, Christopher Hill, A.L. Morton and others celebrated the radical strand within English history which sat comfortably with progressive traditions in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. [4]

The Labour Party itself has never really cared for intellectuals, still less a cohesive grouping of them that might influence policy. The Independent Labour Party tried to develop that role but its decision to ostracise itself from the mainstream in the early 1930s consigned it to irrelevance. Subsequently, groups around The New Reasoner (former CP’ers like E.P. Thompson, John Saville and others) did good work in developing a ‘British’ democratic socialism in the late 1950s but its influence didn’t stretch very far. The same goes for the work of intellectuals such as Perry Anderson and Robin Blackburn in the early days of New Left Review. Both were highly scathing of the narrowness of ‘British Labourism’.

Today, what thinking there is amongst socialists tends to revolve around those bastions of London-based middle-class progressivism, The Guardian and The Observer as well as New Statesman. And there are some talented writers, including Paul Mason, Andy Beckett, Julian Coman and others.

But it’s very much a ‘metropolitan Left’ centred around London and its social networks.  There’s not much else; you’d struggle to think of a left-wing magazine in England that isn’t published (and largely written) from London. As Marx said, your material being – including where you live! – determines your consciousness.

What often strikes me about much of this London-based Left is its general lack of understanding and knowledge of the country in which they live, outside of the capital. This was evident during the referendum on Scottish independence and subsequent attempts to rebuild Labour support in Scotland, typified by Starmer’s very poor speech on devolution recently, which seemed entirely about winning back support north of the border. In a way, London political commentators (of the Left Centre or Right) have at least as limited an understanding of England as they do of Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

This lack of understanding or empathy with the English regions runs deep and isn’t compensated by pleas from some London-based political writers about their ‘Northern/Scottish/Welsh’ (delete as applicable) roots. They exemplify what has been termed by David Goodhart as ‘people from nowhere’, counter-posed to ‘people from somewhere’, who had a real identity with their place. [5]Goodhart overstates his case by equating ‘people from somewhere’ too closely with Leave voters – reality is and was more complex. But he has a point.

Much of the media reporting of the North by the London media is often a condescending and stereotypical  ‘day return journalism’ with writers doing their best to spend as little time as possible away from home. The demise of most ‘regional correspondents’ in the national media has been a further nail in the coffin of balanced and intelligent reporting of the North and other English regions. Patronising and stereotypical views of ‘The North’ remain entrenched and acceptable within a London media culture that would think twice before patronising black or gay people. The North of England, as well as Scotland and Wales, remains ’fair game’. We are seen as Leave-voting, socially conservative born-again Tory voters, grovelling amidst the ruins of the ‘red wall’ (see below).

Good and bad nationalism

Let’s step back a bit and compare different ‘nationalisms’. I’ve some sympathy for the classic Marxist analysis which drew a clear distinction between the nationalism of ‘oppressed, colonial nations’ (good) and the nationalism of the colonising nations (bad). Crude maybe, but not wrong.  England, not by any means a small country with a population of 56 million, has spent centuries dominating and robbing other countries, including its immediate neighbours. The sun may have finally set on the British Empire but many of the attitudes, and racial stereotypes that went with them, are still very much alive. They were given a fresh airing during and after the Brexit campaign and have not gone away. Its politics is right-wing English nationalism and its institutional expression would ultimately be found within an English Parliament. We already see the visceral hatred of the SNP and the hatred of Nicola Sturgeon by the Anglo Right.

It will get much worse. For progressives within England, the last thing we should do is to help with this demonization of Scottish nationalism. [6]If Scotland wants to become an independent nation, that is for Scotland (and not the UK as a whole) to decide. But we can have a view – mine would be that many of the advantages of independence – and more – could be gained by a confederal British Isles with each part of the federation being equal. That would mean the English regions having separate representation, but clear protection for Scotland, Wales and Ireland who would otherwise be outvoted by ‘England’ in its regions. In reality, the Northern regions may decide to align more closely with Scotland and Wales than the southern English regions. Who knows, but I suspect there is more sympathy for Scotland across the North than we often assume.[7]

Nobody is saying England is awful (but it could become so)

Like many northern regionalists, I love many aspects of England including its rich diversity and radical history which includes but goes well beyond London. The North can take credit for much of what was and often still is good about England, but by no means all of it: the beauty of its landscape, its ingenuity and industry; its music, painting, architecture, science, literature and engineering. Many of these achievements were not seen as specifically ‘English’ so much as part of a Great Britain and an empire which had emerged triumphant but drastically weakened in its war against fascism.

A strong British economy with major centres of industry in the North of England, South Wales and the central belt of Scotland compensated for the structural inequalities, including the centralisation of political power, between London and the rest of the UK. When that traditional industrial base collapsed, from the 1980s, it marked the beginning of the end for ‘Great Britain’, at least as we know it. The end of Britain, whether we mourn it or not, does offer real opportunities, with a very different ‘England’ working positively with Scotland, Wales and Ireland (north and south, but re-unification is beginning to look like a serious possibility) as well as Europe.

We must not succumb to an England of the stereotypes – of the village green and the quaint church with the flag of St George flying high. That awful term ‘quintessentially English’ has no room for the North, nor for urban, multi-cultural London and Birmingham. And a ‘North’ which is patronisingly referred to, in lower case, as ‘the north’, the land of what was ‘the red wall’ (but never really was, except in the imagination of London journalists. [8]

We need to create a new England which is re-balanced, with the historic exploitation of its regions reversed. The germ of a decentralised, progressive England is already there and it has been highlighted – perhaps clumsily – by the proponents of ‘progressive Englishness’. Here I can agree with Andy Beckett and Julian Coman. Another England is possible, but it’s an England of the regions.

An England of the Regions

What could an ‘England of the regions’ mean in practice? The alternative to a unitary, centralised English Parliament should be a new, de-centralised England which reflects the regional diversity of the country and sits comfortably with its neighbours. [9] Could ‘English regionalism’ be just as reactionary as English nationalism? Experience from elsewhere in Europe, suggests not. [10]

Regionalism tends to be inclusive and socially progressive, with no imperialist baggage.  When I was campaigning for the small regionalist party Yorkshire First (now The Yorkshire Party) I found that regional identities were predictably strong in white working class communities but also in working class South Asian communities. Regional identity can be a very unifying force.

And it’s ‘identity’ which is key. We need to re-think the ‘regional’ map of England and not take the post-war regional boundaries (through the standard planning regional structure) as given. People’s identities are as important as what works economically. Some English regions form an obvious shape – Yorkshire and its neighbour the North-East being perhaps two of the most obvious. Others, including the North-West, don’t. We should be careful of drawing arbitrary distinctions which ignore people’s strong sense of identity – which is one of the biggest cards that regionalism has to play. And there’s no doubt that ‘identity’ is a tricky thing, with people having identities that are national, regional, local and neighbourhood; as well as ‘European’ and wider.

Within ‘The North’ regional identity is often strongest at a lower level than ‘The North’. As Ian Martin has argued: “…it is important to recognise that for many people in Yorkshire, their primary sense of identity is not Northern or English, but Yorkshire. English parliament supporters often point to the 2011 census and use it to suggest increasing numbers of people in Yorkshire feel primarily English. In reality however, the census doesn’t give people in Yorkshire a fair opportunity to identify with identities other than ‘English’ or ‘British’. When the option to identify as Yorkshire is given, as described by Pete Woodcock[11], the overwhelming majority identified as ‘Yorkshire’ with only a smaller proportion identifying as ‘English’ as well. The most common identity was ‘more Yorkshire than English’ and around 15% of residents surveyed rejected the idea of English identity completely.”

My gut feeling is that a similar response would come from Lancashire (including some of  those parts which are now in Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cumbria), if people were asked. The mayor of ‘North of the Tyne’, Jamie Driscoll, captured a sense of regional versus ‘English’ identity in the North-east when he said recently “Up here, we talk about defending the North-east. Bringing up the union – well, that’s a reminder of the Establishment down south, isn’t it?”[12]

So perhaps a revived and enlarged ‘Lancashire’ alongside Merseyside and Cumbria would be an option instead of a ‘North-West’ region which few people identify with. The obvious solution is to ask people, using citizens’ assemblies and other grassroots participative approaches rather than the blunt instrument of a referendum which would easily be swayed by the media, as we saw in the North-East in 2004 (still held up by centralists as a reason why ‘regional democracy’ is not wanted).

Re-balancing Britain

England, and its creation ‘The British State’, will take some shifting. The catalyst will be Scottish independence, which will result, by default, with what is essentially an ‘English Parliament’ with Wales as a perhaps unwilling appendage. Cracks are already beginning to show in the North, with the emergence of small regionalist parties and most recently the new ‘Northern Independence Party’ (NIP) which is essentially a civic nationalist party based around a national identity (‘Northumbria’) which currently doesn’t exist.  But as we know, ‘nations’ are created and perhaps in the future a ‘Northumbrian’ identity will emerge. There’s a very long way to go. In the long-term, an independent ‘North’ might happen. For now, it seems a very long way off, but if NIP can snap at the heels of Labour and push it towards a more pro-Northern approach, fine. For the foreseeable future, I could live with the idea of a ‘federal England’ within a confederation which includes Scotland, Wales and the North of Ireland – with hopefully the Republic as a close friend and ally.

A confederal Britain could emerge as an alternative to the complete break-up of the UK. But it should be a ‘confederation’ of nations and regions’, not a supposed federation in which Westminster remains in ultimate control. [13]

For the time being, Labour, with the Lib Dems and Greens, should get behind the idea of regional democracy and move beyond the city-region mayoral model. It’s undemocratic and unaccountable; only the figurehead is elected, a step back even from the days of the metropolitan county councils. The role of cross-party regionalist groups such as Hannah Mitchell Foundation and ‘Same Skies West Yorkshire’ are particularly important in winning broad support as well as developing new ideas and different ways of thinking/doing stuff.

The North needs its own ‘left’ that can develop new approaches to regional politics and culture, but a very inclusive ‘left’ that goes beyond just the Labour Party. The Hannah Mitchell Foundation is an example of one attempt to do that, Same Skies (in Yorkshire) another. It’s about collaboration and learning from elsewhere – the civic nationalism of Scotland and Wales, but also progressive regionalism in other parts of the world. London itself, with its vibrant culture and socially liberal politics, should be a positive partner – but not an over- dominant one – in a re-alignment of progressive politics. We need to talk to each other more, even if it’s by zoom.

In turn, a regional Left needs to feed in to regional consciousness through very practical means, through regional institutions including parties, unions, voluntary sector and universities. This is a contemporary take on the Italian Marxist philosopher, Antonio Gramsci, and his idea of ‘the organic intellectual’. In his case, the organic intellectual was the Party which brought together the industrial working class and the intelligentsia, with political theory translated directly into the party’s practice. It wasn’t a particularly democratic model – but we could make it so.

The threat of an English Parliament is real. As Ian Martin of Same Skies said “we must take every opportunity to build our capacity now so that we are prepared for the day when an English Parliament refuses to look our way.” Fair point Ian, but we must do our best to prevent that happening at all. This means arguing strongly against the lurch towards English nationalism which Keir  Starmer appears to be toying with. As Jamie Driscoll commented, “there’s no way he can do that flagwaving better than the likes of Nigel Farage.” Labour can appeal to the so-called ‘red wall’ constituencies in the North, but attempting to cloak itself in the Union Jack will be seen as opportunistic and slightly ridiculous. Yet the North has its own strong progressive traditions based around co-operation, community solidarity and a distinct form of ‘ethical socialism’ which is waiting to be interpreted for the 21st century.[14]

In the North, we need to develop a regional culture and consciousness  which includes an alternative body of thinking that is progressive and inclusive. In effect, a kind of collective ‘organic intellectual’ which is part of a regional community/ies and not dependent on the patronage of London-based media. Less a ‘think tank’, more an ‘ideas mill’. The North – and the regions within it – are slowly starting to wake up and the recent spat between Andy Burnham and Boris Johnson, and the huge groundswell of support which Burnham generated, shows that a regional consciousness is starting to stir. As yet, it struggles to find a political expression but it’s there for Labour to grasp. If it doesn’t , others will. The journey might just end with an independent Northumbria. A big part of me hopes it doesn’t, but I’d love a confederal British Isles.

[1] Guardian, January 8th 2021

[2] Julian Coman ‘Proud to be English: How can we shape a progressive patriotism?’ The Observer January 17th 2021

[3] John Denham, Guardian January 12th 2021

[4] E.P. Thompson The Making of the English Working Class, 1963. The title itself is revealing, so too A.L. Morton’s A People’s History of England, 1938). Thompson had an acute understanding of regional distinctiveness and his book is strongly based on working class struggles in the North, particularly Lancashire and the West Riding.

[5] David Goodhart People from Somewhere 2019

[6] See the thoughtful piece by Neal Lawson https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/politics/scottish-independence-labour-party-union-future

[7] Following the independence referendum there was some on-line polling which showed a lot of support amongst people in the North of England for the North to merge with Scotland! Probably not the right answer to the North’s problems, but interesting all the same.

[8] See Paul Salveson in Chartist, April 2020  https://www.chartist.org.uk/whats-all-this-red-wall-stuff/

[9] See Paul Salveson Socialism with a Northern Accent – radical traditions for modern times 2012. More recently, Alex Niven in New Model Island (2019) has argued for progressive regionalism.

[10] See Ian Martin A Journey that ends  in Northumbria, 2021

[11] https://theconversation.com/cornwall-and-yorkshire-show-regional-identities-run-deep-in-england-too-41322

[12] Quoted in The Guardian February 3rd 2021

[13] See https://www.diffen.com/difference/Confederation_vs_Federation for basic differences between a confederation and a federation

[14] See my Socialism with a Northern Accent – radical traditions for modern times 2012

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Winter Hill 125 News

NEW from singer Jonny Campbell Hi Folks, in two weeks time I am going to be doing my first Kickstarter campaign to to kick the ‘Winter Hill Trespass’ single I have planned for release in around August off the ground. My first vinyl 7” release with dedicated artwork documenting the trespass in the form of postcards and tea towels also. Lots of more will be available to pledge to help the project get to £1200which can fund the vinyl, artwork and production costs of the single. Please feel free to sign up to my newsletter: www.johnnycampbell.co.uk And/or my facebook page www.facebook.com/johnnycampbell Really looking forward to the talk on 12th March and the planned trespass in September.

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Lancashire Loominary news no. 3 March 2021

The Lancashire Loominary

No. 3 March 2021

Welcome to my occasional newsletter, mostly relating to books, history and literature. 

Moorlands, Memories and Reflections: kindling interest

My centenary celebration of Allen Clarke’s Moorlands and Memories continues to sell well and get good feedback from readers. I’m going to put a ‘simplified’ version (with fewer photos) out as a kindle book. It will be priced at about £9.00. At the moment only my novel The Works is on kindle, price £4.99 – over the next few months other titles will be added (see below). See https://www.amazon.co.uk/Paul-Salveson/e/B086T48HGC/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Supporting local shops

I much prefer selling my books directly or through local shops. Last year I Iaunched my ‘Bolton Bicycling Bookshop’ which both keeps me fit and avoids the ‘white van’ syndrome. It’s also nice to say hello to people on the doorstep. Quite a few shops selling my books are still open; there’s a full list on the website but local recommendations around Bolton include the Justicia Fair Trade Shop, the Pike Snack Shack on the way up to Rivington Pike, A Small Good Thing

Leonie Smethurst, Snack Shack owner

greengrocers on Church Road and Markland Hill Post Office. I’d love to support more independent bookshops and hopefully they’ll soon be open again  – George Kelsall in Littleborough, Wright Reads in Horwich, Carnforth Bookshop and Pendle Heritage Centre, Barrowford. They are going to need all the help they can get in getting back on their feet so please support them. Other outlets still sought, welcome suggestions.

The Russian Connection

My fortnightly feature in The Bolton News’ Looking Back pages is a good way of promoting ‘alternative’ local history to a wider audience. The last one was about Bolton (and Lancashire’s) links to the Russian textile industry in the 19th century. There’s lots of material out there, with potential for a full-length book. Many Bolton families went out to

A Russian Boltonian poses for a photo, c 1900, St Petersburg

Russia from the 1850s and some settled. Lancashire expertise was required to set up and maintain textile machinery, so firms like Hick Hargreaves, Dobson and Barlow and Mather and Platt’s (of Oldham) were in great demand. The feature can be downloaded here: https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/19087834.bolton-know-key-role-russias-textile-revolution/

Lancashire’s herbalist tradition

Back in the 1980s I helped my friend Derek Moffitt, a railway shopman, do some research on Lancashire herbalists. He ended up getting an MSc but then suddenly died of a brain tumour. He had started on a very rich seam of social history and I’m hoping to continue some of his work. The first stage is a Bolton news piece which will appear on February 24th. Pre-eminent amongst working class herbalists (or ‘medical botanists’) was Richard Lawrence Hool who lived in Farnworth from around 1870 until his death in 1920. I’m looking for more information on Hool and his colleagues, including Charles Hassall, also of Farnworth, and examples of local women herbalists.

Socialism with a Northern Accent

Nearly ten years ago, Lawrence and Wishart published my Socialism with a Northern Accent. John Prescott wrote a very kind foreword and it was launched on an unsuspecting, and largely uninterested, public. Things have moved on and there is a bit more interest in the regional agenda so it’s probably time for a new edition. I’ll do it under the ‘Loominary’ imprint and re-work some parts of it. Much of it is a historical

The long march to the sunny uplands: a socialist procession in support of Victor Grayson in 1907, Golcar

overview stressing the distinctiveness of the socialist politics that took root in Lancashire and the West Riding from the 1890s. However, there will be an extended chapter on contemporary regionalist politics and the potential for extending regional democracy in the North of England. The provisional title is Socialism with a Northern Accent: how our radical traditions can shape a new North.

Pioneers! Walt Whitman and Northern Socialism 1885-2021

My book on Lancashire’s links to Walt Whitman (With Walt Whitman in Bolton – spirituality sex and socialism in a Northern mill town) had what was effectively a re-reprint in 2019. I’ve been meaning to do a ‘proper’ new edition for a while and lockdown has given me a bit of time to bring it up to date. The book that will hopefully appear this Spring will be in two parts – a new edition of the ‘Bolton’ Whitman book and a more general essay on the influence of Whitman on socialism in the North of England. It will complement the new edition of Socialism with a Northern Accent. It will be priced at about £15 and also be on kindle. Meanwhile, I’m selling the 2019 edition off (which is very nicely illustrated) at half-price (see below).

ALLEN CLARKE: Lancashire’s Romantic Radical

My book on the life and writings of Allen Clarke was published under my old imprint ‘Little Northern Books’ in 2009, as Lancashire’s Romantic Radical: the life and writings of Allen Clarke/Teddy Ashton. I’ve virtually run out of the original version and I’ve been working on a revised edition. Fortunately he hasn’t been doing much since he died in 1935 so it shouldn’t be that big a job to update, though I will add a few interesting snippets about his life as well as the course of ‘Teddy Ashton Studies’ in recent years. I’m going to try to keep it down to an affordable cost and possibly sell it with Moorlands, Memories and Reflections, which it complements, as well as a stand-alone book in print and kindle. Aiming to bring it out July/August but watch this space.

Northern Rail Heritage

The second (2008) edition of this introduction to the social history of railways in the North is also virtually out of print and I’m hoping to do a new version bringing it up to date. I’ll keep some of the photos and add a few new ones and have it available in print and kindle. It will tell

Heritage Traction: a class 40 arrives at Bolton’s Platform 4, early 1980s

the story of rail in the North from the earliest days to nationalisation, privatisation and the current half-way house we’re in. I’m aiming for publication in September but if it can be done sooner, so much the better.

Salveson’s Photographic Gallery

My old website (www.paulsalveson.org.uk) has been languishing in the sidings these last couple of months as my writing has been transferred to www.lancashireloominary.co.uk. It has now been revved as my photographic gallery – ‘Paul Salveson Photography’. It’s a way of displaying a selection of my photographs taken over the last 60 years (literally – and some of the best date from the mid-60s). There are

Haigh Hall woods – from the cab of 73014, June 3rd 1967

several themes including BR steam, industrial landscapes, Lancashire moorlands, industrial steam and the contemporary railway. I may get round to selling some images, either just as digital images or prints. Access to view the gallery is unrestricted: http://paulsalveson.org.uk/

Bringing coals from Yorkshire

This new short story is about the day in the life of a footplateman in the days of steam – early 1900s in fact. It’s about a young loco fireman working a freight from Bolton to Wakefield and back, and the wider social and historical background. It is based on historical fact though the story itself is fictional. It’s on the website and is illustrated (thanks to Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Society and Noel Coates).  http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/this-months-short-story

Northern Weekly Salvo now out

A new issue of The Northern Weekly Salvo is now available. It’s the usual rag-bag of stuff including the ongoing debate about ‘Englishness’, walks around the Wigan Coalfield, the fascinating history of the Haigh Foundry and short reviews of new books.

It’s here:  http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/northern-weekly-salvo-291

Current special offers

  • My novel set in Horwich Loco Works – The Works – now available at less than half price: £6
  • With Walt Whitman in Bolton – spirituality, sex and socialism in a Northern Mill Town – £5 (both for £10)

Will Yo’ Come O’ Sunday Mornin’? The story of the 1896 Winter Hill Trespass

A hidden horde of the 1996 edition history of the now-famous Winter Hill Mass Trespass (much bigger than Kinder!) was re-discovered last year and is being sold at £5, with all proceeds to Bolton Socialist Club. Plans for the 125h anniversary this September are coming along well and there’s a ‘Winter Hill 125 Facebook’ group. There is a zoom-based meeting on the evening of Friday march 12th. You can buy the book through Lancashire Loominary’s order form http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/order-form

Second-hand Department

This is a new innovation, after spending a day sorting out all the duplicated (and triplicated) books in my library. Most – but not all – are railway titles and there are some very nice bound volumes of The Railway Magazine, with one dating back to 1899 (a bit bashed, admittedly). Some of the bound volumes are, however, in very good nick. There’s also some Lancashire history and general political stuff.  Details here: http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/second-hand-books

Bolton – Lancashire Facemasks

These are now sold out – sales have raised about £500 for Bolton NICE and Bolton Hospice. A big thanks to all who helped, especially Hilary Fairclough and Martin McMulkin (a progressive alliance in the making?).  I’m thinking about doing more and welcome any comments and requests for re-orders.

Poetry Platform for Bolton’s Creative Community

Bolton Station Community Partnership has published its first book of poetry – The Platform Anthology. The publication contains the eight winning poems from the recent borough-wide competition and all the other entrants who were shortlisted. Beautifully illustrated by Allison Timmins who holds a University of Bolton School of the Arts Masters Degree, the volume represents the creative work of over fifty people who either currently live, work or study in Bolton or who have previously done so.

The competition was funded by Transport for Greater Manchester who have supported numerous Bolton station projects over the last two years.  Julie Levy, Chair of the Community Partnership, and Dave Morgan from Live from Worktown collaborated over the last nine months to launch and manage the poetry competition. Supported by the University’s acclaimed Creative Writing Department, the competition was held in two phases ensuring an equal chance of success for all age groups.

A virtual celebration event is being planned with the University of Bolton where the eight winners will have an opportunity to read their poems to the audience. The event will also feature two experienced local poets who will read some of their work and discuss how they go about writing their own poetry. Winning entries will be display on the station.

Copies of the anthology can be ordered from Julie at boltonstationcdp@gmail.co.uk and cost £5 plus postage and packing.

 

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Northern Weekly Salvo 291

The Northern Weekly Salvo no. 291

Incorporating  Slaithwaite Review of Books, Weekly Notices, Sectional Appendices, Tunnel Gazers’ Gazette and Northern Umbrella. Descendant of Teddy Ashton’s Northern Weekly and Th’Bowtun Loominary.

Published at 109 Harpers Lane Bolton BL1 6HU email: paul.salveson@myphone.coop

Publications website: www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

No. 291 February 13th  2021                 

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

General gossips

A bit of a gap since the last Salvo but not been short of things to do it – it’s just that I can’t remember what they are. Perhaps an age thing (and I’ve had my jab, hooray!). The best thing has been the number of

Lancashire patriotism? Yes please

really interesting local walks, in areas that I’d never really explored.  Politics is interesting, with sections of the London-based Left discovering their inner ‘Englishness’. The notion is discussed further in this Salvo and readers’ views are welcome.

There seems to be a lot of consultation-itis going on in the transport world, with Grater Manchester Combined Authority having just completed its soundings on the future of the buses. The Department for Transport has started one, asking for views on the rail network to the north of Manchester.

A TransPennine Express train near Grayrigg in wintry weather: patronage is down to less than 10% of ‘normal’

The trouble is nobody really knows how people will travel in the next few years. One thing that I’m sure of, whatever it is it won’t be like what we’ve been used to before. There’s a real risk that the decline in public transport usage will be long-term. It will need a lot of determination to convince people that train and bus are safe ways to travel. But even if that argument is won, people are unlikely to want to go back to five-days-a-week commuting, or for those annoyingly frequent ‘business meetings’ in the capital. What are the implications for HS2? Pretty obvious I’d say.

Another England is possible

The quest for a ‘progressive English politics’ has become a growing trend recently amongst sections of the English Left. Recent articles in The Guardian and Observer suggest that ‘re-capturing’ English identity from the Right could be key to Labour re-building its popularity in a post-Brexit world. Writing in The Guardian recently Andy Beckett suggests that the nature of Englishness matters – “not least because a

New Labour Party campaigning attire

less prickly and entitled version would be better for our neighbours. And it might even stop a lot of the English from feeling like foreigners in their own land.” Do we? I don’t think so, and there’s a risk of descending into something quite nasty if we’re not careful (“I didn’t see a single white face…”)

He isn’t saying that and there’s much to agree with in Andy’s arguments, which recognises that the nature of England has changed dramatically in the last few decades and our relationship with a potentially independent Scotland needs to be carefully defined so that a vindictive and reactionary nationalism doesn’t take hold in England. In a subsequent piece in The Observer  Julian Coman is more specific about how a progressive Englishness could be articulated. Illustrated by a photo of ‘quintessential England’ – a rural English church with the flag of St George flying next to it – Julian takes us on an ‘English Journey’ which culminates in the idea of an English Parliament which would sit, comfortably we must assume, with devolved or independent governments for Scotland and Wales.

I have my doubts. In a paper posted on the Hannah Mitchell Foundation website (www.hannah-mitchell.org.uk) I argue that the quest for a ‘progressive English’ politics that doesn’t recognise the nation’s regional diversity is a dead-end. It makes the case for an ‘England of the Regions’ with a new democratic settlement founded on regional assemblies elected by PR. It makes the case for developing new, progressive policy networks (‘ideas mills’) which may be

The long march to the sunny uplands: a socialist procession in support of Victor Grayson in 1907, Golcar

regionally-based – but which talk to each other and similar fora in Scotland, Wales and Ireland. These networks must have deep roots in their communities, reflecting regional distinctiveness. Keir Starmer’s apparent tilt towards ‘patriotism’ is unlikely to win support in the North but could well lose members across the UK. There are precedents here. The socialist movement has gone down the ‘patriotic’ road before, personified by Robert Blatchford (‘Britain for the British’) in the run-up to the First World War. It split the ILP and Clarion movement and Blatchford became a cheer leader for militarism. There is an alternative, based around progressive regionalism which embraces the strong radical traditions in different parts of the country. Building on those traditions and fashioning distinctive but collaborative regional political cultures is an exciting task. Maybe time for a second edition of Socialism with a Northern Accent!

Regional democracy and Electoral Reform go hand-in-glove

Jenny Cronin and Ying Ho of the Hannah Mitchell Foundation have written an excellent piece arguing the case for electoral reform alongside regional democracy. They make the point that “The voting systems in the devolved nations are leading the way to a more representative democracy. There are pros and cons to each electoral system, and the system to be adopted in devolved regions is certainly open to debate. One thing is clear – it is about time for the UK to ditch the FPTP system for the General Elections and to replace it with proportional representation. And on the journey to regional democracy, proportional representation must be a companion of the campaign, in order to establish fairer and inclusive regions.” You can read it in full here: http://hannah-mitchell.org.uk/

The Lancashire invasion of Russia

This is a little-known episode of world history, but it did happen, in a way. In 1842 the British Government relaxed its ban on the export of textile machinery (bet you didn’t know that?). That led to a major surge in exports of Lancashire-made machinery, as well as the human expertise to install and run it. The main export market was Russia. The country was starting to industrialise, particularly in the more westerly

A Russian Boltonian poses for a photo, c 1900, St Petersburg, courtesy Steve Brown

parts. Towns like Ivanovo, near Moscow, grew rapidly – becoming known as ‘The Manchester of Russia’. The highly talented Mr Knoop – Ludwig to his friends – acted as an intermediary between the Russians and Lancashire firms such as Mather and Platt’s of Oldham, Howard and Bulloughs of Accrington and Tweedale and Smalley’s of Rochdale. Bolton played a very important role in supplying stationary engines to power the mills. The key firms were Hick Hargreaves, John Musgrave and Sons and Dobson and Barlow. Dozens of skilled Lancashire men went out to Russia, earning very good money.

A Russian cotton mill, c 1880 courtesy Pamela Smith

In some cases they met and married Russian women, in many other instances the entire family came out and settled for many years in the country, creating their own clubs and sporting teams. Russian football owes its origins to Chorley-born Harry Charnock who ran a mill in

Harry Charnock (centre) with his Russian team

Moscow and started a football team, initially for ex-pats. It quickly grew and Russian lads took to the game. Harry became vice-president of Moscow Football League and the game became well and truly established.

The ‘people’ aspect of the story has been relatively little explored, though there’s quite a lot written about the machinery (no change there of course). Pamela Smith has done some important work and is developing her research around the Boardman family from Rochdale (see www.drawnground.co.uk). Somewhere in Moscow there is still a ‘Rochdale Street’! Bolton people played an equally important role and some details are starting to emerge, which I covered in more detail in The Bolton News last Wednesday (should be available on line soon).

One fascinating story is that of the Cromptons of Bolton. Robert Crompton was born in Bolton in the 1840s and became an apprentice in one of the Bolton mills. He rose to the ranks of overseer and qualified as an engineer. In the 1850s He was asked by his firm to travel to Kiev to help establish a mill that had installed machinery that he was familiar with. It was clearly seen as an extended job and he made the difficult journey to Russia with his young wife Ann.  His great grand-daughter Dorothy says that “he worked at the mill, creating a strong friendship with the mill owner and was respected by the workers.”

The Cromptons had  four children, all born in Russia. Two died young and were buried in Odessa. The third, Mary Alice Crompton, was brought up in Kiev and could only speak Russian until the age of 5, when the family returned to Bolton in the 1870s. There were concerns for the family’s safety owing to growing political and industrial unrest in the country. The family moved into a house in Bolton but their return was short-lived. The mill owner in Russia asked Robert Crompton to come back to help him at the mill – being a good friend, he did. However, he quickly succumbed to illness and died soon after his return. He is buried with his two children in Odessa. There is a

Postcard to Russia – a Christmas greeting from Bolton, c. 1900

tangible relic of the family’s time in Russia. Nora, great-grand-daughter of Robert, brought back a Russian samovar which is now in Bolton Museum. Over the last few days I’ve been contacted by several people whose ancestors worked in Russia and still have things like Russian phrase books amongst their family heirlooms!

There’s a very rich seam of social history waiting to be dug. What happened after 1917? We know that many English ex-pats left the country as revolution and civil war set in. I suspect some stayed on, but that’s a guess. Maybe a trip to Russia when it’s possible.

Coal, Iron and Mud: exploring the Wigan Coalfield

The area to the north-east of Wigan, covering Hindley, Aspull and Haigh, was once a highly industrialised area, centred around the Wigan Coal and Iron Co.’s activities at Kirkless. You wouldn’t get that impression today, though there are some remains of the Coal and Iron Co.’s workshops at Kirklees itself, adjacent to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal. Of the dozens of collieries that once pock-marked the area, virtually nothing remains. There are some slag heaps, including the

Slutch and slag

enormous Woodshaw Tip, which has been well-landscaped by Wigan Council. What does remain, for the trained eye to detect, is a large network of colliery lines which once served the pits and foundries. Most are public rights of way and tracing them makes for a fascinating day out.

Poised over the landscape, with a stunning view beyond Wigan to West Lancashire, is Haigh Hall, seat of the Earls of Crawford and Balcarres, who made a fortune from the coal deposits on their estate. Today, the hall itself is empty after the last tenants fell out with Wigan Council and were told to leave. Nearby however there’s a visitor centre and range of shops and cafes, open for takeaway.

Looking up the (very ancient) railway that went from Aspull to the Leeds-Liverpool Canal

The estate has its own 15” railway and also some smaller gauge railways on site. I’m hoping that before long they’ll be back running – it usually re-starts at Easter, so fingers crossed.

A4 on tour at Boar’s Head, 1967. The line to the left diverged to Adlington and went under the Whelley Line

Below the hall, to the west, is the canal and then further west the trackbed of the old ‘Whelley Line’ which by-passed the congested railway around Wigan. The line diverged from the West Coast Main Line at Bamfurlong and rejoined it at Standish, with several lines feeding in and out. Although primarily a freight line, it was used for excursion traffic including the Westhoughton to Blackpool ‘Labour Club Special’ on June 3rd 1967, on which I travelled (in the second-best seat – the fireman’s – Malc was too busy shovelling coal). It was routed from Westhoughton via Hindley, De Trafford Junction and onto the Whelley Line through Haigh Hall grounds and onto ‘the main line’ at Standish Junction for a fast run into Preston and on to Blackpool. 28 minutes early on arrival. Thank you, Driver Bert Welsby and Fireman Malc Frost for a

On the remains of the Whelley Line looking towards Haigh Junction
Standard on tour…Haigh Hall woods – from cab of 73014

memorable day out. Walking parts of the line (some of which is a footpath and cycleway, other parts just derelict) was a slightly spooky experience. The area around Kirklees and Aspull also has a strange feel to it with industrial remains and bits of old railway popping up in woodland. Not a manicured ‘country park’ at all, and long may it remain so. Worth exploring, but bring your wellies – it’s very muddy.

Haigh Foundry: one of the world’s earliest locomotive factories

Within the area around Haigh Hall are the remarkable remains of one of the world’s earliest locomotive factories – Haigh Foundry. Before a walk on Wednesday I’d never been there and it’s well off the beaten track at the spot called ‘Leyland’s Mill’ on maps. The remains of the foundry are spread out along the banks of the Rover Douglas, either side of a very impressive stone bridge which carried the road to Haigh

The derelict remains of Haigh Foundry. Railway ran immediately below

Hall over the railway. The date stone on the bridge says 1846 and the entrance to it below is blocked off. The south side of the bridge has several activities going on including a modern-day ‘Haigh Foundry’. On the north side, which looks like it was the largest part of the complex, everything is shutdown with most buildings lying derelict. Access to the plant was difficult. Teams of horses were used to haul wagons carrying locomotives up the steep hill out of the valley for transport by rail from goods yards in Wigan. One beam engine, built in 1848, required no less than 48 horses to shift it!

The bridge which carried the road over the orignal railway in the foundry yard

The railway that served the foundry from 1860 was owned by the Earls of Balcarres and originally ran from Aspull, over the canal and to the Lindsay and Alexandra pits before veering north along the Douglas to reach the foundry and Brock Mill Forge. In more recent times (from 1869!) the main railway access was by a private branch which ran northwards and joined the Lancashire Union Railway at Haigh Junction. Some traces of it are visible beyond Brock Mill Forge, which is now a private housing estate.

The history of the foundry is outlined in The Industrial Railways of the Wigan Coalfield by Messrs. Townley, Smith and Peden. The original ironworks was established in 1788 though Brock Mill Forge, about a mile away, was already functioning from 1776. Robert Daglish was appointed chief engineer in 1804 and the business seems to have concentrated on locomotive building for several years. The first locomotives to be used in Lancashire were built here in 1812 for use on colliery railways around Orrell and Winstanley. Between 1835 and 1856 the Haigh Foundry built over 100 locomotives, mostly for main-line companies. These were listed in an article by C.E. Stretton in The Preston Herald of August 22nd 1903 which makes for fascinating (though apparently slightly unreliable) reading. The first recorded locomotives to be built were a couple of 0-4-0s for the firm of Bury in

An early product of the foundry

Liverpool. Early in 1836 they supplied three 2-2-2 express locomotives for the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, named Vesuvius, Lightning and Cyclops. The foundry supplied motive power to the London and Birmingham, Great Western (broad gauge), North Union, Manchester and Bolton and many other early railway companies. They did some work abroad, supplying a pair of 2-2-2s to the Paris and St Germain Railway  and several Crampton 4-2-0s for use in France. They acted as sub-contractors to several larger companies including Bury and Co., Rennie, Gooch and Evans and Jones and Potts. One of their last contracts was supplying three locomotives for the War Department in The Crimea, in 1856.

The original entrance to Haigh Foundry – note the cast iron pillars for the original gates

The foundry went through various changes of ownership and locomotive building ended in 1856, with the Foundry concentrating on mining machinery. The works closed in 1908 and the site became split between several different businesses, which remains pretty much the case today, on the south side of the bridge. Access is still via the original entrance with the fine cast iron columns forming the gateway.

Bringing coals from Yorkshire: this month’s short story

I’ve been working on another novel, called The Red Bicycle, set in Lancashire and Yorkshire in the years before the First World War. I got a bit bogged down with it, but did manage to write a chapter which is more or less a standalone piece. I’ve edited the tale a bit more and put it on the website – with thanks to Noel Coates for some historical connections and to other friends for usefuil feedback. It’s the story of one day in the life of a Bolton loco fireman….

It’s here: http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/this-months-short-story

The Salvo Shop: illuminating books from The Lancashire Loominary

The main sales items at the moment are my book celebrating the West Pennine Moors – Moorlands, Memories and Reflections and a sudden rush of interest in my novel (set in Horwich Loco Works) The Works. This could be related to the special offer of £6 while stocks last. The ‘Bolton – Lancashire’ face mask is virtually sold out and has raised about £500 for local charities. I’m also doing a half-price offer on With Walt Whitman in Bolton, for £5.

I’m in the process of putting a couple of books onto kindle (well, Simon is on my behalf, far too complicated for me). The life and work of Allen Clarke/Teddy Ashton – Lancashire’s Romantic Radical – should be going on the kindle list, as well as With Walt Whitman in Bolton – which may help sales in America.

Full details of all publications are on my website here (or see summary below): www.lancashireloominary.co.uk or email me for details at info@lancashireloominary.co.uk

New: Second-Hand Department

I’ve been using a bit of lockdown time to sort out my book collection. It was a mess with a lot of good stuff duplicated or even triplicated. So I’ve done a stock take of all the surplus books and opened up the Lancashire Loominary Secondhand Bookshop. There’s some quite good stuff there – you can view it at http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/second-hand-books . I would point out the most interesting stuff, to railway aficionados, is the 26 bound volumes of Railway Magazine, which stretch back to 1899. So if you’re looking for an odd volume to complete your collection, you may just be lucky. I’m nearly there, looking for volumes 20, 31, 34, 37 and 41. Let me know if you’re interested in a swop.

My new 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

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 ansd 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,

Leonie Smethurst, Snack Shack owner

Memories and Reflections.  Another popular addition to my list of retail outlets is Bunbury’s real ale shop at 397 Chorley Old Road, Bolton. The bar side of the business is currently shut but they are open for takeaway. I can recommend their oatmeal stout and some superb German lager. 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). Further afield the Pendle Heritage Centre at Barrowford has a supply; so has George Kelsall’s bookshop in Littleborough and The Carnforth Bookshop, a short walk from the station.

Winter Hill 125 wins more support

Plans to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the 1896 Winter Hill ‘mass trespass’ continue to evolve with strong interest from The Woodland Trust, local unions, The Ramblers and many more groups and individuals. The celebration will take place on Sunday September 5th 2021 – get it in your diary now! 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.

On Friday March 12th there’s an open meeting with Guy Shrubsole, Nick Hayes and myself (so far, we’re hoping to make it a bit less of a line up of blokes). If you’re interested in joining email chris_chilton@hotmail.com and he will send you a zoom invitation.

Small Salvoes

Talking to North Korea  by Glyn Ford

Glyn Ford was a North-West Labour MEP many years ago and an early advocate of regional devolution (in the days of ‘Campaign for The North’). He has become a ‘North Korea expert’, perhaps inspired by his experiences of Tameside Labour Group (sorry, a cheap joke but couldn’t resist it). His new book, published by Pluto Press, is a highly intelligent account of North Korea’s history and contemporary state. He doesn’t dismiss the country as a Stalinist hell-hole, but isn’t an uncritical admirer either. It’s remarkably well-balanced and deserves to be widely read. Available price £14.99

The Railway Navvies of Settle: the end of the line by Sarah Lister

The story of the men who built the Settle-Carlisle railway has been told before but the real history has often given way to sensationalised accounts of drunkenness and fighting, almost making navvies victims of their own fate. Sarah Lister has written a much more balanced account. Instead of anonymised accounts Sarah tells many individual stories of families, where they came from and what became of them, their wives and families. An excellent and well-illustrated piece of work, illustrated by Teresa Gordon. The book was funded by the Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line, the Settle-Carlisle Railway Trust and Stories in Stone. Available price £3 from Foscl shops or email settleresearch@gmail.com

Hands up if you lived in a council house by Alan Irving

Alan Irving ended up running Metal Box in Westhoughton (and having responsibility for other sites as well). This is an entertaining and valuable personal story of his life from being brought up in a working class community in Hindley. His life adventure included a time in Hungary where he got to know the place well (I wonder if he mastered the language?).It is a good personal story, with some great tales of life in Bolton pubs, but also tells us a lot about the North’s industrial decline in the 1970s and 80s, with take-overs and factory closures. Available from Amazon £7.73, also on kindle

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Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events

Friday March 12th: The Winter Hill Mass Trespass: zoom meeting. For details email chris_chilton@hotmail.co.uk

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The Salvo Publications List  – see www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

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.  £10 with free local postage or £3 further afield in UK. 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.

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 to end of March £5 plus postage if not local

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

 

 

 

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Northern Weekly Salvo 290

The Northern Weekly Salvo

Incorporating  Slaithwaite Review of Books, Weekly Notices, Sectional Appendices, Tunnel Gazers’ Gazette and Northern Umbrella. Descendant of Teddy Ashton’s Northern Weekly and Th’Bowtun Loominary.

Published at 109 Harpers Lane Bolton BL1 6HU email: paul.salveson@myphone.coop

Publications website: www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

No. 290 December 30th    2020                      End of Year Special

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

General gossips

Challenging, weird, awful, terrible, I could go on. The descriptions have become clichés, there is little left to say. The Thursday evening ‘clap for the NHS’ is a distant memory but the pressure on NHS staff is, if anything, worse than it was back in those golden sunny evenings of Spring. We need a well-resourced NHS more than ever.  I’ve been lucky – managing to avoid getting the virus (so far) and same with

Tottington Viaduct and Scholes Lodge – a super walk along the Holcombe Brook Branch – see below

close family. But some good friends have had the thing and it has been bloody awful. A lot of people are very sick and it seems to be getting worse. But there is a libertarian nay-sayer in me which resents some aspects of society’s response. It has been used by some bureaucrats as an excuse for doing stuff which has nothing to do with the pandemic but falls into the ‘can’t be bothered’ or ‘we never liked doing this anyway so let’s use it as an excuse’. I’ve seen public footpaths closed ‘due to Covid’ and far too many important public facilities shut down (toilets being the most obvious – yes there’s a risk in keeping them open but it can be managed). So let’s hope the vaccine will start to have an impact and in the meantime I’ll have to hunker down and get on with writing those weighty tomes I keep saying I’ll do. Further lockdowns seem inevitable and necessary. There’s always a silver lining, and my e-bike has been getting a fair bit of use over the Christmas period fulfilling orders for the Bolton Bicycling Bookshop. Have a happy, healthy New Year and try not to think about Brexit!

New Year up North

My ‘Looking Back’ feature in this week’s Bolton News is on how Boltonians celebrated New Year in ye olden days. Just like anybody else you might reply? Actually, no. They seem to have gone completely over the top in their party-ing. The mills shut for three days (when everywhere else in Lancashire carried on working normally). Bolton’s New Year Fair was the biggest in the North of England, attracting tens of thousands of visitors over a three day riot of festivities. The fair

A drawing from Allen Clarke’s novel ‘The Knobstick’ set in the late 1880s – a scene from Bolton New Year Fair

included a ‘menagerie’ (with lions and giraffe), all sorts of music and singing, street food including black peas and ‘tripe on a  stick’, children’s rides and amusements and lots more. Allen Clarke, writing in 1930 as ‘Old Boltonian’, describe it thus: “…it consists of menageries, circuses, exhibitions of all kinds, hobby horses, swing boats, ‘Aunt Sallys’, pea saloons, coconut shies and all the multifarious lures and pocket fillers in the amusement line that the wit of man has devised.”

The tradition of ‘letting in the New Year’ also seems to have been different in Trottertown. Allen Clarke once again highlights Bolton’s distinctiveness. He talks about his own street where dozens of men emerge from their homes, just before midnight. When the clock strikes midnight they are allowed back in, wishing the waiting assemblage a Happy New Year. He mentions that light-haired men, or women dark or fair undertaking the job, is considered bad-luck!

Newcastle seems to have a similar tradition, called ‘first footing’. Once again, it was considered ill-luck for a woman to be first through the door. But maybe this was a clever female device to avoid being shunted outside in the freezing cold while waiting for the clock to strike? Suggestions welcome, as well as examples of other regional ‘New Year’ traditions.

This is based on a longer feature published in The Bolton News on December 30th. The full version is here:  https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/

Along the old Tottington Lines

The ‘quiet’ time (is there anything else at present?) between Christmas and New Year has always been a good time to get out for a walk, ideally along a disused railway. Despite it being so close, I’d never

Along Tottington Viaduct looking up to Peel Tower, Holcombe Hill

ventured along the former Bury – Holcombe Brook branch. I had a look at it many years ago and it seemed completely overgrown and impassable. Not so now. The route from Bury as far as Greenmount is a popular footpath and cycleway. It forms part of Sustrans National Cycle Route no. 6. Local people call it ‘The Tottington Lines’, I’ve been informed, so I’ll stick with that.

A pioneering community railway

First a bit of history. It is one of the most interesting branch lines in the country, mainly because of its distinction in being electrified – not just once, but twice. It was also a good example of a real ‘community railway’, initially owned by the people who used it, or at least the better-off part. The railway from Bury to Ramsbottom and Rawtenstall (now ‘The East Lancs’ heritage railway) opened in the mid-1840s. The people of Tottington felt a bit left out and got together to raise capital for their own railway. These far-sighted people included local mill-owners, bleachers and dyers, cotton printers and iron masters. Interesting that in those days small communities like Tottington had its own industrial bourgeoisie with money to invest in ‘the local good’. The Bury & Tottington District Railway was an example of a railway owned by its people, or at least some of them.

There was an element of class conflict in the railway’s construction – the Earl of Derby (one of whose predecessors got his head chopped off in nearby Bolton) – strenuously opposed the railway and its incursion onto his land.

Two of the pioneering electric cars built by Dick, Kerr – at Tottington Junction, just outside Bury, c 1913

Fortunately he was over-ruled and the line opened on November 11th 1882, actually going beyond Tottington to Greenmount before terminating at Holcome Brook. The Bury Times in January 1877 prophesised that the trains would be used by tourists ”in quest of mountain air” available in the environs of Holcombe Brook.

The company contracted out the actual operation to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway which provided the locos and rolling stock and had a sizeable shareholding in the venture.

It seems that the high hopes of visitors flocking to Holcombe Brook to sample the mountainous climate were disappointed, though freight traffic did better. In 1884 the L&Y’s traffic manager reported that ‘cloth traffic’ from Holcome Brook was doing so well that the goods yard required extension. The goods yard at Greenmount was improved and there was a substantial goods yard at Tottington, the site of which is still clearly visible and part of a local nature reserve with bee hives.

Turn of the century improvements: rail motorisation

The community-owned railway was over a century ahead of its time and the L&Y snaffled up the remaining shares and assumed complete control – but it was a vote of confidence in the railway’s prospects. However, passenger traffic continued to lag behind freight receipts, exacerbated by tram competition. The railway fought back. In 1905 the L&Y introduced a pioneering ‘rail motor’ service, operating at 40 minute intervals during the day with

Tottington Viaduct – note the bases of the piers – intended to extend to double track

an extra late train on Saturday evenings, no doubt to cater for people returning from the fleshpots of Bury. There was an augmented Sunday service, permitting leisure travel and more spiritual journeys. New ‘halts’ were opened and passenger numbers grew. The ‘rail motor’ train was built to an L&Y design but the vehicles were constructed by Kerr Stuart. It was an odd design, comprising an articulated unit of steam loco and carriage, with two transverse boilers.

Local passengers would have appreciated the electric lighting and comfortable seating; the collapsible steps gave much-improved access to the low platforms. The carriage was steam-heated with electric bell communication. All in all, a marked improvement, though the original design was replaced by a more conventional single-boiler ‘motor’, with the design rolled out by Horwich to other lightly-used lines across the network.

Electrification (Twice)

The really major development occurred in 1913 when the line was electrified. The firm of Dick, Kerr &Co. of Preston (later to become part of English Electric) wanted to test out their concept of an electric passenger railway which they were hoping to build in Brazil. The Holcombe Brook branch was a perfect length for a pilot scheme (just under four miles), with steep gradients which would test the capabilities of their design. The L&Y agreed to Dick, Kerr’s proposal, seeing it as valuable for their own emerging ideas for electrification. The Liverpool – Southport line had been electrified at 630v DC, 3rd rail, as early as 1904. The line was wired up for overhead electrification at 3,500v DC, supplied from a power station built at Radcliffe. The first fare-paying service began on July 29th 1913 and attracted great interest nationally. It was a genuine pioneer of a future commuter railway. The catenary was supported from single masts, the bases of which are still visible along the trackbed at various locations.

The L&YR had decided on a third-rail system rather than overhead electrification and the route from Manchester to Bury was selected as one of its first schemes which would be rolled out to other routes around the network, including Oldham, Bolton and Royton. The First World War put paid to those plans. For the time being, there was an ‘end on’ connection at Bury Bolton Street of two different types of electrification at different voltages. What became of Dick, Kerr’s Brazilian plans isn’t recorded, but the L&YR judged that the best future option for Holcombe Brook was conversion to its standard 3rd rail system, connecting with its Bury scheme. Conversion was completed in 1918. The original stock used for the Dick, Kerr overhead scheme was displaced and eventually rebuilt as diesel-electric railcars, operating between Blackpool Central and Lytham until 1929 (Richard Watts, I bet you didn’t know that!).

The branch settled down to life as a moderately well-used commuter line with a busy goods traffic, served by several private sidings between Bury and Tottington. Freight was, of course, steam-operated. Although infrastructure such as Tottington Viaduct shows that the intention was eventually to operate the branch as double-track, it remained single, with a  passing loop at Woolfold, throughout its life. After the Second World War the electrification equipment was in need of renewal and BR clearly saw the line’s future was limited. The branch was actually de-electrified in 1951 and passenger services reverted to traditional steam operation, using a venerable L&YR ‘Radial Tank’ based at Bury shed, usually 50829 or 50731. Services were operated in push-pull mode, obviating the need for the loco to run-round at Holcombe Brook. From being a state-of-the-art electrified commuter line, the branch reverted to traction dating from 1889. The passenger service ceased in 1952, with freight ending in 1963.

What a pity it hadn’t survived few decades more – housing development along the corridor, particularly around Tottington and Greenmount, as well as Holcombe Brook, would have made a viable Metrolink extension, if a route out of Bury could have been devised which avoided the East Lancashire Railway and its steam operations.

The line today

But dream on Paul, it wasn’t to be and probably never will be (but you never know). Instead, thanks to the efforts of Bury Council and Sustrans, most of the route is a footpath and cycleway. It’s actually got a tarmac surface which I’d say was a bit over-the-top, but I’m not complaining.

We started our walk from the site of Tottington Station, where the remains of the former single platform are clearly visible. The area is a charming community garden with bee hives and helpful signage. It was the day after Boxing Day and lots of people were out for a walk or bike ride, with probably far more people walking along the trackbed than

Remains of the concrete platform edging at Tottington Station

used it in its railway days. We headed north towards Holcombe Brook, over the magnificent Tottington Viaduct which crosses Scholes Lodges. We descended from the embankment and made our way along the well-made path through the Kirklees Valley, with plenty of signs of industrial remains. We came out by the former Kirklees  Bleachworks, now developed for housing, and picked up the trackbed near Woolfold. It’s an easy walk back and it was good to see so many people using the route. As mentioned above, there are many remains of the original bases used for the overhead electrification masts. A bit of signage to enlighten passers-by that this was a pioneer of railway electrification would be useful.

I’m planning to do the remaining parts of the route, at the south end. Sustrans has built a bridge replacing the demolished Woolfold Viaduct and its looks as though you can get into Bury and out the other side. Maybe a job for the e-bike.

This month’s short story

I’m hoping to do more short story-writing. Here is one I did earlier this year, caleld ‘Waiting for Mr X’ – based on real events, but embellished! A long time ago…see what you think:

This Month’s Short Story

The Delights of Politics (1): Deal or No Deal?

So, a deal has been done and we’ve avoided the chaotic mess that would have resulted from a ‘no deal’. Whether what we’ve got is any better than what Theresa May negotiated all those years ago (so it seems) I don’t know, but I somehow doubt it. A number of politicians whose views I respect are up in arms over Keir Starmer’s intention to vote with the Government on the deal. These include Clive Lewis, John McDonnell and Glynn Ford, whom many readers will remember as a North-West MEP back in the day. They have signed a letter to Starmer saying that Labour should not support the ‘rotten deal’ and let Johnson take the responsibility when it all goes pear-shaped, except we won’t be able to get pears as they are made in Belgium I think. But enough of this levity, it’s serious. The consequence of Labour MPs voting down the deal (along with the SNP, Lib Dems and DUP) could well be to wreck the deal, given that a few Tory MPs might go down the same road, for different reasons. So we’d end up with ‘no deal’ by default. I’m not sure this is really a good idea, and would infuriate a lot of people (not just Brexit voters) who want to move on from this whole sorry mess. The likelihood of getting ‘a better deal’, at least in the short term, is nil. If we really wanted to annoy our European neighbours, throwing the deal out would be a perfect way to do it.

So I hate to say it, but Starmer is right to grit his teeth and support Johnson’s deal. There is a bit future agenda that can be worked on, based on friendly co-operation with the EU states and (more importantly) businesses, universities and civil groups across Europe. But we can’t prevaricate any longer, whatever the rights and wrongs of the original Brexit vote (and I voted to remain and still think that was the right thing to do).

Delights of Politics (2):

Devolution and The North (from current Chartist magazine, with added bits)

The North of England is in tough times and in the coming year they may well get tougher. Covid has killed many thousands and upended the livelihoods of millions. The end of the Brexit transition period will cause huge upheavals and potentially further major hardship, with parts of the North bearing the brunt. No wonder the newly-formed ‘Northern Independence Party’ has already had thousands of messages of support on social media.

The region’s problems of social injustice and strategic economic weakness were already there; it’s just that the last year has compounded them. Decades of ‘neo-liberalism’ and ten years of austerity have taken their toll. Now, the rollercoaster of successive crises is here to stay: global warming is with us. The Arctic is melting and nothing can be the same again even if we wanted it to be.  2021 offers the opportunity for a reset; people don’t want the new normal to be like the old normal. The North must have a new economy and a new social contract; it can and must ‘build back better’.

How? The Hannah Mitchell Foundation is proposing a Campaign for Northern Democracy to argue that constitutional and democratic reform is a vital ingredient in the task of building a new economy and addressing social injustice across the North. To succeed in fixing our social and economic problems, we must fix the problem of the North’s democratic deficit and abject subordination to London. It’s not the whole solution, but it’s an indispensable part of the solution. The North needs its own grassroots movement to demand it.

The Campaign for Northern Democracy could provide that grassroots movement. The Hannah Mitchell Foundation is inviting all citizens and organisations who are working for a better North of England, and agree that democratic reform in the North is part of what we need, to join us. It will be progressive and inclusive but politically non-aligned.

As a member of the broad campaign, the Hannah Mitchell Foundation will work with others to specialise in developing the thinking behind, and practice of, progressive regionalism and regional democratic government. That can take many forms and ‘The North’ isn’t a monolithic whole. It contains at least three generally-accepted ‘regions’ – Yorkshire and the Humber, the North-east and North-West. In the past, advocates of regional devolution have used these ‘standard planning regions’ (as they were once called) as the basis of future regional government. Yet regional identities don’t always fit with planners’ thinking. While Yorkshire clearly has a strong emotional identity (as well as making sense as a regional economic unit), the North-West doesn’t. Lancashire does and a county-region taking in much of ‘historic’ Lancashire, including Merseyside and Greater Manchester, has a lot going for it.

Opponents still point to the referendum in the North-east sixteen years ago, when a proposal from the Blair government for a regional assembly was decisively rejected. It was from that defeat that the idea of ‘city regions’ began to take hold in the world of planning and local government. However, there are two very big flaw with ‘city-regions’. The first is that people don’t actually like them. Within the ten districts that make up ‘Greater Manchester’ you won’t find anyone, even within the city of Manchester itself, describing themselves as ‘Greater Mancunians’. Towns like Bolton, Wigan, Bury, Rochdale and Oldham still doggedly identify as ‘Lancastrian’ and many fly the Lancashire flag on Lancashire Day, November 27th.

The second major problem with the ‘city region’ concept is that it is highly centralist, concentrating economic and political power on ‘the city’ and consigning the so-called ‘satellite’ towns to secondary status. So in Greater Manchester, the economic growth of Manchester in the last decade has been undeniable. But the once-economically powerful towns surrounding it are in a dire way. More and more power has been ceded by the districts to the ‘combined authority’ which lacks either credibility or accountability.

The ‘county-region’ approach offers a different model where the region covers a bigger area but once which makes sense in terms of a viable regional economy, supported by a strong regional transport network and links between cities and towns on many different levels. Instead of power being concentrated on one centre, there could be two or three regional centres (in the case of Lancashire, Manchester, Liverpool and Preston) linked by good rail connections complemented by strong ‘second tier’ towns and cities such as Warrington, Lancaster, Bolton and St Helens. At the very local level, there’s a need for re-invigorated town (parish) councils, using the experience of councils like Frome as an inspiration.

For more, see www.hannah-mitchell.org.uk.

The Salvo Shop

The main sales items at the moment are my new book celebrating the West Pennine Moors – Moorlands, Memories and Reflections and my limited edition ‘Bolton –Lancashire’ facemask. The book marks the centenary of Allen Clarke’s book Moorlands and Memories which was about cycle rides and rambles around the West Pennines. It has been getting many positive reviews and the best tribute of all – lots of repeat orders!

Clarke was an avid cyclist and it’s highly appropriate that I’m able to deliver the book by bike. Allen Clarke often brought along copies of his books to sign and sell on his ‘Speedwell’ cycling club trips in the 1920s. Another Northern writer who had a similar idea was Todmorden novelist William Holt who would deliver copies of his books on horseback (c/o his faithful nag, Trigger).The facemask has been produced to raise money for local charities: Bolton Hospice and Bolton NICE (Neighbourhood Initiative for Community Enterprise). All proceeds are split between these two good causes. The masks cost £6 and are washable, adjustable and

Suitable for wearing on and off the train, tram or other forms of public transport.

comfortable. They look good too. So far I’ve had plenty of local orders as well as purchases from ex-pat Trotters in Wales, Canada, the USA and Australia.

Full details of all publications are on my website here (or see summary below): www.lancashireloominary.co.uk or email me for details at info@lancashireloominary.co.uk

Good places to buy my books and other things

A popular addition to my list of retail outlets is Bunbury’s real ale shop at 397 Chorley Old Road, Bolton. The bar side of the business is currently shut but they are open for takeaway. I can recommend their oatmeal stout and they have some superb German lager. 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’.

Bunburys on Chorley Old Road – stock up on my books and beer

Fletcher’s Newsagents on Markland Hill Bolton and The Pike Snack Shack on George’s Lane Horwich and Wrights’ Reads also in Horwich 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). Further afield the Pendle Heritage Centre at Barrowford has a supply; so has George Kelsall’s bookshop in Littleborough and The Carnforth Bookshop, a short walk from the station.

Winter Hill 125 wins more support

Plans to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the 1896 Winter Hill ‘mass trespass’ continue to evolve with strong interest from local unions, The Ramblers and many more groups and individuals. The celebration will take place on Sunday September 5th 2021 – get it in your diary now! 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 during 2021, circumstances permitting. More details to follow. The best way of keeping updated is to join the Winter Hill 125 facebook page.

Small Salvoes

New product line: Lancashire-themed face masks!

The latest production of Lancashire Loominary is a ‘Bolton – Lancashire’ facemask. The ideal fashion accessory for the health-conscious Lancastrian Trotter. Available now and costs £6; proceeds to Bolton Hospice and Bolton NICE. The design features a Lancashire rose with the words ‘Bolton – Lancashire’.

Tripe Matters: Don’t forget to remember Forgotten Yorkshire now and help charities

The Tripe Marketing Board, the UK’s most progressive offal-based trade association, has a publishing arm. One of its most interesting books is Forgotten Yorkshire and parts of North Derbyshire and Humberside which is currently on sale through Amazon at the knock-down price of 99p. It’s a great book full of all sorts of things you’d never imagine happened in the white rose country, nor its neighbours in parts of North Derbyshire and Humberside. If you’re quick, you should get it in time for Christmas. It’s here: https://tripemarketingboard.co.uk/christmas-appeal/

See www.tripemarketingboard.co.uk for more details about tripe in general and how you can support tripe as part of a balanced healthy diet and ward away nasty viruses and find your ideal partner.

Hannah Mitchell Foundation re-founded

The HMF is alive and kicking, once again! The annual general meeting was held by zoom on November 23rd and was well supported, considering we’ve been near-dormant for over three years. A new steering group has been elected and we agreed to seek partners in a new ‘Campaign for Northern Devolution’. We have a new website, still very much work in progress (www.hannah-mitchell.org.uk). We’re also out there on facebook and twitter. The foundation is about promoting discussion on democratic devolution to the regions of the North.

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Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events

ALL STILL CAPED (railwayese for ‘cancelled’)

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The Salvo Publications List  – see www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

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.” 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 £12.99 from Amazon but special rates for Salvo readers buying direct (see above). Also on Kindle £4.99.

The Settle-Carlisle Railway (2019) published by Crowood and available in reputable, and possibly some disreputable, 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

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.

‘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. Normal Price £15  – can now offer it for £10 with free local postage or £3 further afield in UK. 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.

‘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. Price £10.00 plus post and packing. 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.

You can get a better idea from going to my website: http://www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

 

 

 

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Bolton Lancashire Facemask

BOLTON – LANCASHIRE!

I’ve done a limited run of ‘Bolton – Lancashire’ facemasks to help raise money for local charities – Bolton Hospice, Fort Alice and Bolton NICE (Neighbourhood Initiative for Community Enterprise). They sell at £6 (or £2 with postage). Go to ‘How to order my books’ on my website: