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Lancashire Loominary 6

 

The Lancashire Loominary

An occasional update from Lancashire Loominary : No. 6 September 2021

Lancashire’s Romantic Radical: new edition of Allen Clarke biography is out

The new and updated edition of my biography of Allen Clarke (Allen Clarke – Teddy Ashton: Lancashire’s Romantic Radical) is now available with a pre-publication offer.  There is a lot of new material in it, including an entirely new chapter on Clarke’s railway writings. The official publication is September 1st but I am doing a pre-publication offer for £15, with free local delivery in the Bolton area, or add on £3 for UK postage (this will continue to the end of September).  You can download an order form from my website, below, or there’s one at the back of this newsletter: http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/order-form

I’ve a number of talks planned for the Autumn for different groups, and still open to requests. The main Bolton launch event will be on Saturday September 25th at the Lecture Theatre of Bolton Central Library. It will start at 11.00 and end by about 12.30 with book signing (at the special rate of £15). No need to book, just turn up. There will be a Blackpool event at the town’s main library in October, details to be determined later.

Unlikely Pioneers

I’ve been working on a new edition of my ‘Whitman’ book – With Walt Whitman in Bolton – spirituality, sex and socialism in a Northern Mill town – last published in 2019 though little changed since 2009. I’ve combined it with a lengthy paper on Whitman’s influence on ‘Northern Socialism’ and re-titled it Unlikely Pioneers: Walt Whitman, the Bolton Boys and Northern Socialism. I’m going to publish it as a kindle book to keep costs down – but the print version which is just on the Bolton group (and nicely illustrated) is still available at the special price of £5 plus p&p.

The latest Salvo

Here is a link to the latest  Northern ‘Weekly’ Salvo number 295 –  England and ‘Englishness’ (see below), reviews of books by some old mates, trips to Coniston and Ulverston, a literary walk on the moors and the new exhibition of ‘Railway Workers’ Art’ at the Platform 5 Gallery , Bolton. Plus the new RHS gardens at Worsley with  comments about the lack of decent public transport access. It’s here: http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/northern-weekly-salvo-295

England, which England?

The quest for a ‘progressive English politics’ is something that seems to have captured the imagination of quite a few writers on the English left, mostly columnists for The Guardian and Observer. I could be accused of making cheap points that most of them are based in London, but I won’t. As Marx said, material reality (inc. where you live) determines your consciousness. There’s another school of thought, which I must confess to having leaned towards myself on some occasions, which is quite anti-English. It’s a view shared by some in the Northern Independence Party which hopes to wish away the reactionary English state and have a Northern socialist republic. It’s a lovely dream, perhaps, but political utopias usually turn into something very different from what their first disciples hoped for. And I don’t think many people really want it. You can be passionately ‘Yorkshire’ and still identify as English, as well as ‘Huddersfield’ etc.

It’s always a good idea to start with a concrete analysis of a concrete situation. Scotland is key to this, with the likelihood that it will break away from the UK within the next ten years, possibly sooner. Northern Ireland could become an even bigger hot potato within the same time frame, the North re-uniting with the South and rejoining the EU. That leaves a UK comprising England and Wales, with Wales very much the junior partner. Could it go its own way? People say that it’s too small but that doesn’t necessarily bear scrutiny. Far smaller nations have gone independent and done very well – Iceland being just one.

So there is the possibility that we end up with a centralised English state by default. That could be very bad for the North and possibly the Midlands too, as more power – political and economic – concentrates in London and the south-east. Throwing a few sops to the North in the form of a bit more power for the largely unaccountable mayors won’t make that much difference.

What could make for a much more attractive vision of a ‘new England’ is a political entity that is decentralised with a much smaller central state – and it doesn’t matter that much whether or not it’s in London (I’d keep it there). Strong regions, based on historic boundaries rather than ‘technocratic’ ones, should be the foundation – county regions such as Yorkshire and Lancashire – with empowered local government again based on historic identities where possible and of appropriate size, that is really ‘local’. That means a return of the old ‘Lancashire’, starting with Greater Manchester (Burnhamshire) rejoining what’s left.

That set-up could work whether or not Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland went their own ways. It would be a sad thing if they did and I suspect that after a while there might be the basis for a rapprochement based on equality between the nations and regions, rather than the current overwhelming dominance of England, and London in particular. A British confederation.

So a new England is possible, and we get glimpses of it through things like the Euros and our great ambassadors in the England football team. Nobody has to hate England, particularly anyone who is English. There’s lots of things in our past that are positive, in politics, culture, sport and industry. We should cherish these but have the maturity to look at the negatives in an open and honest way too.

So I think it’s OK to love England, but accept that it needs to change – and discard the reactionary trappings of an old imperial state. Personally, I’m relaxed about the monarchy continuing but again, let’s drop some of the outdated nonsense that goes with it. It all comes back to the people, the demos, democracy. Our voting system is an embarrassment, our leaders are a joke.  But change is possible. As the gay, upper-class Edward Carpenter (who made Yorkshire his home) once sang, ‘England Arise!’

Other books from th’same shed: Moorlands, Memories and Reflections

2020 was the centenary of the publication of Allen Clarke’s Moorlands and Memories, sub-titled ‘rambles and rides in the fair places of Steam-Engine Land’. It’s a lovely book, very readable and entertaining, even if he sometimes got his historical facts slightly wrong. It was set in the area which is now described as ‘The West Pennine Moors’ It also included some fascinating accounts of life in Bolton itself in the years between 1870 and the First World War, with accounts of the great engineers’ strike of 1887, the growth of the co-operative movement and the many characters whom Clarke knew as a boy or young man.

My book is a centenary tribute to Clarke’s classic – Moorlands, Memories and Reflections. It isn’t a ‘then and now’ sort of thing though I do make some historical comparisons, and speculate what Clarke would have thought of certain aspects of his beloved Lancashire today. There are 28 chapters, covering locations and subjects which Clarke wrote about in the original book, with a few additions. It includes the Winter Hill rights-of-way battle of 1896 and Darwen’s ‘freeing of the moors’;  a few additional snippets about the Bolton ‘Whitmanites’, handloom-weaving, railway reminiscences, the remarkable story of ‘The Larks of Dean’ and Lancashire’s honourable tradition of supporting refugees (including the much-loved Pedro of Halliwell Road). The story of Lancashire children’s practical support for the locked-out quarryworkers of Snowdonia in 1900-3 is covered in some detail, including the remarkable ‘Teddy Ashton Picnic’ of 1901 in Barrowbridge, which attracted 10,000 people. It is well illustrated.

It is available for Loominaries reading this at £20, with £4 post and packing. Go to http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/order-form or use order form below

I can do free delivery locally (within 6 miles of Bolton).

The Works: a tale of love, lust, labour and locomotives

I’ve had a steady flow of orders for The Works, my novel set mostly in Horwich Loco Works in the 1970s and 1980s, but bringing the tale up to date and beyond – a fictional story of a workers’ occupation, Labour politics, a ‘people’s franchise’ and Chinese investment in UK rail.  I’ve had lots of good reactions to it, with some people reading it in one session. The Morning Star hated it. If you want a copy I can offer it for £5 plus £2.50 postage to those of you on this mailing list. Please make cheques payable to ‘Paul Salveson’ and post to my Bolton address above or send the money by bank transfer (a/c Dr PS Salveson 23448954 sort code 53-61-07 and email me with your address). If you are local I can do free delivery by e-bike (so just a tenner). There is a kindle version available price £4.99 and you can also buy it off Amazon. See www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

If you’ve already read and hopefully enjoyed The Works it would be great if you could do a short review of it on my facebook page (Lancashire Loominary). Feedback on how it could have been better is also welcome, especially as I’m starting work on the next novel (see below).

The Works is available in a range of outlets  – please support them, and see www’lancashireloominary for details of their location, ranging from Bolton and Horwich to Carnforth, Barrowford, Machynlleth and Bo’ness.

If you know of any local shop which might like to take my books please let me know. I do a third discount, sale or return.

With Thomas Hardy in Dorset

Thanks to a conference in Bournemouth (the REPTA AGM) we were able to explore Dorset for a few days, making the most of our bus passes. There’s a surprisingly extensive bus network and I was impressed by the quality of the operators. Dorchester-based Damory was particularly good but also Yellow Buses and Morebus too. We naturally took the no. 50 from Bournemouth to Swanage via the the Studland ferry for a trip on the Swanage Railway, behind BR standard 2MT 78018. We caught the Damory-operated bus from Blandford Forum to Dorchester, alighting near to Bockhampton, where Thomas Hardy spent his childhood and youth. It’s owned by the National Trust, as is his later home at Max Gate, a pleasant three mile walk from his original home.

Allen Clarke was a big fan of Hardy and modelled his writing on some aspects of Hardy’s. His relationship with the great novelist provides an interesting footnote to the history of English literature. Clarke corresponded with him and met him on at least one occasion and possibly more. Writing in The Bolton Evening News as ‘Old Boltonian’ in 1935, he recalls him and his wife doing a cycling tour of Dorset and looking up the great writer in his home town Dorchester. Clarke wrote that “Dorchester didn’t seem to have any great opinion of him. The landlady of the inn where we made enquiries as to the famous novelist’s residence remarked ‘Tom Hardy! Yes, he lives up at Max Gate.’…I said we had come all the way from Lancashire to see him. ‘Well, well,’ said the buxom dame. ‘It surprises me that people come here wanting to see Tom Hardy, there’s nothing special about him, I used to go to school with him.

He has written great books,’ said I.

‘I don’t know,’ said the lady. ‘He doesn’t seem to have anything about him. Now, if you’d said it was his wife that wrote them –‘

We laughed and bade good day to the genial landlady, who evidently wasn’t much interested in literature, nor impressed by authors.”

The Clarkes found ‘Tom’ to be at home and had a long discussion with him. Clarke commented on Hardy’s negative view of the Dorset dialect, suggesting that William Barnes would have been a better poet had he written in standard English. Clarke disagreed. It would have been a fascinating debate to have witnessed!

Clarke, in an interview years later, said that he “expressed the view that dialect is the very soul of the people, and that Barnes would not have had such a hold on Dorset now, not be such a favourite of all Dorset folk, had he written in ordinary English.”

Allen suggested that he should come up to Lancashire – “it would do him good mentally and physically.” Hardy replied that he had been to Bolton, on business with Tillotson’s, but remembered little about the town, or of Lancashire in general – to Clarke’s obvious disappointment. Clarke said that he corresponded with Hardy on a few occasions; they shared a common love of cycling and the countryside. (above is from my new biography of Clarke).

There is a reference at the NT-managed Max Gate to Hardy’s relationship with Bolton-based Tillotson’s. The publishers of The Bolton Evening News established a subsidiary – Tillotson’s Newspaper Fiction Bureau – which syndicated novels to newspapers around the world. These included some of Clarke’s own novels and short stories, such as The Miser’s Mine which appeared in local papers in Ireland, Scotland and New Zealand. They rejected Tess of the D’Urbervilles because the content was deemed ‘unsuitable’, despite having signed a £1000 contract with Hardy. They did however come to a settlement and Tillotson’s went on to publish other work by Hardy.

Still in print: previous publications

The Settle-Carlisle Railway (2019) published by Crowood and available in reputable, and possibly some disreputable, bookshops price £24. I have a few which I can offer with £4 postage.  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. It 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

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. Normal price £10.00, selling for £5.00. 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. Each year on Whitman’s birthday (May 31) the Bolton group threw a party to celebrate his memory, with poems, lectures and passing round a loving cup of spiced claret. Each wore a sprig of lilac in Whitman’s memory.

The group was close to the founders of the ILP – Keir Hardie, Bruce and Katharine Bruce Glasier and Robert Blatchford. The links with Whitman lovers in the USA continue to this day. Later this summer (see above) I’ll be bringing out an expanded version which has more on the wider political context – Unlikely Pioneers: Walt Whitman, The Bolton Boys and Northern Socialism.

Will Yo’ Come O’ Sunday Mornin? The Winter Hill Mass Trespass of 1896. The story of Lancashire’s Winter Hill Trespass of 1896. 10,000 people marched over Winter Hill to reclaim a right of way. Price: £5.00 (not many left). The Kinder Scout Mass Trespass of 1932 was by no means the first attempt by working class people to reclaim the countryside. Probably the UK’s biggest-ever rights of way struggle took place on the moors above Bolton in 1896, with three successive weekends of huge demonstrations to reclaim a blocked path. Over 12,000 took part in the biggest march.  A new supply has been found and is available price £5 plus postage (free local delivery).

Ordering:

http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/order-form

Other titles still available:

Socialism with a Northern Accent (Lawrence and Wishart)

This was my take on a progressive Northern regionalism, with a foreword by the much-maligned but admirable guy, John Prescott. Time for a new edition – working on it

Railpolitik: bringing railways back to communities (Lawrence and Wishart)

This is an overview of railway politics from the early days to semi-monopolies and current arguments for nationalisation, or co-operative ownership?

 

109 Harpers Lane BOLTON BL1 6HU

Phone: 07795 008691 email: paul.salveson@myphone.coop

www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

ORDER FORM 2021 (including Special Offers)

Name………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Delivery Address……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………Post code…………………….

Phone…………………………………………………………………………….email………………………………………………

Quantity Title Price ( + delivery)
  The Works (special offer) 5.00 + £3
  Allen Clarke/Teddy Ashton:  Lancashire’s Romantic Radical (new edition, officially to be published September) pre-pub offer now: 15.00 + £3
  With Walt Whitman in Bolton (special offer) 5.00 + £3
   Moorlands, Memories and Reflections                                                                                                             20.00 + £4
  Will Yo’ Come O’ Sunday Mornin’? Winter Hill Trespass of 1896 5.00   + £3
  The Settle-Carlisle Railway 24.00 + £4
  Total  

Bundles by negotiation! If ordering more than 1 book postage is £4 in UK. Local delivery is by Bolton Bicycling Bookshop, otherwise Royal Mail. Enquire for overseas rates.

Send cheque for total amount made to ‘Paul Salveson’ to 109 Harpers Lane, Bolton BL1 6HU.

If paying by BACS the account details are:

Dr P S Salveson (it’s a personal account) sort code 53-61-07 A/C no. 23448954. Email me with your order details and put your name and book e.g. ‘MMR’ or ‘Works’ as the reference when paying.

I’m happy to sign books, but please let me know (and to whom, if you want a specific dedication).

Many thanks for your support.   Paul

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Northern Weekly Salvo 295

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. 295 August 6th  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, mis-aligned 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

Like a lot of Salvo readers I’ve mixed feelings about relaxing Covid restrictions, particularly when quite a few people I know seem to have caught it recently..not much you can say that hasn’t been said a thousand times other than I’ll carry on wearing the hated mask when it seems right to do so but not when common sense dictates otherwise (e.g. in an empty railway carriage).

What of the wider political world? In this issue I float a few thoughts on ‘England’ and ‘Englishness’, readers’ views welcome, as always. It worries me that Starmer’s Labour Party could lurch into championing a kind of ‘Englishness’ that leaves little room for regional variations, let alone distinctiveness, and panders to a sort of nostalgic and reactionary ‘Englishness’ which is miles away from what is exemplified by the England football team.

It continues to puzzle and surprise me that so many politicians, of all hues, continue to think that HS2 is somehow ‘a good thing’ and will help the North. I

Most people in the North would prefer to see investment in regional networks, not HS2. A Northern 158 creeps across Accrington Viaduct (10 mph speed restriction)

very much doubt that it will and share the view of most people ‘up ‘ere’ that the money could be far better spent on improving local and regional transport. So I’m pleased that it looks like Leeds will not get its HS2 link and I very much hope Manchester will be similarly blessed. Why so anti-HS2? Well first let me say I’m not against high-speed rail as such but this scheme is so flawed in so many ways that I find it impossible to justify. Changing travel habits ‘post’ Covid make it even less justified. All those day trips to London for business meetings are less likely to happen and the leisure market is perfectly happy being served by trains that run at 125 mph. I wish politicians would listen to what their constituents are saying and scrap this expensive white elephant which will only benefit London. I suspect it will not get beyond Crewe as financial reality kicks in, but why wait for that to happen when it’s obvious that it makes no sense environmentally, economically or – where it counts – politically.

It’s good to see heritage railways returning to something like normal. I met up with some old school friends in Bury the other week and had a pleasant drink in ‘The Trackside’ bar at Bolton Street station and watched a well-filled 1300 to Rawtenstall depart. Bolton now has a direct bus link to the East Lancs – ‘The Rammy Rambler’, a joint initative of Diamond Buses North-West and the ELR. Runs Wednesday to Sunday, three times a day, using an open top double-decker (presumably when fine!).

England, which England?

The quest for a ‘progressive English politics’ is something that seems to have captured the imagination of quite a few writers on the English left, mostly columnists for The Guardian and Observer. There’s another school of thought, which I must confess to having leaned towards myself on some occasions, which is quite anti-English.

It’s a view shared by some in the Northern Independence Party which hopes to wish away the reactionary English state and have a Northern socialist republic. It’s a lovely dream, perhaps, but political utopias usually turn into something very different from what their first disciples hoped for. And I don’t think many people really want it. You can be passionately ‘Yorkshire’ and still identify as English, as well as ‘Huddersfield’ etc.

It’s always a good idea to start with a concrete analysis of a concrete situation (special prize for who said that). Scotland is key to this, with the likelihood that it will break away from the UK within the next ten years, possibly sooner. Northern Ireland could become an even bigger hot potato within the same time frame, the North re-uniting with the South and rejoining the EU. That leaves a UK comprising England and Wales, with Wales very much the junior partner. Could it go its own way? People say that it’s too small but that doesn’t necessarily bear scrutiny. Far smaller nations have gone independent and done very well – Iceland being just one.

So there is the possibility that we end up with a centralised English state by default. That could be very bad for the North and possibly the Midlands too, as more power – political and economic – concentrates in London and the south-east. Throwing a few sops to the North in the form of a bit more power for the largely unaccountable mayors won’t make that much difference.

What could make for a much more attractive vision of a ‘new England’

Cartoon quintessential Englishman

is a political entity that is decentralised with a much smaller central state – and it doesn’t matter that much whether or not it’s in London (I’d keep it there). Strong regions, based on historic boundaries rather than ‘technocratic’ ones, should be the foundation – county regions such as Yorkshire and Lancashire – with empowered local government again based on historic identities where possible and of appropriate size, that is really ‘local’.

That set-up could work whether or not Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland went their own ways. It would be a sad thing if they did and I suspect that after a while there might be the basis for a rapprochement based on equality between the nations and regions, rather than the current overwhelming dominance of England, and London in particular. A British confederation.

So a new England is possible, and we get glimpses of it through things like the Euros and our great ambassadors in the England football team. Nobody has to hate England, particularly anyone who is English. A silly position to adopt. There’s lots of things in our past that are positive, in politics, culture, sport and industry. We should cherish these but have the maturity to look at the negatives in an open and honest way too. And when people who should know better harp on about a ‘Quintessentially English’ country that implicitly excludes anywhere north of Watford, that’s urban or multi-ethnic, they should be challenged.

So I think it’s OK to love England, the real England as it is not how some romanticise it, but accept that it needs to change – and discard the reactionary trappings of an old imperial state. Personally, I’m relaxed about the monarchy continuing but again, let’s drop some of the outdated nonsense that goes with it. It all comes back to the people, the demos, democracy. Our voting system is an embarrassment, our leaders are a joke.  But change is possible. As the gay, upper-class Edward Carpenter (who made Yorkshire his home) once sang, ‘England Arise!’

Up on th’windy moors

The third Saturday of July is the traditional day of pilgrimage to ‘Waugh’s Well’ – the lonely and beautiful spot on the Lancashire moors that celebrates the great Lancashire poet Edwin Waugh. After the inevitable break last year, the tradition was re-established last month with a group of about 15 members of the Edwin Waugh Dialect Society making the hike from Edenfield up to Fo’ Edge, on a hot summer’s day.

At Waugh’s Well

Stops were made on the way up for readings from Waugh and his contemporaries and a picnic lunch was partaken at Fo’ Edge, on the site of the farmstead that Waugh lodged in for a few months. There’s a plaque on the site telling you more about the place and Waugh himself. Less we lurch into too much misty-eyed nostalgia, part of the reason for Waugh’s sojourn was his need to ‘dry out’ from his rather excessive drinking habits. You’re a long way from a pub up there, though I suspect the farmer would have made his own ‘whoam-brewed’ but rationed Edwin’s share. The return walk was particularly interesting, following some of the long-disused tramway routes that once served the huge slate quarries ‘on the tops’. Some of these railways were very well engineered with deep cuttings and high embankments. Considering most closed soon after the First World War, they are remarkably easy to follow. So all in all a gradely day out, the highlight for some being the spectacle of one of the participants deciding to rip up his short – possibly in ecstasy at the loveliness of Sid and Alyson’s poetising, or maybe because it was just too warm.

Platform culture thrives in Bolton

Bolton Station Community Partnership is hosting a unique art exhibition at its Platform 5 Gallery on Bolton Station. ‘Routed – an exhibition of railway workers’ art’ displays the work of active and retired railway employees and is the only show of its kind in the UK. It

Julie Levy and first visitor John Stirzaker

includes paintings and photographs by five artists and runs until Saturday August 28th, culminating in the first-ever Station Mela which will feature stalls and music. The exhibition is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 12.00 to 4.00pm and admission is free – barrier staff will let visitors through the gates on request.

“We’re really excited to host this latest exhibition, building on the success of the first-ever Railway Workers’ Art exhibition in 2019,” said July Levy, chair of the station partnership who is curating the exhibition. The show features the work of Nigel Valentine, Susan Skully, Richard Hall, Josh Watkins and Paul Salveson.

The subject matter is largely but not exclusively rail-related. Some of the photographs were taken in the Bolton area and include images of railwaymen at work. The paintings of railway manager Josh Watkins feature scenes from the Welsh narrow-gauge railways whilst Richard Hall’s paintings include a dream-like scene at the former ‘Mop’ pub in Halliwell. “It’s a great show and follows on from our last exhibition featuring Bolton artists including Julia Uttley and Dave Burnham,” said Julie. “People really like the cosy atmosphere of the gallery and everyone can be assured of a friendly welcome.” Further details Julie Levy 07789 725753

Day trip to Coniston

I’ve made previous mention of the excellent ‘community bus’ operation based in Ulverston and run by Blueworks Taxis. The services have continued to develop, assisted by the Friends of the X12 who actually run some of the services on a Section 22 licence (which permits voluntary groups to run scheduled minibus services). My friend Martin suggested we should have a day out by train and bus and take in the steam-yacht ‘Gondola’ too. We got to the rather forlorn-looking Ulverston station and headed into town for a look round the market hall, which is home to a couple of excellent bookshops. One sells mainly new stuff while the stall next door is second-hand. I came away with a very nice Maryport and Carlisle Railway booklet and a couple of Oakwood Press titles. And some excellent Lancashire cheese (Ulverston being historically part of Lancashire).

We reached the bus stop to find quite a few people already there – a

A confluence of minibuses at Coniston

local women’s association having a day out to Coniston. Would we all fit in? MD (and Farnworth lad) Phil Halliwell had the situation sussed and three minibuses were on hand to cope with the throng, with Phil covering s driver on one of the vehicles. I wonder if the same responsiveness would have been evident from one of the larger corporate bus operators?

We set off in convoy with the third bus empty – but people joined en route so by the team our ‘bus train’ arrived at Coniston all three vehicles were respectably full.

The Gondola departs from Coniston

‘The Gondola’ was a delight, what a remarkable ‘restoration’ job the National Trust has done. When we got going it sounded just like an LMS Black 5 working hard at about 50 mph.

We returned on the afternoon bus convoy, with the Ulverston ladies in good spirits. They didn’t actually break out into song but maybe a bit longer and they would have. We were dropped at the station, a kind gesture by the driver. We spent half an hour reflecting on what great potential the station has. The booking office and waiting room has already been improved and there is some excellent artwork. But so much more could be done. The exterior is shabby and neglected, the former water tower is now empty after the brave attempt to open a cafe and bike hire business a few years back.

Haigh Woodland Wanderer wends its way from Wigan

A new rail-linked bus service from Wigan to Haigh Woodland Park started last weekend – and initial results are encouraging. The service is a joint initiative of South East Lancs Community Rail Partnership, Wigan Council, Haigh Woodland Park (owned by the Council) and Friends of Haigh Woodland Park. The service is part-funded by the Community Rail Network’s ‘Integrated Sustainable Transport Fund’. The service, operated by local company Finch’s, runs every hour and picks up alongside Wallgate station. The first weekend loadings were

Councillors, staff and volunteers at Haigh Hall with Finch’s bus in background

predictably low on the Saturday but much busier on the Sunday. Wigan Council has been energetically publicising the service with door to door leaflet drops and a media campaign. As word gets round, loadings will continue to increase. Haigh Woodland Park is a great place for a day out. Its centrepiece is Haigh Hall, currently undergoing restoration, but there’s lots to see and do in the park, not least the miniature railway. There’s also a popular bar, cafes and crazy golf.

RHS not as green as it thinks it is

We had a very enjoyable visit to the new Royal Horticultural Society gardens at Worsley (Bridgewater). The story of the garden’s restoration, from the ruins of Worsley New Hall, is remarkable and all credit to the RHS for getting it up and running so quickly – about four years from start to opening, despite Covid. But what lets it down are the poor transport links. There’s an infrequent bus service which runs from the Trafford Centre to Leigh – nothing from central Manchester – and it drops you off over half a mile from the ‘welcome’ centre. People

The grounds of RHS Bridgewater are extensive and great scope for further development

arriving by public transport are given a discount on their admission, but really they should be awarded a medal. The RHS makes much of its green credentials but this really is very poor. It’s right in the heart of Burnhamshire, between the RHS, Transport for Greater Manchester, Salford City Council and the bus operators it ought to be possible to have a frequent dedicated bus service. It’s all the more galling that a large amount of money is being invested in a cycle link from Walkden station to the gardens, which could have easily funded a frequent bus link. Much as I’m keen to promote cycling, the reality is that this will mainly benefit fit, middle-class people who have a pretty direct route from Walkden to the gardens already. And that assumes you are able to get your bike on the train – with the ‘2 bikes’ rule there isn’t much scope for group visits. So, unless things change, the overwhelming majority of visitors, like us, will go by car. But don’t let me put you off, it’s a great place for all that.

Off to the sunny South Coast with RPTA

This weekend it’s the annual conference of REPTA – The Railway Employees’ Public Transport Association (formerly Railway Employees’ Privilege Ticket Association, much more prosaic) – in Bournemouth. I’m looking forward to a pleasant trip down with CrossCountry and a weekend of catching up with old friends. For obvious reasons last year’s conference was cancelled. REPTA was set up in 1893 and continues to provide a ‘circle of good fellowship’. Many of its still-active members are retired but there are some newer members who are keeping the flame alive. Back in BR days it had a huge membership, around 50,000 at its peak. Today it’s much less but it still has a role as a truly ‘social’ network. Membership costs a mere £5 and is worth every penny – see www.repta.org.uk

Vintage Day out

It’s a while since I’ve travelled along ‘The Shakespeare Line’ from Birmingham to Stratford-upon-Avon and the promise of a run behind ‘Clun Castle’ was too good to miss. But as sometimes happen, it didn’t quite turn out as intended. ‘Clun’ caught a cold and was confined to shed and an almost equally ancient class 20 diesel (with ‘47’ support) substituted. Did it matter? Not at all, it was a great day out, launching Vintage Trains’ programme of excursions this summer, many of which will be steam-hauled, hopefully some with a revived ‘Clun’.  Vintage

Our short stop at Henley-in-Arden to admire the station gardens and hear about plans for the buildings

Trains is a fully accredited train operated company and the only one in the UK (probably the world) that is run as a genuinely community operation. It’s a community benefit society, mostly using locomotives owned by a charitable trust. It is part of the Heart of England Community Rail partnership and supports ‘station friends’ along the Shakespeare Line. Chairman Michael Whitehouse says it’s the only line on the national network to have every single station adopted, and I wouldn’t contradict him. On the way out we had a stop at Henley-in-Arden where the station buildings are set to be refurbished for community uses. At Stratford we had about 40 minutes and enjoyed drinks in the nearby cafe before heading back to Birmingham, from where we hopped on a local train to Bournville to have a look round the fascinating Cadbury’s industrial village. A perfect day was rounded off by a curry in our favourite Indian, The Lagan. Dessert just had to be a ‘Cadbury’s Delight’.

My Fernarium and 10F

During the mini-heat wave I decided it would be a good time to really get stuck into the various garden projects that I’d been promising myself I’d ‘get round to’. Not, you’ll be surprised to know, garden railway related. Oh no, the rail infrastructure is pretty much established now and it’s more a case of adding a few extras, new locos and the like. The two major new projects were the ‘Rose Grove’ at the front and the ‘Fernarium’ at the back. I’ve never really been much of a ‘rose’ person but, coming up to my 69th, I am a convert, with all the zeal that goes with it. But open to readers’ suggestions for what to buy, what to look out for. The ‘Fernarium’ is a case of using some space that has struggled to find uses. It’s very shady but the soil is good. The railway runs by it, naturally, and it sometimes gets a bit overgrown. So I’ve cleared out the early summer wild flowers (red campion, foxgloves, mint) and the ferns have gone in. Ladies’ ferns – again, no expert and welcome suggestions for what else to plant. The ones that have gone in are transfers from other depots.

Bolton’s Great Strike

My most recent feature in The Bolton News’ ‘Looking Back’ supplement was on the ‘Great Engineers’ Strike’ of 1887. This was no ordinary industrial dispute: cavalry were drafted in from their barracks in Manchester and hundreds of police from around the North-West were billeted in the town. Hundreds of strike-breakers – ‘knobsticks’ – were

Ald. Benjamin Dobson, main protagonist from the employers’ side. In possible mitigation he was fond of miniature railways

brought in by train and riots ensued at the station. The event formed the basis for Allen Clarke’s novel The Knobstick, published in 1891. It led to major changes in the town’s politics, with ‘labour’ representatives elected at the next local elections. It can be read in full here: https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/19465313.bitter-industrial-dispute-saw-troops-streets-bolton/

Publications update from Lancashire Loominary

Allen Clarke (‘Teddy Ashton’) Lancashire’s Romantic Radical is back from the printers but I’m going to delay a full launch until September when something approximating ‘normality’ might be back, allowing events in both Bolton and Blackpool. The first edition was published in 2009 and the new one substantially improves on the original, in my estimation. There’s some new information about his life and work and an entirely new chapter on his railway writings (‘Teddy Ashton Takes the Train’).

The current plan is once the Allen Clarke is duly launched I’ll publish a new book on the Lancashire –Whitman connection. This will incorporate most of With Walt Whitman in Bolton (published in 2019) with an entirely new section on Whitman’s wider influence on Northern socialism. It will be called Unlikely Pioneers – Walt Whitman, the Bolton Boys and Northern Labour 1885-2022. I’m not sure whether to do it as a print edition or just by kindle, which is much less trouble, but less fun. Comments welcome, I still have some copies of With Walt Whitman in Bolton left, which I’m selling for a fiver.

I’m doing a pre-publication offer on the Allen Clarke book – it will sell at £18.99 in the shops and on Amazon (plus postage) but I’ll do it for £15 with free local delivery c/o Bolton Bicycling Bookshop, or £3 postage in the UK. See www.lancashireloominary.co.uk for details of how to buy it.

New books from my pals

Here’s details of four excellent books that have two things in common – they’re all written by good friends and all feature , to some extent, railways. So no big surprise, each is very different. Stan Abbott, who played a major role in the fight to save the Settle-Carlisle Line in the 1980s, has published Walking The Line – exploring Settle-Carlisle Country. It’s a detailed description of a linear walk along the route of the railway, using public rights of way. It’s really well written – much more than just a walking guide, it has history, anecdote and a strong personal touch. It sells at £9.99 and is published by Saraband.

Martin Bairstow, who features elsewhere in this Salvo (Coniston story) has lived (at least) two lives – as an accountant, often acting for disreputable railway consultancy clients (like me) and as a very reputable railway historian. His latest work is a new edition of Railways in the Lake District and includes the Cumbrian Coast and Furness Lines, Windermere and Coniston branches, the late and much lamented Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith line as well as the Lake steamers and Barrow Docks. Martin puts his encyclopaedic knowledge of railway history to god use and has a very good feel for railway politics. His account of the closures of the Lakeside and CK&P routes are of great value. He rightly bemoans the closure (one of the last) of the Penrith – Keswick Line in 1972. What a difference it would have made to ‘sustainable transport’ in the Lakes had it survived. But at least we’ve got the Coast Line and Windermere Branch – the latter very much in need of electrification and double-tracking, at least in part to permit a more frequent service as leisure travel takes off post-Pandemic. It’s priced at £17.95 and is published by Martin himself, at 53 Kirklees Drive, Farsley, Pudsey.

In the early days of community railways we had strong support from a number of BR managers. Foremost amongst them, together with David Prescott, was John Davies. John has spent much of his railway career in South Wales and knows the ‘Valley’s intimately. He was largely responsible for the renaissance of the Valleys Lines back in the 1990s as Regional Railways Manager for Wales. John has always been passionate about railways and the transformation of the Valleys Lines was partly informed by John seeing at first hand what can be achieved with regional railways elsewhere in Europe and further afield. His book From Hell to Paradise – and a thousand places in between is about his travels around the world, usually with his beloved Josianne, to whom the book is dedicated. Of the four books it is the most ‘personal’ but there’s plenty of politics and ‘railway’ in it too. John has a great love of American railroads and his travels around the USA are a fascinating contrast to his trips around Europe. The book is self-published and sells at £17.99. Email John at johnbaytrans@btinternet.com for details of how to get it.

The fourth member of this mates’ quartet is Richard Horrocks’ fascinating Turton Tower: A Caretaker’s History. It is edited from the notes of Albert Barrett who was caretaker of the historic house north of Bolton, between 1948 and 1964. I’ve known and loved Turton Tower for many years – it was always a favourite spot to watch, and later photograph, steam locos climb the steep gardient between Bolton and Entwistle. I got to know th house itself, a remarkable amalgam of different styles and periods which somehow works. There is some dispute as to how old the place is, with some suggesting the 12th century while others say the 15th century. But take it from Richard, it’s old. He takes us through the history of the building and its occupants, including Lees Knowles, an early patron of the Lancashire Authors’ Association in the 1920s. The building was managed by Turton Urban District Council from 1930 although today it is run by Blackburn with Darwen Council. Albert was appointed by Turton UDC in 1948 and lived in the building with his family until his retirement in 1964. Interestingly, the Tower was only made into a museum in 1952 and the Council was fortunate in having such a devoted employee to look after it. Albert’s notes reflect someone with a deep passion and interest for the Tower’s history. What makes Richard’s book so special is the role of Albert Barrett, clearly a most unusual chap – all too often people like him get air-brushed out of the history of these historic buildings. The book costs £9.99 and is available through Amazon or from the Turton Tower shop and Wright’s Reads in Horwich.

My photo gallery – an emphasis on steam (but not completely)

I’ve been making some changes to my website/s…I’m keeping www.lancashireloominary.co.uk  for all publications, including The Salvo. However, www.paulsalveson.org.uk has been re-born as Paul Salveson Photography: places, trains and factories or summat like that.

There are several pages dealing with different aspects of my photography: BR Steam, Continental Steam, The Modern Railway, Industrial Steam, Northern Rural Landscapes, Mills and Mines, and Strikes, Riots and Demonstrations. This is my current favourite: Industrial Railways UK 1966 – 1980 – Paul Salveson Photography

Good places to buy my books and other things

As lockdown eases, more shops are opening  which sell my books. These include Carnforth Bookshop, Wrights’ Reads in Horwich, Pendle Heritage Centre in Barrowford and Kelsall’s in Littleborough. Please support your local bookshops, it’s vital they survive. A great feature of any walk up Rivington Pike is the Pike Snack Shack on George’s Lane – a long way up, the last place before you get on the track to the summit. They do coffee, pies, sandwiches and cakes for takeaway and you can sit amidst the heather and savour the view across the West Lancashire Plain. You can also buy copies of Moorlands, Memories and Reflections.  Another popular addition to my list of retail outlets is Bunbury’s real ale shop at 397 Chorley Old Road, Bolton. A slightly unconventional outlet is A Small Good Thing, on Church Road. This is a great little shop mainly selling organic fruit and veg and a range of ‘small good things’. Fletcher’s Newsagents on Markland Hill Bolton are stockists. Justicia Fair Trade Shop on Knowsley Street, Bolton, is handy for the town centre and has a full set of my books available (and some great gifts from around the world, ethically sourced).

Winter Hill 125 – this September, have a walk o’er Winter Hill

Plans to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the 1896 Winter Hill ‘mass trespass’ continue to evolve with strong interest from a wide range of groups and individuals. The celebration will take place on Sunday

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September 5th 2021 – get it in your diary now! It will set off at 10.30 from the bottom of Halliwell Road, with assembling from 10.00 onwards. We expect the walk to take about four hours – Diamond Bus is providing buses to get people back from Belmont to Smithills and Bolton.

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.

Small Salvoes

  • Bolton Diggers are running a series of talks on ‘The Alternative Economy’ in the town’s Victoria Hall. The first one kicked off on June 30th, at 6.00 and they have been well attended. These free talks and participative workshops take place every Wednesday evening at 6pm in the old coffee bar at Victoria Halls between June 30th and September 1st. This will be followed by a ‘Made in Bolton’ local products fair (date to be arranged.)
  • Humanity trumps politics: it was good to see the respectful messages from local opposition politicians to the untimely death of Council Leader (and Conservative) Cllr David Greenhalgh, who died suddenly at the age of 53. My own condolences to his friends and family; a decent man by all accounts.
  • Plans are underway for Autumn events by the Hannah Mitchell Foundation, the cross-party campaign for Northern devolution and democracy. Details will be posted on HMF’s recently-updated website: www.hannah-mitchell.org.uk

Aagh! Crank Quiz returns…Sheds and seating

Several readers (well, one) laments the absence of the Salvo ‘Crank Quiz’. Well OK, showing appropriate responsiveness to customer demand, it’s back! In fact two quizzes. The first was suggested by that man in the water tower, Mark Rand of Settle. He mentioned amusing railway signage, giving examples of the station seats at Settle (‘SettleDown’ on the down line and ‘Settle Up’ on t’other) and a named class 66 ‘The Flying Dustman’. So please send examples, with photos if possible, of amusing official or unofficial examples of signage/etc.

The other part of the Crank Quiz is inspired by my new-found horticultural zeal. Please name loco sheds (with shed codes unless a sub-shed) of loco sheds with horticultural themes. There are too many stations, junctions etc. so don’t go there, but sheds should keep you busy.

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Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events

Sunday September 5th. Winter Hill Trespass Memorial Walk: assemble 10.00 bottom of Halliwell Road, Bolton,  for 10.30 departure. Buses from Bolton Interchange to starting point and special buses back from Belmont in the afternoon. Bring flask and sandwiches, sturdy footwear and waterproofs!

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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.

Allen Clarke/Teddy Ashton – Lancashire’s Romantic Radical (NEW!). 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. Publication date September 1st . Pre-publication offer of £15 plus free local delivery or £3 postage

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.

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 £5 (plus postage if you’re 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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Lancashire Loominary Summer Excursion

 

Lancashire Loominary No. 5

July 2021

It’s summer…time for a new book to blossom

The new and updated edition of my biography of Allen Clarke (Allen Clarke – Teddy Ashton: Lancashire’s Romantic Radical) is back from the printers and looks good, apart from a few annoying typos.  There is a lot of new material in it, including an entirely new chapter on Clarke’s railway writings. The Bolton News carried a feature on his novels recently (June 16th) – there’s a word version of it below. The official publication date will be September 1st but I am doing a pre-publication offer for £15, with free local delivery in the Bolton area, or add on £3 for UK postage.  You can download an order form from my website, below, or there’s one at the back of this newsletetr: http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/order-form

I’m hoping to do a number of launch events in late August or early September. If you’d like to host a launch, even for a small group of people, please let me know.

Who was Allen Clarke?

More than any other writer of the early 20th century, he captured the essence of life in the industrial North. He was born into a working class Bolton family in 1863 but most of his later life was spent in Blackpool. He followed his parents into the mill, starting as a ‘half-timer at the age of 11. He went on to write over 20 novels, dozens of short stories and poems as well as factual accounts of life in the factories, one of which was translated into Russian by Tolstoy, whom he greatly admired as a writer and political thinker.

His sketches in Lancashire dialect (written as ‘Teddy Ashton’) “poked sly fun and undermining sarcasm” at the social evils of the day and sold over a million copies. His newspapers, like Teddy Ashton’s Northern

Cover of one of his hugely popular ‘Annuals’

Weekly, were read and passed round mill and factory by thousands. His book Windmill Land popularised the Fylde countryside and is a mix of history, folklore and roadsides chats.

The new edition includes lots of new material which sheds more light on this important, but neglected figure in English literature who was loved by thousands of his readers in the textile districts of Lancashire and Yorkshire. He had a close relationship with his audience and one group of Manchester railwaymen wrote to Clarke protesting at the abrupt way he ended one of his novels!

As well as his own work, Clarke encouraged other working class men and women to write for his newspapers and was instrumental in forming the Lancashire Authors’ Association in 1911. His ‘readers’ picnics’ attracted hundreds of visitors, often arriving by train or bicycle.

Cover of the 2009 edition, now out of print

One, at Barrow Bridge near Bolton in 1901, was held to raise funds for the locked-out quarry workers at Penrhyn, Wales; it was attended by several thousand, including the Clarion Choir. He mobilised his child readers to raise funds for the starving families and organised cycle trips to the quarry villages.

After his move to Blackpool he created the Blackpool Ramble Club, one of the biggest walking clubs in the country. He died in December 1935 and is buried at Marton Cemetery, close to the windmill that is now a shrine to his memory.

Unlikely Pioneers

I’ve been working on a new edition of my ‘Whitman’ book – With Walt Whitman in Bolton – spirituality, sex and socialism in a Northern Mill townlast published in 2019 though little changed since 2009. I’ve combined it with a lengthy paper on Whitman’s influence on ‘Northern Socialism’ and re-titled it Unlikely Pioneers: Walt Whitman, the Bolton Boys and Northern Socialism.

I’m debating whether to do a print edition or just publish it on kindle, which makes life easier in terms of an international readership. Readers’ views welcome!

The latest Salvo

The latest edition of my blog/e-newsletter or whatever, is out and can be downloaded from here:

http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/northern-weekly-salvo-294

The latest edition carries comment on the Labour Party’s current quandaries, progressive regionalism and the latest Government ‘Plan for Rail’. There’s a Salvo take on the recent Lib Dem by-election victory and comments on Batley and Spen, which is now history. The media had more or less conceded victory to the Tories; my take was that they could be wrong, and they were.

The ‘Bolton novels’ of Allen Clarke

Allen Clarke, born in Daubhill (Bolton) in 1863, was one of the most important figures in Northern literature between the early 1890s and late 1930s. Today his work is largely forgotten. Yet he was loved by tens of thousands of Lancashire mill workers and had an astonishing output of dialect sketches, poetry, journalism and works of philosophy. He wrote over 20 novels, most of which were never published in book form, but appeared in newspapers across Britain and even beyond.

Most of his novels are set in Bolton, where he was born and bred. He was never part of the upper class literati – his parents were mill workers, and he started his working life as a half-timer at the age of 11.

Portrait of the author as a young lad

His subject matter was the people he knew and the places he grew up in. His parents encouraged his love of writing; at the age of 14 he won a national prize for one of his poems. As his writing developed he had a clear aim – to be a writer of the people and for the people. In 1896 he said: “My aim today is to give the working class life (of Lancashire principally, for that I know best) faithful expression in the literature of England.”

His first published novel was The Lass at the Man and Scythe, written in 1889 and published in book form (by himself) in 1891. It was printed by Pendlebury’s of Bolton. The ‘Lass’ was later revised and extended, re- titled John O’God’s Sending. It is a story of the Civil War, set in Bolton in 1644. It contained many of the themes that featured in his later novels. There is tragedy, a conventional love story, and a healthy dose of radical politics. His preface to the first edition of the book is an early example of his attempt to engage the reader:

With the aid of that wizard’s wand, a pen, dipped into that magic fluid, ink, the Boltonians who live and move again (at least I hope so) in the following pages have been temporarily raised from the dead. For taking the liberty of resurrecting them somewhat prematurely I beg their pardon. If I have done the business clumsily and inconvenienced these characters in any manner whatever I humbly tender my apologies. I am but a novice at the work……”

The novel revolves around the ancient Bolton pub, The Man and Scythe, still standing opposite the town cross, where the Earl of Derby was executed for his part in the Siege of Bolton in 1644. Royalist soldiers, led by the Earl and Prince Rupert, besieged the town siege and massacred a large number of the townspeople, who supported the Parliamentary side. Clarke sets the wider political context in characteristic style:

“The war that was taking up the time, money, and blood of the nation at this period was a struggle for supremacy between King and Parliament. The King wanted to do exactly as he pleased; the people, as represented by Parliament – wanted to do what they pleased. As a rule, when two parties each resolve to please themselves, it pleases neither. It was so in this instance. Both were obstinate. The monarch had on his side ‘the divine right of Kings’; but that is not much when opposed to the superior force of revolutionary masses.”

Clarke favoured the Parliamentary side but the novel shows that things are never black and white, and creates some positive, human characters amongst the Royalists.

A very important part of this first novel is the extensive use of dialect amongst its characters. Early in the novel we find this exchange between Bolton characters, sat in the pub debating the war:

How think ye the cavaliers will fare in York?” asked Isaiah Crompton.

“They sen they’ll howd eawt till th’King sends a force to their relief,” said Cockerel, “though for my part I think as they’ll have hard wark for’t keep Fairfax eawt o’th’city.”

“Wheer’s that wild Prince Rupert, what feights like Satan?” queried Roger Roscoe, a farmer.

Deawn tort Lunnon, somewhere, i’them forrin parts,” replied another.

The novel was a success. Readers enjoyed the local connections, the ‘homely’ characterisation and use of dialect, the love interest  combined with the horror and violence of the siege. It was subsequently re-written and enlarged as John O’God’s Sending and published in book form in 1919.

His next novel was The Knobstick, completed in 1891 and serialised in his paper The Bolton Trotter from October 21st 1892 and later published in book form.  ‘Knobstick’ is an abusive Lancashire term for strike-breaker or ‘blackleg’ which has long gone out of use. This time Clarke used a near-contemporary event – the Bolton Engineers’ Strike of 1887 – as the backdrop to the story.

Some of Clarke’s themes from The Lass at the Man and Scythe re-emerge: a love story, a dramatic event – in this case the strike, with a powerful riot scene. The novel was celebrated by the East German writer Mary Ashraf in a schoalrly article in 1976, who identifies the beginning of the novel as being of very high literary quality, suggesting “if that quality had been maintained throughout, the book might have been a masterpiece.”

The engineers’ strike is a central part of the novel and Clarke builds up a sense of an impending struggle through the union secretary Peter Banks and his wife:

We’re gooin to strike Jane,” said Peter Banks to his wife one evening, speaking, as he always did to her, in the dialect.

God forbid!” she exclaimed.

Well, it’s so for aw that,” continued Peter, “an I’m afraid as it’ll  come  off  this  time.  Th’men’s  gradely dissatisfied, an fully resolved to have mooar money…It’ll be a mighty struggle if it begins and there’s dozen’s what’ll ne’er see o’er it. Of course eaur society’s very rich at present an’ con howd eaut a good while; but t’mesturs con howd eaut longer. I’m willin for t’ strike anyday, but I’d rayther not. I con feight as weel as anybody when I’m put to, but it seems a silly gam to me.”

It’s melodramatic stuff but well told; it appealed to the readers he was aiming at. After tragedy there is a happy ending with hero and heroine  married; the strike ends and a new era begins in the town, with working men elected to the council.

During the 1890s Clarke was working flat out, editing and publishing his Northern Weekly. He wrote much of the copy, including a steady stream of novels including The Little Weaver, Lancashire Lasses and Lads, A Daughter of the Factory, A Curate of Christ’s, For a Man’s Sake and Slaves of Shuttle and Spindle. All of these are set in the Lancashire mill towns, mostly Bolton – often fictionalised as ‘Spindleton’.

The Little Weaver proved popular with his readers, who identified with the characters in the tale; as so with most of his novels, it was about people like them. It has this powerful image of a mill coming to life on Monday morning:

Then, slowly, at six o’clock precisely, there stole a huzzing murmur on the silence; the shafts began to revolve, the straps that chained the looms creaked, stretched and yawned, as if reluctant to begin their duty, and commenced to climb languidly up to the ceiling, quickening their speed with every turn; the huzzing murmur grew and grew; the weavers touched the levers of their looms one by one, and set them on. The murmur had now become a rattling roar; the sound swelled; the straps whizzed faster; the threads of the warp flowed into the loom like a slow broad stream, and the shuttle darted across them like a swallow, binding them together and making them into cloth; there was creaking and groaning of wheels; the hissing and spluttering of leather straps, as if the animal moaned painfully in its hide; the air grew warmer; the noise became deafening; you could not hear your own voice; and the weaving shed was in full swing.”

Clarke hated what industrialism had done to the Lancashire countryside. In Driving – a tale of weavers and their work, he contrasts what Lancashire once was with how it is day, but even here there is a sense of a tremendous human achievement which has somehow been abused:

What a marvellous transformation James Watt’s steam engine, aided by the spinning and weaving inventions of Kay, Hargreaves and Crompton had wrought in a hundred years; an agricultural and pasturing shire had been turned into a county of manufacture; Lancashire’s wild moorland vales had become the smoky workshop of the world; and once sweet hillsides were now cinder-heaps and once- bright brooks were now sinking sewers.”

Lancashire Lasses and Lads, set in Bolton and Farnworth, was first published 1896 and in book form 10 years later. The hero, Dick Dickinson, is the son of a factory master who forces his son to leave the family home and ‘descend’ into the working class, where he meets and falls in love with a young weaver, Hannah.  Again, Clarke is fascinated by the awesome power and beauty of the factory contrasted with the reality of life inside the mills. Dick Dickinson, when he arrives in Bolton early in the morning, sees the mills coming to life:

Lights began to show in the great factories of four or five stories, with their many windows. Soon they were all lit up like a vast illumination. ‘Very pretty to look at from the outside, and at a distance on a black frosty morning,’ said Dick, ‘but it’s a different matter toiling inside them’.”

Clarke was a friend of the Tillotson family which published The Bolton Evening News and Bolton Journal, both of which carried his writing, long after he had left Bolton to live in Blackpool. The  company set up the Tillotson Newspaper Fiction Bureau to syndicate novels and short stories for newspapers across the British Empire. Many of Clarke’s novels and short stories were published in such seemingly unlikely newspapers as The Forfar Herald, Western Evening Herald, The Devon Valley Tribune (Clackmannanshire) and The Kilrush Herald and the Kilkee Gazette of West Clare. Quite what they made of the Lancashire dialect I can’t imagine.

Clarke’s novels were of their time but remain readable and offer real insight into Lancashire life in the late 19th century. Some of them deserve re-printing, perhaps starting with ‘The Knobstick’.

It’s ‘Wakes Week’….or is it ‘Bolton Holidays’?

Across Lancashire, from late June, the cotton towns started to close down for the fortnightly holiday. It was actually a short-lived tradition, taking off after the Second World War (when paid holidays came in) and ending with the decline of the cotton industry in the 1980s. Some places called it ‘Wakes Week’ though my own memories in Bolton (and many friends) are of ‘Bolton Holidays’. Take your pick – maybe there were localised differences, with Great Lever people calling it ‘Bowtun Holidays’ and Daubhill people saying ‘Wakes Week’? Over the Pennines in Yorkshire, Huddersfield had separate holidays for engineers and textile workers, which was a bit tricky if dad worked in engineering and mum in the mill, as many people did.  Further research is needed. Anyroad, take a look at this, from last week’s Bolton News:

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/19416154.wakes-week—folk-bolton-headed-off-coast/

Make Greater Manchester Greater (from Salvo 294)

As a proud Boltonian I have never been comfortable with the idea of being part of ‘Greater Manchster’ preferring the original, admittedly cumbersome title of ‘South East Lancashire and North-East Cheshire’ used by the buses. SELNEC. They could have added ‘with bits of The West Riding of the Yorkshire’ recognising Saddleworth’s inclusion in the area. Greater Manchester doesn’t really work. And I deeply disagree

Just call it ‘Lancashire’

with the contemporary obsession with ‘city regions’ in which the ‘city’ will always dominate the satellite towns. Years ago I remember my friend David Begg talking about ‘Greater Manchester’ in a transport context pointing out that its hinterland goes well beyond its current boundaries. He was right then (1990s?) and that perception is truer today than ever. Blackburn and North-East Lancashire are very much part of the wider hinterland that relates to Manchester itself. So is Preston and – more arguably – Warrington. Lancashire itself, in administrative terms, is a total shambles, with unitary authorities for Blackpool and ‘Blackburn with Darwen’ and talk of carving up what remains of local government into larger and even less accountable districts.

There is an alternative! Make Greater Manchester into a much bigger entity, more or less recreating ‘Lancashire’ but with boundaries which make political, economic and cultural sense now. I’d be inclined to leave Merseyside (or ‘Liverpool City Region’) as a separate entity with Chester. But it would all need a lot of debate and discussion rather than the forced imposition of an alien concept, back in 1974. The new ‘Greater Lancastria’ should have an elected assembly along similar lines to the existing devolved administrations, with re-constituted local authorities which should have more, rather than less, power.

Other books from th’same shed: Moorlands, Memories and Reflections

Still available.  2020 was the centenary of the publication of Allen Clarke’s Moorlands and Memories, sub-titled ‘rambles and rides in the fair places of Steam-Engine Land’. It’s a lovely book, very readable and entertaining, even if he sometimes got his historical facts slightly wrong. It was set in the area which is now described as ‘The West Pennine Moors’ It also included some fascinating accounts of life in Bolton itself in the years between 1870 and the First World War, with accounts of the great engineers’ strike of 1887, the growth of the co-operative movement and the many characters whom Clarke knew as a boy or young man.

My book is a centenary tribute to Clarke’s classic – Moorlands, Memories and Reflections. It isn’t a ‘then and now’ sort of thing though I do make some historical comparisons, and speculate what Clarke would have thought of certain aspects of his beloved Lancashire today. There are 28 chapters, covering locations and subjects which Clarke wrote about in the original book, with a few additions. It includes the Winter Hill rights-of-way battle of 1896 and Darwen’s ‘freeing of the moors’;  a few additional snippets about the Bolton ‘Whitmanites’, handloom-weaving, railway reminiscences, the remarkable story of ‘The Larks of Dean’ and Lancashire’s honourable tradition of supporting refugees (including the much-loved Pedro of Halliwell Road). The story of Lancashire children’s practical support for the locked-out quarryworkers of Snowdonia in 1900-3 is covered in some detail, including the remarkable ‘Teddy Ashton Picnic’ of 1901 in Barrow Bridge, which attracted 10,000 people. It will be profusely illustrated.

It is available price £21, with £4 post and packing. Go to http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/order-form

for details of how to order. I can do free delivery locally (within 6 miles of Bolton).

The Works: a tale of love, lust, labour and locomotives

I’ve had a steady flow of orders for The Works, my novel set mostly in Horwich Loco Works in the 1970s and 1980s, but bringing the tale up to date and beyond – a fictional story of a workers’ occupation, Labour politics, a ‘people’s franchise’ and Chinese investment in UK rail.  I’ve had lots of good reactions to it, with some people reading it in one session. The Morning Star hated it. If you want a copy I can offer it for £10 plus £2.50 postage to those of you on this mailing list. Please make cheques payable to ‘Paul Salveson’ and post to my Bolton address above or send the money by bank transfer (a/c Dr PS Salveson 23448954 sort code 53-61-07 and email me with your address). If you are local I can do free delivery by e-bike (so just a tenner). There is a kindle version available price £4.99 and you can also buy it off Amazon. See www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

If you’ve already read and hopefully enjoyed The Works it would be great if you could do a short review of it on my facebook page (Lancashire Loominary). Feedback on how it could have been better is also welcome, especially as I’m starting work on the next novel (see below).

The Works is available in the following outlets – please support them! If you know of any local shop which might like to take my books please let me know. I do a third discount, sale or return.

  • Justicia Fair Trade Shop, Knowsley Street, Bolton
  • The Wright Reads, Winter Hey Lane, Horwich (currently closed)
  • Bunbury’s Real Ale Shop, 397 Chorley Old Road
  • Pendle Heritage Centre, Barrowfoed
  • Smethurst’s Newsagents, Markland Hill
  • Pike Snack Shack, Rivington
  • Horwich Heritage Centre
  • A Small Good Thing, Church Road Bolton
  • Carnforth Bookshop
  • The Lakeland Gallery, Bo’ness
  • Penrallt Bookshop, Machynlleth

Points and Crossings in Chartist……

I write a regular column called ‘Points and Crossings’ for Chartist magazine, one of the brightest and most intelligent magazines of the left. A recent column was a critique of Labour’s nationalisation plans for the railways: https://www.chartist.org.uk/labours-british-railways-mark-2-is-a-dead-duck/. The current one has my thoughts on the cycling revival: stillborn or a new lease of life for the bike? Let me know if you’d like a sample copy. https://www.chartist.org.uk/carry-on-cycling/

Still in print: previous publications

The Settle-Carlisle Railway (2019) published by Crowood and available in reputable, and possibly some disreputable, bookshops price £24. I have a few which I can offer with £4 postage.  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

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. Normal price £10.00, selling for £5.00. 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. Each year on Whitman’s birthday (May 31) the Bolton group threw a party to celebrate his memory, with poems, lectures and passing round a loving cup of spiced claret. Each wore a sprig of lilac in Whitman’s memory.

The group was close to the founders of the ILP – Keir Hardie, Bruce and Katharine Bruce Glasier and Robert Blatchford. The links with Whitman lovers in the USA continue to this day. Later this summer (see above) I’ll be bringing out an expanded version which has more on the wider political context – Unlikely Pioneers: Walt Whitman, The Bolton Boys and Northern Socialism.

Northern Rail Heritage A short introduction to the social history of the North’s railways. Very few left but I’m planning a new, updated edition. Hopefully will be available from February 2021.

The North ushered in the railway age with the Stockton and Darlington in 1825 followed by the Liverpool and Manchester in 1830. But too often the story of the people who worked on the railways has been ignored. This booklet outlines the social history of railways in the North. It includes the growth of railways in the 19th century, railways in the two world wars, the general strike and the impact of Beeching.

Will Yo’ Come O’ Sunday Mornin? The Winter Hill Mass Trespass of 1896. The story of Lancashire’s Winter Hill Trespass of 1896. 10,000 people marched over Winter Hill to reclaim a right of way. Price: £5.00 (not many left). The Kinder Scout Mass Trespass of 1932 was by no means the first attempt by working class people to reclaim the countryside. Probably the UK’s biggest-ever rights of way struggle took place on the moors above Bolton in 1896, with three successive weekends of huge demonstrations to reclaim a blocked path. Over 12,000 took part in the biggest march.

A new supply has been found and is available price £5 plus postage (free local delivery)

Ordering:

Please use this link:

http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/order-form

Other titles still available:

Socialism with a Northern Accent (Lawrence and Wishart)

This was my take on a progressive Northern regionalism, with a foreword by the much-maligned but admirable guy, John Prescott. Time for a new edition – working on it

Railpolitik: bringing railways back to communities (Lawrence and Wishart)

This is an overview of railway politics from the early days to semi-monopolies and current arguments for nationalisation, or co-operative ownership?

 

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Bolton Holidays – or was it Wakes Week?

Here are some lovely memories of people’s holiday experiences from the 50s onwards. It will form the basis of my next piece in The Bolton News (Wednesday June 30th):

Bolton Holidays – or Bolton Wakes? People’s recollections

Roni Cunliffe: In the 70s we went to Margate on the coach every year for 6 years while there we went to the shell grotto and Margate caves ,we also used to go on the hovercraft in the times we went there we went on the swift the on the sure , we also went to Broadstairs to the beach on the bus from Margate

Carol Walsh: I remember Wakes Weeks, my grandma used to take me and my brother on the train to Blackpool, the same boarding house in York St. (Central ) every year. Great memories.

Jayne Littler: My dad was an engineer and had the Wakes weeks off. We went to a B and B in Scarborough twice, bus to train station and train to Scarborough . Can’t remember if we changed trains or direct . We also hired a little bathing hut above the open air swimming pool on south shore. My brother had to be rescued by a lifeguard when he fell in and couldn’t get back up. When I was little went to see family in Cornwall on the train I think it was fourteen hours and we had a compartment for us four plus grandparents. Often my dad would say I wish we had enough money on holiday to buy you an ice cream everyday

Joanne Campbell: We did go away during Bolton Holidays, but not sure where. However, i remember 1 year we didn’t go away and I went to get a paper from the terminus at Andrew Lane, Astley Bridge, and staying there, sorting the papers and selling them for a least on one of the weeks, for nothing. It gave me something to do as I was an early riser. The local shops, at the bottom of Sharples Ave would close at dinner every day.

Andrea Coward: When British Rail was British Rail – my dad worked there and got free family tickets , we went to St Ives every year , didn’t have to pay for trains , we got a sleeper carriage , a very long way to St Ives from Bolton but was possible on the holiday express. One steam train to Manchester then the electric fast train, (holiday express) dad always got the Bolton Holidays weeks off from work, I remember spending many happy holidays on the beach with mum and dad , holidays are more difficult to book with work these days , didn’t realise how lucky I was.

Lesley Rayton: remember them being called Wakes Weeks… We used to go en masse from Moor Lane on Ribble Coaches to Torquay, usually coaches split up into 2/3 that more or less drove down together and used different stop offs for Drinks/Toilets etc… Loved it I was a young teenager at the time…Also during these holidays the Newsagents would close and you’d buy your Papers from allocated places on the Streets/Roads

Christine Salt: I worked in the travel office at Ribble, Bolton, for many years. Bolton holidays, (last Saturday in June and first week of July ), were mad busy, dozens of coaches going to places such as Rhyl, Llandudno , Newquay , Bournemouth etc, and every day hundreds of customers taking day trips to Blackpool, various zoos, Betws-y-Coed in Wales, and many more. Some days we didn’t even manage a cup of tea. Even when Continental holidays really took off, we still lots at day and weekly excursions, as well as cruise bookings and many package holidays. Obviously none of us were able to go away for Bolton Holidays.

David Collier:  In the Bolton Holiday Weeks the Bolton Evening News could be bought in the more popular resorts. I can remember being sent to buy one in Rhyl!

Nigel Greensitt: As a kid we would go away, maybe to North Wales or Torquay. I was impressed that the shops on the caravan sites would know where we came from “just by the way you talk” when in all probability it was because they knew when the various towns had their ‘wakes weeks’ ( Bolton always the two weeks following the last Saturday in June ) .

Jon Heath: I still go on holiday first week of what was Bolton holidays, we used to all pile in our auntie and uncles car and go to Robin Hood camp then we started to go to Towyn caravan sites as there was more going on, down the main Rd there sandbank, led to the sea wall and the beach, later years still we started travelling by coach from Moor Lane, was very hectic and dad would be cursing, grandma made us sandwich spread butties to eat on the coach, like having a picnic on arrival the trolleyboys would be waiting to load your cases and take you to your campsite, dad would obviously have to tip them, the coaches only went to Rhyl then not Towyn, you could buy Bolton evening news there, it was very exciting from start to finish, some of my friends never went away, and we would bring friends next door bars of rock, I loved the memories made and because of this took my own children, grandchildren and now me and my husband still go, wakes week, first week, last Saturday in June.when we came home the fair was still on Moor Lane and we would go on the fair, great 2 weeks

Arthur Singleton: In the 1950’s we always went for a weeks holiday in Bolton’s Wakes Week. Always went to Fleetwood. Did this for a decade.  Lunch at the same Fish and Chip Shop near the Euston Hotel. Not surprisingly saw a few of my Uncles ( not my real uncles ) and Families there every year. Always stayed with Mrs Hawkins B&B at 16 Windsor Terrace just opposite the Pier. Always fascinated with a Fortune Teller on the sea front , the Marionette man near the Bowling Greens and remember glorious long days in the Open Air Swimming Pool. Too dangerous to go in the sea because of the River. Always by Steam train from Bolton and when we got there we always went to Knott End by Ferry. For years my Dad convinced me we had been to the Isle of Man. I don’t remember it ever raining. What made me laugh were all the Bolton workmen sat in deck chairs sleeping the Lunchtime boozing off – with suntanned faces and arms and white bodies that looked as though they had never seen the sun. Don’t mention the woollen Swimming trunks which could hold 20 lbs of spuds when they were wet.

Vincent Malcolm Wright: I remember them being called Wakes Weeks and everyone knew when all other local towns Wakes Weeks were too. We always went to Blackpool to a Boarding House in Derby Road, near the baths and I have lots of old photos. When I was around 7 or 8 we started going to Northern Island for two weeks to a place called Warrenpoint and I have quite a lot of photos from those years too. As I got to 10 or so we began going to North Wales, originally Rhyll then later to Abergele, oddly I don’t have any photos from that period. I do remember pestering my Dad to leave soon enough on last Saturday so I’d be home in time for Roller Skating at Bridgeman Street Rink.

Cheryl Green: I remember it being called Bolton Holidays in the 70s although my nan from Atherton used to call wakes week. I never understood what she meant. We were fortunate enough to go on holiday Easter week, June week and Sept week but only to Pontins and Butlins and mum and dad used to take us to Cheetham Hill for all our holiday gear a couple of weeks beforehand . We were each given a black bin liner at the door and we’d pick out our own stuff and wasn’t allowed to wear any of it until the holiday started so everything was brand new. Not sure if that was the norm in them days or if it was just mum’s thing.I remember those times fondly

Margie Hodgetts: Day trips to Blackpool on a charabanc (coach) communal singing all the way home and a flat cap passed around for a tip for the driver! Holidays in Fleetwood with the highlight of the evening being the first to spot the Isle of Man ferry coming onto the horizon! Simple pleasures!

Ada Evans: I remember Wakes Weeks when all the shops used to close and I mean allthe shops and Bolton used to be like a Ghost Town. Every body used to go on Holiday Happy Days.

Mosie Wild: Lots of people from Farnworth used to go down to Cornwall when I was younger full they went for Bolton holidays. But we used to go to Scarborough. And even one year my dad got a coach trip up to take other people from Falmouth over to Scarborough for Bolton holidays.

Jackie Richards: Bolton Wakes, oh what lovely memories. 1955 Kent Street, Farnworth. I was 7 and there was something up. A burning hot Friday even the tarmac on the road was melting and the factory workers were running up the street, laughing and shouting and singing, ‘We’re off, we’re off, we’re off in a motor car, 50 bobbies are after us and we don’t know where we are’. At 8.00 after a wash and change I was bundled into a coach waiting in Frederick Street along with half the street. We were going to Fleetwood to catch the Lady Of Man to the Isle of Man. Such excitement I had never known before. It was a rough overnight crossing but no one minded, all the fellas during in the bar whilst women and children are butties and cake in the lounge. We slept eventually and woke to a glorious morning and the first sight of a magical island with it’s own little castle in the middle of the sea. (Tower of Refuge) I thought it was heaven, from 2 up 2 down terraced houses and mills to this wonderful place was magic to me. There were so many people from Kent Street and surrounding areas on the boat and during the week we saw most of them every day. I cried when we had to go home, as I wanted to stay forever in this lovely place. I did return many times during wakes weeks but that first trip with my nan and grandad was the best.

Michael Matthews: I can’t remember my mother and father taking me and later on my siblings away before 1959, up to the age of eight my grandmother and my aunt would take me to Blackpool for a week by charabanc usually, I joined the church lads brigade which along with the lads brigade was very popular at the time, and with them I went to camps in Abergele North Wales and Whitby! We lived under canvas and had a mess tent and practised marching and we had several bugle and drum bands it was very healthy for us kids living in sub standard houses near factories and mills belching out smoke, the people who ran these organisations had their wives and children there to, so it was very family orientated, when I was thirteen I joined the air training corps and spent the holidays on RAF bases learning to be young airmen and we even had a chance to fly!

 

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Northern Weekly Salvo 294

The Northern Wokely 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. 294 June 21st 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.

The 5th anniversary of Jo’s murder was on June 16th. Still in our hearts.

General gossips

Greetings from Bolton (Lancs). Thankfully, our premier position at the top of the Covid infection league has been usurped by our neighbours and Bolton seems to be the only place where infection rates are going down, at least in the North-West. Maybe some lessons there – throw substantial resources at the problem, vaccinate as many people as possible and behave sensibly.

Down south, the outcome of the Chesham and Amersham by-election gives hope that the apparently indestructible Johnson may not be as invincible as he seems. The Lib Dems scored a great victory and there’s no reason to think that it is that much different from other constituencies in the leafy south-east. Maybe HS2 was a factor (and good on them if it was) but it wasn’t the whole story. What it does point to is a very pronounced realignment of English politics, with Labour struggling to find a role outside the major cities and Wales. More on that below.

Elsewhere in this Salvo there’s news about the Williams-Shapps ‘Plan for Rail’ and the Rail Reform Group’s less than enthusiastic response. Much will depend on the people running the new entity – railway people are good at making even the most unpromising structures work, after a fashion. They’ve had enough practice these last 30 years.

Light shines in Buckinghamshire, but will it in Batley?

After all the pre-election publicity about Hartlepool, the Chesham and Amersham by-election was little noticed, but the result was equally significant, maybe more so. While Johnson may try to justify the Tories’ drubbing as being down to a few ‘local difficulties’ (HS2, planning law changes) the reality is more complex, with many longstanding Tory voters deserting their party in disgust at the lurch to a populist, anti-European agenda where corruption is obvious. Let’s see what happens in similar seats in the south-east, there is talk that there might be a vacancy in Maidenhead quite soon.

Meanwhile, the outcome of the Batley and Spen by-election will be of more immediate interest. A few days ago I would have put money on Labour hanging on, but now I’m not so sure. Starmer has become a lame-duck leader and switching a few of his back-office staff isn’t going to make much difference. Batley and Spen isn’t ‘solid’ Labour (like many of the other so-called ‘red wall’ constituencies) and had a Tory MP not that long ago. I hope it doesn’t go back to that.

The harsh reality is that the grand coalition that once made Labour such a powerful force no longer exists. The classic industrial working class, organised in strong, Labour-affiliated unions, has gone. In the large former industrial towns where it once ruled supreme, its influence has waned. Its support in Scotland has all but disappeared. Where it is doing OK is in the major cities of England as well as some of the south-eastern towns and cities with large university populations and Labour-inclined migrant ex-Londoners. And Wales. Taking these areas of support together, it isn’t enough to form the basis for a majority Labour government. In fact it is very hard to see how Labour, for the foreseeable future, could regain power on its own. Boundary changes may not help, but with current voter realignment who knows.

Going back to Chesham and Amersham, people voted intelligently; there was no need for a formal deal between Labour and the Lib Dems, people were shrewd enough to see that voting Lib Dem was the only way to get rid of the Tories (and many of these were of course traditional Tory voters who have fallen out with Johnson’s lot). While the Greens did considerably better than Labour there’s no doubt as to who was the winner in all this. It’s fine saying that proportional representation would solve the problem, and I’m a strong supporter of it – but there’s the inconvenient fact that you first need to get a Government elected that will legislate for it, under the existing unfair system. As things look today, that means a coalition government led by Labour with Lib Dem, SNP and Green support. Much as I’d like to see the Greens having more MPs to work alongside the excellent Caroline Lucas, I think they will struggle to increase their seats in the short term, their focus should be on local government where they can do well if they target places. I just wish Bolton’s hard-working Alan Johnson could get himself elected onto the Council.

Back to Batley then. I hope Labour’s gamble in selecting a candidate whose main claim to fame is being the sister of the late Jo Cox comes off; it could prove to be a tactical error. If Labour is defeated that will put a big question mark over Starmer’s future. Several leading figures are already dropping hints that they could step into his shoes, including Andy Burnham and possibly Angela Rayner. I think both could make a half-decent job of it, but nether have them have the talent of previous Labour leaders, including Wilson and Blair (cries of shock! horror! from some readers). They (Andy and Ange) both have ambition but not much substance beyond basic rather old-fashioned social democratic policies with a bit of ‘greenwash’ added in Angela’s case. A key battleground within Labour is going to be around building a new democratic Britain, with democratic devolution to the English regions and PR. Neither of them get those issues. The one person who does is, ironically, not a ‘Northern MP’ – I’m thinking of Clive Lewis, the sparky and thoughtful left-of-centre MP for Norwich who is closely linked to the ‘Compass’ think tank.

If Labour wants to re-unite a future United Kingdom (which may or may not include Scotland and Northern Ireland) it needs to devolve itself. Welsh Labour has shown that where the party can meld a progressive national identity with sensible centre-left politics, it can win. In the case of England, that means progressive regionalism, with the creation of a ‘Northern Labour’ that isn’t beholden to an increasingly out of touch party HQ in London. So the Salvo solution, in a nutshell is: get rid of Starmer and bring in Clive Lewis as leader. Make Andy Burnham the leader of a ‘Greater Greater Manchester (aka Lancashire and Cheshire) which has an assembly elected by PR. Angela Rayner to become head of ‘Northern Labour’.

But, of course, it isn’t just about leaders: Labour needs to rebuild as a popular grass-roots party which speaks a language that people recognise and identify with. Trying to struggle on with a plain vanilla politics that tries to speak to all of Britain (and will fail) isn’t the way to go.

Great British Railways, coming to you soon

The Department for Transport published its long-awaited ‘plan for rail’ in early June. It was co-authored by former British Airways boss Keith Williams and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, though the hand of Johnson’s transport advisor Andrew Gilligan is all over it.

After such a long time in gestation the Williams-Shapps Report is sadly disappointing.  There is no analysis of the deep-rooted problems in the industry which led to the report’s commissioning two years ago, following the May 2018 timetable meltdown. Nor is there much reference, let alone, analysis, of the other key issues that need to be addressed, such as decarbonisation (electrification) and infrastructure development (e.g. Northern Powerhouse, Midlands Engine) or of why Great Western electrification costs rose so dramatically out of control.

The imminent demise of the franchise system is over-stated in the document. The proposed new ‘National Rail Contracts’ are merely franchises with the revenue risk, to operators, stripped out.  The same

east-wst links in the North need investment: a Northern 195 tiptoes over Copy Pit on a Blackpool – York service

issues that currently exist, including ‘delay attribution’ – which is detailed as an example of how contractual (and costly) the railways have become – will continue across the wheel/rail divide (viz., the separation of infrastructure management from train operations), which has been perpetuated for no obvious reason and with no justification.

The re-branding to ‘Great British Railways’ (GBR) covering both the English passenger railway and the Great Britain-wide network will add complexity and confusion as well as reducing accountability for the railways run by devolved administrations, (particularly Scotland and Wales, but also Merseyside and London) each of which has their own strong identity. It seems to be a political ploy to support the Government’s ‘defend the union’ agenda. And I don’t mean RMT.

The claims to reform fares and ticketing are also over-stated. Some of the suggestions for fares reform have already been available with some operators – there are no new major proposals.

It would be silly to say it’s all bad. The support for community-rail partnerships is welcome, but the Government should put its money where its mouth is and give them further funding to develop their work. However, expecting them to bid on their own for ‘micro-franchises’ could be over-optimistic unless resources are made available to assist them. Who will be the CRP’s main partner? GBR, or the ‘contracted’ train operator? In London, this has caused some difficulties with TfL wanting to micromanage more things than they really ought. The new contracts should clealry set out what is expected of the CRP and whom should be their primary partner (I’d say the train operator).

Railway people have proved adept at making the best out of a bad job and one cause for hope in the Government’s plan is the likelihood that Network Rail leaders Peter Hendy and Andrew Haines will run the new ‘GBR’. Both are highly respected and committed transport professionals, but they will have their work cut out in making the new body a success. I hope they will be brave and sensible enough to give real power to the proposed regional divisions and encourage them to work with regional partners such as the combined authorities.

There are fears among many rail professionals, such as the Rail Reform Group, that the new GBR “could be a return to the old days of London-based centralisation with little understanding of regional, let alone local, markets…..Centralised control of timetables and fares lacks any link to local markets which are key to growing rail business, yet whilst reference is made to the five current regions (one of which is Scotland and run quite differently) there is no indication that the regions will be the key specifiers and drivers.”

It appears that the ‘single guiding mind’ translates into a highly centralised operation, much like the railway of the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Anyone who thinks that this represents a change back to a publicly-owned and accountable railway are deluding themselves. In many ways it is the worst of all worlds, with the likelihood that the private operators who will operate the ‘national passenger contacts’ having little incentive to develop new products and services, and will look at ways to cut costs wherever they can. The response from some will be that the contracts won’t allow them to do that, but you end up with a railway that is specified down to the tiniest detail, making any change, for good or bad, incredibly difficult to do.

There is an alternative. In previous Salvoes I’ve argued for mutually-owned and vertically-integrated regional companies to run the railways that Government and the public can trust – creating a railway for the Common Good, that is there for the long term, not just a few years. The ‘plan’ is a wasted opportunity, but Labour doesn’t seem to be offering much of an alternative, other than a return to a different model of highly-centralised bureaucracy.

Running a national railway network well involves a delicate balance with some degree of national co-ordination other issues such as fares, core timetables and passenger standards, with regional and even local initiative. If you think that’s pie-in-the-sky, have a look at the railways of Switzerland.

Make Greater Manchester Greater

As a proud Boltonian I have never been comfortable with the idea of being part of ‘Greater Manchester’ preferring the original, admittedly cumbersome title of ‘South East Lancashire and North-East Cheshire’ used by the buses. SELNEC. They could have added ‘with bits of The West Riding of the Yorkshire’ recognising Saddleworth’s inclusion in the area.

Greater Manchester doesn’t really work; ironically, I think it’s not big enough. And I deeply disagree with the contemporary obsession with ‘city regions’ in which the ‘city’ will always dominate the satellite towns.Years ago I remember my friend David Begg talking about ‘Greater Manchester’ in a transport context pointing out that its hinterland goes well beyond its current boundaries. He was right then (1990s?) and that perception is truer today than ever. Blackburn and North-East Lancashire are very much part of the wider hinterland that relates to Manchester itself. So is Preston and – more arguably –

Looking over Bolton towards Manchester

Warrington. Lancashire itself, in administrative terms, is a total shambles, with unitary authorities for Blackpool and ‘Blackburn with Darwen’ and talk of carving up what remains of local government into larger and even less accountable districts.

There is an alternative! Make Greater Manchester into a much bigger entity, more or less recreating ‘Lancashire’ but with boundaries which make political, economic and cultural sense now. I’d be inclined to leave Merseyside (or ‘Liverpool City Region’) as a separate entity with Chester. But it would all need a lot of debate and discussion rather than the forced imposition of an alien concept, as we got back in 1974. The new ‘Greater Lancastria’ should have an elected assembly along similar lines to the existing devolved administrations, with re-constituted local authorities which should have more, rather than less, power. Simple, eh?

Bollington Bolsheviks

Did they exist? If not, it would be necessary to invent them, for alliterative correctness. Bollington is a small town just a few miles from Macclesfield. It was once a southern outlier of the Lancashire cotton industry, with a couple of large spinning mills. One, Clarence Mill, survives and prospers as a mixed-use hub with an excellent gallery

Clarence Mill at Bollington

(Northern Makes, specialising in Northern art), cafe and a number of other small businesses, with living space on the upper floors. It is superbly situated alongside the Macclesfield Canal. It no longer has a railway – the link from Macclesfield to Marple (Rose Hill) now forms part of the Middlebrook Way and makes for a good bike ride.

Hearty art in Hale

Another trip in place of our Scottish holiday was an afternoon and evening in Hale and Altrincham, easily reached by rail from here. The station is very much unchanged, even with the signalbox at the end of the platform. Needs a bit of TLC though – in comparison, Altrincham is looking much better. I love the artwork, sponsored by the community iial partnership. How integration should be – trains, trams and buses check by jowl with good cycling facilities. Someone should enter it for an award. The booking office staff are excellent, which

Altrincham Interchange: The Cheshire Cat takes her leave

really makes it special. Back to Hale then – it has a couple of very good art galleries. The Clarendon specialises in contemporary works and has some great stuff. Clark Art (which seems to sponsor the station and is very close to it) must be the leading gallery for specifically ‘Northern’ artists (and has some similarities with Northern Makes in Bollington – see above). It had some originals by Adolphe Vallette for sale, but also showcased several contemporary Northern artists. In a way, talk of ‘Northern’ artists and a ‘Northern School’ is a slight misnomer. They’re really ‘Lancastrian’.  But let’s not get too picky. A final point, you may be wondering how we spent our evening (or maybe you’re not). We had an excellent meal in a superb Sri Lankan restaurant, Sigirya, just down the high street from the station.

Publish and be bxxxxxd

In the last Salvo I optimistically suggested that a new edition of Socialism with a Nortehrn Accent would be out in July. Mmm. Don’t think so. It’s in a queue, with my new edition of the Allen Clarke biography first in line. Allen Clarke (‘Teddy Ashton’) Lancashire’s Romantic Radical will be back from the printers by the end of June and I’m going delay a full launch until September when something approximating ‘normality’ might be back, allowing a proper launch (Bolton and Blackpool). The first edition was published in 2009 and the new one substantially improves on the original, in my estimation. There’s some new information about his life and work and entirely new chapter on his railway writings (‘Teddy Ashton Takes the Train’).

The current plan is once the Allen Clarke is duly launched I’ll do a new book on the Lancashire –Whitman connection. This will incorporate most of With Walt Whitman in Bolton (published in 2019) with an entirely new section on Whitman’s wider influence on Northern socialism. It will be called Unlikely Pioneers – Walt Whitman, the Bolton Boys and Northern Labour 1885-2022. I’m not sure whether to do it as a print edition or just by kindle, which is much less trouble, but less fun. Comments welcome, I still have some copies of With Walt Whitman in Bolton left, which I’m selling for a fiver.

After that I may do a pre-Christmas ‘Bolton’ book, which will hopefully repeat the success of Moorlands, Memories and Reflections which came out in November last year and caught the ‘Christmas present’ market. After that, we’re into 2022 – a new edition of Socialism with a Northern Accent would be a good project, with time to reflect on post-Covid politics and whether Labour is able to turn the tide in its former ‘red wall’ strongholds. My usual optimism struggles with that.

So no shortage of things to do and I’ve hardly started on that ‘Farnworth’ novel which I’d really like to do next year, as well as a railway title (Lines of Attraction: Railways of the North-West). Or maybe, cheekily,Great Northern Railways’.

I’ll be doing a pre-publication offer on the Allen Clarke book – it will sell at £18.99 in the shops and on Amazon (plus postage) but I’ll do it for £15 with free local delivery c/o Bolton Bicycling Bookshop, or £3 postage in the UK. I will start sending it out early in July, see www.lancashireloominary.co.uk for details of how to buy it.

Roaming around Radcliffe and Little Lever

Radcliffe is a medium-sized town north of Manchester, within the metropolitan district of Bury. Like many similar towns it once had its own local authority and the town hall survives, as a reminder of how local government was once just that. Recently, a ‘hyper-local’ party, Radcliffe Independents, have made sweeping gains in local elections. They now have four councillors elected onto Bury Council. The issues include a perceived lack of control over local issues, as well as proposal for huge housing development east of the town towards Bury, close to Elton Reservoir. They state: “We are not politicians we are everyday people who care about Radcliffe. At Radcliffe First we are not trying to build careers in politics, our only reason for wanting to become councillors is to make a difference for Radcliffe. Being a councillor is not a stepping stone to something greater it is our final destination. We want to give Radcliffe a voice in Bury Council, something it has been lacking for a long time. We are involved in the community not to boost our political careers but simply because we care about Radcliffe and want to make a difference. We need your vote to allow us to do that.”

Farnworh Town Hall: once the base of a thriving local authority

The rise of ‘hyper local’ parties in places like Radcliffe, Farnworth and Failsworth is one of the more interesting political developments in the North, predictably un-noticed by the media.

But what of Radcliffe today? It is on the Bury – Manchester Metrolink route though the line from Bury to Bolton via Black Lane closed. There are aspirations to extend Metrolink into Bolton with the option of using at least some of the old trackbed. Don’t hold your breath, stupid planning decisions resulted in much of the former trackbed being built on.

The town itself has, for a long time, had a run-down look to it. That is starting to change. It is nicely situated on the River Irwell, with ‘Radcliffe Bridge’ being a prominent landmark. The parish church, just

near the site of Ladyshore Colliery

up the hill, is a very fine building. If you carry on along the road towards Bolton you get to the point where the Bolton – Bury Canal once crossed. It’s a pleasant walk in either direction, east towards Bury or west, as we did, towards Bolton. There are some attractive ‘Radcliffe in Bloom’ displays by the road so you get off to a good start.

The towpath is well maintained and takes you past some examples of Radcliffe’s old industry, mainly cotton spinning and paper. You reach the site of Ladyshore Colliery (on the right) at Little Lever and a little way further on the spot where the canal burst its banks, in 1942. This closed the canal to all traffic, and the breach has never been repaired. It would be a big job. A housing developer, Watson’s, has said it would help fund the restoration if it gets planning permission for the 270 houses it wants to build. It would be good to see the canal restored though part of me likes it just as it is. Beyond the diversion (you

The abandoned flight of locks at Nob End

actually go into the bottom of the former canal for a short way) you reach Nob End. Here, the canal split with one section continuing to Darcy Lever and Bolton and the other descending to Prestolee, down an impressive flight of locks. The local canal society would love to see the locks re-instated; a big job but why not?

Radcliffe Market

Radcliffe has the usual supermarket brands like ‘Lidl’ which is OK if you like that sort of thing. There are a number of smalls shops dotted around the town centre. But what is really special is the re-opened Radcliffe Market, next door to Lidl in the town centre, at Radcliffe Bridge. It was probably not the best time to re-open a local market, in the middle of the Pandemic last year. However, this brave effort deserves support. It is well designed with a god mix of shops and places to eat. It also hosts events including music and theatre. Its website (www.radcliffe.market) says  “We are a community owned and run market hall.  Our aim is to bring you fresh and local food, ethical products, local services that you cannot find in any other place in and around Radcliffe and North Manchester.  We want to be that place you spend time to do a bit of shopping, relaxing and unwinding with your friends over a drink and a bite to eat and watch the world go by from the riverside.  We want to help bring our community together by providing thriving community venue for great events that allows you to enjoy this wonderful market hall.” The market is run as a co-operative – it’s a community benefit society. I’ll go back to Radcliffe, for the market and another walk along th’cut.

Looking back on our history: Bolton’s Other Railway

Readers of The Bolton News will know about my fortnightly ‘Looking Back’ feature, which has grown to a double-page spread on aspects of Bolton’s history. A recent one featured ‘Bolton’s other railway’ – the London and North Western, which ran into (and occasionally through) Bolton’s Great Moor Street station. The Bolton and Leigh Railway opened in 1828 and was Lancashire’s first public railway, though it didn’t start passenger services until 1831, connecting with the Liverpool and Manchester at Kenyon Junction. I think I can say that I was on one of the last passenger trains (apart from enthusiast railtours) to leave the station, on a Bolton Holidays’ special to North Wales in June 1957. I can just about remember going up the stairs and being thrilled at the sight of a long train headed by a ‘Black 5’. The feature is on this link – possibly the most interesting bit is the tale of Bolton School Classics Master ‘Butch’ Ingham who did a bit of loco driving during his commute to and from Bolton.

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/19321460.boltons-railway-served-great-moor-street-station/

Moses of the Mail and random acts of kindness

We recently enjoyed a trip over to Leeds on the Calder Valley Line, in my view the most scenic of the trans-Pennine railways and one I used to ‘sign’ when I was a guard at Blackburn (or at least the bit over Copy Pit and then through to Healey Mills). It was the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway’s main line and was once graced by Aspinall’s ‘Highflyer’ locomotives, which feature in Andrew Martin’s novel, The Blackpool Highflyer, mostly set in Sowerby Bridge loco shed (56E). I remember getting to Sowerby Bridge when I was about 8, by train from Bolton via Bury and Rochdale. After getting round the shed (no Highflyers by then, obv.) I decided to try and get to Low Moor shed. I was informed that there was a bus that would take me there so I jumped on, only to find I didn’t have enough money for the fare. A kindly lady sitting opposite gave me the 2d (or whatever it was) to make up the difference and I got to Low Moor. I can’t remember what was on either shed, though I’ve never forgotten that act of kindness from the lady on the bus. And if anyone thinks that these things are dead and gone, my friend John in Portrush was recently helped out by a fellow shopper when he realised that he had forgotten his wallet and couldn’t pay his (fairly modest) bill at the checkout.

But anyway, the Calder Valley Line always reminds me of that song, recited by Ewan MacColl, called ‘Moses of the Mail’. He collected the song from a visit to Newton Heath shed in 1951, it appeared on his LP Shuttle and Cage. Moses – actually Henry Poyser – was an L&Y driver at Newton Heath and the song is about his misadventures working the night ‘mail’ from Manchester to York.  It’s an amusing ditty, though MacColl misheard some of the lines, when he sings:

It was a dark and stormy night

The snow was falling fast,

I stood at Thorpbridge Junction

When the reckless Moses passed

His hair was wildly waving

As through the air he sped,

He’d never had such doings since

He started at the shed…

So error number 1 – did you spot it? Thorpe’s Bridge Junction, not ‘Thorpbridge’. OK, small point. He goes on to trill:

In Moston’s dreary cutting

The struggle was extreme

Both front fenders failed to work

And the engine wouldn’t steam…

He obviously means ‘injectors’ not ‘front fenders’ – the dangers of oral transmission! Some lyrics show it as ‘front sanders’ but that’s not right either. But anyway, it’s a great song.

Second-Hand Department

The Lancashire Loominary Secondhand Bookshop has stirred some interest. There’s still some quite good stuff there – you can view it at http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/second-hand-books . I’ve added a few more things to it and I’m happy to consider swops for interesting books on Lancashire, politics, railways etc.

My photo gallery – an emphasis on steam (but not completely)

I’ve been making some changes to my website/s…I’m keeping www.lancashireloominary.co.uk  for all publications, including The Salvo. However, www.paulsalveson.org.uk has been re-born as Paul Salveson Photography: places, trains and factories or summat like that.

Astley Green Colliery – ‘Harry’ crosses the cut

There are several pages dealing with different aspects of my photography: BR Steam, Continental Steam, The Modern Railway, Industrial Steam, Northern Rural Landscapes, Mills and Mines, and Strikes, Riots and Demonstrations. This is my current favourite: Industrial Railways UK 1966 – 1980 – Paul Salveson Photography

Good places to buy my books and other things

As lockdown eases, more shops are opening  which sell my books. These include Carnforth Bookshop, Wrights’ Reads in Horwich, Pendle Heritage Centre in Barrowford and Kelsall’s in Littleborough. Please support your local bookshops, it’s vital they survive. A great feature of any walk up Rivington Pike is the Pike Snack Shack on George’s Lane – a long way up, the last place before you get on the track to the summit. They do coffee, pies, sandwiches and cakes for takeaway and you can sit amidst the heather and savour the view across the West Lancashire Plain. You can also buy copies of Moorlands, Memories and Reflections.  Another popular addition to my list of retail

A Small Good Thing – Lisa with a copy of my latest book

outlets is Bunbury’s real ale shop at 397 Chorley Old Road, Bolton. Another slightly unconventional outlet is A Small Good Thing, on Church Road. This is a great little shop mainly selling organic fruit and veg and a range of ‘small good things’. Fletcher’s Newsagents on Markland Hill Bolton are stockists. Justicia Fair Trade Shop on Knowsley Street, Bolton, is handy for the town centre and has a full set of my books available (and some great gifts from around the world, ethically sourced).

Winter Hill 125 – this September, have a walk o’er Winter Hill

Plans to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the 1896 Winter Hill ‘mass trespass’ continue to evolve with strong interest from a wide range of groups and individuals. The celebration will take place on Sunday September 5th 2021 – get it in your diary now! We now have a superb banner made by Andy Smith –  it was unveiled on a wet and windy day at the start of Coalpit Road (the trespass route) a few weeks ago. We were joined by people from Country Walking magazine – a feature on the ‘mass trespass’ will appear in their September issue, out in August.

The 1982 commemoration heads up Halliwell Road

My book on the mass trespass is available price £5 (plus postage if not local) – see below. It is hoped to have some major events this year, circumstances permitting. More details to follow. The best way of keeping updated is to join the Winter Hill 125 facebook page.

The Alternative Economy

Bolton Diggers are running a series of talks on ‘The Alternative Economy’ in the town’s Victoria Hall. The first one kicks off on June 30th, at 6.00 These free talks and participative workshops will take place every Wednesday evening at 6pm in the old coffee bar at Victoria Halls between June 30th and September 1st. This will be followed by a ‘Made in Bolton’ local products fair (date to be arranged.) The first talks are as follows:-

June 30 Domestic Production : Vicky Urmston (Olive & Co.) on home-made soaps and Helen McGlynn on home made balms.

July 7 Local Brews: TBA a local micro brewery

July 14 Food Growing: Chris and Helen from the Kindling Trust have been promoting food growing initiatives in Greater Manchester for decades. From training up horticulturalists to distribution systems for existing growers, they have recently been raising funds for a new organic farm.

July 21 Including the Excluded: Tony Stephenson of Bolton Emmaus links up on social enterprise with  formerly homeless people. At their Fletcher Street base he and his team have spearheaded the development of a variety of imaginative social enterprises.

July 28 Alternative Retail Distribution Systems: Established local permaculturalist Steve Jones looks at the pros and cons of locally accessible systems of retail distribution from car boots to online sites.

Small Salvoes

  • This weekend (June 19th) sees the launch of Bolton’s Macfest 2021 – a Muslim arts and culture festival with a wide range of speakers, performers and more. The launch is on Saturday at 11.00. Details here: macfest.org.uk
  • Bolton Food and Drink Festival will happen this year, over the August Bank Holiday. Bolton Station will hold its ‘Mela’ on the same weekend with a wide range of food and music.
  • 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
  • My latest piece for The Bolton News ‘Looking Back’ supplement was on the novels of Allen Clarke. You can view it here: https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/19384298.boltons-literary-great-shaped-home-town/

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Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events

See above for talks on ‘The Alternative Economy’ starting June 30th. I’ll do an extended STN in the next issue now things are opening up a bit

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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 July. Pre-publication offer of £15 plus free local delivery or £3 postage

With Walt Whitman in Bolton – Lancashire’s Links to Walt Whitman This charts the remarkable story of Bolton’s long-lasting links to America’s great poet. Bolton’s links with the great American poet Walt Whitman make up one of the most fascinating footnotes in literary history. From the 1880s a small group of Boltonians began a correspondence with Whitman and two (John Johnston and J W Wallace) visited the poet in America. Special offer April £5 plus postage if you’re not local. New and extended edition under preparation – should be out late July

The Settle-Carlisle Railway (2019) published by Crowood and available in most bookshops price £24. It’s a general history of the railway, bringing it up to date. It includes a chapter on the author’s time as a goods guard on the line, when he was based at Blackburn in the 1970s. The book includes a guide to the line, from Leeds to Carlisle. Some previously-unused sources helped to give the book a stronger ‘social’ dimension, including the columns of the LMS staff magazine in the 1920s. ISBN 978-1-78500-637-1

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

 

 

 

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New ‘Allen Clarke’ out soon!

Allen Clarke Resurrected!

A new and completely updated edition of my book on Allen Clarke – ‘Allen Clarke (Teddy Ashton) Lancashire’s Romantic Radical’ will be back from the printers next week. It has lots of new material and a completely new chapter on his railway writings…(‘Teddy Ashton Takes the Train’)

Clarke (1863-1935) was one of Lancashire’s most prolific writers, producing over 20 novels, selling hundreds of thousands of his dialect sketches, as well as political and philosophical works. This working class lad born in Daubhill deserves to be better known.

I’m holding off a public launch until early September to let things settle down in terms of Covid. But there will be advance copies available at a special price of £15, with free local delivery (by bike) around Bolton, or add £3 on for postage. Please enquire for overseas rates.

You can pay cash on delivery, post a cheque or pay by bank transfer:

Dr P S Salveson (it’s a personal account)

Sort code: 53-61-07

Account: 23448954

Don’t forget to email me with your address details! paul.salveson@myphone.coop

Cheques to: 109 Harpers Lane, Bolton BL1 6HU

I should be able to start sending copies out from July 1st. Let mne know if you’d like them signing and/or dedicating (and to whom)

 

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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