Northern Weekly Salvo

Welcome to the latest Northern Weekly Salvo. This issue has a weird and wonderful mix of rail matters, the anniversary of the Winter Hill rights of way battle, the joys and sorrows of train travel, a great new poetry collection and travels around t’North (Halifax, Barrow, Buxton, Clitheroe and Mytholmroyd). My next book, Moorlands, Memories and Reflections will be out soon, probably mid-October. More details inside. The link is here:

Northern Weekly Salvo 284


NEWS Uncategorized

The Lancashire Loominary No. 1

An occasional update from Lancashire Loominary 

No. 1   August 11th 2020

Hello, this is an update about publications and events at Lancashire Loominary, my modest little publishing business. It’s about publishing fiction and non-fiction on the history and culture of Lancashire (by which I mean all of it) and its people. It’s not about ‘the great and the good’ but so-called ‘ordinary’ working class people who did extraordinary things. I’ll do this roughly every 4-6 weeks. Let me know if you don’t want to receive it.

The original ‘Lankishire Loominary’ was published by James T. Staton in Bolton in the 1850s and 1860s. The name changed on a fairly regular basis; at one point it was ‘The Bowtun Loominary, Tum Fowt Telegraph Un Lankishire Lookin’ Glass’. But I like the alliteration of Lancashire Loominary and its textile connections. The reason you’re getting this is because you’ve either bought, helped or promoted previous examples of my work and I thought you might be interested in future titles. The coronavirus carry-on meant that the launch of The Works was muted to say the least. But hopefully Moorlands, Memories and Reflections will strike a chord with people in the centenary year of Allen Clarke’s masterpiece, Moorlands and Memories. But it still looks as though ‘public’ launch events will be difficult. Maybe an open-air launch on the top of Winter Hill? (only half joking).

This newsletter complements my Northern Weekly Salvo – here is the latest one: ( If you don’t already get it and would like to, please send me an email address.

Moorlands, Memories and Reflections

Coming soon: the next production from Th’Loominary……… 2020 is 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 will sell at around £25 depending on final costs for printing. It should be out in mid-October when I’m back from my birthday break on Skye. I will offer a modest discount to previous customers with option of home delivery if within cycling distance of Bolton (which for me is about 7 miles).

Late news…I’m delighted to say that Maxine Peake has written a lovely foreword to the book.

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

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). Here’s a review by Mike Pedler:

 “I enjoyed reading The Works. It is a warm hearted (and counter factual!) tale of how the world-famous Horwich Loco Work is saved from British Rail Engineering’s attempted closure by a workers’ cooperative drawing inspiration from the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. I enjoyed the descriptions of the local politics and trade union life of the 1970s and ‘80s before and during the Thatcher years. Populated by some admirable Lancastrian characters and underpinned by a strong belief in what working people can endure and achieve, it displays an optimism of the will much needed in our current crises.”

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.

  • Rivington Village Tea Rooms
  • Justicia Fair Trade Shop, Knowsley Street, Bolton
  • Kev’s Cuts, Halliwell Road, Bolton
  • The Wright Reads, Winter Hey Lane, Horwich
  • Horwich Heritage Centre
  • A Small Good Thing, Church Road Bolton

The Red Bicycle

The next big project after Moorlands is another novel. I’m trying to learn from the experience gained from The Works, including reader feedback. This one will be called The Red Bicycle and is mainly set in Lancashire in the early 1900s – featuring mill life, working on the railway, local socialist politics, the Clarion Cycling Club and ‘everyday life’ – but also having a modern, post-virus aspect too. The narrator, for part of it, is a bicycle. I’m aiming for an early 2021 publication date.

Look out for my features in The Bolton News

The Bolton News runs a local history supplement each Wednesday called ‘Looking Back’. I’ve started doing a regular feature, each fortnight, on different aspects of Bolton life. The last one (July 29th) was on Bolton’s trams (see ). The previous feature was on ‘The Colne Papers’, the newspaper train which ran through Bolton in the middle of the night, at great speed. It was also published in The Lancashire Telegraph, here: This Wednesday, August 12th, it’s on the work of T.H. Mawson and his visionary plans for the development of Bolton and its surrounding area.

and 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: 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.

Still in print: previous publications

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

‘Lancashire’s Romantic Radical – the life and writings of Allen Clarke/Teddy Ashton‘(2009). The story of Lancashire’s errant genius – cyclist, philosopher, unsuccessful politician, amazingly popular dialect writer. Normal Price £15  – can now offer it for £10 with free postage for previous purchasers of The Works. 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. He became a much-loved writer and an early pioneer of the socialist movement. He wrote in Lancashire dialect as ‘Teddy Ashton;’ and his sketches sold by the thousand. He was a keen cyclist and rambler; his books on the Lancashire countryside – ‘Windmill Land’ and ‘Moorlands and Memories’ are mixtures of history, landscape and philosophy.

With Walt Whitman in Bolton – Lancashire’s Links to Walt Whitman. This charts the remarkable story of Bolton’s long-lasting links to America’s great poet. Price £10.00 including post and packing. Bolton’s links with the great American poet Walt Whitman make up one of the most fascinating footnotes in literary history. From the 1880s a small group of Boltonians began a correspondence with Whitman and two (John Johnston and J W Wallace) visited the poet in America. 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 were 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.

Northern Rail Heritage A short introduction to the social history of the North’s railways. Price £6.00. 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 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. Only a couple left, but the forthcoming Moorlands, Memories and Reflections has quite a lot about it.

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 really.

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?


Over Belmont Moors

This is an excerpt (Chapter 8) from the forthcoming book Moorlands, Memories and Reflections – a centenary celebration of Allen Clarke’s Moorlands and Memories

Over Belmont Moors

Belmont features strongly in Moorlands and Memories. It remains a delightful village, though plagued by traffic. In Clarke’s day, it was his favourite cycling route from Bolton to Blackpool, despite being steeper than the alternative route along Chorley New Road.

The route I oftenest take to Belmont is Brian Hey, the road to the right to the stone quarries. It is grand to walk or ride this way in the early morning of a summer’s day, when the sun is dispelling the gauzy moorland mists and the little birds are piping in the sweet solitude.” (p.138)

Boggarts over Belmont

Clarke takes us, on his bike, past what was The Wright’s Arms (there’s now a nice cafe next to the Italian eatery) and down into the dip before the start of the climb along the village street. He praises the purity of the water from the fountain, close to the Black Dog Inn. Beyond the village he brings up one of his favourite topics – boggarts. A boggart is a Lancashire hobgoblin, or spirit. Most Lancashire writers mentioned them, and some still do, I’m very glad to say. The Belmont boggart lived somewhere along the road outside the village, before the track off to a farm. Clarke describes:

There is said to be a boggart or ghost on this road – somewhere between this farm and the village. Not ever having been on this road in the dark, I cannot vouch for the spectre myself, but tradition tells that a great many years ago, early in the nineteenth century, or the later part of the eighteenth, a young man, after being executed for robbing a coach was found to be innocent, and the legend says that he haunts this spot, calling out to such persons as pass that way at night, ‘Do you believe me innocent?’ and must continue at that uncanny job till some unscared soul kindly answers, ‘Yes’. Wherefore, I entreat you, for pity’s sake, if you ever come across this poor ghost…to reply to his plaintive query in the affirmative.” (pp 144-5)

Hopefully someone has taken up Clarke’s request. I’m not aware of any boggart-sightings in recent times.

Teddy Ashton’s Well

Clarke was a great self-publicist, and one of his most well-known bits of self-promotion lies a bit further along Belmont Road, towards Abbey Village. This is ‘Teddy Ashton’s Well’, which he christened sometime before the First World War. It is actually called ‘Slate Well’ and is opposite Lower Roddlesworth Farm. It’s impossible to stop a car there, so don’t ry. However, you can use it for the purpose which Clarke intended, as a nice comfortable spot to sample some clean moorland water, prior to tackling the last climb towards Belmont. He describes its products as “the most felicitous unfuddling liquor in the world. Dame Nature’s choicest brew.” (p.146)

Which highlights a facet of Clarke’s character – his disinterest in alcohol. It was common in the 1890s and 1900s for socialists and radicals to be ‘tee-total’ owing to the effects drink had on working class people. Bolton Socialist Club, in its early years, had a ‘no alcohol’ rule. On a personal level, Clarke may have avoided drink because his father was, apparently, over-fond of a pint. Throughout Moorlands and Memories, and indeed Windmill Land, you’ll find few references to pubs. Those which do feature are there for historical reasons not as recommended stopping-off points!

Back in 1986 a few of us, including George Kelsall, re-dedicated the well to ‘Teddy Ashton’, as a bit of our own self-promotion to launch the new edition of Moorlands and Memories. I suspect it has gone back to its overgrown state by now. Maybe time for a clean-up!

A ‘rail ramble’ from Darwen to Chorley

Clarke describes exploring the area around Hollinshead Hall and the old hall that lay crumbling nearby. Today, both buildings have gone, apart from a few stones. However, the bathing house remains and can be accessed by walkers from the Tockholes Road, heading across the main Belmont Road and on to Great Hill.

In Moorlands and Memories he describes a fascinating event: a family ‘rail ramble’ organised by Bolton Labour Church’s Sunday Afternoon Class, probably in 1904,from Darwen, through Tockholes, over Great Hill and on to Chorley. “There were youngsters with us on this long walk, and they footed it famously. Two little girls from Darwen did champion; also a little boy from the same place. The father of the girls told us that at the ‘Northern Weekly’ Barrow Bridge picnic they walked all the way from Darwen and back (about 20 miles). “ (p.170). The group had taken the train to Darwen and returned by train from Chorley

There’s a more detailed contemporary account in his Northern Weekly for August 6th May 1904, where he recalls “over fifty men, women and children going over Winter Hill and stopping at Eighteen Acre Farm. They argued socialism, Tolstoyanism, and many other ‘isms’ before standing to sing Edward Carpenter’s hymn of the socialist movement:

England arise! The long, long night is over

Faint in the east, behold the dawn appear…”

The Labour Church was a fairly short-lived socialist organisation; it was at its peak in Lancashire between 1894 and 1914. It was linked to the Independent Labour Party and the Clarion Cycling Club, through individual connections. Its Bolton secretary was James Sims, a close friend of Clarke’s, who lived near Church Wharf by the parish church. The Labour Church’s Sunday Afternoon Class organised regular walks around the local moors, often led by John Fletcher, the ‘clever collier-botanist of Westhoughton’ as Clarke describes him.

The walk took them past Drinkwater’s, now a ruin, where they were given drinks of milk by the farmer’s wife. Most of the farms in this area were bought by Liverpool Corporation as part of their water supply scheme, and were demolished. At least the path from Hollinshead Hall up to Great Hill is in better condition today than it seemed to be when Clarke’s group walked it. And there is a fine viewing point at the summit of Great Hill, with views across the West Lancashire Plain and on to Southport.

Looking south from Drinkwater’s is Round Loaf – there is a path but it can be difficult after heavy rain. Round Loaf looks man-made – because it is. It is an ancient burial chamber which has been excavated in recent decades.

The group would have continued past Drinkwater’s and past the remains of the small coal pits, still visible on the left. Soon after, the path splits, with one track heading off towards Withnell. The route to Chorley goes down hill towards White Coppice. The views across Lancashire and north to the Lakes are magnificent. The path takes you out by the cricket ground at White Coppice, where – at least in normal times – teas and light snacks are available in the pavilion. It must be one of the loveliest locations for a cricket ground anywhere in the country. The rough road takes you down past the school and to the small group of houses which make up the hamlet of White Coppice. One of the most celebrated residents was W.E. Eccles, a religious zealot, but a man who did a lot of good for his community. Clarke mentions the ‘tint mission church’ that was Eccles’ HQ. From there, the walking group headed along “pleasant winding lanes, where lovers wandered under the bright stars – the wooded hill called the nab, looking like a dark thick cloud on our left – we made our way through the locality curiously christened Botany Bay, to Chorley, whose town hall was our guiding light for miles. Form Chorley we took train home, healthily tired with our long moorland ramble…” [1]

[1] Moorlands p. 171