Northern Weekly Salvo

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:

Publications website:

No. 289 December 21st    2020            Nearly Christmas Special

Salveson’s half-nakedly political digest of railwayness, tripe and secessionist nonsense from Up North. Sometimes weekly, usually not; definitely Northern. Read by the highest and lowest officers of state, Whitmanites, weirdos, misfits, steam punks, yes women, no men, gay Swedenborgians, cat-spotters, discerning sybarites, bi-guys, non-aligned social democrats,  pie-eaters, tripe dressers, nail artists, self-managing VIMTO drinkers, truculent Northerners, grumpy Norwegians, absurd Marxists, sleepy Hungarians, members of the clergy and the toiling masses, generally. All views expressed are my own and usually nobody else’s. Official journal of the Station Cat Improvement Network, Pacer Dining Club, Station Buffet Acceleration Council and the Campaign for a North with a capital ‘N’.

“We are far more united and have far more in common with each other than things that divide us.” – Jo Cox, maiden speech in House of Commons, June 3rd 2015

General gossips

Can I get through an entire Salvo and not mention Covid? There, already have but if you’re sick to death of hearing and reading about it, this is a Covid-Light publication. On behalf of the entire production and distribution team at The Northern Weekly Salvo, have a great Christmas and New Year. We aren’t starving, we’re not being bombed or shot at and most of us have a roof over our heads. Writing in his 1929 Lancashire Annual, Allen Clarke commented on the extent of poverty across Britain, concluding that “the best way to have a Merry Christmas for yourself is to make it merry for someone less fortunate. To get the happiest New Year, make it happy for others.”

A Christmas Railway Ghost Story

I was hoping to write a new railway ghost story for this Salvo but time has been against me. So here is a slightly re-worked version of ‘Who Signed the Book?’ first published in ASLEF’s Locomotive Journal in December 1985 and recycled in more recent Salvoes.

Inside Astley Bridge Junction, c. 1977. The Train Register Book is on the desk….

It’s not a bad tale and received the ultimate accolade with positive comments from a railway signallers’ facebook group. It is set in my old signalbox at Astley Bridge Junction, where the Halliwell (Astley Bridge originally) branch diverged from the Bolton – Blackburn line.

A Lancashire Christmas

How did our predecessors celebrate Christmas? There isn’t much written about how ordinary people in different parts of the country marked the festive season a century and more ago. We’re lucky in Bolton in having a writer who came from a mill worker’s family and wrote about – and for – his own people. That was Allen Clarke, better known by his pen-name ‘Teddy Ashton’. From 1892 until his death in 1935 he produced his Lancashire Annual  each Christmas, or ‘Kesmas’ in the dialect he used. It was a mixture of comment, laughter and entertaining tales of the notorious ‘Tum Fowt Debatin’ Menociation’, otherwise known as ‘Tonge Fold Debating Association’ with its comic characters Bill and Bet Spriggs and their cronies.

Clarke also wrote novels set in Bolton (‘Spindleton’), including Lancashire and Lasses and Lads which features everyday life of mill workers and their families, the festive season included. It was written in the late 1890s and the main characters are the Heyes family and their neighbours, Mr and Mrs Hamer – both still very typical Bolton names.

Christmas for a Bolton mill workers’ family wasn’t he sort of extended affair lasting until after New Year. The mills closed on Christmas Day and they’d be back at full power on Boxing Day. It was New Year when Bolton people really let their hair down. In Lancashire Lasses and Lads Clarke gives us a glimpse of how people celebrated:

“With frost and chilly rain, and then snow, the days went by and Christmas Eve came, when the factories closed for a day’s Christmas holiday, and church and chapel choirs went about the darkness singing carols, and brass bands made the night more or less musical, and the working class cottages in Spindleton were decorated with sprigs of a holly and mistletoe with a ‘kissing bush’ hung near the doorway…”

This is based on a longer feature published in The Bolton News last week. The full version is here:

Lancashire Authors’ Library Collection Moves

The Lancashire Authors’ Association has been in existence since 1909. It was formed at a meeting held in a cafe in Rochdale and brought together ‘writers and lovers of Lancashire literature’. A few years later, at the 1921 annual meeting held at the Railway Mechanics’ Institute in Horwich, it decided to form its own library. It’s pleasing that the LAA

Peter Jones (left) of the LAA with staff of Accrington Library who were presented with a box of chocolates and mince pies in appreciation of their help with the move

and its library has such a close connection with the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway! Unlike the L&Y, the LAA and its library is still going strong. The extensive collection was, until recently, based at Accrington Library but wasn’t easy to access. Thanks to the cooperation of Lancashire Libraries, the LAA and the University of Bolton, the collection will soon be publicly accessible at the university’s library as a ‘special collection’. Its new home will allow the collection to be used by students, LAA members and researchers.

Tim Leonard, librarian responsible for special collections at the University of Bolton, with a small number of the 170-odd boxes that make up the LAA library colelction

At the same time, it is hoped that the collection will continue to grow and stimulate further interest in Lancashire writing (in both dialect and standard English). It’s hoped that the collection will be officially opened to the public next Spring, but all defends on ‘you-know-what’. See

A Railway Fit for the Future?

The Rail Reform Group has just published a paper by RRG member Dr Nicola Forsdyke. She says: “This paper is written against a background in which the infection rate of Covid-19 is once again increasing. Writing this in the run up to Christmas 2020 it is difficult to see life returning fully to its former rhythm any time soon, notwithstanding the beginning of a vaccination programme. 

The ‘old railway’ as some remember it…Burnley Central at the start of the annual holidays

The impact this is having on the transportation systems of the UK is profound and brings both challenges and opportunities for Britain’s rail network. This paper argues that the impact of Covid-19 on the way people live and work and hence on our economy will have a lasting effect.  This is because many of the trends we are seeing were already in evidence before Covid-19 arrived in the UK and have simply been accelerated.

Whilst the immediate impact of Covid-19  is presenting policy makers and transport operators with very urgent issues of funding and service provision, longer term trends call into question the very role of passenger rail in Britain. There is a need for a reappraisal of this and for a re-focussing on the competitive advantages of rail within a multimodal transport approach. Whilst the temptation will be to shunt these issues into a siding until the immediate crisis has passed, a better outcome will be obtained if rather than focussing solely on where we are now, decision makers hold to a longer-term vision.

The Woodhead Route: a good candidate for re-opening but using the tunnel for electricity cables hasn’t made it easy. A case of PPP (piss poor planning)…

In that way, decisions taken now can build towards that, rather than acting as barriers to future development. As anyone who has tried to restore railway lines, infrastructure or other facilities will know, decisions taken in the past can be difficult and costly to reverse if the original decision makers failed to take into account potential future.” The paper can be downloaded in full here:

Northern sets up Customer Panel

Northern Trains is forming a ‘customer panel’ to get better feedback on its services. It says:

  • “The Northern Customer Panel is your chance to join a community and have your voice heard about rail across the North
  • You’ll be able to share your views about the things that matter most to you through regular surveys, as well as give advice on upcoming projects
  • As we go, we’ll keep you updated with our findings from the Panel too
  • By being an active member, you’ll ultimately be able to help shape the future of a better Northern
  • As a thank you for taking part, each time you complete a survey, we will enter you into a monthly prize draw to win an Amazon gift voucher up to the value of £100.”

For full details including how you sign up to be a member, visit

Community Rail supports charities at Christmas

Bolton Station partnership and Bolton and South Lancs CRP have

Martin McLoughlin of Bolton NICE with Bolton Community Rail’s Julie Levy at the handover of the food hampers

been supporting local charities in the run-up to Christmas. Thanks to a grant from Bolton Community and Voluntary Services (BCVS) we have been able to support groups including Bolton NICE with food hampers for distribution to families who are experiencing hardship.

Were You There? Popular Music at Manchester’s Free Trade Hall 1951-1996

Richard Lysons is well-known in the North-West ‘community rail scene’ and is active in the station friends group at Littleborough and next-door Smithy Bridge. He has just published a book about a great North-West institution – here is Richard’s outline of the publication and how he came to write it:

Manchester’s Free Trade Hall was arguably the most important popular music venue in Great Britain between 1951 and 1996. After several incarnations, the building was re-constructed in the wake of the Manchester Blitz and opened in 1951 as the new home of the city’s esteemed Halle Orchestra. Yet it was popular music which would secure the venue its fame as it responded to each wave of  popular music from jazz and skiffle through rock ‘n’ roll and folk to prog, punk and heavy metal. From Billie Holiday to Blondie, Duke Ellington to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd to Happy Mondays, Rolling Stones to The Beach Boys, David Bowie to Suede, just about everyone who mattered played there. The Free Trade Hall was also the venue for incendiary gigs by Bob Dylan in 1966 and the Sex Pistols a decade later which changed the course of music history.

My book also has a long history! Almost ten years ago, my enquiry at Manchester Central Library  about books about the Free Trade Hall revealed just one title: A Hall For All Seasons by Terry Whyte. However, as a fan and historian of popular music, that excellent book gave me only tantalising glimpses of that side of the hall’s history.

Basically, there was no complete listing of popular music performances at the Free Trade Hall. So, reader, I did one myself! I embarked on research, starting in the Greater Manchester Record Office in Ancoats and later in Manchester Central Library. When the Free Trade Hall finally closed its doors in 1996, some sensible person in Manchester City Council decided to safeguard the venue’s  archives with Manchester Libraries ! I ploughed through the entire collection, boxes and boxes of diaries, financial records, programmes and flyers. Next, I looked at the entertainment pages in forty-five years of Manchester Evening News on microfilm. My research also took me to the Sydney Jones Library at the University of Liverpool and the British Library Reading Room at Boston Spa.

My book will be of interest to anyone who ever attended a concert at the venue or has an interest in the history of popular music in Britain’s most musically important city. There is a commentary on every headline act, as well as information on concerts at other venues in Manchester. There are historic photographs of several seminal blues gigs by Brian Smith who attended concerts at the Free Trade Hall throughout the 1960s.

Publishing a book in the middle of the Covid lockdown has been something of a challenge. However, there has already been a lot of interest with positive reviews in the Morning Star, Shindig magazine and several websites. I recently discussed the book with Mike Sweeney on his BBC Radio Manchester programme.


Were You There ? is available from George Kelsall’s bookshop in Littleborough, Astonishing Sounds record shop in Burnley, direct from the publishers ( and from physical and internet bookshops.

Empire Publications ISBN: 978-1-909360-81-5 Hardback £20

Manchester’s trumpet blown once more

And why not, it has a lot to trumpet, in its history and contemporary life. I enjoyed Saturday night’s Channel 4’s ‘Britain’s Most Historic Towns’ presented by Alice Roberts on ‘Manchester’. But there’s a ‘but’ there. It was a bit of a curate’s egg. Really it should have been on Lancashire, but OK that isn’t a town, though neither is Manchester, which is a city and has been for a long time. Lancashire was airbrushed from history, but we’re used to it. Maybe featuring a real ‘town’ such as Rochdale, Oldham or (biased though I am) Bolton might have been a bit less predictable and more edgy.

There were good appearances by Jonathan Schofield and Janette Martin, as well as other historians. But unforgivable that she missed out the Chartist movement (which Engels greatly admired) which had a strong Manchester and Lancashire base and also the Cooperative movement.

One of my favourite Mancunians (who didn’t feature) is Harry Pollitt, born Droylsden, served his time at Beyer Peacock and went on to become General Secretary of the Communist Party. Could recite Laycock’s ‘Bonny Brid’ off the top of his head standing in a vat of ale. Gradely chap.

Manchester was very much part of Lancashire, not a standalone city: the commercial rather than manufacturing heart. There was far too much of the ‘great men/women’ of history approach and lacking subtlety and any real sense of working class people themselves attempting radical change (Chartists, Co-op, early Independent Labour Party, unions). Workers were very much portrayed as victims.  The story was slightly romanticised too. It’s a myth that Lancashire cotton workers were overwhelmingly in support of Lincoln and the North in the American civil war. A nice myth it’s true, but most took the view of ‘a plague on both your houses’. The latest issue of North West History Journal carries an excellent article by Marika Sherwood on ‘Manchester, Liverpool and Slavery’ which presents a much more complex picture. See for details of how to get hold of the current issue, which has lots more great stuff as well.

The full story of Lancashire workers attitudes to the American Civil War needs further research and shouldn’t rely on cosy tales. Overall, it was a good story but with some big shortcomings. That said I’ll look forward to other ‘towns’ being featured. What about Farnworth? Or Radcliffe even?

Letter Frae O’er The Border

Our Scotland correspondent writes: “The devolved nations are a case-study in obedience, and Scotland has the lowest case-rate of coronavirus in the UK, with 112.6 cases per 100,000 of the population compared with 571.7 in Wales, 219.6 in England and 174.9 in Northern Ireland. So why do Scots put up with the most draconian lockdowns of all? Summer reopening of hospitality came two weeks after England (when the Scottish school holidays fall two weeks earlier), the Rule of Six in Scotland included the rider “from not more than two households” and a fortnight’s autumn circuit-breaker that was supposed to clear the way to Christmas has instead seen Edinburgh pubs closed since 9 October.  We have had from 20 November a cross-border travel ban, and in the face of new-variant coronavirus the whole Scottish mainland is to face closure of all non-essential shops, cafes, restaurants and hairdressers for at least three weeks from Boxing Day.  Nicola Sturgeon keeps getting away with demanding more, is it simply that with the precise delivery of her daily speech she is perceived as caring, in contrast to floppy, all-over-the-place Boris Johnson : or has she touched a deep sense of self-pity in the Scottish soul?”

The Salvo Shop

Or The Bolton Bicycling Bookshop, as featured in The Sunday Times. I don’t want to bore you with a sales pitch for my recent products, but if I don’t, who else will? You’ll only get bored with something else, less interesting. The main delivery items at the moment are my new book celebrating the West Pennine Moors – Moorlands, Memories and Reflections and my limited edition ‘Bolton –Lancashire’ facemask. The book marks the centenary of Allen Clarke’s book Moorlands and Memories which was about cycle rides and rambles around the West Pennines. Clarke was an avid cyclist and it’s highly appropriate that I’m able to deliver the book by bike. Allen Clarke often brought along copies of his books to sign and sell on his ‘Speedwell’ cycling club trips in the 1920s. Another Northern writer who had a similar idea was Todmorden novelist William Holt who would deliver copies of his books on horseback (c/o his faithful nag, Trigger).The facemask has been produced to raise money for local charities: Bolton Hospice and Bolton NICE (Neighbourhood Initiative for Community Enterprise). All proceeds are split between these two good causes. The masks cost £6 and are washable, adjustable and comfortable. They look good too. So far I’ve had plenty of local orders as well as purchases from ex-pat Trotters in Wales, Canada, the USA and Australia.

Full details of all publications are on my website here (or see summary below): or email me for details at

Beer, onions, pies, papers, incense sticks: Good places to buy my books and other things

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

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

Fletcher’s Newsagents on Markland Hill Bolton and The Pike Snack Shack on George’s Lane Horwich and Wrights’ Reads also in Horwich are stockists. Justicia Fair Trade Shop on Knowlsey Street, Bolton, is handy for the town centre and has a full set of my books available (and some great Christmas presents from around the world). Further afield the Pendle Heritage Centre at Barrowford has a supply; so has George Kelsall’s bookshop in Littleborough and The Carnforth Bookshop, a short walk from the station.

Support Lancashire United! (not a  football team, not a bus company neither…)

Lancashire United was launched on November 27th and has set out a vision for a county-region that would re-integrate Greater Manchester and Merseyside with the remaining parts of Lancashire with an elected assembly having similar powers to those enjoyed by the devolved nations of the UK.

It’s about time too. We need a vision for a new Lancashire which is forward-looking, inclusive and democratic, with real powers to address the economic, social and environmental challenges of the 21st century, post-Covid 19. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re white or black, male or female, gay or straight, born in Lancashire or from the other side of the globe. If you live here, and identify with Lancashire, you’re part of the solution. Lancashire United is a cross-party body which welcomes people from all backgrounds and beliefs.

The local government changes in the 1974s which saw proud Lancashire towns lose their identities, has been a disaster. Few people identify as ‘Greater Mancunians’ but many people from Bolton, Rochdale, Wigan and elsewhere remain stubbornly proud of their Lancashire heritage. Probably the same is true for much of Merseyside.  Imagine what a powerful region it would be if the economic clout of Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and their neighbours was brought under one regional umbrella, in partnership with strong local government.

Lancashire United’s entirely reasonable aims are:

  • The promotion of a progressive, inclusive Lancashire identity that is welcoming to everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or age
  • The creation of a new Lancashire county-region which includes Greater Manchester and Merseyside
  • The formation of a democratically-elected Lancashire Assembly, using a fair voting system
  • The devolution of powers over transport, health, education, economic development, culture and tourism to the county-region, with democratic oversight
  • The encouragement of informal Lancashire-wide networks in the areas of higher education and research, culture and the arts, sport and other areas
  • The encouragement of democratic forms of social ownership – ‘a co-operative commonwealth’
  • The empowerment of local government and town/parish councils
  • Close and collaborative working with our neighbours in Cumbria, Yorkshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire and the formation of a Northern Confederation

See the full statement on or /and <>

There is a Lancashire United facebook page and also twitter as @lancsunited

Winter Hill 125 wins more support

Plans to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the 1896 Winter Hill ‘mass trespass’ continue to evolve with strong interest from local unions, The Ramblers and many more groups and individuals. The celebration will take place on Sunday September 5th 2021 – get it in your diary now! My book on the mass trespass is available price £5 (plus postage if not local) – see below. It is hoped to have some major events during 2021, circumstances permitting. More details to follow. The best way of keeping updated is to join the Winter Hill 125 facebook page.

Small Salvoes

New product line: Lancashire-themed face masks!

The latest production of Lancashire Loominary is a ‘Bolton – Lancashire’ facemask.

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

The ideal fashion accessory for the health-conscious Lancastrian Trotter. Available now and costs £6. The design features a Lancashire rose with the words ‘Bolton – Lancashire’. The perfect Covidmas present. May do it as a t-shirt when it gets warmer.

Tripe Matters: Remember Forgotten Yorkshire now and help Charities

The Tripe Marketing Board (of which I am a longstanding member) is possibly the UK’s most progressive offal-based trade association. While it is primarily a Lancashire-based body, it is very forward-looking and inclusive, with a presence across the Pennines. One of its most interesting publications is Forgotten Yorkshire and parts of North Derbyshire and Humberside which is currently on sale through Amazon at the knock-down price of 99p. It’s a great book full of all sorts of things you’d never imagine happened in the white rose country, nor its neighbours in parts of North Derbyshire and Humberside. If you’re quick, you should get it in time for Christmas. It’s here:

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

Hannah Mitchell Foundation re-founded

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


Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events

ALL STILL CAPED (railwayese for ‘cancelled’)…


The Salvo Publications List  – see

Moorlands, Memories and Reflections (2020)  A hundred years ago Lancashire writer Allen Clarke published a forgotten masterpiece – Moorlands and Memories, sub-titled ‘rambles and rides in the fair places of Steam-Engine Land’. Clarke’s biographer, Professor Paul Salveson, has published a new book celebrating Clarke’s original and bringing the story of Lancashire’s moorland heritage up to date. Maxine Peake, in her foreword to Paul’s book, says “Hill walking, cycling, literature, philosophy, protest and The North…. these are a few of my favourite things.” She adds “Paul Salveson’s new book on Allen Clarke is irresistible.” See the website for details of how to buy:

The Works (2020). My first novel , set in Horwich and Bolton in the 1970s and 1980s but bringing the story up to the present and beyond. Much of the action takes place in Horwich Loco Works and the campaign to save it from closure. In real life, it closed down in 1983. In the novel, after a workers’ occupation it is run as a co-operative, building both steam for heritage railways and modern eco-friendly trains for the world market. Price £12.99 from Amazon but special rates for Salvo readers buying direct (see above). Also on Kindle £4.99.

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

The following are all available from The Salvo Publishing HQ, here at 109 Harpers Lane, Bolton BL1 6HU. Cheques should be made out to ‘Paul Salveson’ though you can send cash if you like but don’t expect any change. Bottles of whisky, old bound volumes of Railway Magazine, number-plates etc. by negotiation.

‘Lancashire’s Romantic Radical – the life and writings of Allen Clarke/Teddy Ashton‘ (2009). The story of Lancashire’s errant genius – cyclist, philosopher, unsuccessful politician, amazingly popular dialect writer. Normal Price £15  – can now offer it for £10 with free local postage or £3 further afield in UK. This book outlines the life and writings of one of Lancashire’s most prolific – and interesting – writers. Allen Clarke (1863-1935) was the son of mill workers and began work in the mill himself at the age of 11.

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

You can get a better idea from going to my website: