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:

Publications website:

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 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 ( 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.

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 . 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  for all publications, including The Salvo. However, 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:
  • 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:
  • My latest piece for The Bolton News ‘Looking Back’ supplement was on the novels of Allen Clarke. You can view it here:


Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events

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


The Salvo Publications List  – see

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:

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:




By Paul Salveson

Paul was born in Bolton in 1952, one day before the Harrow and Wealdstone rail disaster. He has had a varied career, mostly to do with railways, mixed in with adult education, journalism, politics and community development. After a 25 year exile he is back home in Bolton. He is a visiting professor at the Universities of Bolton and Huddersfield and chairs South East Lancs Community Rail Partnership

3 replies on “Northern Weekly Salvo 294”

You’re rather harsh on Keir Starmer. Leader of the Oppo is the hardest job in British politics & vastly more so in the national crisis in which we find ourselves. In spite, not because, of Keir I do fear for Batley & Spen, not least because Gorgeous George (Galloway) is standing , this time for the Workers’ Party of Britain & using election literature in Labour colours. It’s no more than an ego trip but it’s likely to damage Labour but not win the seat, as he surprisingly did in the Bradford West bye-election in 2012. In Chesham & Amersham, Labour supporters clearly voted tactically & this reinforces the case for an electoral pact & agreement by the parties thereto on electoral reform & a written constitution.

In his wonderful book “I Tried to Run a Railway”Gerry Fiennes noted that each Railways Act merely presages the next. So will it be with the dreadful dog’s breakfast that is the Williams/Shapps review. The DfT would be well advised to start work on its replacement asap – and reading Fiennes’ book would be a good start. It may be 50 years old, but it still more relevant to the railway business today than any of Whitehall’s control-freakery.

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