My novel The Works was published in mid-March, to coincide perfectly with the country’s lockdown. It’s set in the small Lancashire town of Horwich, mostly in the former railway engineering factory where I (briefly) worked. Much of the action takes place in the 1970s and 80s but the story is taken through to post-Brexit Britain in 2025. It’s about life in a traditional factory facing closure – the tensions and fears of being made redundant, as well as everyday life in a working class community. But it’s also about modern railway ‘politics’ and the potential for Chinese involvement.
It’s written, mainly, in the first person. The narrator is a union activist and communist. Part of the story is about his relationship with ‘Midge’, an office worker at the factory whose late husband died in an accident in the Works.
In ‘real life’ the Works did close and (February 2020) is being demolished. In the novel, the factory is saved by a workers’ occupation and buy-out, with a scene where the riot police try to break the occupation. The novel links the fictitious outcome at Horwich with the actual occupation and buy-out at Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, Glasgow. Some of the dialogue is in Lancashire dialect, reflecting shop-floor culture at the time. There’s a glossary to help readers unfamiliar with ‘Lanky’.
It costs £12.99. You can download a form here: http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/order-form or see current post on this website: http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/the-works-a-working-class-novel-for-the-21st-century:
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
My Own Stuff
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 postage. There are a few hardback versions left – Normal price £25 – now at £15 with free postage. 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 wonderful 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. New bi-centennial edition published in May 2019. 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. The demonstrations were led by a coalition of socialists and radical liberals and Allen Clarke (see above!) wrote a great song about the events – ‘Will Yo’ Come O’ Sunday Mornin’?’
Socialism with a Northern Accent (2010)
Railpolitik: Bringing railways back to the community (2012)
Both published by Lawrence and Wishart www.lwbooks.co.uk
2020 marks a hundred years since the publication of Allen Clarke’s classic Moorlands and Memories. I’m working on a celebratory book, written in a similar style to M&M, covering the last century. Depending on the coronavirus situation, I’m hoping to get it out in September, to coincide, perhaps, with a celebration of the anniversary of the Winter Hill Mass Trespass of 1896, which took place during September that year.
Finally, another novel! Current idea is to cover life in a Lancashire industrial town in the 1890s and the rise of ‘ethical socialism’ and the Clarion cycling movement, but bringing the story to the present day. Watch this space and keep your chain well oiled.