The Works – a working class novel for the 21st century

A novel of Lancashire working class life, love and politics

‘Working class novels’ have gone out of fashion. Or have they? Maybe it’s just that they don’t get much recognition, coupled with reluctance by publishers to take risks.

That’s partly why I decided to self-publish my first novel, ‘The Works’,  as ‘Lancashire Loominary’. It’s mainly set in Horwich and Bolton with some excursions further afield to Mid-Wales, London and China.

Horwich Loco Works was one of the North’s biggest railway engineering works. It closed in 1983 after a determined attempt by its workers and the people of Horwich to save it. The Works is about the realities of shopfloor life and politics, and ‘what might have been’ had the Works been saved from closure. It’s also about personal relationships, bereavement and racism.

The story is partly based on my own experience on the railways in the 1970s and 1980s, but it’s a work of fiction. While the main focus of the novel is on the 70s and 80s, the story takes the reader through to the present-day and into the future.

The novel is illustrated by over 30 black and white photographs inside the Works, taken by me in 1983 as part of the campaign to save the Works. I’d love to identify more of the characters in the photos. Some will still be alive, including the young chap on the cover. It would be great to hear from them.


Lancashire Loominary Order Form

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 “The Works – a working class novel for the 21st century”

I liked the inter-weaving of the workplace, politics, people and place. This book brought back sharp memories of Thatcher’s Britain, not that I was on the receiving end to any great degree. I’d like to have met Midge; she sounds an interesting woman and a force for the good. Living on the north side of Chorley, I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t know very much about was happening to the Loco works at the time. Any friends I had in manual work were at Leyland Motors or Euxton ROF. The book might be a novel but it has a great aura of authenticity, by which I don’t mean that it is accurate, though I’m sure it is, but that it has a real feel of veracity and leaves the reader assured that the author really had been involved in the main story.

I have very much enjoyed reading The Works. I thought the story was interesting and enjoyable all the way through and well told. It was probably helpful to be interested in the subject matter and the setting and for the time frame to be one that I could identify with but it did become a ‘page turner’ with dialogue and dialect that brought it to life for me and helped to retain the tension.

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