The Northern Weekly Salvo

From Th’Edge O’Leet

Incorporating  Slaithwaite Review of Books, Weekly Notices, Sectional Appendices, Tunnel Gazers’ Gazette and Northern Umbrella. Descendant of Teddy Ashton’s Northern Weekly.

No. 248  December 15th  2017           Christmas Detonator (bang!)

Salveson’s nakedly political digest of railwayness, tripe and secessionist nonsense from Up North. Sometimes weekly, often not; but definitely Northern. Read by normal Hawaiians, the highest officers of state, Whitmanites, steam punks, yes women, no men, gay Swedenborgians, cat-spotters, discerning sybarites, bi-guys, pie-eaters, tripe dressers, self-managing VIMTO drinkers, truculent Northerners, grumpy Norwegians, absurd Marxists, members of the clergy and the toiling masses. All views expressed are my own and usually nobody else’s. Official journal of the Station Cat Improvement Network, Pacer Dining Club and Station Buffet Society. Full of creative ambiguity, possibly. Promoting moderate rebellion and sedition, within reason.

“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

A very happy Christmas to all long-suffering Salvo readers.

Good to have friends! (Councillor – and deputy mayor of Kirklees) Gwen Lowe at Friends of Batley Station’s Christmas event last week. The Jo Cox memorial garden is coming along well. And I won a box of choccies in the tombola.

Particular greetings to all the volunteer-run groups who have put on such great events this Christmas – I enjoyed the carol singing at Mytholmroyd and the Christmas party at Batley – I was sorry to miss events in Marple and Glossop (among many others).

General Gossips

This Salvo should start with warmest greetings to all readers, loyal or disloyal, who have persisted with the somewhat irregular production of The Salvo during 2017. All I can see is that the irregularity will almost certainly continue next year. 2017 has been interesting, on a personal level starting off with my left-foot problem. It is getting ever-so-slowly better and the test results show that it’s a trapped nerve (in layperson’s language). But further tests are required. So this one will run and run, although running isn’t too easy at the moment. But there have been some good things happening to take my mind off the foot (see below).

It has certainly been a better year politically than 2016. The ‘snap’ General Election had a result forecast by very few political publications other than The Salvo…We now have a Tory Government that is limping along (a bit like me) and should be put out of its misery as soon as possible (this doesn’t apply to me). I remain highly ambivalent about Corbyn and his team. I’m sorry but Corbyn policy makers Andrew Murray and Seamus Milne don’t represent the sort of radical politics which appeals to me, which is decentralist, co-operative, green and inclusive. Labour’s stance on Europe is ambiguous and verging on dishonest.

Co-operative mural: Robert Owen features on Newtown station. His ideas should still be relevant

But up to a point it’s the only (main) show in town, at least in England. It’s a pity the Greens seem to have suffered as some of their activists have switched to Labour. A strong Green party is needed to put pressure on Labour and ideally go into coalition with them (along with other progressive parties). So we need a more equitable voting system, real devolution for the North, strong local government which really is local and a vision of a society and economy which isn’t controlled by civil servants or ‘political advisors’ in London. But we also need a compelling, modern vision of a future society that isn’t about centralised state control but about local and regional empowerment, new models of socal enterprise, and a less car-dependent way of living.

Simple Salvo Says

The Government launched its ‘vision for rail’ the other week. Being an optimistic and positive sort of person, I welcome it. Can you imagine any Government, Tory or Labour, talking about ‘reversing Beeching’ a few years ago? Yes, it’s short on detail but it provides a positive framework to promote rail development, including re-openings. It was predictable that Labour and the rail unions were dismissive, though Labour squandered so many opportunities when in office, it would be best advised to either stay silent or come up with some realistic ideas on how to develop the network. Its proposals for ‘rail nationalisation’ – from what I’ve seen and heard – are naive and unhelpful, a throwback to the 1950s.Meanwhile, beyond the railway fence, the outcome of the current Brexit negotiations has saved May’s bacon for the time being but it’s at a very high price for the UK.

Busy time at Galashiels as the 1132 arrives – a succesful re-opening in Scotland. England lags behind

We could buy a lot of railway re-openings, to say nothing of social housing, healthcare facilities, schools and funds to revive ailing town centres for the exit bill. But never mind, we’ll have ‘control’ back. But I wonder when there was this golden age when we (as opposed to a handful of the very rich) really had ‘control’ over this country? As argued in the last Salvo, as the evidence grows that Brexit will be a disaster both for the economy as a whole and for individual workers and consumers, it’s time to call a halt. The ‘democratic’ argument is hollow. About 37% of voters opted for Brexit, on the basis of a pack of lies and anti-migrant prejudice. Any final deal should be subject to another referendum which gives voters the option of staying in.

Oh that foot (this is going on too much)

Several readers have been taking a kind interest in progress with my gammy foot. I had a useful chat with the consultant following my MRI scan and nerve conduction survey which pretty much confirmed what Professor Beryl had been saying all along, that it was a trapped nerve. But still more tests required to see what is actually trapping the recalcitrant nerve. I have been walking better with less dependence on my numerous walking sticks. Pity I wasn’t using one when I managed to go flying (almost literally) outside Pimlico tube the other day, which has set progress back slightly.

Department for Transport reviews its Community Rail Development Strategy

As many readers will be aware, the Government is consulting on its Community Rail Development Strategy. The Minister’s foreword to the consultation document states: “This consultation is based around four themes that are integral to how community rail benefits people, improves communities, and supports the railway.  These include connecting people and places; integrating communities to create a fairer society and encourage diversity and inclusion; supporting local and regional economies and sharing opportunities; and suggesting innovative ways to improve the way the railway works, including productive use of underused or unused railway land and stations, and working more closely with heritage railways”. The consultation document is here and runs until the end of January:

Christmas tales

Last year I published a re-written version of my Christmas ghost story Who Signed The Book?, first published in ASLEF’s Locomotive Journal in 1985. I was hoping to write a new one but sadly haven’t had time. So here is last year’s, it’s not a bad yarn, set in my old signalbox at Astley Bridge Junction.

A nice seasonal touch by Friends of Croston Station

The ‘book’ in question is of course the box’s Train Register Book and the story deals with a fictitious railway disaster, life on BR in the 1980s and some working class history. It’s here:

Etiquette for the modern male? Salvo’s locally-based ethical prescriptions

How do we blokes relate to women in the 21st century? Yes we do live in a changing world in which traditional values are often irrelevant or inappropriate. But mutual respect is still a very valid starting point for relations between the sexes. Which is why I don’t accept some of the arguments that suggest it was OK to harass women back in the 1970s because that was what everyone (well, men) did. But let’s be clear. Not all men did do that and those that did know what they were doing was wrong, back then. So how should men relate to women in 2017? I would welcome views of male and female readers (all two of them) but some local perspective is useful.

Down south there is the habit of kissing both cheeks which might be going a bit far up ‘ere. Maybe a friendly complimentary reference to dress or hair style but care needs to be exercised. If in doubt, don’t. The fact is that men and women are different and negotiating that difference is complex.

We need a new Diggers Movement. A start is made!

Another minefield is use of the term ‘love’ (or ‘luv’). It’s a good Northern tradition but many women really don’t like it. Context is everything. So choose your ground very, very carefully before using the ‘L’ word. Again, emotional intelligence is necessary here. In South Yorkshire the blokes call each other ‘luv’. How odd is that? But that’s what they do, while if I called a bloke ‘luv’ in a Bolton pub I might get a less than sympathetic response. In Cornwall, women have an endearing habit of calling men they’ve never met before ‘my lover’. Nice, but not recommended in Wigan. And men should be careful about use of the term ‘lady’ unless there is a good specific reason. The modern woman, at least the ones I know, prefers to be called just that – a woman.  A possible exception is when you are chairing a conference and you identify a female who wishes to speak. ‘That woman with the red hat’ sounds a bit blunt, whereas ‘the lady on the end row holding her pet Chihuahua’ sounds perfectly OK. Would I say that about a man holding a pet dog? Hmmm. Perhaps not a Chihuahua.  My mum did like chihuahuas and if she had ever attended a conference she may well have taken one with her. But she was more likely to attend a pagan orgy on the top of Rivington Pike than any conference. So there you are. Mind how you go.

The Bretherton Bibliophile: some recommended Christmas reading

Several mates have recently brought out books and I would be in serious trouble (i.e. forced to buy the drinks) if they didn’t get a good mention. So here goes.

Colin Speakman, still full of beans and energy despite being 102, has just had two books published, though one is little (quality not quantity). Colin, with his wife Fleur, have produced a superb book on a little-know part of the North. The Yorkshire Wolds – a journey of discovery, is a superb overview of the Wolds combining history, landscape and people. Needless to say, transport figures strongly in the book, both from a contemporary and historical perspective. The book is structured around the main settlements, including Hull itself and Brough/north Humberside then heading northwards to take in places such as Market Weighton, Pocklington and up to Filey. The closure of lines such as York – Beverley – Hull are rightly bemoaned and I doubt if its re-opening is high on Mr Grayling’s list. The book is published by Gritstone, a new co-operative publishing venture which is yet another of Colin’s schemes. It costs a very modest £15 and you should rush out and get one now (Colin, is that OK? Do I get that pint?) . Colin’s other recent production, again from the Yorkshire workshops of Gritstone Publishing, is a short collection of his poems celebrating Burley-in-Wharfedale. Poets’ Walk is finely illustrated by Dorian Speakman and the collection costs £5, with £1 from each sale going to Burley-in-Wharfedale Community Trust. Go to

The other pal who is eager to buy me a drink if I say nice things about his books is Les Lumsdon. Like Colin, Les has form when it comes to writing good quality and often quirky books about places that are slightly off the beaten track. Sigma Publishing has just brought out a 3rd edition of Les’s Best Shropshire Walks and is selling at £8.99 (Worst Shropshire Walks to follow?).

On Offa’s Dyke ( near Shropshire)

There is a glut of ‘walking books’ and many aren’t really that good, showing little understanding or appreciation of the landscape and its history. Les’s work shows how it should be done. The introductory essay, ‘The Subtle Beauty of Shropshire’, really captures the spirit of this lovely county. My own preference is for south Shropshire, particularly the area around Bishop’s Castle and Clun, down to Knighton. It’s great to see that the new Heart of Wales Line Trail (complete in 2018!) is featured, with part 1 of the trail from Craven Arms to Knighton included (from Bucknell to Knighton). Notwithstanding my own preferences, there are great walks all round the county, including the wild Stiperstones and the calmer but still attractive area around Ellesmere. The walks vary in length so you can range from ten miles down to four. In other words, these aren’t hard macho route marches, they are walks to be enjoyed, either in company or solitude.

Christmas quiz question:

The Terrible Trio enjoy homely Lancashire Fare in Holmes’ Mill, Clitheroe, before we got chucked out (not really)

apart from being obstreperous Northerners, fond of beer, unreconstructed train-spotters and left-wing agitators, what do Colin (left) , Les (centre) and Salvo have in common?

Meanwhile Martin Bairstow continues to produce new and updated versions of his splendid histories of Northern rail networks. In the best traditions of Yorkshire Luddism he stoutly refuses to have a website or anything like that, but you can get his books on Amazon.

A very nice surprise through the letter box was David Parker’s book Letters of Solidariry and Friendship: Czechoslovakia 1968-71. The letters are a fascinating exchange between Communist Party activist Leslie Parker and disillusioned communist Paul Zalud. The two men never met and started off at very opposed positions but became close friends – though they never met. David – the son of Leslie Parker – has edited the correspondence and provided a very helpful introduction and ‘timeline’ which sets the scene. This was of course a key period in Czech history with the Prague Spring and the emergence of Dubcek and ‘reform communism’, only be to be crushed by Russian tanks. The letters offer an really fascinating insight into what was going on within Czechoslovakia but also the tensions within the British CP. But it should also be stressed that the book is very much about human relationships and the power of human interaction, friendship and ‘solidarity’. A very fine book indeed. Published by Bacquier Books price £14.99.

And last but not least (stupid phrase that) is The Insider Rail Guide Aberdeen to Elgin and Iverness, by David Spaven and David Fasken. It’s a nice wee book, easy to slip into your pocket and makes for a good travelling companion. It’s a line guide and history, with places to look out for that are of architectural or historical interest. It also gives you simple information about tickets and other travel information. It’s a good route to do following the recent upgrade of the line with more services and station improvements. Hope they do more. It’s published by Kessock Books price £7.99

The Salveson publication list is shown at the end of this Salvo. Pick up some great Christmas bargains (but not here).

Recommended journals

I get a lot of magazines one way or another and they are ideal for long train journeys (like tomorrow – Croston to Kyle of Lochalsh). For the rail-inclined person I’d recommend The Forest of Dean and Wye Valley Clarion, which charmingly describes itself as “the only socialist paper for the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley”. Why not a bit of socialist competition? Maybe a Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Worker? But maybe not. The Clarion does a great job and long may it continue. I write a regular column for Chartist magazine (‘Points and Crossings’) which continues to offer a non-mainstream view from the left. Broadly similar in outlook is Red Pepper, which is a great magazine – all rail-thinking people should subscribe to it, along with Chartist and the ‘Clarion’. I enjoy Tribune, a long-standing stalwart of the left but succeeds in avoiding being too party line. They even print stuff from The Salvo, so bonus points there. I buy New Statesman grudgingly. I find its London bias annoying but it does have some good insifghts, as does Prospect, which is probably more stimulating. The North really does need its own centre-left/progressive magazine that can provide a platform for writers and politicians whom the London media regard as irrelevant. So what should the more political Salvo readers add to their subscription list for 2018? There are many good quality publications aimed at the non-professional market (partly) such as RAIL, Today’s Railways, Railway Magazine and Modern Railways which offer intelligent comment on what’s happening in the industry. I get Rail Professional and sometimes Railway Gazette International for a more professional view, both are very good and I like RP’s willingness to go beyond hardware and take on management issues. Rail News is an old favourite and great it has kept going after the demise of BR. Across transport, I enjoy both Local Transport Today and Passenger Transport. There are several more specialist magazines which are readable, well-written and should be more widely known. Swiss Express always makes me want to down tools and head for the Alps. It’s published by the Swiss Railway Society. The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway’s magazine is very good quality and always of interest. There are similar journals, all well produced, almost entirely by volunteers. The LNWR, North Eastern, Great Central and Midland are all top notch and I’m sure there are many more. I do read magazines which aren’t either directly political or transport, you’ll be surprised to know. My favourite is Resurgence, reflecting the insights of that very wise old bird, Satish Kumar but these days edited by a younger team. Songlines is a superb magazine covering contempoary world music and you get a free CD with each issue.  I’m not averse to picking up a copy of Lancashire Magazine, or even Lancashire Life – though the focus on the doings of the white, male middle class does get a bit much. A good antidote is Northern Voice, produced by a small band of Tameside anarchists. They even occasionally carry articles about railways.

Will The North rise again?

The anthem of the (non-existent) Northern liberation front would be The Fall’s splendid The North Will Rise Again, penned by Mark E Smith, in a moment of relative sobriety. Or maybe not, but it’s Fall-like weirdness has some good insights. It’s more memorable lyrics include:

I’m Joe Totale
The yet unborn son
The North will rise again
The North will rise again
Not in 10,000 years
Too many people cower to criminals
And government crap
The estates stick up like stacks
The North will rise again (x4)
Look where you are
Look where you are
The future death of my father

But that was then. Are things better? No, they sodding well aren’t. Try walking round towns like Farnworth, Accrington, Batley, Dewsbury. It makes me furious. Why aren’t people rioting (in a moderate fashion) in the streets? Last Saturday I went back to Farnworth, where I was brought up as a kid (by my gran when mum was out working at Burton’s). Back then it was a lively town with its own council, based in a fine town hall. The market was brilliant and I can remember the children’s swings next to it, close to the public baths. It’s all gone. The market has disappeared, even on a Saturday afternoon the streets were quiet. Farnworth Council was swept away by local government reform in 1974, possibly the worst act of political vandalism visited on this country in the 20th century. The fine council estates that Farnworth Council built after the First World War look deprived and unhappy. The new ‘shopping complex’ built in the 70s is mostly empty, with the private owners sitting on their ‘asset’ doing nothing. On Friday I spent a bit of time in Dewsbury. This was another once fine town with a strong textile base and some substantial buildings which remain, in a sad state. The grand co-operative building is slowly being re-built by Kirklees Council, which replaced Dewsbury’s own local authority the same time as Farnworth’s democratic governance was destroyed.The centralisers say that these changes were necessary to make better use of resources. It simply isn’t true. Look at the ‘secondary’ towns in places like Kirklees, Wakefield, Bolton, Tameside and Blackburn – e.g. Dewsbury and Batley, Castleford and Normanton, Farnworth, Hyde, Darwen. Are they thriving examples of local prosperity, ushered in by benign super-councils? Anything but. The causes are not simple and you can’t just blame uncaring councillors and officers in the super-councils imposed by Redcliffe-Maud. The key issue has been industrial decline, particularly the collapse of cotton, wool and coal. But not enough was done by anyone to mitigate the impact and create new industries.

Small was beautiful: Farnworth Town Hall – shades of former glory

The absence of a strong regional tier that could have intervened strongly to revive town centres didn’t exist. Even super councils didn’t have the resources to make much of a difference. Alongside that, and less easily definable, was the surgical removal of a small town’s heart – the local council. Former town halls like those in Farnworth, Dewsbury and Hyde remain partly in use by different council services. But they are no longer the local powerhouses they once were. We need them back, with real power. The super councils were a product of 1970s thinking and have had their time. Get rid of them and replace them with strong sub-regional combined authorities working with a new regional tier. Existing town councils can make a difference. Places like Horwich, Colne and – most obviously – Frome benefit from a team of locally elected people who work together for the benefit of their communities. They need stronger powers but at least they exist and do stuff. When I lived in Farnworth we had a strong local campaign for get a town council – it was vigorously opposed by the Labour hierarchy in the Bolton super-council. The reason? It might have risked giving the Liberals a political toe-hold. I suspect that attitude is still alive and well in much of the Labour Party, though there are some signs of change (he says, with a pathetic display of giddy optimism).

The Young Marx

The last time I was anywhere near ‘The Valley’ cinema and general retail complex I was shunting wagons in Halliwell goods yard. That would have been about 1977. A bit different now. The goods yard closed in the early 1980s and the site, including the old power station, was derelict for a long time. It is now a kind of apocalyptic – or perhaps dystopian vision of 21st century England. Of course you only go by car and everything is designed to fit that particular mode of transportation. But I was there to consider modes of production and the capitalist one in particular, through the works of ‘The Young Marx’. It’s a very good play, a combination of Brian Rix farce and serious political comment. The strongest political bit was when Engels tore into the rather self-obsessed Marx who was bemoaning his lot. Engels suggested if he really wanted to see hardship and poverty he should go and visit the slums of Manchester. There were lots of interesting perspectives on both the relationship between Marx and Engels and also their own loves and liaisons. The play was performed at The National Theatre and streamed at various locations across the UK. For more background see

Salvo in Oxford

I have to confess that I don’t know Oxford very well. This could partly be inverted snobbery, though I’ve never had much reason to go there. Years ago I did a lecture on Lancashire writers at a literature festival in one of the colleges, which was fun. More recently, I’ve been back for professionally-related meetings which involved hasty lunches in nice restaurants near the station then a quick departure home via CrossCountry. So I couldn’t resist the temptation to stay a bit longer and see more of this seat of learning and culture.

A dignified view of the men’s toilets at Comptoir Libanais

It was helped by expatriate Northerner Gina living in the centre of town in a housing association complex which included a guest flat. So my daytime commitments in central London were a doddle to reach via the new and excellent Chiltern service, and I even did the new curve at Bicester. The station itself has had some investment but fundamentally it is a prisoner of history, with what is really a very cramped site and very limited capacity. But the new-ish concourse area is pretty good and nice coffee is to be had. Where it scores well is its success in integrating train, bus and bike. The bus station is immediately outside the station entrance and lots of services come in. These include the cross-country Arriva Sapphire link to Aylesbury, the 260.

A slightly less dignified view of the men’s toilets

There are extensive facilities for bikes and cycling is almost the default option for getting about in the town itself. It really goes without saying how much Oxford has to offer in terms of bookshops, theatres, libraries, concert venues and the like. It was almost like being back in Farnworth, though the pubs aren’t as lively. We dined in a very nice new Lebanese restaurant, the highlight of which was my visit to the toilet – see picture. As well as very tasty food you can buy various Lebanese gifts including headwear, cooking utensils and ornaments.

Arun Ghosh in Bolton

Attentive Salvo readers will be aware of my slight obsession with the music of Arun Ghosh. He has just brought out a new CD which is strongly recommended (But Where Are You Really From? Arun is a Bolton lad, born in Bury but his parents had the sense to move to Bolton in his childhood and he went to Bolton School. He is an amazingly talented and creative musician and it was a delight to hear him perform in Bolton Socialist Club a few days ago. He also has good politics.The concert was in aid of Bolton City of Sanctuary and they must have raised a decent sum judging by the numbers in the upstairs room at the club. The new CD is available by ordering online:

Crank Christmas Quiz

I am still devising The Salvo Christmas Quiz which should appear between Christmas and New Year. However, I’m grateful to Peter Dawson for sending in this little gem from the RCTS Cheltenham Branch. I’ve had a go and got quite a few of them. Give it a try, you sad crank person:

In each of the following groups of four, which is the “odd one out” and why?

  1. Birkenshaw; Bridge; Buddicom; Bullhead
  1. Liverpool Road; Leeds Road; London Road; Oxford Road
  1. Blickling Hall; Brockley Hall; Broughton Hall; Bulwell Hall
  1. John Bunyan; John Hampden; John Milton; John of Gaunt
  1. D6; D7; D8; D9
  1. 70047; 71000; 90732; 92220
  1. Blue star; Orange square; Red diamond; Green triangle
  1. City of Carlisle; City of Lancaster; City of Milton Keynes; City of Stoke-on-Trent
  1. Sir Frank Ree; Sir Frederick Harrison; Sir John Hawkins; Sir Robert Turnbull
  1. Green; Red; Yellow; White
  1. Baltic; Consolidation; Pacific; Prairie
  1. North Acton; South Acton, East Acton, West Acton
  1. 45616; 47577; 60156; 86260
  1. Gordon; Henry; Percy; Ivor
  1. 6C; 36E; 61B; 84G
  1. Blenheim; Centenary; Doncaster; Enterprise

Oliver Cromwell’s last thrash

It would be a lamentable lapse of The Salvo not to mention the last ‘proper’ BR steam run over Shap, given that the 50th anniversary is almost up on us. On a very cold Boxing Day, 1967, Carlisle Kingmoor shed turned out Britannia Pacific 70013 ‘Oliver Cromwell’ to work a football special to Blackpool. Carlisle had a fine record of turning out highly polished locos to work football specials for United’s away matches. Some years before, ‘red semi’ or if your prefer LMS Stanier pacific ‘City of Carlisle’ worked a much-photographed special to Preston and I can remember admiring her on Lostock Hall shed. But I digress.

Another ‘Brit’ rolls into Preston from the north on a Carlisle – Crewe parcels in summer 67

This was a very special occasion indeed as it was just days before the end of steam at Kingmoor and this was to be the last steam-hauled passenger train worked by Carlisle engines and men. Somehow Vern Sidlow and myself managed to get from Bolton to Preston in time to walk out towards Todd Lane Junction to photograph the special ‘going round the loop’ from Preston via Todd Lane, Lostock Hall and Farington Curve Jc so it was heading back towards Blackpool (South). It was a freezing but sunny morning and the sight of ‘Cromwell’ hauling 13 coaches was inspirational. Sadly it was so cold my shot was useless and even Vern’s had a bit of a wobble on it. I’m not sure what we did then – Preston on Boxing Day didn’t have much to offer. We probably went home. But we were determined to join a large party of steam enthusiasts that evening to travel back to Carlisle – the last booked passenger steam over Shap. How we would get home from Carlisle in the middle of the night didn’t even enter our heads. We set off from Blackpool South at a modest pace and that generally continued after Preston through Lancaster and up Grayrigg. The performance was unspectacular. The driver, with a big enough load for a ‘Brit’ decided to stop at Tebay for a banker to get us over Shap.

Another Brit takes water on Dillicar Troughs in the Lunge Gorge, summer 67

This did seem highly optimistic, expecting anything to be in steam on a Boxing Day evening, within days of the shed closing completely. Sure enough, no assistance was available. What happened after that was as though we had a completely different crew at the helm. We set of from Tebay to an amazing display of fireworks from Cromwell’s chimney as we hit the 1 in 74 climb up to Shap summit. The ‘Brit’ was worked hard but professionally up the hill and we breasted the summit in great form. The run downhill to Carlisle was equally thrilling with speeds well into the 80s. On arrival at Carlisle we camped down in the station refreshment room on the down side, which the station staff had kindly kept open for us. That was it – and the final end of steam was less than eight months away. (More self-indulgent reminiscences on 50th anniversary of end of steam to come. You have been warned).

Speaking of which

50 years ago the end of steam on BR – and the end of civilisation as we knew it – was nigh. Over the next few months steam was gradually extinguished at places that we had become so familiar with – Heaton Mersey, Stockport Edgeley, Buxton – then Patricroft, Newton Heath – Bolton. The collapse of my world, then.

A nicely cleaned 48773 at Bolton shed – its first day of being steamed after coming out of store

Just a few more weeks before Rose Grove, Carnforth and Lostock Hall, in August 1968. Plans are afoot to mark the closure of Stockport (May ’68) and Bolton (end of June) with community galas at both stations. Steering groups have been formed for both and we’re looking out for offers of help. Please get in touch via The Salvo if you have interests in either event. The emphasis will be on involving the community and promoting rail travel today, as well as having a bit of celebratory fun.

Salvo’s Travelling Post Office

Malcolm Bulpitt observes:  “I totally agree with your comments that the ‘Brexit’ farce must stop and the Government (any Government!) use its Parliamentary Powers to override this foolish decision. In practice only 37% of the electorate actually voted to leave the EU so the decision is far from being the ‘democratic will of the people’, it is a minority view of the electorate. For this farce to have got to the point it is we can only blame David Cameron who apparently ignored the constitutional experts who told him that for ‘Brexit’ to be truly representative of the people it should have a minimum vote in favour by 50.1% of the whole electorate. He was so convinced that the Remainers would win (and probably did not anticipate the ‘fake news’ campaign from the Leavers) that he did not set down the rules of the vote as it was suggested he did. We will suffer (and ironically many of the grass roots Brexiteers more than most) from this for many decades. Remember the Little Englanders who committed us to this when the aftermath hits you!”

Richard Greenwood writes: “Just a word on the “legendary Trevor Owen”. His father, Hughie, a signalman at Castleton East, insisted on Trevor learning a trade so he served a five year apprenticeship as a moulder at Tweedales and Smalleys. As soon as he came out of his time he started at Bury shed as cleaner, then fireman and passed fireman. There was a link of footplatemen at Rochdale and when a vacancy occurred for a passed fireman, Trevor got the job. In the years he spent at Rochdale he frequently drove all manner of trains especially excursions to Blackpool. He then transferred to Newton Heath shed where one link involved firing a Stanier Pacific between Preston and Warrington. But he never got another steam driving turn at Newton Heath due to his seniority being so low. From 1965 he was a regular volunteer driver on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway until his death, still in BR service, about 1997/8. He failed to make a will and his pension fund passed to numerous distant relatives, none of whom he knew”.

Huddersfield’s legendary anarchist Alan Brooke says: “When did the Bolshevik revolution go wrong ? The Factory Committees were abolished within the first year and the Soviets superseded by the Commissars. Also the peasants should not be forgotten and they too within the first year became victims of the Red Terror in the form of requisitions. This apart – 1922 is far too late. Kronstadt in March 1921 marked a definitive turning point – that is when Goldman and Berkman finally broke with the Bolsheviks. It shows that by then working class power had been repressed by the Party machine and the ‘Soviet’ state. But, as well as repression of the anarchists and the Left SR and other Socialist opposition to the Bolsheviks 1921 saw the 10th Party Congress when internal dissent in the CP was outlawed with the banning of the Workers Opposition and Left Communists etc. Ironically, this was the time when Lenin announced the NEP which conceded one of the main demands of the Kronstadt soviet, that is, the end of requisitions in the country side – at the same time stepping back from ‘War Communism’, which was the excuse for the Red Terror.. However, as we know the Terror not only continued but intensified with now CP members being subject to the attentions of the Cheka. The Bolshevik revolution was a brief beacon of hope, but due to the wrong circumstances – mainly a ‘proletarian ‘ revolution in a predominantly peasant country – and the inherent authoritarianism of Lenin and the Bolshevik party he shaped, the revolution was a disastrous tragedy for Socialism. Bolshevism/Communism became the agent of industrial modernisation in Russia through the creation of a new class of rulers and exploiters who controlled the economy through the bureaucratic state apparatus. So – fine if your view of socialism is about carrying forward the means of production and state control. But if socialism is about creating human freedom and unleashing human creative potential in a society bound only by fellowship and love instead of coercion , it was a disaster.

Dave Walsh adds this interesting note: “A rather ephemeral link between Joe Stalin and North Western railwaymen via a girl from Blackpool called Audrey can be found here

Other stuff

The Free North Campaign has issued a communiqué. It’s here

Special Traffic Notices

Nothing much happening, all a bit quiet.

The Salvo Publications List

The following are all available from The Salvo Publishing HQ, here at 8 Moorhey Cottages, Bretherton, Leyland PR26 9AE. 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, numberplates 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, unsuccesful 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 piopneer 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 £9.90 including post and packing. New edition published in May 2016. Bolton’s links with the great American poet Walt Whitman make up one of the most fascinating footnotes in liteary 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’?’ Only a couple left.

 ‘Songs of a Northerner‘ by Jo Barnes – a short selection of Jo’s poems, celebrating the landscape of the Colne and Holme Valleys. Photos by Paul Salveson. Price £3.50 inc postage  – please make cheques payble to ‘The Jo Barnes Fund’. A lovely collection of Jo’s poems written in the two years before she died; about landscape, emotions and day dreams.

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