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. 254  May 14th  2018

Salveson’s nakedly political digest of railwayness, tripe and secessionist nonsense from Up North. Sometimes weekly, often not; but definitely Northern. Read by the highest (and lowest) officers of state, Whitmanites, steam punks, yes women, no men, gay Swedenborgians, cat-spotters, discerning sybarites, bi-guys, pie-eaters, tripe dressers, nail artists, 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

General Gossips – Spring-time for Lancashire

Here’s your Salvo number 254, with reflections on the local elections, ideas for a strategic bus-rail partnership, progress with the Bolton Station Gala, the Palestine Question, forthcoming Walt Whitman celebrations, and various other things that haven’t yet come into my head.

Spring-time in Lancashire: Bretherton’s Bluebell Line

On a personal note, a few impending changes (as usual you might say…). I’ve decided for various personal and professional reasons to move back home – to Bolton, obviously. So my lovely house in Bretherton will be going up for sale soon, with or without attached garden railway. I’ve got somewhere in mind in Bolton but there is the small matter of selling Moorhey Cottages first. I’ll keep you posted.

Yet more on data protection – last time!

Thanks to all of you who have emailed me following the special notices in Salvoes 252/3 about data protection. If you want to carry on receiving your Salvo by email it’s essential that you let me know (a simple email will do, or more elaborate email is fine as well). The new laws come into force shortly –  this will be the last Salvo before you will be cast into the outer darkness, unless you request to be kept in the inner darkness.

Simple Salvo Says

What a lot of nonsense about trees and Network Rail. The Guardian (why do I keep getting it?) has been running a ‘campaign’ to stop Network rail felling trees. My response is “what has taken you so long?” Back in the old days, when I were a lad, lineside fires caused by steam locos did the job quite well. Over the last decades trees have sometimes been allowed to grow which not only cause adhesion problems but also restrict passengers’ views on scenic lines. This latter point may seem trivial but I’d argue it isn’t.

A tree

Many people pay good money to ride on lines like the West Highland, Settle-Carlisle, Heart of Wales and Preston – Ormskirk, often finding their view limited, to say the least, by trees that are of little intrinsic value. Yes, sensitivity is required during nesting season but the sooner we get a tree-free lineside, the better.

So, to politics. The local elections were widely seen as a draw between the two main parties, though the Tories remain stubbornly ahead in the polls. Labour should be doing much better at this stage of the electoral cycle, particularly with such a useless government. Whatever my friends in the Labour Party might think, Corbyn and ‘New New Labour’ has yet to capture the hearts and minds of many people whom they should be attracting – or winning back. It’s an irony of the current situation that Labour is doing generally better in areas where it was once almost invisible, including parts of the affluent south-east. As things stand it isn’t completely fanciful to imagine a General Election in which Labour gets most seats but not an overall majority – continuing to lose out in its traditional ‘heartlands’ to a mix of parties. Personally, I would positively like to see a progressive coalition which could bring in voting reform, real regional devolution and other ‘democratic’ changes which Labour shies away from. Europe remains the big problem for Labour and it could risk losing out in its new middle class ‘heartlands’ unless it clarifies its position and moves away from the stupid bi-partisan policy it is pursuing with the Tories on ‘hard Brexit’.

In Scotland the SNP seems unlikely to slip back any further and Plaid Cymru deserves to win a few more seats in Wales. But what of the North of England? The Yorkshire Party continues to grow but it hasn’t reached the sort of tipping point that would win it parliamentary seats, which is a pity.

Militant members of The Yorkshire Tendency about to sit down for a nice cup of Yorkshire tea. Now rebranded as The Yorkshire Party and doing awreet

Give the Tykes time. But a bigger shame that there isn’t an equivalent in Lancashire and the North-West to challenge, from a centre-left position, Labour’s often poor performance, based on a sense of entitlement. So the grim scenario is that the Tories may just hang on to some seats in the North which they have absolutely no right to have in the first place, based on their current policies.

It’s a truism that ‘local’ elections should be just that – about local issues. To an extent this happened, with some interesting results in my former home of Kirklees and my future residence in Bolton. Labour did well in the Colne Valley and Golcar wards, winning two seats in areas that had returned Tory or Liberal Democrat councillors. Having a popular new Labour MP, Thelma Walker, who is from the area, will have helped, combined with energetic local campaigning. In Bolton, Labour did badly, losing two council seats to Farnworth and Kearsley First and one each to Tories and Lib Dems. They gained one in Little Lever. Again, local factors, not least the historic decline of ‘peripheral’ towns like Farnworth, were important. Unless Labour can really up its game in the satellite towns of Farnworth, Horwich and Westhoughton, it will lose control next year. What replaces it could be interesting.

Perhaps the most fascinating election result nationally was in Richmond, where a progressive alliance of Lib Dems and Greens resulted in some spectacular gains. A total of 29 seats changed hands, mostly lost by the Tories with the vast majority going to the Lib Dem/Green alliance. Some obvious lessons for other parts of the country.

Community Rail Springs into Action

There’s lots happening in the community rail at the moment. This week sees ‘Community Rail in the City’ – a range of events at major stations around the UK. See ACoRP website for more details. https://communityrail.org.uk/events-training/events-diary/

On Tuesday June 26th there’s a major event in Huddersfield marking the 25th anniversary of the Penistone Line Partnership. As the conference blurb says:  Join us to celebrate the achievements of community rail  in the North of England – and the Penistone Line especially. The Penistone Line Partnership was formed 25 years ago and has inspired dozens if not hundreds of community rail initiatives. But where should community rail go in the next 25 years? The Government is reviewing its Community Rail Development Strategy and this event will help generate fresh thinking on how we build on the success of the last 25 years. Conference details from Brian Barnsley brian@acorp.uk.com

Walt Whitman approaches his 200th Birthday

Walt Whitman, if he was still alive and kicking (and probably smelling a bit), would be celebrating his 200th birthday on May 31st 2019. Now Bolton, as attentive Salvo readers are aware, had very close connections with the great American poet. A small ‘reading group’ jokingly described as ‘The Eagle Street College’ met from the mid-1880s in a small terraced house within view of Craddock Lane signalbox and the gas works. It wasn’t exactly the Catskills, but not dissimilar to Camden NJ, where Whitman lived out his final years. The group, presided over by ‘Wallace’ (James W Wallace) included various chaps associated with Bolton life – a doctor, a cotton waste dealer, lawyer, Unitarian minister and mill manager. There was a suggestion that one member was a loc driver but I’ve never discovered more about him. The group evolved over time. Wallace moved to more rural Anderton and the group widened slightly. By the early 190ss women were involved. But Wallace remained very much in charge.

Whitmanites go wild in Rivington, c 1894

He, and his friend Dr John Johnston, had two separate visits to Whitman in New Jersey. Their travels were published by Allen and Unwin in 1918 as ‘Visits to Walt Whitman 1890 and 1891 by Two Lancashire Friends’. The Bolton group continued to meet and celebrate Whitman’s birthday every May 31st. Though the original members died off, like some sort of karmic progression, the group continued to re-invent itself. The most recent reincarnation was in 1984.

This year there are a number of events taking place on an around his birthday including the annual Whitman walk, on Saturday May 26th. It starts at 14.00 from the Barrow Bridge bus terminal and heads up onto the moors by Walker Fold and the ‘Trespass Stone’ on Coal Pit Lane. This commemorates the 1896 Winter Hill mass trespass which involved some Whitmanites like Allen Clarke. The walk will feature readings from Whitman’s poetry, a shared picnic and passing round of a ‘loving cup’ filled with Co-op’s finest shiraz (originally it was spiced claret).

On the previous evening, 8.00 pm Friday the 25th, there is a rehearsed reading of the play by Stephen Hornby ‘Wallace and Whitman’. The evening will also feature a talk by someone called Paul Salveson on ‘The Eagle Street College’. It’s at Bolton Socialist Club, 16 Wood Street. The following Sunday, June 3rd, Rivington Unitarian chapel, closely associated with the original Whitman group, is holding special service starting at 14.15. There will be a talk on ‘Rivington and Walt Whitman’ and a strawberry tea.

The really big events will happen next year. Bolton University is planning a major international conference in association with the Library Service, on May 24/5. Bolton Socialist Club will be putting on complementary events including a workshop, a special Whitman Day Walk and various other things.

Bolton Station in gala mode

Plans for Bolton station’s community gala continue to develop. The event marks the 50th anniversary of the end of steam at Bolton loco shed (9K, or 26C for those older readers) but also the present-day role of rail in the community and the investment going into the local network. The gala, on Saturday June 30th, will feature stalls, music, food, theatre performances and general bonhomie. There will be a vintage Bolton Corporation bus (maybe more) and a steam miniature railway.

I’ll be coming to the gala on June 30th

Friends from Kilmarnock Station Railway Heritage Trust (with which we’re twinned) are coming down to say hello and community rail groups from across the North are very welcome. ACoRP, of which the partnership is a member, will be having a stall together with Community Rail Lancashire and other station friends groups such as Hindley. Several performers have been booked including a barber shop choir, clog dancer and Welsh accordionist. The event is being co-ordinated by Bolton Station Community Development Partnership, a new model of rail partnership for a larger station. Those involved include Northern, Network Rail, Community Rail Lancashire, Bolton Council, Bolton University, Octagon Theatre, Bolton at Home and Bolton CVS, plus several individuals, arts and community groups. If you want to have a stall please contact laura.calvert@northernrailway.co.uk or c/o The Salvo.

On Friday June 29th Noel Coates of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Society is giving a talk on ‘Bolton in its Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Heyday’ starting 18.30 (with food!) at the Brooklyn Hotel, Green Lane, Bolton. Interestingly the Brooklyn is almost exactly half-way between the LNWR line which went under Lever Edge Lane and the L&YR which still passes under Green lane. Well, interesting to me anyway.

Farnworth – Suffragette City

Bolton Station Community Development Partnership’s stall at Farnworth Park Family Funday  had some unusual visitors last Saturday – a group of suffragettes. The funday was linked to the unveiling of a memorial to Farnworth suffragist, Mary Barnes.

Suffragettes in the Park with Martin and Julie on our stall

Born in Stalybridge, Mary Barnes made Farnworth her home when she married successful cotton manufacturer Harold Alfred Barnes. Mary used her position to improve housing, health, education, living and working conditions for the people of Farnworth. In 1922, she became the first female councillor for the town and was a county magistrate for more than 20 years. Mary was also an integral part of the Bolton Women’s Citizens Association, formerly called the Bolton Suffrage Society, and acted as their presidents from 1924 until her death in 1942.

The event attracted thousands of people and brought the town’s very attractive park to life. The station partnership stall attracted plenty of interest and we’re hoping to have a stall at similar events other the summer. We distributed several copies of ‘Amazing Women by Rail’. See https://www.amazingwomenbyrail.org.uk/

Heart and Art of Wales: Art Down The Line

More events are starting to take shape to mark the 150th anniversary of the Heart of Wales Line. Knighton and Knucklas artsis are having what promises to be an amazing long weekend from Friday June 1st to Monday June 4th with a range of activities, open studios and displays. http://knucklas.org.uk/heart-of-wales-line-150th-anniversary/

More details about the 150th events at http://heart-of-wales.co.uk/. The Heart of Wales Line Development Company is still looking for more offers of help from local artists and musicians.

Salvo’s Travelling Post Office

Stuart Parkes says: “This is not a comment on the Crank Quiz, interesting as ever but a plug for another Scottish attraction of a railway nature, which I discovered on a rare (the first since we left Britain in 2001) visit to Scotland: namely the tour of Glasgow Central Station known logically enough as Central Station Tour. Although there was plenty to interest railway enthusiasts, the tour through its brilliant guide is principally a social history. We learned that the first porters at the station were Highlanders driven out by the clearances but the most poignant information related to the use of underground space in the station as a mortuary/wounded station in the First World War. Dead/injured soldiers were dumped by the military (with no identification) and it was left to family members (usually women) to identify their loved ones by going from person to person. In the case of the wounded, family members had to pick off the lice unless they wanted their home infested. A very moving visit to be recommended”.

Alan Brooke on New Lanark: “I don’t like to be pedantic, especially as this edition of Salvo has so much interesting social and socialist history in it. But, I should point out that New Lanark was not a cooperative enterprise and predated Owen’s conversion to cooperation and socialism. The mills were a strictly capitalist enterprise into which Owen introduced what he considered beneficial welfare measures for his workers. It was more paternalism than socialism. However, Owen was on a very steep learning curve and tho he never threw off the paternalist role of top down reform I think he was a genuine bloke who wanted the best for the workers and humanity and who was not self serving. He was a pretty good capitalist and could have earned a place with the great and good, but he chose to incur the wrath of the church and the capitalists, in order to help workers enlighten and liberate themselves”.

Alan Brooke on Palestine and  Walter’s comments in Salvo 253.”Walter makes some very good points. My own view on the situation has changed a lot since the Oslo agreement, and now I believe in a two state solution, at least as an interim situation, rather than the abolition of the State of Israel. This is now neither feasible nor desirable. I left the Palestine Solidarity Campaign about 20 years ago when I saw that it had attracted some unhealthy support. Prior to the rise of Hamas UK Muslims took little interest in what was going on. They were hostile to the PLO which they saw as leftist. Many Muslims, not just fundamentalists are sadly not interested in human rights unless it is Ummah rights – the rights of Muslims. Hamas does have a large following and the PLO has swung more away from secularism towards Islam in order not to be totally outflanked by them. However – how has this situation arisen?
The Oslo accords made the PLO into the policeman of the Palestinians forcing people to turn more to Hamas and other Islamic groups. Also the global decline of the left saw less support for the PFLP , DPFLP which had always helped anchor the PLO to the left to some degree. Israel was complicit in forcing the PLO to accept minor concessions with the carrot of statehood, in return for ending the armed struggle, and thus forcing people into the arms of Hamas. Israel had a record of supporting groups in Gaza, like the Muslim Brotherhood in order to undermine the PLO, so they helped create the situation.
The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza was done in such a way as to create an enclave which was not independent or viable as a deliberate way to discredit the idea of Palestinian statehood. With the cooperation of Hamas and the PLO to some extent (objectively if not subjectively) this has worked and Israel has succeeded in painting the Palestinians as sympathisers of Islamic fundamentalism, bent on destroying Israel and a danger to the whole region of any concessions are made to them.
At the same time Israel has cut the feet from under the secularists and moderates in the PLO and civil society in general by promoting the continuous erosion of the basis of any hope of a Palestinian state by promoting settlements and land grabs, resulting in the fragmentation of the West Bank, while, at the same time, reinforcing Hamas’ grip on Gaza by its seige tactics and periodic aerial attacks.
There is a section of the Israeli right, Likud, the settlers’ groups etc that do not want ANY concession to the Palestinians let alone a state. The repression of the Palestinians as a whole is a daily reality, despite as Walter says, a sizeable Israeli Palestinian population.
Fundamentalism on both sides is the problem. Right wing Zionism and Right wing Islamic Fundamentalism feed off each other. The best long term solution would be the abolition of any state and the establishment of autonomous self governing communities. But while Zionists continue to claim the whole of Palestine as god given Israel and while Islamists promote a violent anti-semitism there will be no peace.
However, the power calling the shots (literally – with its massive army and militarised society) is Israel, backed by the United States. If the log jam is to be broken the most powerful party must make the first moves. That is why I think the onus and responsibility for a peaceful solution lies with Israel and its allies. They do exert a form of imperialism in the region and while they continue to do so they can not be surprised if people resist.
Gaza Is a ghetto. I know, I have been there at a time when it was under direct Israeli military control during the First Intifada. Now, despite Walter’s objections to this comparison, it is still a ghetto – the living conditions made worse no doubt by Hamas/PLO rivalry and corruption. But the people can’t be blamed and punished collectively for the actions real, or perceived, of a few. That is what anti-Semitism does and it is reprehensible in every situation”.

Crank Quiz: Holy Orders

In the last Salvo readers were invited to nominate railway locations or names with vaguely religious/ ecclesiastical connections. Some good ones. I particularly like Stuart Parkes’ suggestions: “ How about Devil’s Bridge and 60110 Robert the Devil…Finally on Jubilees: Holbeck locos reached Scotland in 1967 on CTAC specials.”

Malcolm Bulpitt offered: Abbey Wood in SE London. The Abbey (Lesness) might be excluded, and is a ruin, but the wood is still with us and worthy of a Crossrail station. Holywell Junction and Holywell Town and the LNWR branch between them. If wells, especially wishing wells, can be seen as ‘mystic’ then there was Upwey Wishing Well Halt, and there still is St Kern (?) Wishing Well Halt in Cornwall. On more solid ground Kent had two Minster stations. Minister-in-Thanet is still operational but sadly the one at Minster-in-Sheppey went with the long-ago closing of the light railway between Queenborough-in-Sheppey and Leysdown.

Not to be outdone, Tony Molloy offered a dozen: Blackfriars, Whitechapel, Angel Road, Bishops Stortford, Gospel Oak, Canonbury, Nunhead, Nuneaton, Dover Priory, Rectory Road, Heaton Chapel
Christchurch.

Stuart Wilkin added: The only station on the Scottish network with a tenuous religious connection would be Holytown (HLY) – North Lanarkshire.

Can I take editor’s privilege and offer a couple more? There’s the preserved Hunslet n/g loco called ‘Holy War’. Surprised nobody mentioned Furness Abbey. Maybe GJ Churchward should figure? Even if it’s just the locomotive, I’m not suggesting we deify the Great Western loco designer (some would). Must be a lot more….

Special Traffic Notices

May 13-9 Community Rail in the City.

See https://communityrail.org.uk/events-training/events-diary/

Friday May 25th: 20.00 Bolton Socialist Club 16 Wood Street ‘Wallace and Whitman’

Saturday May 26th: 14.00h Barrow Bridge: Start of annual Whitman Walk

June 1-4 Knighton and Knucklas Open Studios celebrating Heart of Wales 150

See http://knucklas.org.uk/heart-of-wales-line-150th-anniversary/

Tuesday June 26th; Huddersfield: 25  years of Community Rail – Where Next? University of Huddersfield – org. With Penistone Line Partnership

Friday June 29th: Noel Coates on ‘Bolton in its Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway heyday’ From 18.30 Brooklyn Hotel, Green lane, Bolton. Refreshments provided.

Saturday June 30th: Bolton Station Community Gala 10.30 – 4.00

Saturday July 1st: Heart of Wales 150 gala at LLandovery station

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, 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 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 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’?’ Only a couple left.

 ‘Songs of a Northerner‘  by Jo Barnes. Photos by Paul Salveson. Price £3.50 inc postage  – please make cheques payable 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: http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk/little-northern-books-2/