The Northern Weekly Salvo

Last ‘un 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. 260  November 9th  2018

Salveson’s grade-separated political digest of railwayness, tripe and secessionist nonsense from Up North. Sometimes weekly, usually 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.

Autumn on Anglezarke

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, obviously.

“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

This is the last ‘Salvo’ from my Bretherton redoubt…as from next week I’ll be back in Bolton, living ‘up Halliwell’. If you are so old-fashioned as to use postal addresses (as I am) it’s 109 Harpers Lane, Bolton BL1 6HU. And in case you’re wondering, the garden railway will be re-instated at the new place. It has already been dismantled by Richard and Karen and will be given top priority for re-erection later this month, allowing Christmas specialis to operate. It’s a very quick Salvo, just to let you know what’s happening and to be aware there may be a short gap before the usual erratic service is back.

Remembering those killed

A hundred years on from the end of the carnage that was called ‘The Great War’, few would say that any lessons from that conflict have been learned. I’m wearing a poppy to honour those who were killed – they didn’t ‘fall’, most died in circumstances that were horrific, beyond description. Let’s not romanticise it. Listen to the testimonies of some of the survivors screened on the excellent BBC4 series this week. The best way we can honour those killed is by working to put an end to war today.

Dialect Wars – Red and White Roses Intertwined

I had a very enjoyable day in Blackpool at the English Dialect Literature Conference on October 20th, organised by Sid Calderbank. Great to see (and hear) dialect enthusaiosts from the Black Country, Northumberland, Yorkshire and Devon. The theme of my talk was similarities and differences between Lancashire and Yorkshire dialect literature. They shared some common roots in the Pennine handloom-weaving communities stretching across from Huddersfield and Halifax to Oldham and Rochdale. Early 19th century.

Steaming along the Prom

Ammon Wrigley was the classic ‘middleman’ straddling the white and red rose counties, and describing himself as being from ‘Saddleworthshire’! Samuel Laycock was born in Marsden, spent much of his life in Stalybridge (Cheshire!) before ending up in Blackpool. His equally talented (but less known) son Arthur was a novelist and poet, s well as Blackpool’s first socialist councillor. He was big mates with Allen Clarke, Bolton born and bred, temporary resident of Mirfield before moving back to Bolton, then Blackpool. Walter Hampson, long-time editor of John Hartley’s Clock Almanac, was a driver on the L&Y at Normanton who spent a good half of his time in Lancashire, probably drinking sweet tea that his fireman had mashed. I’ll write up my talk into a short article for the next Salvo, but observations welcome in the meantime. I also managed to get to Blackpool the following week for the traditional trip to ‘The Lights’.

Barrow Bridge…or Barrowbridge

I did a session for the Woodland Trust on ‘Allen Clarke’s Barrow Bridge’, at the Mission Room in the former mill village a couple of weeks back. Barrow Bridge (or ‘Barrowbridge’) is a very special place – a ‘model village’ which developed in the early 19th century and was visited by both Disraeli and Prince Albert. In Disareli’s novel Coningsby the village of ‘Mill Bank’ is modelled on Barrow Bridge. The mill closed in 1871 and never re-opened.

The classic view of Barrow Bridge

The pretty cottages fell into disrepair and the fine institute building became derelict. Clarke wrote of it in ’Tales of A Deserted Village’. However, in part thanks to Clarke’s writing, it enjoyed a gradual revival becoming a popular local beauty spot with the opening of cafes and tea rooms to serve the growing number of visitors from nearby Bolton. On a May afternoon in 1901, 10,000 people descended on it for Clarke’s ‘Teddy Ashton’s Picnic’ in support of the locked-out quarry workers of Bethesda.  The mill was finally demolished in 1913, though the bell tower survived into the 1930s. Today, the village has a delightful feel to it, especially on these late Autumn days. Sadly, the boating lake (the former mill lodge) was filled in some years ago.

Prince’s Trust

Hurrah for the Prince’s Trust. Thirteen young volunteers have been hard at work putting in four planters (or ‘raised beds’)  on Platform 4/5 at Bolton. We’ve got the official handover by the Mayor, Cllr Elaine Sherrington, on November 22nd. It’s just the start of something really quite exciting at that end of the station. We’re hoping to overtake Wigan Wallgate for our floral fantasmagoria.

East Lancs delights

Who’d have thought that in a single afternoon you could see an LMS Duchess, a West Country ‘unrebuilt pacific’ and a Great Western 28xx? That was all on offer for their Steam Gala over the weekend of October 19-21st. I witnessed the departure of 6233 ‘Duchess of Sutherland’ from Rawtenstall then watched the Bulleid Pacific and GW 28xx at Irwell Vale. And managed to get a pint in at the station bar at Rawtenstall.

The Rail Review

We’ve now got a little body calling itself ‘The Railway Reform Group’ working on some ideas to feed in to the Rail Review. We’re proposing a re-incarnation of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway – ‘L&Y Trains’ – to operate a vertically-integrated regional railway, covering pretty much the territory of the original company. We’ll be launching our paper later this year, hopefully this side of Christmas. The full text will appear in a future Salvo.

Jellicoe Specials Celebrated

The project to mark the passing of the First World War ‘Jellicoe Specials’ continues. The specials ran from Euston to Thurso, taking Royal Navy personnel and supplies to the Grand Fleet on Scapa Flow. The 22-hour long journey would have tested the stamina of the hardiest railway enthusiast. Amongst other places, the specials, named after Admiral Jellicoe (First Lord of the Admiralty, I think…) called at Carlisle to change engines and crews. A delightful ceremony took place in the delightful Bar 301 on Carlisle station on October 31, organised by the redoubtable Rear Admiral Yellowlees of St Margarets. A genial crowd gathered to hear tributes to the men and women who made the trains happen.

Bolton station updates

Plenty going on, in addition to our planters (see above). Great talk by Simon Walton a couple of weeks ago, on the Borders Railway re-opening. Bolton and Galashiels once had close links via the textile industry – maybe one day we’ll be able to get there by a direct route, via Hawick. On Tuesday November 20th Dave Vaughan and Jennifer Reid will offer an evening of Railway Song and Poetry, starting at 7.30 in the Community Room, Platform 5. All welcome, free admission. On Friday December 7th we’re hoping to have carol singing and mince pies.  We’re looking at locations around the station for displaying historic photos and children’s art work, as well as getting poetry inscribed on some of the walls. For more information about the Partnership email us at or like us facebook BoltonStationCDP or on twitter @BoltonStnCDP

Peterloo – the Movie

I went along to see the new Mike Leigh film, Peterloo, at Bolton’s excellent ‘Light’ cinema last Saturday. It has had mixed reviews – The Guardian gave it five stars, whilst other reviewers were less favourable (The Spectator was negative, but well argued). It’s a good film – two and a half hours’ long, but I was never bored. It tells the story of the horrific events on August 16th 1819 when a large and entirely peaceful demonstration in support of parliamentary reform was attacked by a crowd of drunken yeoman cavalry, egged on by their (sober) masters. The final death toll will never be known but eighteen dead and hundreds injured is a realistic estimate.

Mill workers, not in 1819

There is some very good acting in the film, with Maxine Peake really shining. The magistrates are very well played, as well as Middleton radical Sam Bamford. I do have a few quibbles with it – whilst the events around the massacre itself seem accurate, the background is misleading – showing images of a highly industrialised Lancashire that didn’t exist in 1819. The weaving shed it showed belonged more to the 1880s than 1819 (I think it was Queen Street mill in Burnley, a museum which has gone the same way as the industry it celebrated – when will we see ‘museums of industrial museums’?). And some of the dialect used by the obviously Lancashire characters descends into broad Yorkshire, thisen, sithee, fa-ther. Not good enough, Salford-born Mr Leigh. Anyway, go and see it. And remember, we still had our own home-made massacres on UK territory (in “an integral part of the United Kingdom”) in the late 20th century.

Culinary Shorts

After a very pleasant time in Bar 301 at Carlisle, the following day saw me in another Virgin station enjoying the finer things of life, or some of them at any rate. I refer to the former First Class lounge at Stoke-on-Trent, which I can heartily recommend. I think it is run by the Titanic Brewery. One complaint – a pity they didn’t have Staffordshire oatcakes on offer. But good coffee and the beer looked very tempting too. And not content with one good café bar, it actually has three, all of which looked very tempting. This contrasts with the truly awful conversion of the adequate but not outstanding station café at Stafford into a tawdry Starbucks with awful high seats designed to minimise the time you’d want to stay there.

The bar at Irlam..cake on left was v good

Don’t bother would be my advice, go for the excellent coffee at the Gourmet coffee bar on the platform, even if it means braving the cold. The staff are very nice and friendly too. And mustn’t forget an excellent Sunday lunch at Irlam Station. After my deep disappointment that the pie and peas were ‘off’ I was more than adequately compensated by the shepherd’s pie. Delicious. Irlam station keeps on getting better – the new muriel on the platform – ‘The Celebrity Express’ – is lovely.

Christmas comes on the Polar Expressbut but is it 70026?

Vintage Trains, making the most of its new operator’s licence, is running a series of ‘Polar Expresses’ from Birmingham Moor Street. They purport to go all the way to ‘The North Pole’, or maybe ‘North Pole’, which any railway person will know is near Willesden Junction. They also claim that the motive power will be ‘Polar Star’ which any self-respecting spotter will tell you was Stockport-based 70026, long since scrapped.  So I don’t believe that either, though I’d love to be proved wrong, it was a fuunny engine with a habit of falling off the track. What is probably true is the train will be hauled by a main-line steam loco and probably go to somewhere on the West Midlands network, maybe with literary connections. Go to for more details. I’m booked in for the East Lancashire Railway’s ‘Santa Special’ with grandson Sam and very recently new, ex-works Lucy. Get them young.

Crank Quiz: Up the Junction with The Master Cutler

The last quiz invited readers to suggest names of towns or villages which have a railway name – “typically, this will be ‘Junction’ but maybe not in every case. They can be anywhere in the world. One location had a poem written about, in Russian”.

Martin Higginson offered: “Up the Junction Several ‘Junction’ stations have spawned communities bearing the same name, including: Llandudno, Clapham, St Helens, Yeovil and Severn Tunnel; but only one ‘Station’ I can think of: Bedlington. Some of the old (all/mainly GWR) ‘Road’ stations have generated developments in once rural places; I guess the same has/will happen to more recent ‘Parkway’ stations. A variation on the theme is Harrogate Railway Athletic Football Club, who currently play in the Northern Counties East League. Club founded by LNER staff at Starbeck shed, Harrogate in 1935. Their ground, Station View, was purchased with a loan of £1,500 from the LNER, repaid by employees at the rate of 1p each a week”.

Richard Greenwood helpfully offered “There’s a town in Colorado called “Helper”. Indeed it’s where the assisting locos came onto Denver and Rio Grande Western RR trains in steam days”. Good one. US railroad lingo calls banking (‘assisting’) engines ‘helpers’. I’ve passed through it, many years ago. Stuart Parkes offered “how about the Berlin district Gleisdreieck (Triangular junction is a rough translation)” to which we can only say ja. Perhaps it should be twinned with Three Cocks Junction, which now has no junction, cock.

Allan Dare tells us “There is a station in Sri Lanka called “Great Western” on the SLR main line between Colombo and Badulla. A hotel, tea estate and mountain nearby have the same name. Which came first I’m not sure. It’s in a very scenic area, and even better the line is still worked with lower-quadrant semaphore signals and Tyer’s electric tablet instruments”.

And in case you’re curious, Yevtushenko wrote the poem ‘Zima Junction’ – and very good it is too. Don’t forget ‘Lostock Junction’. There are other communities in the North-East called ‘xxx Station’ – including Ferryhill. There are several others – suggestions please.

This week’s crank quiz has a culinary, or cutlery, flavour: How many railway installations/trains/locos feature items of cutlery in their name?

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, 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 £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: