The Northern Weekly Salvo 262

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

Published from 109 Harpers Lane Bolton BL1 6HU email:

No. 262  January 17th 2019

Salveson’s half-nakedly 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. 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

New Year’s greetings, and apologies for the bit of a mess that was Salvo 261, mainly as a result of changes to Word Press website. I’ve managed to go back to the ‘classic editor’ which I’m used to (thanks for the tip Jonathan!). It can hardly be said that I’m a creature of habit, resistant to change. As well as moving house in November, I’m also now fully ‘independent’, having departed from Arriva at the end of last year.

Horwich Loco Works – The Wagon Shop, 1983, shortly before closure

Whether it was this that made owners DB decide to look at selling their business I don’t know, but I hope I was able to be of some use to them over the three and a bit years I worked for them. It could be said that my new status will free me to ‘say what I want’, though in all honesty nobody in Arriva ever told me off for speaking ‘out of turn’ and I don’t intend to suddenly begin spouting hard-line anarcho-syndicalist politics (much as certain readers would like me to).

The last few weeks have been taken up with doing seasonal things, seeing friends and family and having a bit of time to work on ‘the novel’.  It will be published later this year and is mainly set in Horwich Loco Works in the 1970s and 1980s and is partly based on my time there, but quickly diverts into fiction. The provisional title is ‘The Works’ and I’ll up date you on progress in the next few issues. It will probably be self-published under the ‘Lancashire Loominary’ imprint.

I’m avoiding getting on to ‘politics’, writing on the day after ‘the meaningful vote’ (will someone tell me what is a ‘meaningless vote’?) and just after the Government defeated the ‘no confidence’ vote. Still none the wider on Labour’s position. I’m so very glad I haven’t succumbed to the occasional temptation to re-join the Labour Party. Despite the good sense of so many members, and the views of Keir Starmer and Yvette Cooper, I find the absurd posturing of Jeremy Corbyn more and more difficult to comprehend. All that can be said with any certainty is that nobody knows how it will all end. I don’t relish the thought of a second referendum for one minute but it looks increasingly like being the only option unless we go for the stupidity of ‘no deal’.

The Williams Review

The Rail Reform Group has put in its submission to the Rail review, chaired by Keith Williams. Thanks for all those readers who responded to the summary in the last ‘Salvo’ endorsing its general approach of regional, vertically-integrated railway companies structured as not-for-profit social enterprises. For the North, we are proposing a new body – Lancashire and Yorkshire Railways – to run passenger services across the region, combining all Northern and most TransPennine Express services.

Lancashire and Yorkshire heyday – a Horwich-built ‘Highflyer’

Freight would be encouraged, though LYR wouldn’t run services itself. Maybe there’s scope for partnerships with freight operators, including sharing of some engineering facilities. There’s all sorts of options that could be looked it. You won’t be surprised to know that ‘community rail’ is strongly endorsed, with support for experiments in more local management for some rural lines. The full submission can be read here (we’re getting our own website but for now having to use mine).

A Railway For the Common Good

Political Posturings

Where will it all end? Are we living through a major re-alignment in British (or more specifically, English) politics? There’s growing talk of political realignments, including the creation of a new centre party. Anything is possible though I think breaking the current mould will be very difficult. I remain of the view that a new UK-wide party isn’t all that attractive, the problem is England; Scotland is doing OK with its SNP and Plaid’s day will come (ree). An ‘English’ centre party would quickly, I reckon, shift to the right and embody the sort of nationalist nastiness which the SNP and Plaid are sometimes (unfairly) accused of.

typical Northern white working class man (the late Mark E Smith of The Fall), The North Will Rise Again, eh?

The interests of the North of England in the current mess are being well and truly ignored and the need for either a Northern Party, or an alliance of the existing Yorkshire and North-East parties with a new body or bodies covering the North-West, is compelling, here in Halliwell. I’d favour the latter, with a political party for ‘greater Lancastria’ and a separate one for Cumbria. The current devolution settlements foisted on Greater Manchester and Merseyside lack democratic accountability and stability.

It’s ironic that Tory MP Jake Berry, who has the brief for ‘Northern Powerhouse’, recently argued that the North should have its own tax-raising powers. So it should, but there’s a need for representative institutions to oversee those. It’s an interesting question as to what political direction northern regionalist parties should take. There is a cultural disposition towards left-of-centre policies but without being over-centralised. Lancashire was the birthplace of the modern co-operative movement and we need to learn some political lessons from that. Don’t go back to wartime nationalisation, look at mutuals and co-ops, working with a private sector which is incentivised to invest for the long term and treat its employees, and the communities they serve, with respect (as we recommend for rail in the North). Those sort of policies could appeal to both sides of the political spectrum. If you want conventional left and right you’re well served already. And yes, it sounds a bit Lib Demish, but what’s happened to their longstanding support for regional government?

HS2: will it survive? Should it?

Will the current plans for HS2 survive the current political chaos? I suspect it is becoming increasingly iffy, with talk about ‘de-speccing’ the project with lower speeds and other trimmings. A few friends (not many) are passionately in favour of the project as it stands, though most railway people I talk to share my scepticism. It’s not that we’re against high-speed rail as such, it’s just that this scheme isn’t right, for all sorts of reasons. Above all, it will cement even further the imbalance between London and the North. The growth assumptions suggest that London will continue to over-dominate the UK economy. HS2 will fuel that. The economic benefits to the North will be highly localised, around Piccadilly and Leeds stations (and ditto for Birmingham). It’s poorly connected to the classic network and will generate more car traffic to the few stations outside city centres.

Not HS2…but we need something to replace this typical Northern scene

Yes, there is an alternative – sort out the pinch-points on the east and west coast main lines, lengthen the existing trains if need be. Manchester already has three trains an hour to London; how many more people do we want to encourage to make the journey? The regional networks, and inter-regional routes, are in desperate need of investment and it makes total sense to look at those routes. Although again, I have to strike an oppositional note to current thinking within Transport for The North. Their plan for east-west high-speed (HS3, or ‘Northern Powerhouse Rail’) is to build (or burrow) a new line from Manchester to Leeds via Bradford. This will be massively expensive and highly unlikely to ever get built. It’s a classic example of a politically-led project in which rational considerations have been over-ridden by the need to ‘do something’ for Bradford.  The best thing that could be done for Bradford is to connect up the two separate networks (between the Interchange and Forster Square) so you effectively reconfigure the West Yorkshire rail network, routing Calder Valley services via Shipley and (some) Aire Valley services via New Pudsey. One good quality station in the middle of the city replacing two inadequate ones. Route some LNER services via the ‘Bradford Loop’ so the conurbation is, once again, properly served by regular intercity services.  If you want a fast route from the North-West to Yorkshire it’s staring you in the face, via Woodhead. To the eats of the tunnel, a route to Wakefield and diverge could diverge northwards whilst services to Sheffield and the East Midlands continue along the old alignment which is sat there doing very little (just divert the TransPennine Trail to run alongside).

In the meantime, for God’s sake let’s get on with electrifying the Diggle Route and ditch this crazy idea of missing out the vital Stalybridge – Huddersfield section. And don’t forget freight – mad that there is no TransPennine route that can take maritime containers.

Intrepid explorations

One of the nice things about my return to Bolton, and spare time over Christmas, is the opportunity to explore the local area. The north side of Bolton still has lots of industrial remains and I get a fine view of Falcon Mill coming down my street. Lots of the side streets are still cobbled, adding to the slightly quaint ‘old Lancashire’ feel. Though cobbles are an excellent form of speed control and have the advantage of longevity. There are several walks from my doorstep which involve old lanes and tracks that run along old valley corridors which pass ruins of mills and engineering works. Maybe they are not as conventionally attractive as the moors above Smithills Hall but they have their own fascination. One recent walk took in the old bleachworks at Dunscar then followed the footpath along Eagley Brook past Eagley Mills, much of which has been converted into apartments.

The cobbled lane to Ashworth’s mill

And very good they look. Further towards Bolton is the site of New Eagley Mills, part of the ‘Ashworth cotton enterprise’ described by the eccentric Tory paternalist Rhodes Boyson. If you know where to look, there’s quite a bit to see, including the base of the mill chimney. The mills, and Oaks Hall (seat of the Ashworth Quaker dynasty) were served by the L&YR’s station at The Oaks. The cobbled track from the former station to Oaks Hall is easily traceable and some of the ruins of the hall (built to overlook the mill, on the opposite side of the brook at a greater elevation) remain. Hall I’th’ Wood, the former residence of Samuel Crompton (not to be confused with the railway station) is nearby.

The Portico Library

It was great to meet up with an old friend last year who invited me for lunch at The Portico Library on Mosley Street, Manchester. It’s years since I last visited this wonderful institution, whose history goes back to 1806. It is ‘Enlightenment Manchester’ in stone. All of the original building survives though downstairs is now ‘The Bank’ pub. The Portico is a subscription library, though anyone can access its collection. I didn’t take much persuasion to sign up as a member, allowing me to use the archives and browse the extensive collection of magazines. The library also does very good (and affordable) lunches which anyone can enjoy. Members have their own ‘reading room’ which is a haven of peace and tranquility.

The decline of libraries and the growth of semi-literate Britain

Some readers might bridle at the idea of ‘subscription libraries’. I think they’re a good thing in the modern age, when libraries are under threat. Getting into the habit of using libraries, to browse/read and to borrow books, is habit forming. Since joining the Portico I think (early days) I’ve become more inclined to use my local public library in Bolton.

One very interesting ‘find’ in the Clitheroe Oxfam shop the other day was W.J. West’s The Strange Rise of Semi-Literate England (I’m not sure if the omission of Wales and Scotland was deliberate).  It was published in 1991; how much more apt is the title today. And it was both the title and the stamp inside saying ‘withdrawn from St Helens Public Libraries’ that made me buy it.

inside the Portico Library

The cover design actually included a stamp saying ‘British Museum Central Library – Withdrawn from Stock’ – an amusing example of life imitating art. The other peculiarity was the pricing of the book – the inside cover had three prices – £7.99, £7.19 and 30p. I was informed by the shop assistant that it was actually £2.49. I paid up. The author’s conclusion is that poor management of our public libraries is leading to a decline in reading, resulting in a semi-literate populace. He cites the rise of ‘new media’ as a contributor – but what is cause and effect? What on earth would he have thought of the situation today, with hundreds of libraries having closed in the last few years and an increasingly illiterate (forget ‘semi’) population.

For all that, it’s good to see that the seemingly irreversible decline of independent bookshops has been stemmed. I popped in to George Kelsall’s wonderful shop in Littleborough last week and business seemed good. And I’ve no quibble with Waterstone’s either; they’ve been the saviour of many a town which could (like Bolton) have lost all of its bookshops. But give me a quirky, independent bookshop that also does good coffee and special events, with a mix of new and second hand. They are the literary equivalent of community rail, and good if you can combine the two (Pitlochry, Wemyss Bay….others?). Other favoured bookshops include Pen’rallt in Machynlleth, The Bookcase in Carlisle, Leakey’s of Inverness, Michael Moon’s in Whitehaven and Five Leaves in Nottingham. Very much welcome nominations from readers, with a short write up on their attractions.

Bolton station progresses

The Bolton Station Community Development Partnership held its first committe meeting of the year on Thursday. Some very positive developments on funding, the lease, and also some radical ideas on taking the partnership forward. The AGM will be held on February 14th in Bolton – let me know if you’d like to come (membership is free, ask me for a form or email our secretary at:

New Year on the East Lancs

I’ve had a couple of enjoyable trips on the East Lancashire Railway over Christmas, the first being a ‘Santa’ behind ‘City of Wells’ with baby Lucy and 3-year old grandson Sam. The second trip was on New Year’s Day to celebrate Steve’s birthday a few day’s earlier. A few mates gathered to ride behind ex-Bolton and Stockport ‘Black 5’ 44871 for a run up to Rawtenstall and back to Heywood. It was a shame that the ‘Trackside’ wasn’t open for meals though the nearby Wetherspoon’s was fine.

Ready for departure..44871 at Bury on New Year’s Day

I was ticked off by some friends for not supporting the East Lancs’ catering facilities but if they’re only doing beer and light snacks, I’m afraid Wetherspoon’s steak and kidney pudding (with chiops and mushy peas) wins hands down. But whichever way you look at it, the local economy of Bury benefited by eight people eating lunch who otherwise wouldn’t have been there. The economic multiplier of heritage railways is huge.

Days Out by Train: Clitheroe

A final bit of seasonal socializing took me to Clitheroe. It’s a favourite old haunt and I can get a train directly from Hall I’th’Wood, connecting off the 526 bus from down the bottom of my street. It’s a very scenic run all the way from Bolton to Clitheroe, though the best bit is between Bromley Cross and Darwen, over Entwistle Viaduct. Darwen is a good place to mooch round, with the Number 39 pub on Bridge Street being strongly recommended. The landscape changes markedly after Blackburn, or more specifically when the train emerges from Wilpshire Tunnel, with the Ribble Valley opening up beyond the line. Whalley Viaduct is impressive both from the train and from the ground, with fine views across to Longridge Fell. The original station building survives as an art gallery (see below). The coming of the railway to Clitheroe inspired a fine book which adorns my shelves – Clitheroe in its Railway Days by Stephen Clarke. Whilst those days seemed to come to an end in 1962 when the line closed (pre-Beeching), today’s service is prospering after the line between Blackburn and Clitheroe re-opened in 1994 (see below). The second railway age has come to town.

Clitheroe has no shortage of places to eat – I’ve mostly used The Emporium in the past, though the new bar and restaurant in the finely restored Holmes Mill is good. We opted for the latter and I enjoyed my fish and chips, whilst my companion Martin opted for the steak pie (I’ll refrain from getting into culinaryspeak). We pronounced ourselves well…oh, stop it. The mill is home to Bowland Brewery and the Hen Harrier is a very good accompaniment to the food. The town has a very good second-hand bookshop – Clitheroe Books, which doesn’t open on Mondays, like most other shops in town.

A Clitheroe – Manchester service crosses Entwistle Viaduct

The Oxfam Shop has already been mentioned and is very good. As well as my book purchase I also got some shampoo, what I thought the assistant said was ‘sewage and citrus’. It was actually ‘seaweed and citrus’ though maybe sewage could be the secret to replenish my disappearing hair. Just round the corner is the excellent Exchange Coffee shop. It’s a café (on three floors) but also a shop where you can buy a wide range of ‘real’ coffees and teas. They also have a place in Blackburn which I like too. The town has a good range of antique salesrooms and ‘up market’ charity shops. Cowman’s butchers is legendary, with the sausages particularly tasty.

The castle is well worth a stroll up the hill; head to the impressive Keep. Fine views are afforded  across the Ribble Valley and to the cement works and Pendle Hill. There is a café, shop and gallery in the castle buildings below the Keep. The numerous alleys and ginnels that branch off the main street are now populated by galleries, delicatessens and bridalwear shops. “But where are the good chippies?” I hear you asking, “Bxxxxxr the bridalwear.” And yes, The Castle Chippy is highly recommended, though seating accommodation is very limited.

Culture isn’t neglected in Clitheroe, oh no. The Grand on York Street is a converted cinema which has become a popular venue for a wide range of concerts. I went to see Arun Ghosh there last year and really liked the place. New Model Army and Lindisfarne are among the bands appearing this year

If it’s booze you’re after, you would do far worse than visit Byrne’s Wine Shop on King Street which leads you down towards the station. We called in for a half at the Station Hotel which has had a makeover recently and looks good, with nice beer.

This strange beast used to be at Ribble Cement, Clitheroe

Just behind the hotel is the open market which has some excellent stalls, especially the cheese counter. It’s on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Make sure you have time to visit the Platform Gallery, a well-stocked art shop with a good range of temporary exhibitions. The station itself is staffed by Lancashire County Council, at least for now. Let’s hope the station keeps its excellent booking office staff, somehow.

Clitheroe, today, is ‘the end of the line’ as far as regular passenger services go, having re-opened in 1994 following a long and determined battle by Ribble Valley Rail and Lancashire County Council. The trains are well used and hopefully we will eventually get through trains to Hellifield and the S&C. The line is in regular use for freight, and regular cement traffic comes out of the Horrocksford plant just north of Clitheroe. Extending passenger services to Chatburn would be a good start.

So that’s it, I hope I’ve done my bit for Clitheroe and look forward to my cheque from The Clitheroe Tourist Board in due course. Next month: surprise! (Commissions taken).

Day out to Park Bridge and Oldham

Perhaps a less popular destination for a day out is Park Bridge. This is an old industrial village located between Oldham and Ashton-under-Lyne on what was ‘The OA&GB’ – or the Oldham, Ashton and Guide Bridge Joint Line’, operated by the LNWR and the Great Central (the L&Y had hoped to join a ménage a trois but fell out with the LNWR). The railway crossed the valley above the iron works and cotton mill on a very impressive viaduct. The passenger service closed in 1959 but still had regular freight and parcels traffic until 1967. I had a footplate ride on the Bolton – Stockport parcels back in 1967, just before closure, on LMS Black 5 45260. I think the crew were Driver Jack Hartley and Fireman Tommy Withers, of Bolton.

Remains of the iron works at Park Bridge. The Stables is in the distance

It was pitch black so I wouldn’t have seen anything of what lay below the arches. The history of the industril enterprise led by Samuel Lees goes back to the late 1780s and once employed hundreds of workers, many of whom arrived by train. Today the area has been sensitively developed by Tameside Council as a heritage area with a fascinating walk. Two of the chimneys have survived and many of the workers’ cottages remain occupied. Parts of the old iron works still stand, in light industrial use. The works was connected to the main line by a steeply graded branch, photographs of which survive. The heritage centre, open Thursdays to Sundays, is in the large former stables block and features a café and displays.

After our visit to Park Bridge we headed back into Oldham and drove past the very fine Lees Park to find ‘Garden Suburb’. This is one of the most fascinating examples of community-based ‘garden city’ development in the UK and goes back to the early 20th century and the creation of the ‘Beautiful Oldham Society’ initiated by the remarkable Mrs Mary Higgs. She was big mates with Sarah and Marjory Lees who were part of the Oldham cotton bourgeoisie. All were actively involved in the women’s suffrage movement (see the excellent book by Carol Talbot The Amazing Mary Higgs).  To cut a long story short, the Lees family offered some land ‘at cost’ to the Oldham Garden Suburb Tenants Limited which developed an area near Hollins for good quality ‘affordable housing’. The development, still known as ‘Garden Suburb’, was opened by garden city pioneer Ebenezer Howard, with local dignitaries, in 1909. The estate remains much as it was, with the ‘Pavilion’ functioning as a community centre.

some of the surviving buildings

The houses are classic ‘arts and craft’, the only thing spoiling the rural Lancashire idyll being the cars, whose existence wasn’t taken into account back then.  The development was fully established by the 1920s with the current Pavilion built as a community centre and concert hall in 1929, replacing an older building dating back to 1914. The Garden Suburb website tells us: “The Oldham Garden Suburbs Tenants Association continued successfully over the following years even though at certain times it was difficult to get new committee members. Throughout this time the Original founding company “Oldham Garden Suburb Tenants Limited” continued to collect rents and continued to administer the estate including maintenance of the rented properties. However by the 1950’s/1960’s more and more of the houses were being sold off as they became empty. By the Early 1980’s most of the houses were lived in by owner occupiers and the Oldham Garden Suburb Tenants Limited was put into voluntary liquidation and the remainder of its assets disposed of. At around March 1983 the Pavilion including the land it was built on was donated to the residents of Oldham Garden Suburb. As the nature of Garden Suburb had changed to most of the houses being privately owned it was decided that the name “Oldham Garden Suburb Tenants Association” was no longer relevant so the name was changed to “Oldham Garden Suburb Residents Association”. It was also decided at this time that a Trust Deed should be set up with a minimum of two trustees and a maximum of four trustees to look after the assets of the association including the Pavilion if the Oldham Garden Suburb Residents Association should disband, this would be under the direction of the executive committee. Currently the Oldham Garden Suburb Residents Association is doing well and hopefully will continue to do so”.

Crank Quiz: seasonal selection

The last quiz asked  for railway installations with a culinary, or cutlery, flavour. There were some good responses to this ticklish question, inspired by Horwich Fork Junction, now sadly a mere memory. There were some more good suggestions but I seem to have lost them. Spooner Row maybe? The Christmas Quiz itself asked various silly questions, including one for the longest sentence containing ‘Jubilee’ locomotive names. David Maidment is the clear winner with this:

The  Silver Jubilee ‘The Times, known by all as the ‘Thunderer’ (45703) reported that the glorious (45719), courageous (45711) and valiant (45707) Queen Victoria (45565) showing victory (45712) over her mourning for Prince Albert at last, celebrated her Silver Jubilee (45552) with a world tour of her Empire on Her Majesty’s warship Dreadnought (45718) accompanied by an armada (45679) of other navy ships, the ’Resolution’ (45708), ‘Irresistable’ (45710), ‘Swiftsure’ (45716) and the ‘Warspite’ (45724), captained by the fearless (45723) Rear Admiral Hardy (45675) and officers Fisher (45669), Drake (45659), Jervis (45663), Madden (45668) and Beatty (45677) on their visit, firstly to India (45574) docking at Bombay (45576), and conducting a grand tour under the night skies, lit up by Mars (45698) and the novelty (45733) of an observable meteor (45734), hosted by the Maharajahs of Hyderabad (45585), Mysore (45586), Baroda ( 45587), Gwalior (45589), Udaipur (45591), Indore (45592) and Kolhapur (45593)  before visiting Bengal (45577),

Anyone for Bahamas? Here it is at Bolton, sometime in 1966 after a good clean by the 9K Cleaning Team. It will be back on the main line next month

Bihar and Orissa (45581) and setting sail from Madras  (45575) to the shores of Africa landing at Zanzibar (45638) and touring with indomitable (45720) spirit and perseverance (45731) her territories of Northern Rhodesia (45621), Basutoland (45598), Swaziland (45630), South Africa (45571), Nyasaland (45622), Kenya (45613) , Uganda (45636) and Nigeria (45619), turning down, despite her dauntless (45717) renown (45713), her intended original plan to venture over the ocean (45730) to Australia (45563) and New Zealand (45570) and other countries marked ‘pink’ on her atlas (45737).’  (52 Jubilees).  David adds: “I could have provided the Queen with a larger flotilla and entourage of naval officers and extended her tour world wide to the far east including Hong Kong and got her travelling across Canada by royal train but I reckoned the lady would have been exhausted by now and the sentence above was overdue for a full stop!” (- agreed, ed.).

Seasonal-sounding railway installations should have included ‘Christmas Tree Sidings’ at Baron Wood on the S&C. Even the eminent S&C historian Nigel Mussett didn’t get that, but did offer: “The only seasonal S&C installation I can think of (shame on me!) is St Nicholas Bridge at Carlisle, strictly a NER structure at that point. But you obviously have something else in mind, and it won’t be Jerusalem shanty town at Blea Moor from the 1870s! I give up!”.

This month’s teaser….

Writing in the January 1942 issue of The Railway Magazine, C. Hamilton Ellis said “on no other line in England ws it possible to bribe the ‘locomotive’ with carrots and lumps of sugar.” Which line was he referring to? And where else in the British Isles could you resort to these desperate measures?

Readers’ Rants, Ruminations and Reflections

Dave Koring writes: As you know, I was at Manchester DMO Control in the late 70’s, on the Platting section, which included the stretch of line between Manchester Victoria, Bolton, and Astley Bridge which I seem to remember was the boundary box with Preston (ed. No – it was Bromley Cross). There was always talk amongst the bobbies along that line of a ghost train that ran from time to time, although it seeme to be treated more as a joke than anything more serious. Sough tunnel had some stories too, particularly from one of our control assistants who’d been a fireman at Bolton and lost an eye in the tunnel when a lump of coal was swept off the tender when running tender first, bounced of the tunnel wall and straight into the cab. Incidentally, I remember a rather spectacular derailment at Halliwell Junction (ed. Astley Bridge Junction), which blocked the line all day! Can’t remember the details, but it had something to do with the resident dobbin coming out onto the main line for some reason and depositing itself on the dirt rather well. Happy days . . . .Ed…I wasn’t on duty at the time!

Aidan Turner-Bishop corresponds from proud Preston…now you have moved to Bolton you may want to visit the recently revamped art gallery and museum. There – if I spotted things rightly – Walt Whitman’s yellow canary has been moved from its previous visible display case and possibly placed about 4 meters above the floor on an archway, out of view to children and small people. Have the Whitmanites noticed this? Editor: Yes, we’ve been told it is a temporary flight….As to Brexit, there are further unknowns coming down the track in ten or twenty years’ time. Consider, for example, an independent Scotland, within the EU, and a possibly re-united Ireland, as the DUP’s influence gradually seeps away. Bear also in mind that we will soon (in 2021) approach the centenary of the establishment of the Government of Northern Ireland and the partition of Ireland. One of the functions of the EU, however imperfect it is, is to obscure historic identity disputes such as Alsace-Lorraine, South Tyrol, and Ireland. If we remove the expedient and working constraints we may see unexpected consequences. Remember how solid Yugoslavia seemed until the 1980s.

Steve Forde comments….There’s always a danger assuming that somebody is saying something intelligent, when that judgment is based purely on the fact that you agree with them! Corbyn’s position on Europe has until recently (25 years pre 2016) been very clear, like many a serious socialist with ambitions to return to a more centralized economy, he knows the Single Market would prevent it. Interesting article on the subject here (it’s a railway focused piece) Corby, Mann et-al have many faults, but their political ambitions have always been clear, ironically many of Corbyn’s young Momentum supporters see socialism as something quite different to their leader.

Nigel McBride comments on Rail Reform Group (Salvo 261) …like Robin Leleux, I find the recommendations of the Rail Reform Group very encouraging, and I suspect they would have the support of people with a wide range of political views. However, I am rather doubtful whether any amount of organisational change will do much to improve the reliability of the railway system, and hence passenger satisfaction, on a day-to-day basis. It seems that most delays can be put down either to a TOC (e.g. crew shortage) or Network Rail (signalling or other infrastructure problems) and thus should be solvable within the current arrangements. A good example is the significant improvement in TPE punctuality since the December timetable by some fairly straightforward timetable and scheduling changes. You could argue that both TPE and NR should have seen these problems coming before May, but what difference would an integrated organisation have made ? More likely that the additional platform occupation would have been seen as a barrier to future service development and resisted until ‘Plan A’ had been given a chance.
Perhaps the simple explanation for deteriorating reliability is just that there are more trains these days. When I was growing up we had 5 trains to Leeds from Skipton before 0900 on a weekday. Now there are 12, not to mention 6 to Bradford Forster Square. A train delayed by 10 minutes or more will inevitably cause secondary delay to other trains, whereas in ‘the good old days’ the problem would likely have been self-contained. So, two questions : 1) is deteriorating train reliability just an inevitable side-effect of extra services, and something we have to live with ? and 2) what actions could a new structure take to solve the problems that the current structure can’t ?I’m sure that you have well thought-out answers to these questions, as you do on most issues !(
ed….don’t bank on it!)

Seasonal greetings and looking forward to more stimulating Salvos during 2019 (ed. Thanks!)

Robin Leleux writes…Full marks to the Rail Reform Group for coming up with a sensible suggestion re-the North and its railways. If only those “down south” would listen. It would seem that the twin southern and anti-railway biases are still alive and well in the DfT.  Great story – thanks…Best wishes for the festive season

Drew Haley observes… I am surprised the EU gets so much left wing support. Yes it has good points like the citizens charter and environmental agreements etc, but is at its economic heart it is neoliberal. It eschews state aid and nationalisation, promoting a privatised, competitive winner takes all system.  The Euro has been a disaster for many nations especially in southern Europe, reflected in high unemployment and government debt which is gradually leading to a social breakdown and move to the right. Yet they have refused to address this adequately, mainly because the Euro benefits Germany. A very interesting read on this is the left case against the EU by Costas Lapavitsas.

Alan Brooke comments from an intelligently anarchist position….. Why people on the Left can get so wound up about Brexit I just can’t fathom. It is an argument about two different ways to integrate the UK economy into capitalist globalisation – neither of which benefits the interests of the majority of people, nor addresses the most fundamental problems like environmental degradation and technocracy. A plague on both their houses. If the right is gaining ground because of it it is a result of the Left’s inability to address people’s concerns about economic and political forces beyond their control imposing a way of life on them they have no role in shaping. The mainstream left is unable to do this because they share the same statist and technocratic view of society and economy as the EU bureaucracy and other elites. Trumpism/right populism is riding this wave of fear and and alienation because the left is stuck in the old Fabian/Stalinist morass of building a brave new world of economic ‘progress’ , without recognising the moral vacuum that has opened up.We don’t need another referendum – it was the first one that got us where we are today. The Government is in meltdown. 117 Government MPs voted against the PM in their recent meetings. When a Government is as fractured as this one – we plainly need a General Election – hopefully to restore some legitimacy to both Parliament and Government.

Paul Kampen corresponds….Thank you for offering an accurate description of the Peterloo massacre. The murders (let us face it, that is what they were) were not committed by ‘soldiers’ or ‘the cavalry’ but by, as you say, yeomanry militia who had been responsible for many atrocities around that time. In fact some regular soldiers who were present at Peterloo actually tried to help the victims.

Special Traffic Notices

This Sunday: 15.00 Bolton Parish Church:   pecial service to commemorate Bolton’s mill workers. Open to all.

Should be an interetsing talk!



The Salvo Publications List

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 £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: