Das Northern Weekly Zeitung

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: paul.salveson@myphone.coop

No. 263  February 12th 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

This issue is largely devoted to my recent trip to the Harz region of Germany. But I can’t resist the temptation to say a bit more about Brexit and I quote the wise words of Billy Bolton under ‘The Northern Umbrella’. Who knows where it will end? I’ve started stockpiling tripe but it’s starting to smell a bit. And it isn’t the only thing that’s getting a bit niffy – you could say it describes the current state of our politics. Leaving that aside, good news from the now-electrified ‘Bolton Corridor’ and congratulations to the Bahamas Locomotive Society – and Vintage Trains engineers at Tyseley – for getting 45596 back on the road. Missed Saturday’s successful run but hoping to get out this weekend.

The Williams Review

I mentioned in the last Salvo that The Rail Reform Group had put in its submission to the Rail Review, chaired by Keith Williams. The general approach of regional, vertically-integrated railway companies seems to be getting a lot of support within both Government and industry. Our proposal that it be structured as not-for-profit social enterprises is perhaps more controversial but ought to appeal to many on both the left and right of the spectrum. For the North, we propose a new body – Lancashire and Yorkshire Railways – to run passenger services across the region, combining all Northern and most TransPennine Express services. This should not be a ‘franchise’, at least in the understood sense. The business should be there for the long term, with periodic reviews and sanctions for poor performance – but rewards for doing well. Basically, we suggest that L&YR would manage the infrastructure (ownership ultimately resting with the state) and operate trains. There would have to be a dividing line somewhere, but L&YR would have responsibility for maintenance, renewals and most enhancements.

As part of the consultation process the Rail Reform Group had a very positive chat with Review panel member (and former MD of Irish Rail amongst many other senior railway jobs) Dick Fearn. He asked some very helpful – and challenging – questions which helped us hone up some of our ideas. Should LYR own outright the infrastructure? How should risk be managed? What happens in the event of ‘catastrophic failure’? If franchsing is dispenses with, how is the ‘public interest’ protected? Where does the core funding for LYR come from? And what about ‘open access’? Should there be a place for it? Lots of very important issues which we will incorporate into an updated version of our paper.

The full submission can be read here (we’re getting our own website but for now we’re having to use mine). http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk/rail-franchising-review/

Political Posturings

Interestingly, my suggestion in these columns (and ‘Chartist’) some months ago that a deal would be struck that nobody really likes but avoids the chaos of ‘no deal’ is looking like it might happen (“A likely scenario is that we leave the EU with a deal that nobody really likes and which leaves many parts of the UK, including Scotland, Wales and the North of England, worse off”) I have to say that the suggestion from Labour MP Keith Drew, supported by some Tory Remainers, of MPs voting to accept May’s deal but then putting it to the country with a choice of accepting the deal or staying in the EU makes a lot of sense. There might be enough MPs on both sides of the Commons to support it, leaving Rees-Mogg and the DUP marginalised, instead of calling the shots as they seem to be doing at present.

I do wonder if Labour, under the pitiful leadership of Corbyn (whom on a personal level I like and respect), has entered a period of terminal decline? Its handling of Brexit has been utterly atrocious. The supposedly ‘clever’ tactics of constructive ambiguity’ are dishonest and cowardly. The role of a radical political party should be to lead, based on principles. Instead we have the sad prospect of a party pulling in several directions with Corbyn and his leadership team unable to answer straight questions about where they stand. I’ve argued before that the threat of Labour-voting Brexiteers ‘up North’ is a paper tiger.

What would Harry Pollitt have said? I think he’d have demanded a People’s Vote

I’ve never gone along with the idea that there is a large constituency of committed Labour voters who want to leave the EU. Some Labour-held constituencies in The North clearly did vote ‘leave’ for all sorts of reasons but that group comprised a mixed bag of people including, I suspect, a lot of people who would not normally bother to vote. It was an easy slap in the face for what was seen as ‘the establishment’, coupled with anti-immigrant prejudice. If Labour thinks it can rely on this group to get them back into Government they are signing-on at Cloud Cuckoo Junction.

The risk to Labour is that more committed supporters will be so fed up with Corbyn’s performance that they switch allegiance. I have to say that wouldn’t be a bad thing. In Scotland, the SNP and in Wales Plaid have far more progressive policies in most areas than Labour. In England there’s the Greens and Liberal Democrats, though neither seem to be generating much traction. And there’s the smaller regionalist parties like the Yorkshire and North-East parties. As I’ve argued before, there is political space opening up in the North-West too.

These smaller parties, and the Greens and Lib Dems, all suffer from our terrible voting system which veers on being undemocratic. Labour has had countless opportunities to change the system to a fairer and more proportional system and has always squandered them.  Like many people I’m tired of being the subject of political bullying by being told that if I voted, say, Green or Lib Dem it would be a ‘wasted vote’ and would ‘let the Tories in’. Labour could regain support if it campaigned on a platform of democratic renewal which included voting reform and elected regional government in England. As things stand, I can’t see that happening.

News from Beneath The Northern Umbrella

The latest utterance from beneath the subversive shelter of the Northern Umbrella is an extended piece on Brexit. The full missive is here, complete with a picture of Lynsey de Paul from 1977: https://northernumbrellablog.wordpress.com/2019/02/04/tha-brexit-tha-owns-it/ but this is a sample: “It’s not complicated.  Tory Brexit offers not one single thing that will help fix any of the North of England’s problems in any way.  It will just make all of them massively worse.  For Labour MPs this should be absolutely basic. Yet, last week in the House of Commons, Northern Labour MPs played a vital part in passing ‘the Brady amendment’, the bad taste joke that sends Theresa May back to Brussels to negotiate ‘alternative arrangements’ to the Irish border backstop that neither Brady, May nor anyone else can describe. It’s a debacle that destroys what little remained of the UK’s international diplomatic reputation and – unless reversed – will in time destroy the United Kingdom itself. It’s hard for anybody who gives a damn about our country’s future not to despair.

Despite the passion and commitment of many Labour supporters, some Labour MPs are doing The North no favours

But whilst there remains any slim chance of stopping Brexit, there is no better option than to soldier on.  The indefatigable Brexitometer volunteers are an inspiration. Our message is simple: in the North, the 2016 Brexit vote was never about the EU, it was about the state of us.  So let’s take a long hard look at ourselves and get serious about our choices.  Amazingly, there is still time to drop Brexit and get on instead with addressing our actual problems – our society, our environment, our economy and our democracy.  Or we can choose Tory Brexit and ruin”.

Follow Northern Umbrella on Twitter at @northernumbrel1

Bolton gets wired

This week saw the first electric trains through Bolton in normal revenue-earning service. Hooray! On Monday a class 319 electric operated a diagram which saw it shuffling between Manchester Victoria and Buckshaw Parkway.

An electric class 319 at Bolton on Monday of this week. Photo courtesy Bolton RUG

At the same time, work has started on the £1m station refurbishment project which includes bringing the currently empty an semi-derelict rooms at platform and upstairs level (see pic on right) back into useable condition. The agm of Bolton Station Community Development Partnership is this Thursday, so the timing is good, with positive news all round. The final icing on the cake is the suspension of RMT’s strike action over train staffing. The partnership will debate motions to become a full-blown community rail partnership for the Bolton area and move to a more formal legal structure.

A week in The Harz

I was last in the Harz region about five years ago. It’s a steam-lover’s paradise, as the sign at Wernigerode proclaims. However, I hadn’t been in winter.

An HSB train blasts up the last stretch to The Brocken

The idea was to get some glimpses of hard-working steam locos in snowy environments, and I wasn’t disappointed. And I should add, it was also a week’s holiday doing some good walks, enjoying local German food and drink and getting a bit of culture as well. In every respect, I wasn’t disappointed.

The Harzer Schmalspurbahn (HSB)

The extensive metre gauge network (140 km) is based at Weringerode, a delightful town at the foot of the Harz mountains. The HSB is owned by local authorities in the area and is a genuine example of local social enterprise. The influence of the HSB on the tourist economy is huge – a ride up to the summit of The Brocken is a must for every visiting tourist. As well as its base at Wernigerode HSB station (next door to DB), the railway has its own high street shop which sells tickets and a wide range of souvenirs. Whilst the branch from the Harzquerbahn at Drei Annen Hohne is the main tourist corridor, the HSB network covers much of the Harz region, running south to Nordhausen with branches to Hasselfedle and Harzgerode. The Selketalbahn, from Stiege to the historic town of Quedlinburg, is very attractive and well worth a trip. Services on the HSB are a mix of steam and diesel. Everything up The Brocken is worked by the chunky 2-10-2 tank locos mostly built in GDR days, in the early 1950s. There are, I think, 18 of these locos plus a further seven older locos.

At Schierke, getting ready for the big climb

Some fairly elderly, but refurbished, railcars operate some of the peripheral services and I rather like them. A fleet of 12 diesel locos (some standard gauge conversions) do a mix of empty stock workings, snow shifting and engineer’s trains. There is some steam to Quedlinburg and Hasselfelde, but not a lot in the winter season. At Hasselfelde there is a small railway museum and a snowplough sporting a Welsh flag! Sadly the museum wasn’t operating on the occasion of our visit but appears to be open most Saturday mornings.

Getting there and Wernigerode

We flew from Manchester to Hannover. The least said about air travel the better, I hate it. We stayed at the comfortable and convenient InterCity Hotel close to Hannover main station, taking the S-Bahn into the city. The automatic ticket machine at Flughafen was easy enough to figure out – but make sure you remember to validate the ticket. We didn’t and could have been fined.

Some echoes of Hannover’s socialist history survive, including ‘Clara Zekin Waye’

It was late so we had a light evening meal in the station’s Colosseum café. The following day we had some time to explore the city before heading east. The historic old town, virtually destroyed in the War, has been sympathetically reconstructed. There is an excellent tram network and most large hotels, including ours, offer guests a complimentary tram ticket (which also covers buses and local S-Bahn services). We made good use of it. Can you imagine hotels in Britain offering guests a public transport ticket? We still have much to learn from the Germans.

We were guided through the ticket options by a helpful young DB assistant. He advised getting a regional ticket which actually covers the entire German network, but is only valid on local and regional trains. It costs Euro 26 and was our best option for the relatively short trip to Wernigerode.

We took an afternoon regional express service, operated by ErixX, to Goslar. The former border between east and west is difficult to identify these days, though derelict factories are still a feature of parts of the former GDR. At Goslar, a busy junction station, there is a good connection for trains to Wernigerode (and on to Halberstadt). These services are operated by Abellio, on contract to the regional government (Saxon-Anhalt).

The station at Wernigerode is substantial, with a comfortable café and fully staffed booking office. Our hotel – the Altora – was a short walk from the station. It is quite a special place, strongly railway-themed and clearly aimed at the railway enthusiast (eisenbahn freunden) market.

That’s what I call service…at The Altora

The rooms are decorated with photos of HSB steam and the restaurant has a wide range of railway memorabilia. Drinks are served by an LGB Gauge 1 99 6001. There is also an elevated railway which uses the standard LGB 0-4-0 tank, often seen in Halliwell.

Over our seven days stay we got to know the town quite well. It is charming, with fine historic buildings. The castle (‘schloss’) literally towers over the town, linked by a ‘motor train’ and horse-drawn charabancs. The town hall (‘rathaus’) is quite spectacular. There is no shortage of good restaurants and cafes. Our favourites included the Wine Bar (Das Weinstübchen) down the main Breite Str., complete with a display of second-hand books, the Café Wien, close to the Rathaus, and Restaurant Nikolaiplatz, in the town square.

Getting around by bus and train

We made good use of the local bus network. There is a busy interchange adjacent to the DB station (about 1km from the town centre), with most routes serving the edge of the largely pedestrianised town centre. Wernigerode operates an optional tourist tax, based on the number of overnight stays. In return for paying the tax (which goes towards local infrastructure improvements) you get a book of ‘offers’ which include discounts in shops and restaurants, but also gives free travel on the local bus network.

HSB railcars at Eisfelder Talmuhle

It came in very handy on the days we didn’t have the Harz Tour Card – a 3-Day ticket which also included the local rail network including HSB services (apart from the popular section from Schierke to The Brocken).

Very good value at 27 Euros. It has to be said that some HSB conductors looked askance at our ticket and combined with our mutual incomprehension didn’t make for a stress-free journey.

Bus waits for train…

We tried to get an excess ticket from Schierke to The Brocken but in the event jumped out at Schierke and re-booked, with the benefit of half an hour in the delightful station café. We had no trouble with any of our tickets using the bus network and services were operated by good quality vehicles. The standard frequency, seven days a week, is hourly. One day saw us having a trip to Quedlinburg then a ride down the branch to Blankenberg along what becomes the fascinating Rubeland Railway. This has some preserved standard gauge steam operations, based at an impressive half roundhouse. Beyond Blenkinberg the line is independently operated by a freight company. It was electrified but the juice was turned off a few years ago. We arrived at Blenkinberg with the intention of finding a bus to take us back to Wernigerode. Our train arrived at the once-impressive station and there was a 260 bus waiting for us.

Local Operators

We used a mix of services provided by DB Regio (Hannover S–Bahn), Abellio (the local network around Halberstadt and Wernigerode) and ErixX. ErixX is an interesting operation, owned by OHE in Hannover. It won contracts from Lower saxony in 2011 which run to the end of 2019, but has gradually increased its portfolio. It uses a mix of Coradia Lint 41 and 54 diesel units.

Abellio LINT at Wernigerode

The ones we travelled on from Goslar to Hannover (LINT 54s) were comfortable and quite nippy. I liked the on-board magazine produced by ErixX which had a good community ‘feel’. Similarly the Abellio LINTs used around Halberstadt are comfortable and spacious. There are plans to convert most of the fleet to bi-mode (diesel and battery) operation. Interestingly, all trains had conductors. Abellio started their operations in this part of Germany as recently as December 2018.

Steam dreams

Most of the HSB’s steam fleet comprises the enormous 2-10-2 tanks. There’s also 99 6001 (I have the LGB model). It’s a 2-6-2 tank and was built in the late 1930s as a prototype for a new generation of branch line loc. The war stopped further development of the attractive loco. Apparently it has been out of service for some time in HSB’s Westerntor Works in Wernigerode. It also has some lovely Saxon-Meyer tanks used for special occasions. Railcar ‘infill’ services are operated by the comfortable railcars.

Heading for the summit…last train of the day, beyond Schierke

At the south end of the system, tram trains operate into Nordhausen. The place to see steam hard at work – probably the best place in Europe – is on the hard climb up The Brocken, one of the highest peaks in Germany at 1,142m. Footpaths parallel the line and even in snow it is possible to wind your way up and get a multitude of great locations. As well as the mandatory run up to The Brocken (with 99 7241) we had steam haulage down to Eisfelder Talmuhle, where we had a few minutes to get a beer in the delightful station café. We also picked up the morning steam run from Quedlinburg (dep. 10.30) to Alexisbad.

Walking in the Harz

Walkers are extremely well catered for in the Harz, with a network of well-signed footpaths. During our stay there was a very heavy fall of snow which brought out hundreds of tobogganers and ski-walkers. Which is all very well but it can make paths very slippery and I almost came home with a cracked skull after slipping. The longest stretch we did was from The Brocken summit down to Schierke. Thanks to a navigational error we walked a bit further than we needed to but it was well worth it. The summit was quite amazing with some fabulous ‘snow sculpures’.The previous week had seen the very rare sight of a train completely snowed up.

Bus and snow, Schierke

The loco’s motion had to be partially dismantled to get it back to works at Westerntor. We shared this walk with hundreds of others, but we preferred to get off the beaten track and do some ‘quieter’ walks. The path from Alexisbad to Magdesprung  (with a call at the wonderful Elysium Café) is lovely. It climbs high about the Selketal, with views of the road, railway and river far below. The path was developed by the communist youth (‘Pioneers’) in the 1950s, which included constructing a tunnel on the crags. A memorial from the Magdesprung Pioneers is carved into the rock. Magdesprung is a fascinating place – a former industrial village in a very rural setting.

The Pioneer Tunnel between Alexisbad and Magdesprung

The old factory is derelict though the machine shop is preserved. Even the village hotel is derelict, having caught fire a year ago. It presents a huge contrast to the chocolate-box tweeness of Quedlinburg (but why is the magnificent station building in such a terrible state?). Another lovely walk was from the HSB station, with its lovely café, down through the popular tourist village and along the ‘Cold Brook’ threading the Elendtal  (valley) to Elend.

The slightly surreal railway museum at Hasselfelde

The HSB’s Harzquerbahn serves the village though the former station café is closed. A good commercial opportunity for someone!

We made our way to the Waldbadschenke (which I think is Forest Lido) café. This was a real find, offering lovely food and a good jar of beer. The owner, Peter, enjoyed trying out his English as well as his saxophone playing (see right). A very useful publication, available in hotels and HSB outlets, is ‘Bahnfahren under Wandern Durch Den Harz’ (roughly, ‘Railway walks in the Harz’, correct me if I’m wrong). It is published by the HSB  and features 18 walks that can be done from HSB stations. They are of various distances and we did four of them, all a delight.

Day out in Rochdale

In my continuing quest to explore Lancashire’s former industrial towns, we had a pleasant day out to Rochdale last Saturday. Homage was paid to some of Lancashire’s great dialect writers, at the Rochdale Dialect Writer’s Memorial in Broadfield Park, overlooking the splendid town hall. It features Edwin Waugh, Oliver Ormerod, John Trafford Clegg and the remarkable Margaret Rebecca Lahee. More on her at a later date. We had a pleasant lunch in Touchstones Café (rag pudding! A fine local delicacy unavailable in Bolton) and enjoyed the permanent exhibition on the town’s history as well as the temporary display on health care and herbalism. But we were disappointed that the much-lauded ‘Clock Tower’ restaurant in the town hall was closed. It only opens Monday to Friday. Why for God’s sake? It is massively popular, opening, at the very least on Saturday, would make money for the local authority. It confirms lots of people’s prejudices about municipal enterprise (lack of). Rochdale has many natural advantages, above all its proximity to the moors. But the old town centre looks a mess. The arrival of Metrolink into the town centre has helped but what remains of the town’s shopping centre is in the hideous ‘Spinners’ shopping centre which we avoied. If we’d had more time we would have sampled a glass in the superb Baum pub and had a look round the Co-op Museum next door. But duty took us to Arcadia Models in Shaw to research LGB models of Harzquerbahn 2-10-2Ts. As one would expect, Tim had one in stock but I’ll need to save up the pennies to afford it.

Readers’ Rants, Ruminations and Reflections

Stuart Parkes comments on Bradford CrossRail: “As a Bradfordian, I agree about the need for linking the two lines and having a single station. Some Salvo readers may recall that there was a rudimentary link between the two systems until 1964 with the old single- track Great Northern line (freight only since the 1930s) from Shipley to Laisterdyke which could have been doubled and would have made possible services to Lancashire from Forster Square, for example. In the last years it was graced by Jubilees which were used for an evening freight from Bradford Valley to Healey Mills. They attacked the bank out of Shipley with great gusto.”

Allan Dare writes: “Bookshops: The Derbyshire Dales is a great area for quirky bookshops. Scarthin Books in Cromford village has a huge range of new and secondhand books on just about everything, very helpful staff, and a great coffee shop. It looks like (dis)organised chaos – the prototype for Terry Pratchet’s “L Space” – but in fact it’s well laid out. The shop is in the village centre, 10 minutes walk from Cromford station. En route you pass Cromford canal wharf and Arkwrights Mill, both of which are well with a look-round. Even more convenient for the rail user is Bill Hudson’s railway bookshop on Matlock station. This can be seriously bad for your wealth, and also for Derwent Valley Line punctuality (cue the driver who looked up from the book he was thumbing through, and “…B@&&3y hell, I should be at Ambergate by now!”

Bradford: A cross-city heavy rail link would be good, but a tram-train route connecting the suburban services to the north and south could be even better. Admittedly you’d lose the benefit of station consolidation, but against this it would be cheaper, and the street-level running would give much better accessibility to the city centre and help more in urban regeneration. Unlike the Sheffield tram-train this would be a completely new system so the costs of adapting differing standards would be avoided, whilst overhead+battery operation (as being implemented in Birmingham and Cardiff) would save both the cost and the visual intrusion of OHLE in the city centre.

Crank quiz: I suspect Hamilton Ellis was referring to the Port Carlisle “Dandy”. This was unusual not only for its equine motive power, but also for being an English branch line (or twig) operated by a Scottish railway (the NBR). Longer lasting was the Fintona horse tram in Northern Ireland, which ran until the politically-inspired closure of much of the old Great Northern of Ireland in 1957. As an aside, it was a pity that some of May’s £1bn bribe to the DUP was not spent on reinstating some of Ulster’s much-depleted rail network – but it would be a brave person who could argue the business case for a horse tram!”

Richard Greenwood writes: “Paul, I’m surprised that you don’t seem to have mentioned the re-opened ‘Railway’ pub across the road from Bromley Cross station. a mere cockstride from your new abode. Railway themed, it calls the room to the left of the entrance the “First Class Waiting Room” where a tv screen shows the live departures from the station. And it opens at 0600 for the benefit of commuters. And a visit to the gents is a sound decision. As well as four real ales. Combine it with a visit to Entwistle for the Strawbury Duck to while away a winter afternoon”. Thanks Richard, it is high on my list!- Ed

Dave Holliday observes: “Noting your comment on the Woodhead route, I would reference the EGIP project, and its 20+ year strategy to deliver a sensibly sequenced plan of manageable projects which have some options for moving around in sequence, but ultimately deliver a flexible and eventually resilient network.

The Woodhead route has a remarkable parallel with the Airdrie-Bathgate line – a 17 mile gap (vs 16) with the formation & wayleave largely preserved by a cycle route, and still connected with operational ‘stumps’ at Hadfield and Deepcar (with an interim option to reach Penistone the long way round via Barnsley). no constraining blockade limits means a clear run with a wayleave that can have 2 or 4 tracks in many places. The technique used at Farnworth may offer the option to re-bore one or both the old tunnels (1 x 2 track or 2 x 1 track) to a Berne Gauge clearance, and the access for unimpeded work will enable all structures between Hadfield and Penistone to be delivered with no gauge or route restrictions.

With this route opened (and if possible some new/reconnections at the East & West ends you can then have major blockades on the Standedge Tunnels (or Hope Valley) and work around them – clearly at the East end restoring a more direct route to Wath, which avoids Barnsley, and delivers a fast run to Leeds, noting that the original purpose of the Woodhead route was to link East Coast ports (Grimsby mainly, but also Hull via Thorne) with Manchester and Liverpool for freight traffic. Landing in Sheffield also connects to a surprisingly large extent of the former GC main line which still has trains running on it, albeit on a much reduced railway. It might be very revealing to review the extent of the route which is in this state, or retains formation and structures.

With the Airdrie-Bathgate services running plus the Kelvindale, and Cowlairs South Chord schemes we were then in a good place to shut Queen Street high Level for 6 months, using the increasingly connected railways across Central Scotland. A Woodhead reopening would unlock that for the Trans-Pennine routes”.



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: http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk/little-northern-books-2/