The Northern Weekly Salvo

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. 266  May 21st  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

It seemed a good idea to do a Salvo given the current political turmoil, but I won’t bore readers with too much tripe. I’ll leave that to the Tripe Marketing Board, whose indefatigable efforts to promote this traditional Lancashire delicacy are truly remarkable. This Thursday’s European elections will be a very interesting test of public opinion in all parts of the UK. The local elections showed significant gains for pro-Remain parties, whilst Labour languishes and the Tories are in meltdown. The Nigel-Farage-Vote-for-Me-Brexit-Party is winning significant support if the polls are to be believed. How anybody can put any sort of trust in that twerp is beyond me, but hey ho. I have to say that an unpleasant development in the campaign has been the waste of perfectly good milkshakes on people like ‘Tommy Robinson’ as well as Farageo. Whilst it might seem amusing, it could lead on to far less pleasant things being thrown at people. Stop it, please.

I’m in the peculiar position of being likely to vote for three different parties this year, assuming there’s a general election. I voted Lib Dem in the local elections, as the current councillors round here do a good job. It was made easier by the Greens not standing in my ward. For the Euros I’ve voted (by post) for the Greens. I very much hope they can get Gina Dowding elected; she is a very effective Lancashire county councillor and would be a great MEP, for however long. Even better that she’s named after a West Country Pacific (34052, Lord Dowding, not sure if she’s related). If there is a General Election I’ll vote Labour on the basis that they are best placed (at least for now) to defeat the sitting Tory MP in Bolton West. So this Thursday, if you want my advice (most of you won’t), I’d say vote Green, or Lib Dem as a second choice if you’re in non-Yorkshire England. I hope Plaid and the SNP do well in their respective nations. And over the hill, I’d love to see the Yorkshire Party make a breakthrough. Maybe someday we’ll have a Lancashire Party with fraternal un-milkshakeable links with the Tykes, we’ll see.

On a local level, the May elections in Bolton were remarkable. Decades of Labour control came to an end with a shift to the Tories and Lib Dems, but in particular a wipe out of Labour in my old home town of Farnworth. Farnworth and Kearsley First now has five councillors, and their sister party on the north side of town, Horwich First, has one. Whilst Labour emerged as the largest party, they were not able to agree a deal with the smaller parties. So we now have a Tory administration with a kind of ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement supported by all the smaller parties. Interesting times, to say the least. A period in opposition will be a good thing for the Labour Party in Bolton. Hopefully new leaders will emerge who have got a sense of dynamism and creativity which some would say has been lacking. I hope that some good councillors who lost their seats, not least John Byrne and David Chadwick who have both been involved with Bolton station, will make an early comeback.

Finally, sorry for the problems with my website and the last issue. The website was hacked, but installing an updated version seems to have sorted out the problem though some security software continues to advise users that I’m contagious. I suppose with these things you take a chance but I think it’s fair to say that “I’m no longer infected”. If you want to see the last issue it’s here: http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk/2019/05/01/northern-weekly-salvo-265/

A few days on Skye

Spring is a good time to visit Skye – there aren’t many midgies around and it isn’t thronged with tourists (not that my daughter objects, they’re good for business at the Isle of Skye Gift Shop.). I used the very handy ‘Grand Tour of Scotland’ ticket which allows you to do a round trip to Skye, from Glasgow/Edinburgh to Inverness, Kyle of Lochalsh, then bus/ferry to Mallaig and back on the West Highland. It’s very good value for money and covers four days travel in eight. It costs £89 or £58.75 with an old folks’ card which is very good value. The journey north was from Glasgow Queen Street to Inverness, with a change of train at Perth.

From a carriage window..my train snakes round Loch Carron towards Kyle

A very crowded 158 arrived from Edinburgh but I managed to get a seat with a very nice Australian couple who were exploring the UK by train (mostly). I had a similarly convivial journey on ‘The Jacobite’ from Mallaig to Glenfinnan, chatting with an Indian family from Mumbai (grandma and granddad with the kids of two generations). The journey from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh was, as always, magnificent.

My stay on Skye was all too short but we managed to get in a couple of walks and admire the snow-capped Cuillins.

Natasha outside the Isle of Skye Giftie Shop, a must-see place on anyone’s intinerary through Skye

Return was by a lift from Trevor (Skye Antiques, next to Natasha’s shop in Broadford) to Armadale and ferry to Mallaig, then behind 5407 on ‘the Jacobite’ which is always a pleasure.

Work on the extension to the West Highland Extension, viz. John Barnes’s garden railway is proceeding, though much more work remains to be done. However, the much improved walking trail from the station to the viaduct viewpoint is now open and is highly recommended. Congratulations to all involved. On the evening of my arrival at Glenfinnan the Barnes’s had arranged to go out for a meal. This involved a lengthy but very enjoyable trip to Corrour.

The Station Restaurant at Corrour

The station restaurant is legendary but it isn’t easy to include in an itinerary without a very long stay. However, we were able to get the late afternoon train to Corrour and have just under three hours before getting the last one back. Excellent food, company and location. The following day involved a leisurely departure on the 11.01 to Glasgow, coffee and cake at Glasgow Central with Mr Yellowlees and a fast run down to Preston on a Pendolino.

Transport in Towns

The Urban Transport Group (UTG) launched their new report on ‘About Towns – How Transport Can Help Towns Thrive’ at a workshop in Batley Town Hall on Monday. It’s a very useful and highly readable piece of work, highlighting lots of good examples – including community rail projects at stations including Kilmarnock. There were useful references to projects in other parts of Europe, including Lille and the Ruhr.  The workshop was managed by the New Economics Foundation, bringing together a diverse range of specialists including Sustrans, Carnegie Trust, Centre for Local Economic Strategies, Homes England. No. 10 Policy Unit and combined authorities. It was a very positive and truly wide-ranging discussion, going well beyond the usual confines of transport and a narrow focus on hardware.

The retiring mayor of Kirklees (and Salvo reader), Cllr Gwen Lowe, gave a warm welcome to Batley and its magnificent town hall. Gwen is Batley born and bred and she has been a brilliant ambassador for her town. It was quite poignant looking round the room with its plaques in honour of past mayors and aldermen, including one of my heroes, Ben Turner (dialect poet, socialist and one-time TUC president).

View from Batley Town Hall across the square

Even more telling was the view out of the town hall, across the square. Magnificent stone buildings very evidently in poor repair with cheap-jack signs defacing the frontages. The walk down from Batley station is also a sad sign of the times, with a series of fine buildings, mostly empty, with a few gaps where the integrity of the terrace has been spoiled by demolition. If we are serious about reviving our towns, it’s sorting out places like Batley that we should be measured by. The report is here: http://www.urbantransportgroup.org/system/files/general-docs/UTG%20About%20Towns%20AW_web.pdf

Friends of Batley Station

After the lively discussion in Batley Town Hall we walked up to the station for lunch in ‘The Jo Cox Cafe’, run by the resourceful Friends of Batley Station. You won’t be surprised to know that Gwen Lowe is chair of the ‘friends’ group, an initiative which was encouraged by the late and much-missed MP, Jo Cox. On the station platform there is a memorial garden for Jo, looked after by the Friends.

Gwen Lowe at The Jo Cox Cafe on Batley Station

The ‘cafe’ is not yet open n a regular basis; the Friends are waiting for a few jobs to be finished off, but progress is being made on other parts of the station. The once-depressing subway has a lovely mural celebrating the town, and the community garden is taking shape on Platform 1.

Bolton Station – new CRP to be launched

The station partnership management committee meeting has agreed that we go forward with the establishment of a community rail partnership for the Bolton area, covering all of the stations in the Bolton district but linking up with our friends in Community Rail Lancashire and individual station groups in Hindley, Walkden and elsewhere. We will use the Government’s new Community Rail Development Strategy as a framework. The inaugural meeting of the community rail partnership will be next month and invitations to organisations potentially interested will go out shortly. The Bolton Station Community Development Partnership will be an active player in the new CRP and carry on doing the good stuff we’ve been working on over the last 18 months.

Recently, we organised a guided walk with our members Bolton City of Sanctuary, from Entwistle to Bromley Cross. The next walk with City of Sanctuary is on Sunday June 16th.

Our last walk was from Entwistle to Bromley Cross

We’ll be exploring canal towpaths and disused railways around Adlington, with a walk led by our member Vern Sidlow. Meet 12.00 Sunday June 16th for the train to Adlington at 12.07. Bring food to share, wear strong footwear and be prepared for rain!

The next ‘open meeting’ is on  June 26th. Rowena Chantler, the partnership officer for the Penistone Line Partnership, will speak on the fascinating work they’ve been doing in creating a linear art gallery along the line, involving local schools and artists. Starts 7.30 in the Community Room on Platform 5.

We have continued our programme of visits to stations which are doing interesting things – the most recent was to Edge Hill and Irlam – each quite different, Edge Hill arts based, Irlam a great restaurant and museum but with fantastic art work. More trips planned, likely visits include Mytholmroyd and Hindley.

Discussions continue on the lease for the ‘community space’ between Northern, Network Rail and the University. While there have been some delays in the building work due to roof problems, work is proceeding on the renovation. It will look amazing when finished.

Volunteers from the Prince’s Trust have put another four planters in place on Platforms 4/5. Here, they’re making a start

The downstairs room next to our community group should be ready pretty soon and will be ‘the Platform Gallery’. A new initiative is a ‘reminiscence’ group. Local poet Peter Street is hoping to get a group of people together to talk about their memories of the station and train travel. Let us know if you want to be involved. We are also planning a monthly film night – films with a slight railway flavour but appealing to a wider audience than just ‘enthusiasts’…suggestions welcome, we have a few ideas in mind.

The next ‘big event’ is being planned for Saturday August 24th as part of Bolton Food and Drink Festival – very early days but we are hoping to have a number of stalls, offering a range of food with from local to international –  and a link to rail as a connector of communities, also local/international.

A Day for Denis

The sun shone, the people sang…and the bench was very comfortable. The ‘official unveiling’ of the bench in honour of Denis Pye was a wonderful event. It took place at one of his favourite places, the ILP Clarion House at Roughlee, in Pendle, last Sunday.

The memorial bench at Clarion House is unveiled

The Bolton Clarion Choir was in good voice and over 50 people attended the event to celebrate the memory of Denis, who died last year. Wendy declared herself well pleased with the bench, a fitting memorial to her late husband. The Clarion House is a great survivor, with a history stretching back over a century. It opens every Sunday, staffed by volunteers. The perfect place to have a picnic after a walk in the hills.

Walt Whitman is 200

The great American poet, Walt Whitman, was born on May 31st 1819. As regular readers will know, there are close connections between the poet and Bolton. The link began in the mid-1880s when a group of local people sent him a birthday message with a much-appreciated birthday gift of £10. This led to a connection with Whitman lovers in the US that has long-outlived the poet’s death in 1892, continuing to this day. A range of events are taking place in and around Bolton over the next few days, including a major international conference at the University of Bolton. On Friday May 31st (the poet’s birthday) I’m speaking at an afternoon event in Bolton Library with old pal Don Lee and librarian Julie Lamara. It starts at 13.00 and covers aspects of Whitman’s Bolton connections, followed by a walk round town to look at various Whitman locations. In the evening there’sa  performance of Stephen Hornby’s new play The Adhesion of Love, featuring the life of Bolton Whitman guru J W Wallace. Starts 7.30 at Bolton Socialist Club, 16 Wood Street. Admission fee £10.

The annual Whitman Walk is on Saturday June 1st, from the usual starting point – the bus terminus at Barrow Bridge. Full details of all the events are in the programme which is here: www.waltwhitman200.com and https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/whitman-200-international-conference-university-of-bolton-registration-53650122962

A special bi-centennial edition of my book With Walt Whitman in Bolton: spirituality, sex and socialism in a Northern Mill Town, is now available price £10 (inc. Postage to Salvo readers).

A REPTA weekend in Bristol

It’s not widely known that I’m the honorary patron of REPTA – The Railway Employees’ Passenger Transport Association, formerly The Railway Employees’ Privilege Ticket Asociation, formed in 1893 to develop cross-company co-operation in priv travel for rail staff. During its heyday in the BR era it had over 60,000 members. Today it’s down to 5000 but still offering a very good social network (it describes itself, in suitably William Morris terms, as ‘a circle of good fellowship’) and a means of obtaining useful discounts on insurance and other services. My patronal duties basically involve attending the annual gathering, which includes an enjoyable get together on the Saturday night, followed by the AGM on Sunday morning at which I deliver a short homily.

David Scott tells one of his jokes at the REPTA dinner

We took the opportunity to have a mooch round Bristol and meet up with old pal Ian Hall who introduced us to the excellent cafe in The Paintworks, close to St Philips Marsh (82B). The evening social and dinner was enlivened as ever by David Scott, one of the REPTA stalwarts, amusing us with his toasts and jokes, usually with reference to the Church of Scotland. To learn more about REPTA visit www.repta.org

‘We All Share The Same Skies’ – Regionalism for a Changing World

One of the most exciting developments in regionalist politics and thinking has been the ‘Same Skies’ collective in Yorkshire. Its first event was a conference held in Manningham (Bradford) back in 2016 on the theme of ‘What Kind of Region Do We Want to Live in?’ Subsequently, ‘Same Skies’ organised stalls at Saturday markets in towns across Wets Yorkshire, getting people’s ideas and reactions. The group has now published a wonderful collection of essays on the same theme. What kind of region do we want to live in? is all about region-building ideas and activity in West Yorkshire. It covers a very wide range of issues, many of which have hardly been addressed in the debate around regionalism. Ian Martin contributes an excellent piece on ‘what could regional democracy mean for asylum seekers in West Yorkshire/’ and Peninah Wangari-Jones focuses on mental health issues in Yorkshire’s black community. Tabatha Bast makes links between Yorkshire regionalism and the Kurdish struggle for self-determination, in ‘What can West Yorkshire Learn from Rojava?’. There are so many really stimulating and challenging essays in the collection, I can’t recommend it too highly. My one question for the collective is a geographical/cultural one. Why just focus on West Yorkshire, which is a pretty artificial creation of the 1970s? There is a lot of positive debate going on around the ‘One Yorkshire’ project, and the Yorkshire Party has been making some inroads into local councils. If the radical thinking within ‘Same Skies’ could link up to the discussion around future governance, some very exciting things could come out of it. Bringing anti-racist campaigners in Bradford together with rural activists in East Yorkshire could lead to a very interesting sharing of ideas. The book costs £10. For details of how to get it, go to wesharethesameskiesblog.wordpress.com

 

Readers’ Rants, Ruminations and Reflections

Some readers managed to get to read the last Salvo. Here’s a couple of responses:

Peter Kirkham writes from Hamburg: Bill Jamieson (Salvo 265) has posted some really great pics on the German section of the FotoCommunity website. So the book should be excellent. Speaking of authentic, if obscure, BR steam post 1968, the Humber ferry was a coal fired side paddle steamer that lasted in service until 1978. BR operated this classic steamer from the station at New Holland Pier to Hull. I copped this ‘namer’ while on an East Midland Rover ticket back then.

Allan Dare comments on Northern Irish Steam: The NCC Jeeps were wonderful engines. Many years ago I went on an RPSI tour around the west of Ireland, with no. 4 on the head end. The last leg was a run back to Belfast (and Whitehead). As is the convention in Ireland the tank loco was turned at Dublin Connolly (we had come in on the MGWR route) – but the turntable jammed. By the time that was sorted we were very late off Dublin, and missed the connection with the last local train of the day at Portadown. It was therefore agreed with NIR that the special would run all stations, to drop off passengers living south of Belfast. Late at night, a 2-6-4t with 8 on, a crew keen to get home, accelerating hard away from each stop – magic! The buffet car Guinness was pretty good as well…

And thanks to avid Salvo reader John Yellowless for this picture promoting Fife’s ‘ArtLine’ – must get a visit in this year…

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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 £10.00 including post and packing. New bi-centennial edition published in May 2019. 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/