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. 267  July 19th   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

More apologies for such a long gap between Salvoes. There’s been a lot going on and saying anything about the current political situation risks a) being quickly proved wrong and b) antagonising at least one section of my readership. Yes, OK, it’s never stopped me before – but what is striking – and very sad about Britain at present is the ever-worsening divisions within our society. And what can you say about the prospects of a Johnson premiership? I’ve got quite a few mates in the Conservative Party who recoil at the idea as much as I do. Can I say anything original about Boris? No. So I’ll shut up. What continues to tire me out are the battles raging within Labour. I watched the Panorama programme about Labour ‘anti-semitism’  and was none the wiser at the end of it.

Danny Dorling and Sally Tomlinson’s book is a good if depressing antidote to a lot of the nonsense talked by Brexiteers

It’s clearly an issue that many in Labour feel very strongly about, but I just wish someone would present some clear evidence of this. Maybe I’m just thick and can’t see this staring me in the face. But I don’t accept that any criticism of the Israeli Government is ‘anti-semitic’, and neither do I think it’s racist to be against Zionism. I say this as someone who isn’t a member of the Labour Party and find ‘Corbynism’ politically unattractive. I get the point that former Labour staffers were making about party interference in inquiries, though this is probably something any party machine would do. I suppose I don’t particularly like political parties at all, though we’ve yet to come up with a form of democracy that can do without them. It’s almost inevitable that parties define themselves in opposition to other parties, particularly with our undemocratic voting system. But good to see an alliance of pro-Remain parties agreeing to put aside their differences and support one candidate in the Brecon and Radnor by-election. I very much hope the Lib Dem gets in.

Down to the sunny South

Southampton is one of those cities in the South of England that I’m not very familiar with. Interest waned after the end of southern steam in July 1967 and the departure of the Bulleid Pacifics, either to the scrapyard or preservation. But there’s more to Southampton than I’d thought. We were down for the ‘Community Rail Showcase’ event, hosted by local community rail partnerships and headed up by Bobby Lock and Nick Farthing. The event was held in the Southampton Harbour Hotel which, as the name suggests, is in the heart of the old ‘eastern’ docks and close to the old station terminal, much of which has survived, including the overall roof

Perhaps time to bypass traditional blocks of orthodox regional government and look at the Social Ecology/Democratic Confederalism mode – Murray Bookchin er al.. Signs of ‘old railway’ connections abound, with London and South Western Railway war memorials on the Wetherspoon’s pub and the impressive ‘South Western House’ now converted to luxury flats.

End of the Line..end of the Pier show at Lymington

Next door is the actual station building, now a ‘Genting Casino’, a term which means little to me, but suggests quite a lot. Across the road is the very fine ‘London Tavern’, one of the city’s long-established gay bars. Its main focus of interest is less the goings-on and more the superb tiling around the pub. The city is a curious mix of ancient, 60s modern and more recent (e.g. The West Quay Shopping Centre, reminding me of Birmingham’s Bull Ring). More development is underway by the historic Bar Gate, which once had trams passing through its historic gates. Surprisingly (in view of the Blitz and more domestic destruction) the ancient city walls largely survive and are easily traced. Pity the trams didn’t…

Branch line wanderings

The branch from Brockenhurst to Lymington Pier is a delightful bit of railway. Brockenhurst itself is a class rural junction station, with the branch ‘Flyer’ patiently waiting in the back platform for connecting trains from London. The station is well looked-after with many historic photographs adorning the waiting rooms. The branch itself has a half-hourly service, easily managed by the class 450 electric train which shuttles back and forth. The only intermediate station is Lymington Town.

The Lymington Flier heads towards the Pier

We took the train through to the Pier station and then headed back for Town station, which is a delight, especially at this time of year, thanks to the local station gardeners. There’s plenty of information about the work of the community rail partnership. Just up from the station is the Bosun’s Chair, with a pleasant beer garden. Further into the town it seemed polite to sample another of the town’s pubs, so we tested The King’s Head, which was also highly agreeable. Lymington has no shortage of places to eat but my heart was set on an interesting looking place at Brockenhurst station. Enzee’s Italian restaurant is located in the former goods shed and has retained the original hoist. Possibly it comes in handy for manoeuvring customers who have over-indulged. You couldn’t blame them as the food was very good. You also have a good view of comings and goings through the station. Sadly, no ‘West Country’ or ‘Merchant Navy’ Pacifics were seen, but lots of CrossCountry Voyagers and South Western Railway 450s and 442s (which look very good, refurbished).

Community Rail in the South

The conference in Southampton was attended by around 130 people, drawn from a mix of local business, voluntary sector and transport. This part of the South of England is well covered by community rail partnerships, including Lymington – Brockenhurst, Isle of Wight, Sussex, East Hampshire, Purbeck, and ‘Three Rivers’  (Salisbury – Romsey – Southampton).

Hoist by my own petard? The 30 cwt hoist inside the old goods shed at Brockenhurst, now the fine Enzee Restaurant

I came away impressed by what they were doing and weighed down by tons of literature promoting leisure travel by rail, bus and Hovercraft. It was good to see the very active engagement of bus and ferry operators. Andrew Wickham, MD of Go South Coast, is chair of his local CRP and was one of the speakers at the event. His talk was complemented by that of Neil Chapman, MD of Hovertravel, whose company has a very pro-active approach to community engagement. The railway interest was well represented at the conference and good to see old pals Jane Lee and Phil Dominey from South Western Railway.

New trains up North, and an old one too

It was nice to be invited to Northern’s launch of its new class 195 train on June 26th. We assembled at Platform 3c on Preston station and applauded the naming of 195.001 Proud to be Northern. Needless to say, the photographic opportunities were numerous. Good to see old pal Phil acting as guard, I hope he won’t mind be described now as an ‘old hand’ from Victoria. The trains are comfortable and nippy, though speed didn’t get very high as we were following a scheduled departure from Preston to Manchester. The new trains are mainly operating the Barrow and Windermere to Manchester Airport services, which mostly go via Wigan. Bolton will be getting some of the new class 331 electrics later this year to operate Blackpool services. I must say the refurbished class 319s currently operating services on the Blackpool to Victoria/Piccadilly corridor are very good, with lots of capacity and a great turn of speed. From July 29th we’ll be getting our TPE Scottish trains back, or at least some. Whilst they will be class 350s for the time being, before long there will be brand new trains on these services too. All very nice, but for stodgy traditionalists nothing beats steam, so make sure you are around on Saturday November 9th for a double-headed Black 5 to Carlisle, operated by West Coast Railways.I think there’s a steam run on August 3rd as well, possibly with LMS Jubilee ‘Galatea’.

Remembering Peterloo

August 16th 1819 was a terrible day for Britain. A huge pro-democracy demonstration in Manchester was attacked by a bunch of drunken yeomanry leaving at least 18 dead and hundreds seriously wounded. It was a callous and premeditated act of violence by the Manchester establishment towards working class demands for voting reform. The perpetrators were subsequently congratulated by the Prince Regent. The events on August 16th helped to further the cause of democracy throughout the 19th century.

The superb RMT ‘Paterloo’ banner, the folk memory of what happened in 1819 remains strong

Much has been written of the ‘Peterloo Massacre’ and Mike Leigh’s new film (reviewed in Salvo 264) has helped to raise awareness of this monstrous crime.  There have been talks, debates and showings of the film over the last few weeks. The commemorations culminate in a weekend of activities on Friday the 16th of August, and then on the Saturday and Sunday. Full details can be obtained on http://www.peterloomassacre.org/

The town of Westhoughton sent a contingent to the demonstration. Westhoughton Local History Group is organising an exhibition on Peterloo in the local library, from August 15th to September 30th. On the first day, August 15th at 10.00, the group is staging a dramatic production based on the Peterloo Massacre. Admission is free. There is also a small exhibition in Bolton Museum and a screening of Mike Leigh’s Peterloo on August 15th at 13.00 in the Central Library and Museum’s Lecture Theatre. Admission is free.

Platform Gallery opens!

The next train to arrive at Platform 5….. is a work of art. As part of the station’s current regeneration, a brand new art gallery has opened on Platform 5. At a reception on July 8th, attended by over 50 guests, the exhibition of University of Bolton students’ photography was opened by the Mayor of Bolton Councillor Hilary Fairclough. Before the official ribbon-cutting, speakers including Northern’s Regional Director Chris Jackson, Cllr Stuart Haslam of Bolton Council, Sam Jackson, Dean of Faculty of Arts at University of Bolton and Danielle Lahan from Network Rail welcomed the initiative.

The gallery project is a key part of the partnership’s vision to transform Bolton station into a thriving community hub, involving young people in a range of arts activities. Arts co-ordinator and vice-chair of the station partnership Julie Levy said “It’s wonderful to see what was once a boarded-up room full of junk, transformed into an art gallery. We’ve been delighted by the support we’ve received from Northern, Network Rail, TransPenine Express, station facilities managers ISS, contractors TMT and Transport for Greater Manchester. Several railway staff have given their time for free and we’re immensely grateful.”

Sam Johnson of the University of Bolton speaks at the opening of the Platform Gallery. Chris jackson to the right, our Hon. Solicitor Mike Morgan on the left witgh Cllr Stuart Haslam and Network Railwa’s Danielle Lahan in between, while Julie hides at the back!

Chris Jackson, Northern’s director for the company’s Central region, expressed delight at what had been achieved and reminded guests it was only a beginning. “We are looking forward to seeing much more of the station transformed into vibrant community spaces, including the former training rooms upstairs which have been out of use for several years. We are working with the partnership and the University of Bolton and Network Rail to make it a facility to be proud of.”

That woman again! Julie at the first day of the exhibition

Network Rail has been key partners in the project and have put substantial funding into the station to improve passenger facilities and provide the community space. Danielle Lahan said that Network Rail was fully committed to the project and had enjoyed working with their Bolton partners.

Sam Johnson, Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Bolton said she was delighted by the transformation of a room that had been out of use for decades and was now displaying quality art work by Bolton students. The university is aiming to take on the lease for much of the empty space on the station with a range of projects involving both students and the wider community.

Bolton Council has been a strong supporter of the project, with its Library and Museums Service being involved from the partnership’s earliest days. Councillor Stuart Haslam, Bolton Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport, paid tribute to the work that had already been done in what he described as an ‘amazing project’. After the speeches, Cllr Hilary Fairclough, May of Bolton, welcomed the new addition to Bolton’s arts scene and declared the exhibition open.

The exhibition is open to the public between July 18th and 20th as part of the Manifest Arts Trail taking place across Greater Manchester. It  is the first of many exhibitions planned for 2019/20. “We want to showcase local artistic talent,” said Julie Levy. “We are also keen to encourage railway workers themselves to submit their art work and we are working on plans for a world first – a national exhibition of Railway Workers’ Art that could rival the ‘Pitmen Painters’ from the mining industry”.

Aspinall returns to Bolton

Sir John Aspinall was the much-loved General Manager of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway.

Julie Levy (again), now chair of Bolton Station Community Development Partnership whose duties include being Official Piano Person

He was a familiar figure at Bolton and was for many years based at Horwich as Chief Mechanical Engineer of the L&Y. His picture adorns our Community Room and we have now acquired a machine which has been informally named after the great man. It’s a piano. It has pride of place in the Platform Gallery and will feature in the festivities on August 24th.

Lots happening in Bolton

In the same week as the Platform Gallery opened, Rail Minister Andrew Jones was in town to launch the DfT competition to find new homes for redundant Pacer trains. Appropriately, he arrived from Manchester on board one of the class 142 ‘Pacers’.

Station Manager Julie meets Rail Minister Andrew Jones after his journey from Manchester on a Pacer

He didn’t seem visibly shaken by the experienced and was welcomed by Northern’s station manager Julie Corke. He is an engaging minister, and spent a lot of time chatting to the pupils from St Catherine’s C of E primary School who are hoping to work with the station partnership on a station gardening scheme.

Bolton Area Community Rail Partnership was recently formed to build on the success of the station partnership but cover a network of lines radiating from Bolton (to Manchester, Preston, Wigan and Bromley Cross (on the Blackburn Line) where it has a seamless border with Community Rail Lancashire. The CRP has applied for membership of ACoRP and is hoping to become fully accredited later this year. Its priorities will focus on the ‘four pillars’ of the Community Rail Development Strategy, with an emphasis on well-being, diversity and inclusion, social and economic development and work with young people.

Beyond the Fringe

Bolton’s most popular event is the annual Food and Drink Festival which takes place over the August Bank Holiday Weekend, attracting thousands of visitors. Bolton Station Food Festival Fringe 2019 posterThis year, the station partnership is holding a ‘Festival Fringe’ on the station, so that visitors arriving by train are given a warm Bolton welcome. Lots of community groups will be having stalls to promote their group and offer arriving visitors some tasty snacks. The station event takes place on Saturday August 24th, between 10.30 and 16.00.

To Hunstanton, but not by train (yet)

One of my favourite railway films is Mr Betjeman Takes the Train. He takes it to Hunstanton, pronounced, so he tells us,  ‘Hunst’on’. And he travels on one of the new diesel railcars. He had a very good eye – and ear – for local and regional differences, sadly lacking in most ‘travel writers’ these days, to say nothing of national media. He also pointed out that the intermediate station serving the village of Snettisham is pronounced ‘Snetsham’. I hope it still is. I had a very pleasant trip to the Norfolk resort recently, though it’s no longer possible to get there by train. The branch from King’s Lynn closed in 1969, quite late. Had it survived a bit longer, who knows, it could have rivalled the Sheringham branch as a busy leisure and commuting service. The highlight of the journey was, and still remains, the wonderful ‘royal station’ of Wolferton, which served the nearby Sandringham Estate. It was built by the Great Eastern as a grand statement, with no expense spared. Whilst the station isn’t huge, it is superbly designed. Many of the original features, shown in the Betjeman film, have remained. Visitors are encouraged to wander round and it’s possible to hire part of the station as a holiday home.

Wolferton is just off the busy main A149 road. Driving out of King’s Lynn in the early evening is a bit of a nightmare and much of the traffic heads off towards Hunstanton. Could a re-opened railway provide a solution? Campaigners to re-open the line think so. They say: “The King’s Lynn — Hunstanton Railway Campaign is seeking to bring back the railway…

A lonely ‘home’ signal stands guard at the site of Hunstanton station

Much of the track bed still exists from King’s Lynn to Hunstanton.   The seaside town is increasingly popular throughout the year but the road traffic is becoming worse and worse.   Long tailbacks blight the journey for all, making what is a relatively short journey long, slow and tedious.
The economic, environmental and social benefits of bringing back rail are compelling.   Other examples of successful rail regeneration projects around the UK show that they provide equitable, safe, reliable services for passengers and freight, removing cars and goods vehicles from roads and offering a range of other regeneration and investment opportunities”.   Read more about other projects http://www.hunstantonrail.org.uk/

Portrush Flyer about to take off

This year the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland is running steam north of Belfast, on three successive Sundays in August, 4th, 11th and 18th.

A Sunday School special arrives at Whiteabbey in the summer of 1969, bound for Portrush

The train starts from Whitehead, the RPSI’s base, heads south to Belfast before the loco runs round and heads north via Ballymena and Ballymoney to Coleraine. Hopefully, former NCC WT (‘Jeep’) No. 4 will provide the motive power. Very happy memories of no. 4 and her York Road stablemates working Sunday School specials to Portrush, hauling heavy 11-coach loads up Mossley Bank. Owing to infrastructure constraints the train isn’t able to go down the branch to Portrush itself so terminates at Coleraine with a connection to Portrush provided by a Translink DMU. Fares on RPSI specials are very good value and it’s no wonder they quickly run out. So if you’re interested in these, and other tours organised by the society, visit www.steamtrainsireland.co.uk

Have a go! But be quick….

Has a transport initiative improved your everyday life, community or town? Nominations are open for the Transport Planning Society’s People’s Award. The award is looking for the UK’s best community focussed transport initiative. The society want to see transport projects that have involved communities and made a real positive difference to everyday life. You’ll have to be quick as nominations close on the 2nd of August. Shortlisted entries will be invited to a reception in Parliament hosted by Chair of the Transport Committee, Lillian Greenwood MP and the final award ceremony will take place at the Institution of Civil Engineers in November on Transport Planning Day 2019. You can find out more and nominate: https://tps.org.uk/transport-planning-day-2019/the-peoples-award

Garden Railway Extension Phase 2a complete

It took little more than half a day’s work by the Halliwell ‘New Works’ Gang to complete the new branch line from Halliwell Junction to ‘the summit’. The steeply-graded branch line winds its way through trees and shrubs to reach the new ‘alpine’ resort.

High in the Northern Hills, the 14.05 branch tram waits to depart from Halliwell Summit, Bolton’s answer to The Brocken

Weight restrictions and some tight curves limit the route to 0-4-0 tank engines and the resident steam tram. A more ambitious project is expected to be completed later this summer, with Garden Railway Extension Phase 2b taking the main line onto a larger circuit which will include some tunnelling and short viaduct.

Readers’ Rants, Ruminations and Reflections (mostly on our trip to The Harz)

Keith Sowerby writes on alternative democratic models: Perhaps time to bypass traditional blocks of orthodox regional government and look at the Social Ecology/Democratic Confederalism mode – Murray Bookchin et al.

Graham Nalty says: Good ideas. Cities create wealth and the larger the city, the greater the wealth per person. As Peter Black suggests, there needs to be organisations similar to Merseyrail in Manchester. Sheffield, Hull. Leeds, Bradford. Stoke. Nottingham – as in German cities. There is a lot left for development between cities and that is where these proposals serve.

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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.

You can probably get a better idea from going to my website: http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk/little-northern-books-2/