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. 268  August 3rd   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.

“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

Trottings: general gossip and revival of an old title/s

Here is the August ‘Salvo’, with no need to apologise for too long a gap. At this rate it’ll be weekly, as its’ name misleadingly suggests. A week’s holiday in Scotland was a good opportunity to ponder on stuff I’m doing and one conclusion reached was a risk of making the ‘Salvo’ possibly a bit too Bolton-focussed. The Salvo readership extends far beyond the confines of Trottertown, to such places as New York, Berlin, Darjeeling and even into Yorkshire. So whilst I will maintain some local Bolton news in The Salvo, there will be a new occasional organ which will revive the name of Th’Bowtun Loominary, published in the 1860s by the estimable writer J.T. Staton. I might make one concession to the English language and call it Th’Bowton Loominary but otherwise it will follow Staton’s exotic mix of comment, satire, literary comment, observations and more.

Allen Clarke, editor and publisher of The Trotter and Teddy Ashton’s Northern Weekly

The other option is to pinch the title of one of Allen Clarke’s earlier journalistic ventures (before his Northern Weekly), viz., The Trotter, which he produced in 1892 as a weekly. Back in them days there weren’t many interesting eating places to visit and people didn’t have much time to go off on country walks. So these will be a feature of the ‘new’ Trotter/Loominary.  Contributions are welcome (and views on title) – it would be good to have a Wanderers correspondent, given that football isn’t one of my specialities but realise it’s of interest (and current concern) to many Boltonians.

Political comment

The outcome of the Brecon and Radnor by-election was pretty much as forecast by the governing party, except that the Lib Dems won. But really, how they could have expected the previous incumbent to be re-elected remains a surprise. Of course, the victory for a pro-Remain candidate, supported by the Greens and Plaid Cymru, was strongly backed by The Salvo whose intervention may have clinched the result. It was The Salvo wot won it… But no, perhaps not. Yet it was a great victory for progressive politics and a result which leaves the Johnson Government’s grip on power increasingly tenuous. Johnson’s reign may prove to be a short one, he’s a risk taker but regardless of that he may have no option but to go to the country and take his chances. Brecon and Radnor isn’t a particularly good indication of how the country as a whole is thinking, but I’m no longer sure where is. From casual conversations in Scotland, Johnson seems widely loathed though there aren’t many Tory seats left to defend – winning anything more north of the border seems highly unlikely. His ‘quintessentially English’ (yuk) contrived buffoonery may go down well in parts of the South of England but I’m not sure it plays so well up North. Some may be inclined to give him a chance but the glitter will fade very quickly – so another reason for an early election. And of course there are those turbulent priests in his own party who may force his hand rather than accept a disastrous ‘no deal’ Brexit.

But let it not be said that The Salvo doesn’t give credit when it’s due. The announcement of funding for ‘left behind’ towns may be a pre-election gimmick but it’s to be welcomed. And if he has the guts to cancel HS2 and divert some of the money into improving rail services in the North, good. The announcement on a new high-speed rail link ‘from Manchester to Leeds’ wasn’t exactly new, but if it comes a step nearer to reality, well and good. As always with these things the devil is in the detail. I am totally unconvinced that routing a new line via Bradford makes any sense other than as a political sop to ‘left behind’ Bradford. As argued in previous Salvoes, the most sensible route would be via Woodhead with a new route curving northwards after Dunford Bridge. Bradford needs its own CrossRail, which could be achieved far quicker (and more cheaply) than HS3 or whatever it’s called.

But going back to the wider issues of contemporary UK politics….a late 2019 election won’t produce the strong tilt towards Corbyn which we saw last time round. A lot of traditional Labour voters, self included, will think very hard about voting for a Labour Party that has been utterly hopeless on the biggest immediate issue facing us (i.e. Brexit, not electrifying Lostock – Wigan – and, yes, climate is the biggest issue overall and Labour’s not really shone on that either). I just hope the pro-Remain parties get their acts together and work out an agreed way forward, which I suppose means the Greens giving Lib Dems a clear run in many English constituencies, but offering scope for Green candidates where they have a good chance of winning. Sadly that doesn’t include Bolton West.

It would be great if Labour was part of that alliance but I can’t see it happening, despite Paul Mason’s thoughts in Saturday’s Guardian in which he revives the idea of a 30s-style ‘Popular Front’. In actual fact, the Labour leadership resisted the notion then and I don’t think anything much has changed in its tribal attitudes. However, given the growing tensions within Labour, as well as the Tories, it would be interesting to see if local deals are done despite leadership disapproval. Current political arithmetic suggests that a Tory/Brexit party deal would win them quite a few seats, but equally so would a Labour/Lib Dem/Green alliance in England. Don’t hold your breath.

Salvo in Scotland

It’s a little known factoid that Salvo has some roots, however tenuous, north of the Border. Apart from a daughter and a number of grandchildren on Skye, the Salvesons first entered this spectred isle via Leith and stayed there for a wee while. I’m not sure how long and I don’t think they are related to the fabulously rich Christian Salvesen lot, though you never know your luck. There are grounds for speculation that the Lieutenant Salveson of Quintinshill fame (Britain’s worst rail disaster when a troop train of the Royal Scots regiment from Leith collided with a northbound express near Gretna). But anyway. The air always feels fresher when I get across the border, but that’s maybe because there’s very little traffic in the Borders, at least off the M74. I certainly believe that the North of England has, and always has had, more in common with the Scots than the southern English and that is becoming more pronounced by the day. Roll on a federal Britain with northern regions working harmoniously with Scots, Welsh and Irish nations.

A week’s ‘holiday’ in Fife was a great tonic, even if part of it involved a bit of work I’m doing for Scottish CRPs. We spent a week in ‘Kilbride Cottage’ (easily googleable, and recommended or www.kilbridecottage.co.uk) which is quite near Cupar and very close to the long-abandoned North Fife Line from Wormit to Newburgh. It was well located for getting into Dundee and Perth, as well as walking the Fife Coast. A bit more of ‘what we did on our holidays’ follows. Hard-line Salvistas will condemn me for driving but it is hard to get around some parts of rural Fife without a car and we did use public transport, well just a bit.

And it could be argued that it was a judgement; travelling just north of Penrith we experienced a tyre blow-out. It was quite dramatic, and potentially fatal.

Interlude on the M6 at Calthwaite. WCML in background

With skilled use of the driving wheel and much more sheer luck the car was manoeuvred off the motorway and we had a relatively short wait for the road rescue. The one consolation was being right next to the West Coast Main Line (Calthwaite) so could do a bit of hard shoulder-side train spotting while we waited. There wasn’t much to see. We were on our way within an hour and headed north via Longtown and Eskdalemuir, with a visit to the remarkable Samye Ling Buddhist Monastery. Buddhist, Hindu, Atheist or Catholic, who cares – the cafe does great coffee and it’s a lovely place to wander round. Suitably refreshed and at least a bit more enlightened, we continued via Peebles, Penicuik and the Forth Bridge arriving at our wee bothy in the early evening, with no further excitement.

Stations that are special

Our Fife base was a good place for visiting some interesting stations and places. One day was spent on a trip to Pitlochry, with a short stay in Dunkeld and Birnam. Yes it’s called that and we did visit both Dunkeld and Birnam, having lunch at the excellent, but threatened, Birnam Arts Centre. Sadly the adjacent bookshop was closed for the day.

The porter at Pitlochry

Pitlochry station was looking wonderful as ever, with planters at their best and time for a quick browse in the Station Bookshop.  Another day featured a trip to Auchterarder and the station that tries to serve it, Gleneagles. The actual Auchterarder station is long gone, along with the nearby Crieff branch. The junction was at Gleneagles, originally ‘Crieff Junction’. Gleneagles station is a sort of inland Wemyss Bay, a product of that amazing belle époque of the Caledonian Railway, just before the outbreak of World War One. It was rebuilt and re-named by The Caley to capitalise on the opportunities afforded by the growing golf craze and proximity to The Gleaneagles Hotel, which is today more like a small city. The station has had considerable investment by that most excellent body, the Railway Heritage Trust.

Historical display in waiting room at Gleneagles

There is a very good exhibition in the up and down side waiting rooms on the history of the area. Yet the sad thing about Gleneagles station is that there’s not much going on. Attempts have been made to make good use of some of the rooms but really it needs a number of complementary activities to bring it to life and become an attraction in its own right.

No trip to Fife would be complete without a visit to Aberdour. My connections with the station go back to July 1966, when a young lad wandered down to the station (we were camping nearby during our school railway society Scottish shed-bash) to see what was happening. It was a fine Sunday morning and obviously the best source of information on train movements was the signalbox, conveniently located on the ‘up’ station platform.

Blue Peter passing through Aberdour, July 1966

The kindly ‘bobby’ told me that there was a very special ‘steamer’ coming through any minute. I positioned myself on the platform and got a half-decent shot of Peppercorn A2 Pacific 60532 Blue Peter heading on one of its last runs in BR service. So it was really quite special going back into the signalbox which has now been finely restored (again, thanks to Railway Heritage Trust) and is used as an artists’ studio by Lynette Gray, who spends most of her time at the station gallery in Kinghorn, just up the line. We were lucky to catch her in Aberdour as it was the annual village festival and the signalbox was open to the public as one of the venues on the village art trail. The delightful work of her colleague Paul Bigby was also on display.

Another artistic station in Fife is Ladybank with not one, but two, artists’ studios. We called in but neither were open. All of these artistic stations, and others (Burntisland, North Queensferry, Inverkeithing) are linked by the Fife Artline which has its own website – http://www.theartline.co.uk/

Another evening featured a visit to Cupar station and the splendid Heritage Centre which is located in the station building. And yes, you’ve guessed, another RHT project, and like all the rest encouraged and enabled by ScotRail’s ambassador John Yellowlees.

Cupar in bloom! Pat on left, Guthrie second left, followed by JY and Linda

We arrived the day before the town being judged for the Fife in Bloom competition and I’m sure the state of the station gardens would have given the town some additional points. They looked wonderful, a great tribute to Pat, of Cupar in Bloom, and her volunteer colleagues. We were given a tour of the Heritage Centre by Guthrie Hutton who chairs the heritage group which is part of ScotRail’s excellent station adoption programme. Downstairs there are two exhibition rooms, with space upstairs for archives and research. The current exhibition (alongside the permanent display) features local shops – a brilliant idea, very professionally done.

It wasn’t all trains

As well as visiting all these very special stations we did find time to get to Dundee’s new V&A gallery, located alongside (and partly in) the River Tay. The building itself is remarkable and we enjoyed the exhibitions, particularly those on Scottish design.

Verdant Works, Dundee, newly-opened section

Some have said that the space is quite small – well maybe so but I liked the fact that there wasn’t too much, and what was there was high quality. Also within the city centre is the textile museum in Verdant Works. Dundee was the world centre of the jute industry and the museum is a superb reminder of how important the industry was. It has a strong emphasis on the social history of the jute industry and the hard conditions the mostly female jute workers endured – and challenged.

Fife has many wonderful gardens. We found the Quaker-inspired Backhouse Rossie gardens near Auchtermuchty really special, and good to meet up with Dave and Diane Prescott for a late lunch in the cafe. Kellie Castle and Gardens were also a very enjoyable visit, with gardens inspired by arts and crafts ideas.

Kellie Castle and Gardens, by Pittenweem

In neighbouring Perthshire we visited the Drummond Castle gardens near Crieff. These are quite astounding – very formal and not really my thing, but hugely impressive for their sheer scale. Not exactly a garden as such, The Pillars of Hercules near to Falkland, was a good place to enjoy a vegetarian lunch, talk Scottish politics with Ken Ferguson (who edits Scottish Socialist Voice and is an old CP mate) and buy a few plants. Falkland Palace itself is worth a visit, particularly for its gardens which are wonderful (and the plants are well labelled). The village itself is notable for its large number of gift shops.

The Fife Coastal Path is a magnificent walk. We only did a wee bit and I’m not even going to say how far or you’ll laugh. But it included the lovely fishing villages of St Monan’s and Pittenweem and we were able to use the local bus service – runs half-hourly – to get back to our starting point. But what a shame the railway was closed. Efforts are underway to re-open part of it towards Leven, but I doubt that Anstruther (whose entry in the Ian Allan Loco Shed Book used to fascinate me as a young train-spotter, with its sub-shed of Thornton) will ever see trains again.

The Pleasures of Reading (not Didcot)

On our recent trip we reversed at Reading, as CrossCountry trains have a habit of doing. We were on our way to Southampton which was covered in Salvo 267. But, as John Betjeman found when he was asked to talk about ‘The Pleasures of Reading’ I’m not concerned with that expanding railway centre, but with books.

Holidays are a good time to read. Despite our station wanderings and garden visits (by the way somebody should devise a shed code equivalent for gardens – suggestions welcome – they could even match historic locomotive shed codes in terms of geography, or maybe they should be thematic) we did find time to read a bit. That’s a very long sentence.  I’ve been wading through the new biography of historian and errant communist E.J. Hobsbawm, by Richard J. Evans. It’s a very good (and lengthy)book and gives very helpful context in terms of the politics and culture of Britain and Europe as a whole from the 1930s to the turn of this century. Hobsbawm was an inspiring writer and a very intelligent political thinker and historian. I met him a couple of times and found him a bit of a cold fish, certainly not someone you could warm to. But so what, he wrote some excellent books, not least (my favourite) Labouring Men, a collection of essays on aspects of working class history.  The book has its faults and reflects Hobsbawm’s own slight lack of understanding of the North of England. Wakefield is described as a ‘small town’ up North where the women apparently worked in textiles. Did he mean somewhere else? But that’s a small gripe. One of the interesting aspects of the book is its extensive use of MI5 files. Our wonderful defenders of freedom and democracy bugged Communist Party HQ and this enabled his biographer to access a lot of material which would otherwise have not been recorded. I didn’t realise the extent of Hobsbawm’s estrangement from the CP during the 1950s and 1960s. It’s surprising on one level that he stayed in, but maybe not in others. The Communist Party came close to resembling a religious cult in the 1950s and leaving the one true faith would have been too much for many adherents, even including someone with a brain the size of a 9F such as Eric. EJH became a key figure in the CP’s move to embrace ‘Eurocommunism’ in the 1970s, when I met him.  Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History, will set you back £35.

I’m re-reading W.G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn. Sebald is possibly the most interesting writer of the late 20th century, and his appeal is increased by having more than a passing interest in railways.

WG Sebald

The Rings of Saturn is ostensibly a description of a walk along the Suffolk Coast, but is so much more than that. I regret not having met Sebald to talk about trains, walks, politics and England. Somerleyton station is featured, as well as the Emperor of China’s narrow-gauge train which ended up on the Southwold Railway.

A very quirky and slightly cheeky writer was Karel Čapek, who was – as the name suggests – Czech. I’ve decided to take a more structured interest in gardening (i.e. as opposed to just throwing a few seeds around, hacking stuff back when it’s overgrown and digging up weeds). So, probably mistakenly, I delved into Čapek’s The Gardeners’ Year, first published in 1929. It’s very entertaining though of limited use in my efforts to become a proper gardener. He has some interesting things to say, however, about railway gardens. He refers to ‘railway station flora’ (actually translated as ‘train station’ but we’ll draw a veil over that) and suggests a division into two sub-classes: Platform vegetation and the stationmaster’s garden. “On the platform, usually hanging in baskets but sometimes seen on window ledges or in station windows, Nasturtiums fare particularly well, plus Lobelias, Geraniums, Petunias and Begonias, and, at higher-class stations, sometimes also Dracaenas”. He compares this with the stationmaster’s garden which is “botanically les distinctive; Rises can be found in it, Forget-Me-Nots, Pansies, Lobelias, Honesysuckle and other sociologically less differentiated species.” He also refers to a further sub-class of signalmen’s flora which include “Marsh Mallow, which is also known as Hollyhock, and Sunflowers, as well as Tropaeolum, rambling Roses, Dahlias and sometimes also Asters; obviously these are mostly plants which stick out over the fence, perhaps to please the passing engine driver.” The later observation, having known many signalmen in my time (and been one myself) seems unlikely, but interesting comments all the same.

A World First for Railway Art? A call to artistic railway workers

Bolton Station’s new Platform Gallery had a successful first show in July, with an exhibition of University of Bolton students’ photography. Coming shortly is an exhibition of Bolton Documentary Photography Group’s work. Then in September there’s something quite new.  An exhibition celebrating the artwork of railway men and women is being held at the gallery.

ISS worker and artist Richard Hall (right) with Bolton artist Phil Porter

The organisers are calling for railway workers to submit their work for possible inclusion. “We think this is a world first”, said Bolton Station Community Development Partnership chair Julie Levy. “There has been no shortage of railway art, but usually by artists outside the railway industry. We see this as an opportunity for budding rail worker artists to gain some recognition, as well as celebrate the work of earlier railway artists – if we can find them.”

During the period of the exhibition, from 7th to 21st September, the station partnership will be running a series of talks, poetry readings, films and musical events celebrating railway culture. A certain Paul Salveson (former Bolton signalman and railway guard) will give a talk on two talented but neglected railway worker-poets: signalman Walter Sinkinson (Heaton Lodge/Mirfield) and guard Joe Smythe (Manchester Victoria).

The exhibition has parallels with the famous ‘Pitmen Painters’ of the Ashington coalfield in Northumberland. However, whilst little remains of the British mining industry, our railways are experiencing an era of growth. “It will be wonderful to highlight the artistic talent that exists today in Britain’s railways,” said Julie Levy. “We want to hear from artists – in any media – who are interested in exhibiting. The subject matter can be anything – it doesn’t have to be railway scenes, though they are welcome. Active or retired railway workers are all welcome to submit their ideas.” Potential exhibitors should contact Paul Salveson on 07795 008691 or email paul.salveson@myphone.coop for further information.

Other Bolton things

Plans for the station ‘Food Festival Fringe’ for Saturday August 24th are coming along nicely. We’ve about 12 stalls booked so far, as well as musicians and a troupe of African dancers. The Bolton aFood and Drink Festival has become a major event, taking place over the August Bank Holiday weekend. We’re trying to encourage people to visit the festival by train and provide a welcome for them on arrival. Stalls are free to community groups and small businesses. Contact via the Salvo for more information.

  • The next station partnership/City of Sanctuary walk is on Sunday September 1st, starting from Bromley Cross station on arrival of the 12.12 train from Bolton.
  • Bolton Area Community Rail Partnership is now established and working with ACoRP to gain DfT accreditation. More on this in next Salvo.

Crank Quiz

Not had one for a few issues but try this out. It has a Scottish theme. Name stations and railway locations (open or closed) in Scotland which have reference to months of the year or seasons.

Readers’ Rants, Ruminations and Reflections

Walter Rothschild writes in: “Dear Paul, I have to rise to the bait concerning criticism of Israel and whether or not this can be classed as ‘Antisemitism’. (This is a daft word coined in the 19th. century, since technically Arabs are also semites….) I think the basic rules of thumb are:
– Why is someone criticising? e.g. are they personally involved, have they personally or someone they love experienced some problem?
– What are they criticising? Is this a genuine grievance or just some set of difficult circumstances?
– On what basis are they criticising? (i.e. do they know what they are talking about?)
and:
– Are they consistent? i.e. do they criticise the same injustice everywhere, or just in one place?

We could apply this to people who complain that ”The railways are rubbish” though they haven’t used them for years but have heard from a neighbour’s friend that they once missed a connection, the type who complain that railways get subsidised but ignore subsidies for roads or aircraft, who ignore accident statistics (and their costs), etc. Quite rightly we would fume at such ill-informed, prejudiced, ignorant, inconsistent claptrap.

So – when people repeatedly and viciously criticise the actions of just ONE foreign government or leader but ignore the actions of all others, especially when they have never been there and have their information only from polemical and biased sources, I think one is entitled to query whether this is legitimate political analysis and criticism or just picking on one group. And since the country in question is the ONLY state governed largely by and for Jews, then one is entitled what makes this stand out so much from the many, many other countries which, over the centuries and decades, have occupied territories, have moved borders, have absorbed new immigrants, have defended themselves against external and terrorist attacks, have formed alliances with people you don’t like, etc.
That’s all. Feel free to criticise the treatment of minorities in Burma, the Philippines, Iraq, the Ukraine, China and Israel – but not JUST Israel. Feel free to criticise the role of religion in influencing politics in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan Iran, the USA, Italy India and Israel, – but not JUST Israel. Then everyone would be in agreement.
Like him or not, Netanyahu keeps being re-elected. In contrast, Abbas was elected once – in 2008, but he just stays there – and no-one running Hamas or Hisbollah has been elected at all. Anyone presuming to criticise a country for not being democratic must at least be consistent about this!!”

Peter Clare writes from the fastnesses of West Lancashire: “ Hi Paul Thanks to your blog and the arguments presented by Walter Rothschild my view on anti-semitism has developed. Before reading Walter’s contribution I was in general agreement with your view. Now I think that a constant “picking on one group” is wrong. Would be very interested to hear your response to Walter.” (see below, ed.).

Response: Walter makes some good points though I’d say certain of his ‘grounds for justified criticism’ are mistaken. I really don’t think you have to go to a place to make justified criticisms. You didn’t have to go to South Africa to see that apartheid was wrong, you don’t have to go to Tibet to recognise that China’s treatment of the indigenous population is unacceptable, etc. This notion of “you’ve never been there, what do you know?” has been used for far too long to stifle criticism of the existing order. I remember talking to some white pro-apartheid South Africans who said exactly this. You can live in a place all your life and be blind to what’s happening, if not an accomplice. Equally, you don’t have to have any personal stake in an issue to feel strongly about it; fortunately we have not reached a stage of being utterly unconcerned with anything that doesn’t directly impact on us. That’s why millions of people in this country support and give money to flood relief, poverty campaigns and other causes in which they have no personal stake. It’s about wider personal responsibility. I’ve no personal stake in ‘The Palestine situation’ and know people from both Arab and Israeli backgrounds, and have respect for all of them. You look at the evidence and make a judgment. I’ve no fondness for Hamas or Hezbollah but I don’t find that justifies Israel’s treatment of its Arab minority or its actions in Gaza and the West Bank. Where Walter is on stronger ground is his condemnation of people who only criticise Israel and ignore other oppressive regimes. But who are these people? My experience of most pro-Palestinian campaigners is that they also feel strongly about other injustices around the world. But there’s only so much you can do. I know several people, including some Jews, who have visited Palestine’s occupied territories and developed close bonds of friendship with local people. So it becomes a personal attachment, even if it wasn’t at the start. Ultimately, the Arab-Israeli conflict will be resolved by talking to each other and recognising each other’s positions and concerns. The alternative is an escalating conflict which would drag us all into, with horrific consequences.

Pat Morley comments: “Hello Paul,I don’t usually enter the fray of political comment by e-mail but I couldn’t agree more with your view of the Panorama programme re antisemitism in  the Labour party. I am not a member. I am totally against the Israeli policies re Palestine but that is not antisemitism! Surely antisemitism is criticising Jews because they are Jews .How could the BBC produce such a programme without giving any clear evidence to back up the claim? I think that they have fallen into a trap laid by a constant smear campaign from right wing press and the Tory establishment which has been relentless and felt pressure to address a hyped-up issue. I think Mr Rothschild is missing the point. Is he saying that Israel is beyond criticism unless you include every other perceived injustice in the world? I don’t think Salvo is the instrument for a full blown debate on the Israeli government and its policies so I will leave it there”.

Conrad Natzio recalls: “I hope Brockenhurst station buffet is still open (though superseded perhaps by the Italian in the goods shed) – I was once a fairly frequent visitor (50 and more years ago, I suppose), even after the demise of the Bulleids, when the need for a day’s walking in the New Forest arose after a week’s work in Middlesex. There was trouble once over the origins of the pheasant sandwiches, indeed I think criminal proceedings: any record in the archives of the Station Buffet Society?” (ed: sadly not, Conrad, they were destroyed in The Blitz)

Aidan Turner-Bishop corresponds: “It’s good to hear about parts of Bolton station being used for community purposes. I often wish that redundant areas of large station buildings were used as self-catering holiday lets. You mention part of Wolferton station being rented out. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to stay in, say, Carlisle, Preston, or Bolton stations? Old buildings on the Settle & Carlisle line are rented out so why not accommodation in large stations? The Landmark Trust rents the former station at Alton Towers; their track side cottage on the Ffestiniog line is booked up for months. I once went on a ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour of Carlisle station. We walked through the empty former rooms used by the Station Master, his family and servants: just empty dusty rooms used as dumping spaces; what a waste.” (ed.: One for Virgin Trains and Community Rail Cumbria to look at? A Carlisle Station Partnership sounds a great idea – gateway to so many wonderful lines, many with their own community rail partnerships).

Roger Smith comments: “Rail Minister Andrew Jones was in town to launch the DfT competition to find new homes for redundant Pacer trains.” So could your Pacer Dining Club become a reality?

Dave Walsh observes: “Just a follow-on to Peterloo. A classic film linked to Peterloo but nearer our time is available to download on YouTube. Just after World War Two the Boulting brothers, John and Roy, made a fine movie, ‘Fame Is The Spur’, from an even better Howard Spring novel. The film is transparently taken from the life of the Labour Party’s real-life “Judas”, once-fiery socialist Ramsay McDonald, who joined the Conservatives and Liberals in a reactionary ‘National Unity’ coalition government in the 1931 depression crisis. Michael Redgrave, in his MacDonald role, plays a working-class boy whose fierce proletarian anger is fuelled by his grandfather’s tales of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre when government cavalry rode down and slaughtered a peaceful crowd in a Manchester field gathered for parliamentary reform. In a sombre ritual, the grandfather passes on to Redgrave a sword captured from Peterloo that the dragoons used to cut down women and children, a reminder to the grandson to keep the dissident flame alive. When he is poor Redgrave fights for the poor; when seduced by fame and a peerage – and by ladies of the upper class – he turns his back on his own people.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZiCNWj_90o&t=540s

Special Traffic Notices

  • August 16/7/8 Lots happening in and around Manchester to mark the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre. See http://www.peterloomassacre.org/
  • Sundays in August, 4th, 11th and 18th. RPSI Specials from Whitehead/ Belfast to Portrush. Steam to/from Coleraine www.steamtrainsireland.co.uk
  • August 19-31 ‘In the Spotlight’ exhibition of work by Bolton Documentary Photography Group in Platform Gallery. Please check opening days and times 07795 008691
  • Sunday September 1st: Bolton Station Partnership/City of Sanctuary walk; meet 12.00 Bolton station for 12.12 to Bromley Cross. Five mile walk via woods, reservoirs and cafes.
  • September 7-21: ‘Track, Trains and Telecomms: Railway Workers’ Art’. In Platform Gallery Bolton, check opening hours
  • Thursday October 3rd: Annual Community Rail Awards, this time in Telford. See https://communityrail.org.uk
  • An exhibition in Bolton Museum on Peterloo and the role of textile workers in the fight for democracy starts this Saturday August 3rd and runs to November 10th

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

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/