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Northern Weekly Salvo 282

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 at 109 Harpers Lane Bolton BL1 6HU email:

Publications website:

No. 282 July 8th  2020

Salveson’s half-nakedly political digest of railwayness, tripe and secessionist nonsense from Up North. Sometimes weekly, usually not; definitely Northern. Read by the highest and lowest officers of state, Whitmanites, weirdos, misfits, steam punks, yes women, no men, gay Swedenborgians, cat-spotters, discerning sybarites, bi-guys, non-aligned social democrats,  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, and the Campaign for a North with a capital ‘N’.

“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

Just to keep you on your toes, here is yet another Salvo, a mere couple of weeks since the last. It’s raining, I’ve done enough picture editing and negative scanning for the ‘Moorlands’ book, and there were a few things left over from last time anyway. Some good things happening on the rail front, with progress on work at Bolton station. But some bigger worries about the future for post-pandemic local rail. Politically, it’s hard to disagree with the New Statesman’s overall assessment of the Government’s handling of the pandemic – shambolic. There’s worse to come, with mass unemployment looming. But cheer up, we’ve got Brexit and a strong possibility of a ‘no deal’ departure, to look forward to.

As I said in the last Salvo, most people were inclined to give the Government a chance in the early stages, but they’ve blown it through indecision and muddle. Would Labour have done any better? Maybe, who knows? Looking out from England, the handling of the situation by the Scots, Welsh and Irish (north and south) has been considerably more effective and clear. And that isn’t about party politics, given the widely differing politics of each of those places. As the evidence of failure mounts, it’s no surprise that Johnson is seeking to blame everyone but himself and his Government. So care homes are in the firing line for now. Let’s see who’s next. Somehow, I don’t think most people will wear it. I don’t even think that a lot of Tory MPs will wear it.

On a more positive note, that major infrastructure project – The Halliwell Powerhouse High-Speed Garden Railway Project Phase 3 – is going ahead. Odd that it didn’t figure in Rishi Sunak’s statement but hey ho. Preliminary works are complete and final track-laying and commissioning is going ahead within days. A mere 3 weeks from start to finish. Beat that, China. The project team is open to offers for other work which may become available, at suitably exorbitant rates.

Lastly, I’ve been whiling away my time scanning some old negatives. Most of them were taken in the late 60s through to the early 80s. In a few cases I’d never actually seen them before. Here’s one. It’s of Benny Rothman (right), leader of the 1932 Kinder Scout Trespass with a younger Salvo, on Winter Hill in 1982. We were preparing for the celebration walk of the original 1896 Winter Hill rights of way demonstration which attracted some 10,000 local people.

Paul and Benny descending from Winter Hill, September 1982

Second Age of The Car?

There’s a lot of speculation about what is going to happen to travel patterns in the coming months and years. Some writers are already talking about ‘another Beeching’ being on the cards, which runs the risk of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. But there are big problems ahead without a doubt. We’ve been told, relentlessly, these past three months not to use public transport. Even now, the messages are unclear.

One of the winners..?

Can we go back to using the train for ordinary ‘non-essential’ trips? I have to say I’ve yet to travel on a bus or train since March 23rd and it doesn’t sound a particularly inviting experience. A lot of people remain nervous about being in crowded public places, as the relatively low numbers going pubbing at the weekend showed. Add to that the news that a few pubs have had to close again because some customers tested positively for the virus, it will deter more people. The winners at present are the car and bike. Yet if the roads become clogged once again (as they are doing) that will deter some of the recent converts to cycling and we’ll be back to square one – the ‘old normal’.

For the longer term, it seems likely that forecasts of a change in working patterns will impact on all forms of transport. More people will work remotely, using the hated ‘zoom’ or ‘teams’. So glad I’m not in regular employment.

Use of rural trains by leisure travellers could grow again

Commuting by any form of transport could drop quite a lot, with the decline most pronounced on public transport. Maybe – and it’s a big ‘maybe’ – leisure travel will not fall as much, which would be good news for less well-used rural lines.

The role of community rail partnerships in helping to promote rail travel, particularly on local, perhaps more rural, lines will be critical in the next year. While there’s a need for strong community-based local promotions, there’s also a need for national marketing initiatives urging people to ‘use your local train’.

There will inevitably be talk of reducing costs. Personally I’d axe HS2 in its entirety and divert the cash into the conventional network and get on with a programme of re-openings and capacity improvements which are still going to be needed. The one benefit of HS2 is to create employment in the construction sector, even if it is in the South. Re-openings, electrification and capacity enhancements in the North would really help to re-balance the country, sooner rather than later. As argued in the last Salvo, we need to look at ways of making rail central to local economic and social development, rather than an added extra. We need real vision and some strong counter-arguments to the doom merchants who see this as an opportunity to get the axe out.

Lord Leverhulme’s Legacy

The debate over pulling down monuments to famous figures seems to have abated, which is perhaps no bad thing. The idea that we should be auditing every statue of ‘great people’ across the country to assess their moral credibility is a crazy way to expend energy. The fact is we are a post-imperial nation and most of ‘the great and the good’ profited from the Empire. Even within the working class, as a certain V.I. Lenin pointed out, there was a ‘labour aristocracy’ that had been bought off by Britain’s imperial prosperity. Yes, you can take it too far and most working class people in 19th century Britain endured lives of poverty. Children worked in the mills and mines, many enduring harsh treatment. There were some benign employers who endorsed the relatively modern idea that treating employees – and the wider community – well, made for ‘good business sense’.

William Hesketh Lever, later ‘Lord Leverhulme’, is held up as one of those enlightened capitalists and his home town of Bolton is not short of public tributes to the chap. Not just one, but two public parks are named after him. Politically, he was a Liberal and supported women’s suffrage.

Yet there was a dark side to him, which shouldn’t crowd out some of the positive things he did, but need to be weighed in the balance. His attempt to turn the Hebridean communities of Lewis and Harris into modern industrialised communities may have sounded worthy, but came up against local people’s unwillingness to change their crofting lifestyle and become a modern industrial ‘proletariat’, or highly-paid wage slaves. Lever might have sold his idea of developing a modern fish processing industry better if he had recognised the people’s fundamental desire for land and the continuation of their crafting way of life. But compromise wasn’t part of Lever’s DNA. He wanted total control.

When he took a group of Harris ‘community leaders’ to see his ‘model’ factory at Port Sunlight one of them described it as ‘a prison’. Even more unsavoury were his activities in the Belgian Congo. His subsidiary company HCB took advantage of the system of ‘forced labour’ which was little short of slavery. There’s a detailed account of the company’s activities, which Lever was by no means unaware of, in Jules Marchal’s Leverhulme’s Ghosts. For his Hebridean adventure, Roger Hutchinson’s The Soap Man should rid anyone of overly tender feelings towards the man. Lever’s activities in the Congo and the Hebrides do show some similarities. He relished power, and the control that went with it. He wanted the African forced labourers, Hebridean crofters, and also his Port Sunlight employees to accept him as their supreme leader.

Reading both Hutchinson and Marchal’s books, he was less interested in amassing a fortune per se, so much as being all-powerful. Of course there is a positive side to Lever, and the people of Bolton benefited more than most from his generosity. The gift of Lever Park to the people of Bolton, and the restoration of the fine Hall’ith’Wood, should go on the positive side of the balance sheet. He could be, on a personal level, a kind man. Allen Clarke mentions Lever visiting his elderly mother in Bolton after his return from Australia, where he had met Clarke’s younger brother in Melbourne. Lever called in at Mrs Clarke’s modest terraced house on Settle Street to tell him of his meeting and wished her well. Clarke responded by penning a dialect poem in his honour, describing his lordship as ‘a gradely mon’.

I’m not at all convinced he was a gradely mon. Complex, contradictory yes. Controlling, and at times ruthless, definitely. But with a streak of generosity too.

Moorlands, Memories and Reflections

Let’s stick with Allen Clarke or ‘Teddy Ashton’, a bit longer. This year is the centenary of the publication of his Moorlands and Memories, sub-titled ‘rambles and rides in the fair places of Steam-Engine Land’. It was published by Tillotson’s, publishers of The Bolton Evening News and other local titles which Clarke wrote for. It’s a lovely book, very readable and entertaining, even if he sometimes gets his historical facts slightly wrong. It is set in the area which is now described as ‘The West Pennine Moors’ stretching from Bolton to Chorley, Blackburn, Pendle and Rossendale. It also includes some fascinating accounts of life in Bolton itself in the years between 1870 and the First World War, with accounts of the great engineers’ strike of 1887, the growth of the co-operative movement and the many ‘characters’ whom Clarke knew as a boy or young man.

The last time the book was reprinted was in 1986, thanks to the efforts of George Kelsall of Littleborough. I did a short introduction to it,which was based on the expanded third edition which he published himself in 1924. We launched it at ‘Teddy Ashton’s Well’ on the moorland road between Belmont and Hoghton, just south of Abbey Village.

Copies of the early editions, and for that matter the 1986 reprint, are difficult to come by. I’m contemplating doing a limited run of say a hundred (an appropriate figure for the centenary) numbered copies with a new introduction. It would probably sell at about £25, hardback. I’d welcome expressions of interest from readers who would be willing to buy a copy. It could work as a ‘subscriber’s edition’, the way many nineteenth century writers got their works funded. So please let me know if you would like to be a ‘subscriber’.

What is a bit more certain is the publication of my own centenary tribute to Clarke’s book, which will be called Moorlands, Memories and Reflections.

Allen Clarke with his mate ‘Owd Tom’ from Wigan, cycling to Wembley in 1924

It isn’t a ‘then and now’ sort of thing though I do make some historical comparisons, and speculate what Clarke would have thought of certain aspects of his beloved Lancashire today. There are 28 chapters, covering locations and subjects which Clarke wrote about in the original book, with a few additions. It includes the Winter Hill rights-of-way battle of 1896, a few additional snippets about the Bolton ‘Whitmanites’, handloom-weaving, the remarkable story of ‘The Larks of Dean’ and Lancashire’s honourable tradition of supporting refugees. I will publish it as my second ‘Lancashire Loominary’ product and it will also sell at around £25 depending on final costs for printing. It should be out late September.

The Colne Papers and The Ghost of Colonel Cut-off

I’ve started doing a regular feature for The Bolton News’ ‘Looking Back’ feature. It will cover some of the less well-known aspects of Bolton’s history. Here is the first piece, telling the story of a little-known but rather important train that ran in the early hours, bringing your daily newspaper from the Manchester presses. I’ve added a bit more detail.

It was the fastest train through Bolton but you weren’t allowed on. It left Victoria at the unearthly time of 3.45, taking newspapers to Bolton, Darwen, Blackburn and the bigger East Lancashire towns through to Nelson and Colne.

It was also the fastest train worked by Bolton footplatemen. The ‘job’ was split in two. A driver and fireman would sign on the previous evening at Crescent Road sheds and work a parcels train to Stockport, then go to the Red Bank carriage sidings to collect the vans. At about 3.30 a.m. the train would drop down to Platform 11 for loading. The men would work the train as far as Bolton and get relieved by another Bolton crew to take the train on to Colne.

Manchester Victoria, in the middle of the night, was another world. A succession of trains took newspapers from the Manchester presses (‘The Other Fleet Street’) to Scotland, Yorkshire and most Lancashire towns.

Platform 11M Manchester Victoria, where the 03.45 Colne was loaded. Bert Welsby inspects his loco 73014 on arrival from Wakefield. ’14 was a regular on the Papers, with Bert driving

Vans displaying the famous national titles –the Daily Mirror, Express, Telegraph and many more – would screech down to the station from Withy Grove and drive at a furious pace along the platform to be sure of getting the papers loaded in time. Methods not approved by the railway rule book would be used to hold back trains from departure if a particular edition was running late.

‘The Colne Papers’ was one of a handful of newspaper trains that had staff on board, sorting out the bundles of papers for each town. The men had to work quickly to get the papers ready for collection at each station, using sharp knives (known as ‘piggies’) to cut the bundles that had come off the press and sort for each town on the route. So the train required not only fast running but also a smooth ride to avoid risk of injury to the sorting staff.

Once the signal for the 3.45 cleared, the guard gave the ‘right away’ and they were off. The timing from Manchester to Bolton was 17 minutes, quicker than any other train on the line. The driver had to run fast after negotiating the complex trackwork coming out of Salford.

I travelled on the footplate on a couple of occasions, going out on the Stockport Parcels the previous evening. On both nights we had a BR ‘Standard’ class 5MT.Bolton inherited a fleet of the handsome locos from the former Western Region sheds in the West Midlands in 1966. Two were in green livery, as we discovered when we started to clean the grime off 73014 and 73026. My first run was with 73026 and Driver George Ashworth, whom I think was a former Bury man who transferred when that shed closed in April 1966. We had a fast but uneventful run to Bolton. On the second occasion the driver was Fred Halliwell with 73040.

73014 with Driver Bert Welsby yet again and Fireman Malc Frost ready to leave Bolton shed

We got away from Victoria in fine style, with Fred saying ‘we were gooin’ fert catch th’pigeons’ with that engine. Unfortunately we came to a halt just before Clifton Junction. It transpired that the signalman had fallen asleep and took several long whistles before the signal cleared. We got to Bolton a few minutes late, to scathing comments from the relief crew.

One of the regular relieving drivers at Bolton was Bert Welsby, otherwise known as ‘Colonel Cut-off’ on account of his military bearing and obsession with locomotive technology, cut-off settings on valve gears in particular. On the ‘Papers’ he would drive like a man possessed, covering the 10 miles from Bolton up to the summit of the line at Walton’s Siding (on a rising gradient of 1 in 72) well within 10 minutes and sometimes nearer seven, so it has been said.

It was usual for the newspaper men to offer ‘free samples’ to the railwaymen on arrival at Bolton and copies were taken back to the shed for distribution in the mess room. On one occasion the ‘perk’ was refused. Tommy Sammon was booked on the first part of the job and he was determined to get to Bolton in record time. According to his fireman, he set off ‘like a bat out of hell’. On arrival at Bolton Tommy went to the van to see the newspaper staff and asked for his free copies. He was met by a burly red-headed Scotsman who told him in no uncertain terms that as long as he drove the train like that, he’d be getting no papers. So that week, Bolton loco shed’s mess room ‘library’ was devoid of its newspaper supply.

In the early 1970s ‘The Colne Papers’ was cut back to Blackburn. All newspaper traffic on British Rail ceased on July 10th 1988; and ‘The Other Fleet Street’ is no more. Maybe if you linger on the lonely windswept moors above Entwistle at around 4.15 in the morning you might hear the ghost of Colonel Cut-off, going hell for leather up the gradient with a ‘Standard 5’.

(thanks to Terry Bowles, Andrew Rosthorn, David Whitehead and Malcolm Frost for help with this)

Bolton’s Community Rail Hub’ takes shape

It has been a long time coming, not helped by Coronavirus, but we are nearly there. The restoration of the upstairs offices and meeting rooms on Bolton’s Platforms 4/5 is nearly complete. The transformation is amazing. We had a socially-distanced conducted tour last week, hosted by Northern and contractors TMT.

Partnership members with colleagues from University of Bolton, Northern and TMT take a look at the near-completed work

A further visit, with Network Rail (who funded most of the work) and Northern is planned next week. When work started there was a total of 11 rooms in what was the former Admin block and in more recent years Northern’s Training Academy. Some of the partitions have been taken out to create larger spaces making it feel less cramped. The toilet facilities have been completely renewed as well as kitchen space. The last bit of the jigsaw will be the lift, to make the facility fully accessible. That will go in later this year (work has already started). It is hoped that the University of Bolton will take on the lease for the space but the use will be for a mix of community, and student purposes, rather than academic.

The Works

I’ve had a steady flow of orders for The Works, my novel set mostly in Horwich Loco Works in the 1970s and 1980s, but bringing the tale up to date and beyond – with a fictional story of a workers’ occupation, Labour politics, a ‘people’s franchise’ and Chinese investment in UK rail.  I’ve had lots of good reactions to it, with some people reading it in one session. The Bolton News gave it a 3-page spread See  . If you want a copy I can offer it for £10 plus £2.50 postage to Salvo readers. Please make cheques payable to ‘Paul Salveson’ and post to my Bolton address above or send the money by bank transfer (a/c Dr PS Salveson 23448954 sort code 53-61-07 and email me with your address. If you are local I can do free delivery by e-bike (so just a tenner). There is a kindle version available price £4.99 and you can also buy it off Amazon. See

Next projects: The Red Bicycle

The next big project after Moorlands is another novel. I’m trying to learn from the experience gained from The Works, including reader feedback. This one will be called The Red Bicycle and is partly set in Bolton in the early 1900s – featuring mill life, working on the railway, local socialist politics, the Clarion Cycling Club and ‘everyday life’ – but also having a modern, post-virus aspect too. The narrator, for part of it, is a bicycle. Very Flann O’Brien, for those who’ve read The Third Policeman – but with a Lancashire accent. Probably an early 2021 publication.

I’m also working on an update of Socialism with a Northern Accent. It was first published by Lawrence and Wishart in 2012. Not sure quite what shape it will take, yet, but it feels timely.

Festival of Worktown: coming up on July 14th

Come and join in a celebration of ‘Worktown’ – the term used by that weird assortment of folk from ‘down south’ to describe Bolton in the 30s, as the ‘quintessential’ industrial town in their Mass Observation project. Whatever its dodgy origins the name has stuck and the University of Bolton is doing a great job in broadening the ‘Worktown’ theme. They even have a ‘Visiting Professor in Worktown Studies’! What next?

The University of Bolton’s School of the Arts is organising a ‘Festival of Worktown’ on Tuesday July 14th which is free. It covers a big area, and full details are given here:

The programme includes sessions on creative writing, happiness, the original ‘Worktown’ Mass Observation survey, Bolton’s ‘Cotton Queens’ and a piece by me on Allen Clarke and ‘The Factory System’ which he so loathed. To join in you’ll need to be on Zoom…..but apart from that, it costs nowt.

A Lakeland Boyhood

David Clark – Lord Clark of Windermere – is a man of many parts. He grew up in a rural working class community in the South Lakes and went on to become a Labour MP, representing the Colne Valley and South Shields constituencies. These days he sits in the House of Lords as a Labour peer. He is a historian, having a particular fascination for his mysterious predecessor Victor Grayson, elected for the Colne Valley in 1907, on a radical socialist programme. He went on to disappear, after he lost his seat three years later. David’s book outlining the history of socialism in that West Riding textile and farming community is a model of socialist historiography.

So you’d expect his autobiography to be a good read – and you wouldn’t be disappointed. He writes well and at times movingly. The family’s experience of being evicted from their tied cottage was particularly well expressed, showing the contradiction of living in idyllic surroundings but liable to being out on your ear if circumstances changed – which in the case of the Clark family, they did. It’s easy to see how David was receptive to the socialist message of one of his teachers at Windermere Grammar School.

One of the stories in the book that will endear him to some Salvo readers concerns the socially cohesive role of train-spotting. David spent much of his boyhood in Bowness, just a couple of miles down the hill from Windermere. Yet they were worlds apart and there was a strong rivalry between the two places. The one thing that brought local boys together was a shared interest in train spotting, with the Bowness lads cycling up to Windermere to ‘cop’ the more interesting trains of the day, such as the Manchester Club Train (which I can remember as a kid going through Bolton, usually with a Britannia Pacific).

So there’s something in this for everyone. David’s book is a very important addition to the large corpus of ‘Lakeland’ literature, written by someone who knows and loves the Lakes, but doesn’t have an over-sentimentalised view of what life was really like.

Warmly recommended at £12.00 from Hayloft Publishing Ltd (includes postage). To order: Cheques made to D G Clark and sent to: Cherry Trees, Cornbirthwaite Road, Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 1DG. Alternatively pay by direct transfer to D G Clark, Acct no. 19158477, sort code 08-90-06.

Chris Dale

I was saddened to hear of the death of Chris Dale, a tireless campaigner for rail and a thoroughly good guy. He died of a heart attack last week. Chris was a regular ‘feature’ at rail conferences and seminars and was a strong advocate of community rail. He will be sadly missed by very many people. May his onward journey be as fulfilling as this one has been.

Jennifer Nuttall-Wolf

Jennifer was a highly accomplished violinist who started playing the instrument at the age of just seven and went to perform across Europe has died.  She was also a good friend. Professor Jennifer Nuttall-Wolf died in Bolton Royal Hospital, aged 81 on May 23.

She made her first concert appearance at the Whitworth Hall, Manchester in 1956, performing Mozart’s 5th Violin Concerto with Sir John Barbirolli at the age of 16. The great conductor was said to have predicted a wonderful future for the young violinist.  Jennifer learned to play the violin with Martin Milner, future leader of the Hallé Orchestra, at his home in Tonge Moor (Bolton) when she was seven. She went on to win an open scholarship to the Royal Manchester College of Music at the age of 14.

She told friends “I began to play when I was seven years old because I guess I was jealous of my elder brother playing the violin. My music had to compete with my burning interest in horses and show jumping. But my lessons at Danesbury Road with Martin Milner, leader of the Halle, settled it. They were a wonderful family. Martin was most inspiring and Mrs Milner gave me tea before every lesson.”

She went on to perform in Scandinavia, Switzerland and Germany with symphony orchestras, chamber orchestras and on Swedish Radio.  After a 1956 solo performance of Mendelssohn’s Concerto in E for Violin and Orchestra, a critic reported, “Miss Nuttall, who has the youth, skill and spark of unusual emotion to become a leading concert figure, was magically untroubled by the technical demands of the concerto and, best of all, she displayed a beautiful tone, consistent in complete range in the slow movement.”

In 1959, as ‘Soloist Diploma with Distinction’ from the Royal Manchester College of Music she joined Swedish Radio in Stockholm, performing and teaching in the 18th century castle which became the Edsberg Institute of Music.  In Sweden she married her former tutor Endre Wolf, the world-famous Hungarian violinist, whose appointment to the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra in 1936 was said to have probably saved him from the German death camps.

Between 1979 and 1983 she was a professor at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo and from 1984 lectured at the State College of Music in the University of Lund.  In 1989, she flew back to Lancashire from Sweden to be welcomed at The Bolton Festival as ‘a daughter of Bolton’ for a solo performance in the Bolton Library Theatre.

Alex Stemp plays excerpts from Sibelius’ Violin Concerto at Jennifer’s burial

Jennifer and Endre frequently played together in later professional careers, often in concerts of works by Bach, Bartók, Sibelius and many others.

She returned to her home town of Bolton not long after the death of her husband Endre in 2011 and lived near Lostock. She had been ill for some time and she passed away peacefully.

Her funeral took place near to her home on the Bolton/Horwich border in private woodland. There are plans to make her grave a publicly-accessible shrine to a hugely talented musician and a very lovely person.



Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events


One or two things at an early planning stage including Bolton City of Sanctuary ‘railway’ walk on Saturday August 8th, taking in parts of the old Bolton – Bury line and the former canal from Darcy Lever to Farnworth. Look out for further details soon.


The Salvo Publications List  – see

The Works (2020) published by Lancashire Loominary. My first novel , set in Horwich and Bolton in the 1970s and 1980s but bringing the story up to the present and beyond. Much of the action takes place in Horwich Loco Works and the campaign to save it from closure. In real life, it closed down in 1983. In the novel, after a workers’ occupation it is run as a co-operative, building both steam for heritage railways and modern eco-friendly trains for the world market. Price £12.99 from Amazon but special rates for Salvo readers buying direct (see above article ‘Delivering The Works’). Also on Kindle £4.99. ISBN 978-0-9559171-6-5

The Settle-Carlisle Railway (2019) published by Crowood and available in reputable, and possibly some disreputable, bookshops price £24. It’s a general history of the railway, bringing it up to date. It includes a chapter on the author’s time as a goods guard on the line, when he was based at Blackburn in the 1970s. The book includes a guide to the line, from Leeds to Carlisle. Some previously-unused sources helped to give the book a stronger ‘social’ dimension, including the columns of the LMS staff magazine in the 1920s. ISBN 978-1-78500-637-1

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:

6 replies on “Northern Weekly Salvo 282”

Thanks Paul,
I fully agree with stopping HS2 as it would pass through Cumbria at normal line speed, not serving our main market, and taking up paths of trains that do stop at our stations.
I an also concerned that CRPs should be funded by TOCs at least at the current level, and hopefully more, as business will be struggling to help. As you say, CRPs will have a lot of promotional work to do.

Endre Wolf was Budapest-born in the Habsburg Empire and according to his nephew proud to say he had never carried a Hungarian passport. I had to get The Guardian and Wikipedia to change it. Do I have enough clout with the Salvo to fix a correction? Endre only got out of independent Hungary to a job in Sweden after an aunt confronted the police who had refused him travel documents with the remark, “This is your chance to get rid of another Jew.” Thanks for a very wide-ranging Salvo. I was reminded of weaver Duncan Broadley, mayor of Colne in the mid 1960s, who at least once said to me, “Colne, like Rome, is built on seven hills.” You would need a German umlaut to get close to the way Duncan pronounced the name of the bitterly divided little town where Tory councillors lterally burned unapproved books on the steps of a Carnegie library and where the councillors voted to demolish a 13th century cloth hall to make a car park. Duncan was agin both weird projects. He used to make press statements at the side door of a weaving shed while minding his power looms.

Re the railways post-pandemic, the historical auguries are not good.
In 1914, the government negotiated a deal with railway companies whereby the rail industry would work to central dictat, and haul troops and other government traffic for free, in return for the same net income as had been earned in 1913. The railways buckled to with a will, and played a key role in winning the war. Come the peace, the government first delayed repaying the railway companies until 1921, and then only paid a fraction of what was due. Having wrecked the industry’s finances the government then imposed the “grouping” which created as many problems as it solved, and completely ignored the real issues such as the competition between an over-regulated railway and completely unregulated road transport.
In 1939 the railways again set to with a will to aid the war effort. Their reward? – the bodged-up nationalisation of 1948. Whatever the merits of public ownership, the structure (aka bureaucracy gone mad) forced on the industry between 1948 and 1953 was a key factor in the decline that culminated in the Beeching axe in 1963, as were the restrictions on materials and funding needed to overcome the delayed maintenance of the war years.
Now, once again the rail industry has worked hard to assist the national effort, even to the extent of advising passengers not to use the train. And, as Paul points out, many of the physical restrictions (face masks, no catering, compulsory reservations) are making rail travel very unattractive even for those of us who like to use the train. So far the Emergency Management Agreements have helped out, but after September.?
The one ray of light is that as the government is currently taking the revenue risk, the DfT has a vested interest in getting people back on the trains.
Fingers crossed….!

Lest my earlier comment was too downhearted…
There is one definite bright spot on the horizon. The move to working at home means that many people are thinking of moving to “somewhere nice’ rather than “somewhere convenient for the office”. There have now been a couple of post-pandemic studies by major estate agents that report a surge of interest in properties “with a garden, a study, in a nice country town and CONVENIENT TO A RAILWAY STATION”. The reason for this is that even when people mainly work at home, they will still need to go to the office, meet colleagues, etc. on a reasonably frequent basis. My daughter and son-in-law are a case in point; they’re thinking of moving from a provincial city to a small town, and thus swapping a 3-mile bus journey every day for a 30-mile train journey twice a week. Moreover, as companies move to homeworking they will be able to draw staff from a much wider area, with staff making less frequent but longer journeys. Here on the Matlock line we already have a number of regulars travelling down to London or Birmingham 2-3 days a week, and this trend looks likely to increase. So the prospects for some rural routes may actually be quite good; as ever the railway has a vested interest in working with estate agents and house builders to make this happen.

As for train travel, I don’t know what to think. The E Suffolk line (a ‘basic railway’) retains its hourly service in each direction with brand-new state-of-the-art Swiss bimodes (pans definitely down of course); they’d just about got the teething troubles sorted out in February… during the day it’s not unusual to see these three- and four- coach beauties perfectly empty. A safer environment than most public houses, I suppose. But what of the future? I don’t want it to lie with private transport…


Your account of Newspaper trains takes me back to the summer of 1974, when I spent the summer on night shifts with the Press Wholesalers John Menzies in Leeds.

Around 10.30 each evening two of the staff were driven to City station to take a train across to Manchester.

Around 2.30 am, the London newspapers arrived, and we drove them back to the warehouse for sorting, together with a few First Editions from Manchester, which were for Ripon and the early newsstand that used to be on the steps of The Queens Hotel.

Having sorted the London papers back at the warehouse, we returned to the station to meet the Manchester train, where our colleagues from earlier had been sorting the papers while crossing the Pennines. We then set off to distribute the around the city.

The newspaper trains also carried mail, and always came in on Platform 5 (now Platform 8). The street access is now just an emergency exit, obstructed by a pillar from the station rebuilding. It was a busy scene, with vans from Menzies, W H Smith, and Royal Mail jockeying for position. We always reversed right up to the platform edge, and unless there was an inexperienced train driver, the vans were always precisely in line with the carriage doors so that the bundles of papers could be loaded straight from train to van. For some reason on Monday mornings the London carriages were always in reverse formation. It was a hive of activity, and as at Bolton, a host of railway staff emerged to collect their free copies. British Transport Police also appeared, and it seemed that the only time they would be seen around the station earlier in the night was if an Inspector was on night duty!

In those days the Newcastle-Kings Cross night train picked up and dropped off a sleeper at Leeds. With all our comings and goings, I was never sure how much sleep the Leeds passengers managed to get.

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