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Northern Weekly Salvo 284

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. 284 September 4th  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, sleepy Hungarians, members of the clergy and the toiling masses, generally. All views expressed are my own and usually nobody else’s. Official journal of the Station Cat Improvement Network, Pacer Dining Club, Station Buffet Acceleration Council 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

These are strange days if you live in Bolton, even stranger than the last six strange months. One minute we’re out of lockdown, next minute we’re in. The general feeling seems to be one of irritation and anger though there hasn’t been rioting on the streets. I have to confess to some sympathy for our Tory-controlled local authority. They were pushing for Bolton to come out of the Greater Manchester ‘special measures’ lockdown and this was agreed by the Government. Then infection rates suddenly grew – maybe people got de-mob happy – and the Council had to say “on second thoughts, can we stay locked down?” It made them look a bit daft but what other option was there? Bolton now has the dubious distinction of having the highest infection rate in the UK. The reality is that U-turns are a necessary part of handling the coronavirus and trying to make political capital out of it is unhelpful.

Where the Government has been seriously at fault goes back to the early days when the response was bordering on indolent, though the political opposition wasn’t, from my recollection at any rate, urging Johnson to lockdown sooner. Then there’s the appalling treatment of the care sector and the ‘one law for us, another for you’ exemplified by Dominic Cummings’ outings. It looks like Johnson has lost it. Will Starmer be able to offer a compelling alternative vision? So far, I’m not convinced but let’s give him time.

Taking the train….a joyless experience?

I’ve been getting back into taking train trips to places around the network – Halifax, Buxton, Clitheroe and Barrow have all featured recently. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how busy some trains are, though others are very quiet. It feels like the leisure sector is more buoyant than commuting, though I realise my impressions are very partial. It seems that the railways have found, by accident, the ‘holy grail’ of evenly-spread rail travel, throughout the day. But it’s at a price.

It doesn’t have to be dismal! The ‘Staycation Express’ crosses Ribblehead Viaduct (masks on charter trains not compulsory, at least then)

A friend recently said that train travel for her as been ‘a joyless experience’ recently and I can see what she meant, with lack of catering on long-distance trains and a degree of regimentation which isn’t pleasurable even if it might be necessary. And masks and specs make a poor combination. On Northern we’ve never had the luxury of on-train catering (S&C apart) but what I do find a bit strange is the practice which seems to apply to some though not all services to block off a third or more of the ends of each train to allow the guard ‘to carry out their duties’. I’m not entirely sure what these duties are, other than opening and shutting doors. As a former guard myself I’m instinctively supportive of that hardy breed of men and women but the problem with this isolation policy is that there is less space for passengers so people are more bunched together on busier services (e.g. my experience on a Calder Valley train with a 3-car train). The guard/conductor is an invisible force with no revenue protection and no attempt to enforce wearing of masks or just make sure his/her train’s passengers are OK.

Meanwhile at stations the picture is similarly customer-unfriendly. My admittedly subjective experience of station facilities is that some TOCs have kept basic facilities open, e.g. toilets, whilst others haven’t. At Piccadilly station (managed by Network Rail) shops are mostly closed. I was pleased to see the Coffee Station at Hebden Bridge open. The Northern-run toilets there are closed.

Trains are running normally on the Cherry Tree Loop

The Coffee Shop on Bolton station, run by W H Smith, is shut. Maybe this is a decision by the retailer, we don’t know.  Meanwhile, the Railway Safety and Standards Board has published research showing that there is a 1 in 11,000 chance of getting the virus by using a train. The risks are minimal.

Can we get back to making train travel a bit more joyful? Because if we don’t, people will stick to car travel and all the hard work of the last two decades in persuading people that rail travel is a better alternative, will be lost.

The shadow of Beeching?

My friend Christian Wolmar is a good journalist and an even better railway historian. There’s a ‘but’ in this…The ‘but’ is Christian’s longstanding journalistic ploy to suggest, periodically, that there is a nefarious plan to close down rural railways. It makes good ‘copy’. It has surfaced recently on the basis of suggestions that the Treasury has instructed the DfT to prepare a list of ‘temporary’ service cuts in the event of a second lockdown. There was a clearly stated message that the ‘temporary’ closure could become permanent.

Last train from Horwich – September 25 1965) with Salvo age 12 waving (in a suit!) and members of 9K cleaning gang

The story didn’t exactly go viral but a lot of mainstream media covered it.

Nobody in Government has substantiated the claims and I have my doubts as to how serious the threat is. If it is true, I would hope that any line closures, temporary or otherwise, are strongly resisted by rail campaigners and allies. It’s the line in the sand.

But we should be careful about ‘talking up’ the risk. The issue now is to get people back onto the trains, not scaring them with talk about potential closures. People make long-term decisions based on perceptions about transport. Already, there has been a worrying rise in car sales as people decide that public transport is ‘unsafe’. Let’s not make it worse by suggesting that they might not have a rail service at all, unless we know the threat is real.

Will Yo’ Come O’ Sunday Mornin’? Winter Hill, 124 Years on

“Ay, the moors lie round Bolton like a magic mantle; a magic mantle from the Goddess Hygiene; and there be those who would take this mantle, the people’s property, from those who have every right to it.”

So wrote Allen Clarke in 1899, when the issue of public access to the moors was still a hot topic and the area around Winter Hill was still barred to the likes of you and I. Clarke continued “Wolves have been mentioned as prowling round these regions in olden time. No doubt they were a pest and a danger, but one wonders if they were as much a nuisance as some of our modern gentry, who enclose lands and bar people from footpaths over the moors……On Sunday September 6th, 1896, ten thousand Boltonians marched up this Brian Hey to pull down a gate and protest against a footpath to Winter Hill being claimed and closed by the landlord.”

It was a remarkable demonstration which grew as it surged up Halliwell Road, drawing people from the many terraced side streets which still exist today.

A contemporary report in the Bolton Journal and Guardian

The crowd continued up Smithills Dean and then along Coalpit Road until they reached the gate, which had been closed off by the landowner, Colonel Ainsworth. There was a melee and the gate was smashed. Thousands of demonstrators burst onto the disputed road and carried on over Winter Hill and down to Belmont, where they were said to have had a great time in The Wright’s Arms, drinking the pub dry. The Black Dog did an equally brisk trade.

The demonstrations continued over three more weekends, as well as on a Wednesday afternoon to permit shop workers to attend on their afternoon off. The following week it was estimated that 12,000 joined the march, which was unimpeded by police or gamekeepers. Meetings were held in Bolton to raise support for the campaign. If the public was on the side of the campaigners, the law wasn’t.  The court case brought by Ainsworth against the ‘ringleaders’ – mostly local socialists like Joe Shufflebotham of Astley Bridge, but also the venerable radical Liberal, Solomon Partington – was successful. Although nobody went to jail, they had to pay heavy fines, most of which were covered by public contributions.

It’s interesting that both events were organised, in the main, by local left-wing activists.

Salvo and Benny Rothman in the old Shooting Hut

In 1896 it was Bolton branch of the Social Democratic Federation, fore-runner of the Communist Party of Great Britain, whose members organised the Kinder Trespass. I was able to show Benny Rothman, leader of the Kinder Trespass, the site of the Winter Hill events in 1982; he joined us on the commemorative march later that year.

The revival of interest in the Winter Hill ‘trespass’ came about through a talk at Bolton Socialist Club early in 1982. It was suggested we should organise a commemoration later that year on the nearest Sunday to when the demonstration occurred, which was September 5th. The Socialist Club and Bolton branch of the Workers Educational Association helped to set up a committee which made preparations for the march.

The 1982 march heads up Halliwell Road

A play was written by Les Smith which was performed in pubs and clubs around Bolton, including several on Halliwell Road, in the run up to the commemorative march.

On the day, about a thousand people assembled at the bottom of Halliwell Road, where the original march had begun. We set off to the tune of ‘The Happy Wanderer’ performed by Eagley Band and picked up several more recruits as we headed up towards Brian Hey – mostly local kids.

The 1982 march heading up to Winter Hill (this spot has been recently improved with construction of a bridge)

It was interesting to discover recently that the famous Bolton-born actor Maxine Peake was on that march, as a tiny eight-year old accompanied by her step-grandad Jim Taylor.

The centenary of the demonstrations was marked by another march, in September 1996 and a stone plaque was erected by the gate. It includes the words ‘Will Yo’ Come O’ Sunday Morning?’ a reference to Allen Clarke’s song, published in his paper Teddy Ashton’s Journal following the first demonstration. The chorus goes:

“Will yo’ come o’ Sunday mornin’

For a walk o’er Winter Hill?

Ten thousand went last Sunday

But there’s room for thousand still!

Oh there moors are rare and bonny

And the heather’s sweet and fine

And the roads across the hilltops –

Are the people’s – yours and mine!”

You can now walk over Winter Hill without fear of prosecution. When you get to the gate, salute those thousands of Boltonians who asserted their rights over those of the landowner’s. It’s a fairly easy walk all the way up to Winter Hill from here, though strong footwear is recommended. The further you go, the better the view becomes. You pass the site of the recently-demolished Ainsworth’s shooting hut on the left, beyond the steep gully which was once crossed by a bridge. Remains of ancient coal pits are dotted about the place. Why not take Allen Clarke’s advice, from his Moorlands and Memories, published a century ago:

Sit down here, on a summer’s day, on the green moorland under the blue sky, and though you own not a yard of land nor a stick of property, you are on a throne, and king of the world – a happier and far more innocent king than any ruler who ever held tinsel court and played havoc with the destiny of nations – you are monarch of all the magic of the moorlands, of healthy air for the lungs, of Nature’s pictures for the eye, of Nature’s music for the ear…”

(a longer version of the story forms a chapter in my forthcoming Moorlands, Memories and Reflections).

Civic Revival’s Richard: They call him ‘The Wanderer’

Richard Walker, former Bolton Schoolboy, DfT civil servant and now executive director of Civic Revival has produced an interesting two-part account of his wanderings in the North-East.  It includes visits to the ‘toon’ of Newcastle, explorations around the attractive market towns of Hexham and Morpeth but also a look at the former pit towns of Ashington and Amble. Fascinating stuff and relates to current debates around planning and ‘place’. The link is here:

Tours by Train

I made another expedition to Roa Island, near Barrow (see Salvo 283) and this time it stayed fine. We used the excellent X11 bus from Ulverston and had just over an hour at Roa before getting the ‘Blueworks’ community bus back (the next one wasn’t for three days so we had to make sure we caught it).

Roa Island looking across to Piel and its castle

Roa Island is one of those quirky places that any self-respecting Salvo reader should visit. It has a cafe and remains of a railway. We had time to wander round Ulverston and visit the market hall. A grand day out and a stunning train journey along the coast.

Buxton is a place that I tend to pass through but not stop. That said, the last time I was there I made an impulse buy of a 1960s-era Soviet youth banner and a 1950s Elswick Hopper which i took back to Huddersfield on the train. This time we set off with the intention of seeing what the town had to offer apart from old bikes and communist regalia and weren’t disappointed. We had lunch in the Old Hall Hotel which was excellent and the miniature railway was operating in the Pavilion Gardens. And I very nearly bought a lampshade; might have to return.

John Jones on his accordion in Buxton

We met John, a retired BR bridge engineer, who visits Buxton regularly to play his accordion. He raises money for the East Cheshire Hospice. I promised I’d give him a plug, so here it is:

Buxton station was looking good (apart from toilets being closed). The work of Friends of Buxton Station was very apparent: we loved the sculpture dedicated to NUR activist Joe Sayle (and father of Alexei).

Immovable object: Station sculpture at Buxton

If I descended into nostalgia mode I’d tell you about a thrilling footplate run from Stockport to Buxton and Chinley on Bolton’s BR standard 5 73069 in late October 1967. But not for now.

The other outing was to Halifax, with a very pleasant afternoon in the Piece Hall after fish and chips at Pearson’s, always a delight. The Book Corner is an excellent independent bookshop, I just wish Bolton had something like it. We were forced to sample both the Wine Barrel as well as the Trading Rooms. Both very good, excellent service.

Another trip along the Calder Valley Line took me to Hebden Bridge to meet with Pam and Caroline from Pennine Prospects. PP is developing an exciting vision for a ‘regional park’ covering the South Pennines: more on that in the next Salvo.

Inside the restored Mytholmroyd station: Geoff shows us round

Then on to Mytholmroyd to meet Sue, Geoff and Marcus and take a look at the restoration work on the station. It’s been a long haul but they’re nearly there and the building looks great.

Finally, if you’ve not done it yet you’ve a few days to sample ‘The Staycation Express’ from Skipton and Settle to Appleby.

Cab view from a class 37 on Haydock – Teesport sometime in 1977, passing Mytholmroyd

It’s a great initiative and I hope loadings have been good enough to justify another season. Congratulations to Rail Charter Services and the Settle-Carlisle Railway Development Co. The on-board staff were great and the accommodation really is ‘first class’. One small quibble: having some sort of welcome desk at Skipton, using the Dev Co’s cafe (currently closed, like the toilets) would have added to the overall experience. As it was, people were hanging around on the platform with nothing to do. Quite a few coffees, teas and cakes could have been sold and you’d have felt more like you were at the start of a very special experience.

Review: How to Count Trees

Chris Chilton is the energetic chair of Bolton Socialist Club; he’s also a very talented poet. His new collection – How to Count Trees and other poems has some really great stuff and I’d strongly recommend it. There are so many superb pieces it’s hard to single out a particular poem in the short space I’ve got here. Chris is strongly influenced by Whitman and has played a key role in keeping Bolton’s links with ‘the good grey poet’ alive. ‘With Whitman in the Woods’ reflects the Whitman Day celebration and the climb up ‘Sixty Three Steps’ where ‘beneath this tree of no particular merit/we evoke Whitman in his centennial year’

Chris has a great talent and I hope he’ll keep on writing. I can’t wait for his next collection to appear. For ordering and payment details please contact Chris at, Facebook or Instagram. Also available on Amazon.

Moorlands, Memories and Reflections

Latest update on my Moorlands, Memories and Reflections marking the centenary of the publication of Allen Clarke’s Moorlands and Memories, sub-titled ‘rambles and rides in the fair places of Steam-Engine Land’. It’s currently at the designers, with Rob hard at work integrating the 90-odd pictures into the text and making something which should look good.

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, eccentric signalmen, the remarkable story of ‘The Larks of Dean’ and Lancashire’s honourable tradition of supporting refugees. Maxine Peake has very kindly written a foreword.

I will publish it as my second ‘Lancashire Loominary’ production and it will sell at around £25 depending on final costs for printing. It should be out in October. In the next Salvo I should have details of a pre-publication offer.

Small Salvoes

When Coal was King

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. The latest piece tells the story of Bolton’s coal mining history. The link to the feature is here:

The previous feature was on the work of town planner and landscape architect T.H. Mawson who developed some visionary plans for Bolton in the period 1910-7. The feature is here:

Train Traveller is launched!

I’ve always thought that there was a gap in the market for a publication aimed at people who just enjoy train travel – not enthusiasts, people who don’t care whether it’s a class 37 or a HST they’re travelling on as long as they’ve a good seat with a nice view out of the window. Train Traveller, edited by my old friend Graham West, fills the gap. The first issue was launched recently and it has several great features on train travels around the world. It also carries a very kind review of my book on the Settle-Carlisle.

It tells us “travelling by train is one of life’s great pleasures, enjoyed by people of all ages across the world. Whether it’s enjoying moments of nostalgia travelling on historic steam-hauled services, absorbing the breath taking scenery of the Canadian Rockies, Inter-railing across Europe on an budget or taking in the novelty of riding delightful narrow-gauge railways, or simply whiling away the time on the growing number of luxury services available across the globe – Train Traveller is the go-to platform for all travellers, casual or intrepid.” Published by Key Publishing, price £7.99 but see the website for a discount:

Along the West Highland Lines

Few train travellers would disagree that the West Highland Lines – to Oban, Forth William and Mallaig, are among the world’s most spectacular routes. They are supported by the Friends of the West Highland Lines who produce an excellent magazine. The most recent has just been published; it’s well worth signing up to FoWHL just for the magazine – but you’d also be helping a very active and positive support group. The current issue is a good mix of contemporary news and historical articles. Many readers will be interested in the update on the ScotRail conversion of class 153 trains to carry extra bikes and other leisure equipment including skis. The conversion will be able to carry up to 20 bikes and is likely to be launched later this year on services to Oban. As well as the internal conversion, the trains have been liveried with superb images of the Scottish landscape. For more on FoWHL go to

Pendle Radicals

I zoomed into an excellent talk by Nick Burton last week, on the history of countryside access campaigns in East Lancashire. Nick is part of the ‘Pendle Radicals’ project which comes under the umbrella of the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership Project. Nick’s talk covered the pioneering work of Tom Leonard (Colne) and Tom Stephenson (Whalley), as well as the Clarion cycling and walking clubs. The Clarion Tea Room at Roughlee continues the great tradition and is currently open every Sunday, but only serving teas and biscuits outside. For more on Pendle Radicals go to

Lakeland Gallery

If you happen to be in the Lakes, call in and look round the Lakeland Gallery on St Martin’s Parade, Bowness. It’s tucked away round the back of the main street and opened a few weeks ago. Gallery owner Matt Nuttall is a talented landscape photographer and there’s a huge selection of his work on display. And you can buy a selected range of Salvo publications!

Flatpack Democracy

Peter Macfadyen of Frome has just issued some fresh/ refreshing thoughts on local democracy. He says: “The pandemic has highlighted how some local organisations can play key roles in their society, while others have failed to respond in ways that are fit for purpose. With Mutual Aid and other groups emerging to provide crucial support throughout the UK, the last few months have clearly illustrated the need for a massive change in the way local councils operate. Many councils have proven to be totally inadequate during the pandemic. More than ever, at the town and parish level, it is crucial for a well-functioning council to work in genuine partnership with these community groups…..

Now is the time when these newly engaged and empowered people, who have come to know where they live and what is needed, can step forward. Not just to prop up the creaking structures and systems of local government, but to get elected and to fundamentally change them to bring about a truly participative democracy. This means changing the way most local councils and the councillors operate. They can and must be constantly looking for how to truly engage and involve the people they serve – exactly as has happened independently in the past few months.

Change has to come from below. Central government has never really been interested in community – as has been proven over the last months. In any community there will be groups working together for their common good.  If these people (and they could be you) insert themselves into the arcane structures that are local councils and rebuild them for this century, not just in one town and parish, but in every town and parish, then we will have a movement, free from the poison of Party Politics that is fit for the needs of 21st century.

Possibly with great naivety, certainly with great optimism, a group of us have just launched Flatpack2021. Its purpose is to encourage and support groups to take over their local councils in the May elections next year.  If you can see the potential for this where you live, or know of others for whom this is true, please direct them to the new website.  We need to grab the best things that have come out of working together during the pandemic and find real alternatives to the disaster that is the national government.” Go to

John Hume

I was sorry to hear of the death of John Hume. A truly great politician who championed the cause of civil rights in Northern Ireland. He opposed British Government policy which exacerbated an already bad situation but wasn’t afraid to speak out against violence on all sides. I had the privilege of meeting him in Derry during the ‘Save Our Railways’ campaign some twenty years ago. Here he is with DUP MP and Assembly Member Gregory Campbell at Waterside station. The campaign to stop rail closures in Northern Ireland was a unifying issue and I remember speaking at a meeting of Stormont politicians of all shades of opinion, including the former Loyalist paramilitary David Ervine, who described me as a ‘pragmatic visionary’. It was possibly one of the best compliments anyone has ever given me.

Bolton station, Wigan and other stuff

The latest combined newsletter of Bolton and South Lancs CRPand Bolton Station Community Partnership is now available. It’s here:

A taste of Bolton

A plug for the delicious collection of ‘food stories’ assembled in A Taste of Bolton, edited by Gulnaz Brenan. It’s a superb collection of recipes, but more than that. You get ‘the story’ about where the dish originated from. The book reflects Bolton’s diversity: Lancashire Cheese Croquettes and Pumpkin Pie along with Nepalese Dumplings, Falafel, Khitchri and Tindas. The publication is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and is published by Women in Neighbourhoods, price £6.99. Last time I asked, Cllr. Hilary Fairclough still had some copies left for sale. Contact her at

The Works: a tale of love, lust, labour and locomotives

I’m still getting a steady flow of orders for The Works, though it has slowed a bit recently. The novel is 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. 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

LATE NEWS: Wright’s Reads bookshop in Horwich has re-opened Monday to Friday 10.30 to 14.30, copies of The Works on sale.

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. Flann O’Brien (cf The Third Policeman) would have approved. Probably an early 2021 publication.



Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events



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). 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.

You can probably get a better idea from going to my website:



3 replies on “Northern Weekly Salvo 284”

Ah – Salveson lives still! After what seems an interminable lockdown spent at Avenel House, Melrose, I have finished my 200 pp. THE IRON ROADS, a world handbook of railways based on a Tuebingen compact-seminar (modelled on the first Bradshaw’s Guide, delivered three years ago): book produced for the Kelso Quaker Meeting… Close to actual publication: September! You’ll be glad to know that Alison thrives, defending ageing Islington radicals from Covid. I live in Avenel House, belonging to the doctor to Gladstone’s closest friend Robert James Hope-Scott, solicitor to the LNWR. J H Newman is our local saint.

Another good Salvo Paul – although, as it turns out, you can’t walk over the moors today without fear of prosecution. There may still be ‘room for thousand still’ on those bonny moors, but not if you are mixing with other households and those outside your Covid secure bubble. Even though the official walk to mark the 124th anniversary of the mass trespass may not take place, I would still want to wish the best to those leaving any unofficial footsteps on Winter Hill today – the ghost of Colonel Ainsworth is still abroad!

Hi , Paul. Thanks for another interesting Salvo, weaving together history and contemporary events in your own inimitable fashion. How you keep your energy and enthusiam I don’t know ! If you are on something other than rarified Pennine air, please patent it !

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