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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Publications website: www.lancashireloominary.co.uk
No. 286 October 27th 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, Gondoliers, 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
The last Salvo, less than a month ago, suggested that the natives of Bolton were getting restless. Well, what a difference a few weeks can make. The whole of the North now seems to be teetering on the verge of revolt.
OK, I exaggerate, but after years of plugging the need to for the North to find its own voice, it looks like it finally has. Sort of. What Chris Harvie referred to as ‘the dog that never barked’ (a propos Northern regionalism) is now yapping. And the slightly unlikely champion of this resurgence is Andy Burnham. The Hannah Mitchell Foundation is springing back to life and there’s a proposal to launch a more broadly-based ‘Campaign for Northern Democracy’ at our forthcoming AGM, which will have to be done by zoom. Let me know if you’re interested in being on a mailing list. If you missed my piece on English regionalism in the last issue, here it is again: http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk/2020/10/01/the-case-for-progressive-regionalism/
OK it might not be the publishing sensation to rival say a new book by J K Rowling, but Moorlands, Memories and Reflections, back from the printer only a week ago, is doing very well with pre-publication orders (see below). The Bolton News and Lancashire Telegraph have both carried substantial features on the original Allen Clarke masterpiece (Moorlands and Memories) which my book celebrates and The Lancashire Post will have something soon. I’m open to requests for more articles and I’m also looking for retail outlets, including independent bookshops, chip shops, pubs, newsagents, and wherever.
Taking the train….a joyless experience? Or just at times slightly annoying
This one will probably run and run, with some people finding train travel is actually better than normal, with others bemoaning how dreadful, ‘joyless’, it all is. As ever (good Libran that I am), The Salvo strikes a middle course. There’s certainly room to get a seat – a table even – on many services. But the continuing closure of public toilets at
some stations is extremely annoying. The most irritating thing, referred to in the last Salvo, is the practice on some (not all!) Northern services to seal off parts of the train ‘so the conductor can carry out their duties’. What are these infernal ‘duties’? Ancient Satanic rites? We need to know. Secret offerings to Alberta, the pagan queen of locomotion? On a Manchester Airport – Barrow service the other week, the 3-car class 195 had the entire rear carriage sealed off. I was informed by the guard that this was ‘for safety’. What a load of rubbish. It meant that what would have been a well spaced-out train had everyone concentrated into the front two coaches, hardly ‘safer’ than using most of the train. I was informed by another member of station staff that this practice is down to ‘RMT Guidelines’. Which begs the question of who is actually running Northern these days? I’ve long been an advocate of workers’ control but this is a bit daft.
Definitely a joyful experience – a visit to Skye in Autumn
Skye is always a delight, even when the weather is ferocious. We had a pretty good week with some fine Autumn sunshine.
We stopped off at Pitlochry and stayed at the very comfortable ‘Pine Trees’, once owned by ‘His Excellency Yervant Hagog Iskender’, founder of the ‘Citizens of the World Movement’, of which I’d like to know more. Great to catch up with Sally and Kate and hear what’s happening with the wonderful station and its bookshop (which I managed to pop into on Saturday morning).
It was a family visit though we were barred from going in the house. We got a self-catering cottage virtually next door with the same gorgeous views of the loch (‘Sea Drift’ for reference, highly recommended).
The down-side of some parts of Skye can be visitor numbers, which we of course contributed to. I’d never been up the ‘Quiraing’ – a remarkable series of rocks towering above the northern part of the island. So we set off on a very fine Monday morning and jostled with the crowds of other people who had the same idea. But it was worth it, as I hope the pictures show.
I’ve referred in previous Salvoes to the Skye Marble Railway, a 3’ gauge railway which, for its very short life, ran from the marble quarries at Kilchrist above Broadford down to the pier, where the stone was exported. The railway opened in 1907, initially horse-powered. They then acquired a
little Hunslet (a steam-powered loco similar to the hundreds that worked in the Welsh slate quarries), christened ‘Skylark’. Much of the route is easily walkable and there are plenty of remains left of the quarry workings and some former workshops. What I didn’t expect was to find some surviving track, on the pier at Broadford. An amazing relic of one of Scotland’s shortest-lived railways. The former trackbed west of Broadford would make a fantastic heritage railway and maybe attract people away from some of the busier honeypots.
A very special cycle shop
Maybe it’s my Sassenach ignorance but I wouldn’t expect to find a world-class bike shop in a small Perthshire town like Auchterarder. Synergy Cycles is located on the main street and prides itself as Scotland’s premier road and electric bike shop. It also has a cafe that does excellent coffee.
Its facebook page doesn’t hide its light under any bushel or in the bike shed: “Synergy Cycles provides lovers of road cycling with the very best cycling brands and all the goods and services to assist them to enjoy their sport – including a full workshop and bike/helmet/shoe and insole fit service. Put simply our aim is to give you the best products and care in the industry; to find, build and maintain the best bikes and the best accessories for you. This simple mission will be carried out in a space where you can also enjoy a cycling culture based café, selling homemade treats and the finest coffee.” It goes on to add that “we hope that our passion for service, bikes and good coffee (and a fresh croissant!) will mean that Auchterarder will be home to the very best bike shop in Scotland! That’s exactly what we think it is and we look forward to welcoming you in the doors soon.” All of which is true. Friendly service and all that you’d expect from a bike shop and much more. The shop is involved in promoting cycling projects in the local community and has been lobbying for better cycling facilities, including safer links from Gleneagles station across the A9 up to the town centre.
Auchterarder isn’t just a place with a great bike shop. The Ruthven Art Gallery is well worth a visit, a few yards down the road. There’s also an excellent liquor store, Ellies Cellar. Gleneagles is the nearest railway station with its finely restored (take a bow Railway Heritage Trust) Caledonian Railway buildings.
A Lancashire day out to The Lakes
Despite the lockdown I’d argue that sorting out my tax return constitutes ‘essential travel’, in the company of my accountant, Martin. We agreed that a trip to the South Lakes would provide the sort of ambience required for this demanding task, and we were lucky to choose the finest Autumn day imaginable for our business expedition.
It was nearly all conducted within ‘historic’ Lancashire. We met at Preston to take the Barrow train through to Ulverston, having a collective grump about the entre rear coach (of three) being sealed off in order to ‘protect us’. But we aren’t ones to grumble, much, and we got a table after the crowds had thinned out at Lancaster.
Ulverston still rejoices in its historic identity as part of ‘Lancashire (North of the Sands)’. It has a Red Rose Club and sells very nice Lancashire cheese in the market hall, a place I’m very fond of. The street market was on, again with some fine varieties of Crumbly Lancashire on offer, and parkin. There are two very good bookstalls in there.
We had little time to wander as we were on a mission. The Tues/Thurs only X112 to Coniston, operated by Blueworks, a community-conscious local taxi firm which also runs the sister service round the coast to Barrow on other days. Attentive Salvo readers will recall descriptions of a trip on that route and we wanted to try out the scenic Coniston service, as true God-fearing cranks. We were not disappointed. The ever-friendly drivers took us through Greenodd and along the shores of Coniston Water. We caught a glimpse of the former Furness Railway booking office at Lake Bank. The Furness was a good example of a locally-enterprising railway, we should bring it back. Its energetic manager, Alfred Aslett, organised combined rail, steamer and coach outings before the First World War. Our itinerary followed one of the routes quite closely.
At Coniston we took lunch at Holland’s Cafe, directly opposite the bus shelter – recommended (the cafe, not the bus shelter); a very enjoyable meal. The shelter, however, is not without interest, for people like us. There is a plaque informing the world that the local Nursing Association paid for the shelter to be provided in 1959, months after the railway was closed. What a lovely run that must have been, down to the junction at Foxfield (which still has a great pub, The Prince of Wales). The local nurses must have missed their fine station with its overall roof. The shelter is a poor replacement.
After lunch we just had time for a stroll to the pier before the next stage of our grand tour. The sight that greeted us was an unexpected delight – the superbly-restored steam yacht Gondola just setting off from the pier to dozens of admiring onlookers. Our timing was near-perfect and we got a few photos of it steaming into the distance down Coniston Water. The Gondola is now owned by the National Trust and was commissioned by The Furness Railway in 1859. For many years it was a wreck; the restoration is an amazing piece of work.
Next part of the trip was another scenic bus journey – the Stagecoach 505 to Windermere. It’s a challenging route: steep, narrow and winding. Our driver did a very good job, though I wonder how on earth they manage when the roads are really busy in summer. The Lakes really needs radical traffic restraint with major investment in the rail and bus network. I’ve always dreamt of a Lake District light rail network from Windermere up to Keswick and across to Penrith and Whitehaven, with feeder bus routes to places like Coniston. Good quality park and ride somewhere between Kendal and Windermere for those who want to bring their cars. All operated by the socially-owned Furness Railway, Steamer and Omnibus Co. Perhaps one day.
We had time for a quick break at Booth’s supermarket cafe which occupies part of the old station goods shed and yard before heading for home on our Northern service to Preston. An enjoyable day out and my tax return is now complete, the nation’s finances are secure.
Moorlands, Memories and Reflections
Well, it’s out! My ‘centenary celebration’ of Allen Clarke’s classic book of the Lancashire hills, Moorlands and Memories, is selling quite well. What’s it all about? A hundred years ago former Lancashire mill worker Allen Clarke published a masterpiece – Moorlands and Memories, sub-titled ‘rambles and rides in the fair places of Steam-Engine Land’. My new book is a commentary on Clarke’s original and brings the story of Lancashire’s moors, culture and folklore up to date. It also brings in some of Clarke’s lesser-known writing including his novels and journalism.
Maxine Peake in her foreword says “Hill walking, cycling, literature, philosophy, protest and The North…. these are a few of my favourite things.” She adds “Paul Salveson’s new book on Allen Clarke is irresistible.” Which is very kind of her to say. I’ve already had some really good feedback from customers, with several ‘repeat purchases’, so it can’t be that bad.
Clarke’s book was conversational, philosophical, entertaining and lyrical. The new book covers some of the ground that Allen Clarke wrote about – handloom weavers, dialect writers, the Winter Hill ‘mass trespass’, links to Walt Whitman and that fearsome Lancashire creature, the boggart. It discusses Clarke’s links with Tolstoy and his attempts to ‘get back to the land’ at a commune near Blackpool and the great Barrow Bridge picnic in support of the locked-out Bethesda quarrymen in 1901.
Clarke was both a keen cyclist and walker. His original book includes rides and rambles through Rochdale and Ramsbottom as well as around Rivington, Belmont and Edgworth, with associated tales. I’ve added in some stories from the last hundred years including ‘summer evenings with old railwaymen’ at the moorland station of Entwistle and Gandhi’s visit to Lancashire.
It’s priced at £21 plus £4 post and packing. I’m doing a special offer of £20 with free delivery before November 15th. There’s also a ‘3 for the price of 2’ at £40, with free local delivery and £5 if further afield. Special rates if mailing to furrin parts. Details are on my ‘Lancashire Loominary’ website www’lancashireloominary.co.uk or email me for details at email@example.com
The Bolton News carried a two-page spread about Clarke’s book and is here: https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/18818988.bolton-author-allen-clarke-got-bike-create-history/
Day return to Huddersfield for a Magyar delicacy
I had a nice outing to my former town of Huddersfield the other week. I was doing some rail-related work which I can’t tell you about just yet, but will soon. It was another fine sunny day and I was able to reflect on, and admire, the fine station frontage with its Corinthian pillars. No wonder Betjeman said it was the finest station in the country. Harold Wilson was there, basking in the October sunshine, and a few of the local drunks as well. I had time for lunch before my appointment and wandered down to the market. I was delighted to find that the Hungarian takeaway stall was still functioning, offering that very special Hungarian snack – the langos, pronounced ‘langosh’. It’s basically a deep-fried slice of bread – so delicate, it isn’t. Here in Huddersfield it is typically served with grated cheese and soured cream. To be honest I think it’s better just with soured cream, but either way, it’s finom.
Review: A new novel about rural life
The Long Acre by Rachel (‘R’) Francis
Novels about English rural life are fairly common, but this is a bit special. The usual ‘rural’ novel is usually about a city dweller’s take on country life, usually about the perils of middle-class ‘incomers’ coming to terms with life beyond London. Rachel’s novel (her first) isn’t like that at all. It’s about real people who are ‘of the soil’, going back generations. Maybe its nearest similar work is Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Scots Quair, particularly Cloud Howe. But that was about a very different time, and place. This is now, in England’s West Country, facing huge social and economic stresses from the decline of farming, development pressures and how farming people cope – or don’t. There’s nothing romanticised about it – maybe there could have been a bit more about the landscape and places where it was set. But it works. Buy it!
How to get it:
Go to: www.long-acre-rfrancis.com
Last Train from Lostock Junction
It’s coming up to the anniversary of the last train from Lostock Junction, which ran on Saturday November 5th 1966. It was an explosive farewell which didn’t go at all according to plan. The full farcical story will be told in The Bolton News on November 4th. But at least it is a story with a happy ending – the station re-opened on May 16th 1988 and is flourishing. It also gets a mention – with a photo of its last station master, Mr Atcha – in that book I keep going on about (Moorlands, Memories and Reflections, in case you missed it).
The latest issue of Resurgence carries an obituary of the Rev. John Papworth who has died aged 98. He was an amazing man and I’ve ordered a copy of his Small Can Be Powerful and also Village Democracy. He was part of that fascinating group of thinkers including Leopold Kohr, E.F. Schumacher and Herbert Read. He should be the patron saint of Civic Revival.
The Unitarian magazine The Inquirer carries a very interesting article about Will Hayes, who would have shared some of his ideas with John Papworth I suspect, though he was of a previous generation. Hayes was an avid ‘Whitmanite’ and I first came across him through some correspondence with the Bolton Whitmanites. He was a mystic, supporter of Irish republicanism, animal rights campaigner, Unitarian and conscientious objector. He was born in the Lake District, near Grayrigg, and always loved the place of his birth though he ended up in Kent in his latter days.
HS2 – not popular with engineers
My friend Peter in Rochdale has sent me a revealing report on a poll undertaken by The Engineer as to whether its reade4rs felt that HS2 should be cancelled. A remarkable 90% agreed that it should. Here it is: https://www.theengineer.co.uk/poll-should-hs2-be-cancelled/
We aren’t letting all this coronavirus stuff prevent us from having a decent lunch, oh no. Recent recommendations include Holland’s at Coniston (see above), The Narrow Boat at Skipton and – for a pleasant evening meal, The Lagan, on Ladybridge estate, Lostock. We called in at The Velo Cafe at Croston and it was good to see plenty of cyclists enjoying the excellent lunches and cakes. You can also sit outside the wonderful Langos takeaway at Huddersfield market. The Whitehall Coffee Emporium on Bolton Road,Darwen (next door, more or less, to the Tramway Cafe which I’ve yet to try) does very good takeaway coffee and they also sell my book!
Q: Croston, Darwen, Littleborough, Barrowford, Rivington, Horwich, Bolton. What do these places have in common? Answer: (yes, I know they’re all in Lancashire) They are all places where you can buy a copy of Moorlands, Memories and Reflections. Here is the list: http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/order-form
Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events
Zoomed event by Bolton Socialist Club on my new book
Topic: Moorland, Memories and Reflections Launch
Time: Tuesday Nov 10, at 14.00…….Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 844 0121 4954 Passcode: 021355
The Salvo Publications List – see www.lancashireloominary.co.uk
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. 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.
You can get a better idea from going to my website: http://www.lancashireloominary.co.uk