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. 287 November 13th 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
Some good news, hooray – the election of ‘Amtrak Joe’ Biden. This Salvo carries a fascinating piece by my longest-distance regular Salvo reader, Mike Weinman of New Jersey. Meanwhile, promotion of my new book Moorlands, Memories and Reflections has been pretty good and my newly-formed delivery arm – The Bolton Bicycling Bookshop – got some publicity in The Sunday Times following a letter in the weekend FT.
Despite the lockdown some more retail outlets are selling the book, including Bunbury’s, the real ale shop and bar, at 397 Chorley Old Road Bolton. Although not open as a bar it is still selling an excellent range of takeaway beers, mostly from local breweries. Darwen’s splendid Whitehall Coffee and Emporium, at 463 Bolton Road, also sells very good coffee, home brew accessories and a range of things too numerous to mention. Further afield, George Kelsall’s gradely bookshop in Littleborough, is stocking my book. The only trouble with all this is that any money I make on the books is frittered away on second-hand books, beer and coffee. See below.
Amtrak Joe will be booking on at The White House
This has been sent in my friend Mike Weinman, a well-known figure in American railroading circles:
Now that the President-Elect is one and the same with the ‘Amtrak Joe’ Biden who commuted almost daily between his home in Wilmington, Delaware as a long-standing U.S. senator, and whose inaugural as Vice President along with President Barack Obama made use of Amtrak to access the ceremony, what might we expect in the next four years for passenger rail in the U.S.?
There is little doubt that Joe Biden is more aware of Amtrak, its potential and its challenges, than almost any other President the U.S. has had. He is respected by Amtrak management (who named the refurbished Amtrak Station in Wilmington DE ‘The Joseph Biden Station’), and revered by its unions. Indeed, his campaign paid for and made use of an Amtrak special train to take the candidate from Cleveland to Pittsburgh, in the style of the old ‘whistlestop tours’ which were commonplace among presidential candidates through the 1950 era.
That said, he and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris are faced with unprecedented demands on their time, energy, and on the national budget, the most critical of which is the pandemic. Of course, this is key to restoring not only America’s health, but its economy, and of course, the markets for all types of transport. Looking over the four years ahead, it is obvious that Amtrak and the other providers of passenger rail in the U.S. (mostly metropolitan commuter rail agencies) must re-assess travel patterns and demand, changing their stripes to react appropriately. But while all this was and is going on, equipment and infrastructure was getting older at the same rate. Herein, the new President will find the confluence of factors – the need to renew infrastructure is one. Biden has mentioned rail in his discussions on the subject (although freight rail in the U.S. is probably in the best shape it’s ever been).
Reshaping travel patterns after the pandemic (when the private auto with its singular confines was seen as a panacea for safe travel) will require reducing private transportation – and this plays into the hands of a changed and reinvigorated climate change awareness and policy. Clearly, passenger rail will play a major role if allowed to. There are forces, both political and technological, which suggest that such things as self-driving battery cars and hyperloops are the future, and that money invested in Amtrak is wasted. Here, Biden’s allegiance to Amtrak will be critical – but Amtrak’s own seeming intransigence may get in the way. Amtrak has failed to seize on opportunities and though there are hopeful rays of light, the cost of improvements to facilitate new and enhanced routes, and the bureaucratic process that ensures that our great grandchildren will not live long enough to witness even modest positive changes, may get in the way.
I take pride in having been a part of the New York Central Railroad’s campaign to convert its old and ragged long distance service to an every-two-hours fast daylight corridor service in 1967 (which resulted in first year profits!) – this took all of four weeks from approval to execution – and this in the heavy travel festive season!
One early win for passenger rail will likely be a reversal of the Trump prohibition on funding for the Gateway Project in New York – which would put two new tunnels under the Hudson River on Amtrak’s approach to Manhattan, as well as quadrupling of the saturated line between Newark NJ and New York City. This has been called the nation’s most pressing infrastructure project.
So, overall, we’ll have to wait and hold our breath. The opportunities are rampant, the challenges daunting, but the new team in Washington will clearly be trying to steer the ship of state in the right direction. All of us in the industry wish them well. Michael R. Weinman, Managing Director, PTSI Transportation, Rutherford NJ USA
Lostock Junction’s farewell with a bang
November 5th 1966 saw the last train depart from Lostock Junction, the 21.49 to Manchester Victoria (ex Blackpool). However, the last night celebrations didn’t go off quite as planned and for the first and
last time of the station’s existence, the Glasgow – Manchester express also paid a call. The story is told in this piece which appeared in last Wednesday’s Bolton News: https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/18853953.explosions-tracks-marked-end-lostock-junction/
Bolton Bicycle Bookshop
As conventional bookshops face temporary closure due to the Lockdown, it’s been a bit of a struggle to get outlets for my books (but see below). So I’ve taken to the streets (and roads), delivering books by bike. The Bolton Bicycling Bookshop is born!
Marketing and distribution is always a problem for small publishers – OK, the internet helps but it can be very impersonal. It’s good building links with my readers and being able to deliver a signed copy of a book to a customer’s doorstep is a real pleasure, I have to admit.
The main delivery item at the moment is my new book celebrating the West Pennine Moors – Moorlands, Memories and Reflections. It marks the centenary of Allen Clarke’s book Moorlands and Memories which was about cycle rides and rambles around the West Pennines. Clarke was an avid cyclist and it’s highly appropriate that I’m able to deliver the book by bike.
Allen Clarke often brought along copies of his books to sign and sell on his ‘Speedwell’ cycling club trips in the 1920s. Another Northern writer who had a similar idea was Todmorden novelist William Holt who would deliver copies of his books on horseback (his faithful nag, Trigger).
It would be ironic if my book was distributed by polluting delivery vans; using the bike is fun and doesn’t pollute. The moral high ground is easy to reach with an e-bike. But I do all I can to use local suppliers and my latest book is published by Bolton-based Minerva Press, who have been great.
Beer, coffee, pies, stamps, incense sticks: Good places to buy my books
The most recent addition to my list of retail outlets is Bunbury’s real ale shop at 397 Chorley Old Road. The bar side of the business is currently shut but they are open for takeaway. I can recommend their oatmeal stout. Another slightly unconventional outlet is Darwen’s Whitehall Coffee Shop and Emporium at 463 Bolton Road. It also sells a range of home brewing products, bags, incense and other things.
Fletcher’s Newsagents on Markland Hill Bolton and The Pike Snack Shack on George’s Lane Horwich are stockists. So too Halliwell Road Post Office and George Kelsall’s bookshop in Littleborough. Justicia Fair Trade Shop on Knowlsey Street, Bolton, is a seller. Further afield the Pendle Heritage Centre at Barrowford as a supply. I’m hoping that the wonderful Pen-yr-allt Bookshop at Machynlleth will be taking a stock soon. Diolch!
Winter Hill 125 wins union support
Plans to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the 1896 Winter Hill ‘mass trespass’ are coming along well and gaining support amongst Bolton’s trades unions. I spoke at a zoomed meeting of Unison’s branch committee last week and they were enthused by the project. Next week I’m talking to Bolton Trades Council and hopefully that will get some more individual unions interested. The celebration will take place on Sunday September 5th 2021 – get it in your diary now! Late news: A hoard of copies of my 1996 history of the Winter Hill Trespass have come to light! They are available price £5 (plus £3 postage if not local) and all proceeds go to Bolton Socialist Club.
Many years ago I was a delegate from the NUR to the Trades Council. The very likeable (but firm!) chair was Brian Northey. I’m sad to say that Brian died last week, and the labour movement has lost a great asset and a very loveable man. My strongest recollection of Brian was when I first met him. I was signalman at Astley Bridge Junction. The story is told in my ‘Moorlands’ book, where I describe the signalbox and my culinary peculiarities: “It could be a draughty place, but the views
across Bolton and up to the moors, were splendid. Down below the viaduct was the famous Ryder’s engineering works, long since gone. My first job after opening the signalbox each morning, at 07.20, was to brew up and boil an egg for my breakfast. After this modest repast I would flick the egg shells over the viaduct into the works yard below. This wasn’t well received by Ryder’s employees. I received my come-uppance by getting a good telling-off by Brian Northey, one of Ryder’s shop stewards, at a meeting of Bolton Trades Council.”
Moorlands, Memories and Reflections
My ‘centenary celebration’ of Allen Clarke’s classic book of the Lancashire hills, Moorlands and Memories, is selling quite well. 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.
I’ve already had some really good feedback from customers, with several ‘repeat purchases’, so it can’t be that bad. One reader said “I finished reading the book yesterday, it is a delight. I have been walking and cycling in the area for more than 50 years, and I have been reminded of so many places, people, events, and I have learned much that I did not know.”
It’s priced at £21 plus £4 post and packing. 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/
Guild Socialism – still relevant?
At the weekend I picked up a complete set of The Guildsman, from 1918-23. During its’ life it was re-named The Guild Socialist and was sub-titled ‘a journal of workers’ control’. It was jointly edited by the historians G.D.H. Cole and Margaret Cole. It’s a treasure trove of ideas and different ways of seeing progressive politics. It was at the heart of the post-war debate about ‘what socialism is’ – making a very strong case against ‘state socialism’ that was emerging as the strongest tendency within the Labour Party. On one level, ‘guild socialism’ harked back to medieval times and the craftsmen’s guilds which exerted considerable power. G.D.H. Cole and his colleagues re-invented the ‘guild’ concept based on industrial unionism. The ‘guild’, covering each industrial sector, would form the basis of a future means of running each industry (e.g. the railways) by the workers employed within it. The idea eventually lost momentum as many of its advocates were drawn into the young Communist Party, whose idea of ‘socialism’ was a long way from the Coles’ democratic vision and completely dependent on statist concepts. Today, socialism is still very much seen as centralist and state-oriented, but it doesn’t have to be so. There is an alternative tradition of mutual aid and co-operation that the guild socialists did much to promote. More on this in the next few Salvoes.
Review: Walking-Class Heroes: pioneers of the right to roam by Roly Smith
This a series of portraits of pioneers of ‘the right to roam’ ranging from the poet John Clare and founder of the National Trust, Octavia Hill through to contemporary champions of public access to the countryside, not least my pal Colin Speakman. It includes Benny Rothman, leader of the 1932 Kinder Scout Mass Trespass and Tom Stephenson who was the driving force behind the creation of The
Ramblers’ Association. Roly Smith demonstrates that it wasn’t just a lad’s game – as well as Octiavia Hill, woman who made a difference to our right to roam include Marion Shoard, Sylvia Shayer, Ethel Haythornthwaite, Kate Ashbrook and Fiona Reynolds, who recently retired as general secretary of The National Trust (which is publishing several of the stories in its magazine). It’s good to see that Roly Smith mentions the Winter Hill trespass of 1896, though characters who might have featured – Solomon Partington and Joe Shufflebotham, or Allen Clarke – sadly aren’t included. And the ‘free-ing of Darwen Moors’ isn’t mentioned at all – an early victory of the right to roam. But that’s a small gripe. The title is perhaps slightly misleading, suggesting implicitly that these pioneers were working class: many of the people featured were not of the toiling masses, but so what? Movements like Winter Hill, Darwen and Kinder were working class-led. Roly makes the point: “without these pioneering campaigners, modern ramblers would not have the cherished right to roam in open country which they enjoy today.”
The book celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act of 2000, promoted by the former Oldham MP Michael Meacher. Roly stresses that we shouldn’t take our ‘right to roam’ as a give. “The latest threat to the countryside is that all rights of way must be identified before a government deadline of 2026, after which it will be no longer possible to add old paths to the official record.” The Ramblers’ volunteers have been busy identifying historic footpaths that a e currently missing from maps, suggesting there are an estimated ’10,000 miles’. In fact the latest estimate is much more. It’s a great read, well produced. Highly recommended! Published by Signal at £9.99 https://www.signalbooks.co.uk/2020/06/walking-class-heroes/
New product line: Lancashire-themed face masks!
The next production of Lancashire Loominary will be a ‘Bolton – Lancashire’ facemask. The ideal fashion accessory for the health-conscious Lancastrian Trotter. Should be available quite soon and will cost around £5. The design will feature a Lancashire rose with the words ‘Bolton – Lancashire’. May do it as a t-shirt when it gets warmer.
Civic Revival’s first online discussion
Civic Revival is developing well. Its first major online event took place a few days ago and will shortly be available to watch in the comfort of your own armchair. It was the first of a series of five zoomed events. ‘Manifesto for the Civic Revival – Mapping the Territory’ – looked at what might be covered in a manifesto to be developed during the series and presented at local elections next May. See https://www.civic-revival.org.uk/tag/events/
Hannah Mitchell Foundation’s new website
We are making some modest progress with the resuscitation of the Hanna Mitchell Foundation and an AGM of (surviving) members is planned for November 23rd. We also have a new website, still very much work in progress: www.hannah-mitchell.org.uk. We’re also out there on facebook and twitter. The foundation is about promoting discussion on demcoratc devolution to the regions of the North.
Farnworth: the town that was robbed
Ideas for my next novel are slowly taking shape and will be about Farnworth – from its time as a thriving industrial town with its own
local government, to an outpost of Bolton without so much as a parish council, very little industry and a lot of discontented people. The town that was robbed. Still working on the story but, as with The Works, it takes the reader into the future with a thriving, self-governing town that people feel really proud of. Fantasy? Maybe, but we need our utopian visions. Welcome any stories about Farnworth in days gone by.
Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events
ALL STILL CAPED…But:
The Salvo Publications List – see www.lancashireloominary.co.uk
Moorlands, Memories and Reflections (2020) A centenary tribute to Allen Clarke’s quirky, entertaining and sometimes inaccurate Moorlands and Memories. See the website for various special offers including a 3 for the price of 2 deal. A hundred years ago Lancashire writer Allen Clarke published a forgotten masterpiece – Moorlands and Memories, sub-titled ‘rambles and rides in the fair places of Steam-Engine Land’. Clarke’s biographer, Professor Paul Salveson, has published a new book celebrating Clarke’s original and bringing the story of Lancashire’s moorland heritage up to date. Maxine Peake, in her foreword to Paul’s book, 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.”
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. 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