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Northern Weekly Salvo 288

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: paul.salveson@myphone.coop

Publications website: www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

No. 288 November  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, 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

Greetings on Lancashire Day, November 27th. And if you didn’t know it was Lancashire Day, you’re forgiven. Even many true Lancastrians have yet to cotton on. Whilst Yorkshire Day (August 1st) is well-established, Lancashire Day is relatively new, as you’ll see below. I hope The Salvo’s many Yorkshire readers will join us in celebrating the occasion. Just wish we’d picked a better time of year to have it, really.

This Salvo, as you’d expect, has a decidedly Lancashire feel, though not at all parochial. Oh no. It touches on wider issues around English regionalism and federalism, explored in greater detail in my ‘Compass’ report which is here: https://www.compassonline.org.uk/publications/for-a-progressive-regionalism/

Three cheers for Suzanne

I’ve always liked and admired Suzanne Moore’s writing and politics. I was shocked to hear about her treatment at The Guardian, that bastion of liberal and progressive thinking. I hope you will take time to read her article that has just been posted on Unherd. I agree with it 100%. It’s an awful indictment of what passes for ‘The Left’ today. Read it and weep:  https://unherd.com/2020/11/why-i-had-to-leave-the-guardian/

What is/was Lancashire Day? (based on an article in The Bolton News, November 25th)

You celebrate it with a ‘loyal toast’ and ‘prato pie. November 27th is the ‘county day’ of Lancashire. It marks the occasion in 1295 when Lancashire sent its first representatives to Parliament, at the behest of King Edward 1. Unlike our Yorkshire neighbour, which has celebrated

The Lancashire flag flies over The Barlow, Edgworth

‘Yorkshire Day’ on August 1st for many years, ‘Lancashire Day’ is relatively new, having only been established in 1996. The event is promoted by ‘The Friends of Real Lancashire’ and is observed with ‘the loyal toast’ to “The Queen, Duke of Lancaster.” The ‘Duke of Lancaster’, it should be said, is a ‘gender-neutral’ term and always applies to the reigning monarch. If you’re a republican, you can always toast someone else more akin to your sympathies. I think Annie Kenney would be good, the Oldham mill girl and suffragette who is now commemorated with a lovely statue in her home town.

But whatever. Since it was established 24 years ago, the event has grown in popularity. Across Lancashire, town criers announce the occasion and finish with the words “God bless Lancashire, and God save The Queen, Duke of Lancaster.” Bolton Council marks the occasion by flying the flag – the Red Rose of Lancashire – from public buildings. On Friday morning a plane will fly over Bolton carrying the Lancashire flag, thanks to the efforts of Friends of Real Lancashire.

But aren’t we in ‘Greater Manchester’ now? Well yes and no. Bolton, and neighbouring boroughs, were transferred into the new administrative body of ‘Greater Manchester’ in 1974, without much in the way of public consultation, let alone anything as democratic as a referendum. The change was not particularly popular, but people were allowed to retain their identity as part of ‘historic Lancashire’ and retain their ‘Bolton, Lancashire’ postal address.

Since then, it would be hard to say that Boltonians (and our neighbours in Wigan, Bury, Rochdale and Oldham) feel any less ‘Lancastrian’ and any more ‘Greater Mancunian’ than we did nearly fifty years ago. ‘Friends of Real Lancashire’ has been working hard to promote a continued sense of identity with the ‘historic Lancashire’ which took in most of what includes Greater Manchester and Merseyside, as well as ‘Lancashire North of the Sands’. This is an isolated part of the old county palatine north of Morecambe Bay, home to many retired Bolton people and others. It includes Barrow, Ulverston and Grange-over-sands, as well as Coniston Old Man – the highest point in Lancashire.

Glimpse of The Gondola on Coniston – historically part of Lancashire

The historic county of Lancashire covers an area of 1,909 sq. miles with a population of almost five million people, stretching from the River Duddon in the Lake District in the north to the River Mersey in the south and from the Irish Sea in the west to the River Tame in the east.

Other Lancashire organisations include The Lancashire Society and Lancashire Authors’ Association, both of which promote Lancashire culture – both traditional and modern.  The University of Bolton has friendly links with the Lancashire Authors’ Association. Interest in Lancashire dialect – both written and speech – remains strong. Interest in Lancashire history and culture is probably greater than ever, including among many whose heritage is overseas. Bolton’s own ‘Lancashire’ culture has been informed by an exotic patchwork of cultural traditions from India and Pakistan, Africa and eastern Europe.

The challenge of Lancashire’s ‘cultural’ organisations is to celebrate and maintain our past traditions but embrace the new and diverse. The cloth cap and muffler could risk choking us. By which I mean we need to get out of the rut of sentimental conservatism and an obsession with the past. There needs to be something over this side which complements the progressive, lively and radical ‘Same Skies’ group in West Yorkshire. It doesn’t need the patronage of earls and dukes, ‘loyal toasts’ to the Queen nor the approval of Tory MPs. It needs a radical edge, but one that might appeal across traditional boundaries. And here is one, seein’ as you asked….

A new group, ‘Lancashire United’ comes into existence on Lancashire Day 2020 with the aim of politically re-uniting Lancashire as a strong ‘county-region’ with an elected assembly enjoying similar powers to those of Scotland and other devolved administrations.

So on Friday, forget Covid-19 for a few hours and make a toast to Lancashire and tuck into a steaming dish of Lancashire hot-pot (vegan options available), complemented by some Lancashire-brewed ale!

Lancashire recipes for Lancashire Day (and after)

There are numerous recipes for Potato Pie (‘Prato Pie) on t’internet.

Cow Pie in Morecambe – don’t try this in your own home

This one looks good: https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/lancashire-potato-pie-50054345

My own ‘signature dish’ is Lancashire Potato Cakes, based on what my grandma in Farnworth used to bake (not fry). There is a similar recipe in one of Allen Clarke’s novels (Driving: a tale of weavers and their work) which follows my grandma’s and is reproduced as an appendix in my Lancashire’s Romantic Radical. Potato Cakes also feature in one of Clarke’s Tales of a Deserted Village, set in Barrow Bridge. The action takes place on the occasion of the visit of Prince Albert who is spellbound by the delicious smell of the savoury cakes. So hopefully you will be too!

Lancashire Potato Cakes – Salvo’s Secret Recipe

The quantities can vary, obv. – this is enough for 2-3 people.

You will need:

  • Mashed potato – cold, ideally cooked previous day, with salt and butter stirred in when warm, using 4 large spuds
  • One egg, plain flour

Put the oven on very hot – around 220 degrees.

Method:

  • Add the egg to the pan of mashed potato and then sufficient flour to stir into a firm dough.
  • Separate the dough into smallish balls and pat out on a greased baking tray. Roll out by hand into circles about 4” in diameter, roughly ¼” thick.
  • Place in the hot oven and bake until golden brown. Avoid over-cooking.
  • Take out (avoid burnt fingers) and they are ready to serve – with butter, cheese, bacon or whatever.

I find they taste better if left for a few hours, or even overnight and re-heated. Always best served hot though.

You can be more creative and add spices to the mix – I’ve used curry powder, cumin and paprika, but use sparingly. Cumin seeds are OK.

Curried Hot Pot?

It’s probably true that curry is Lancashire’s most popular dish. Why not devise a fusion dish based on curried Lancashire hot pot? Dead easy, just add curry spices to the preparation and perhaps cook for a bit longer than normal. Create the dish as per normal recipes and cover with sliced potatoes.

Support Lancashire United! (not a  football team…)

As more and more people celebrate ‘Lancashire Day’ by flying the red rose, the call has gone out to re-unite Lancashire and create a powerful county-region. Lancashire United is launched on November 27th and has set out a vision for a county-region that would re-integrate Greater Manchester and Merseyside with the remaining parts of Lancashire with an elected assembly having similar powers to those enjoyed by the devolved nations of the UK.

It’s about time. We need a vision for a new Lancashire which is forward-looking, inclusive and democratic, with real powers to address the economic, social and environmental challenges of the 21st century, post-Covid 19. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re white or black, male or female, gay or straight, born in Lancashire or from the other side of the globe. If you live here, and identify with Lancashire, you’re part of the solution. Lancashire United is a cross-party body which welcomes people from all backgrounds and beliefs.

The local government changes in the 1974s which saw proud Lancashire towns lose their identities, has been a disaster. Few people

Bolton town centre: core part of Lancashire or ‘Greater Manchester’?

identify as ‘Greater Mancunians’ but many people from Bolton, Rochdale, Wigan and elsewhere remain stubbornly proud of their Lancashire heritage. Probably the same is true for much of Merseyside.

Imagine what a powerful region it would be if the economic clout of Manchester, Liverpool, Preston and their neighbours was brought under one regional umbrella, in partnership with strong local government.

Lancashire United’s aims are:

  • The promotion of a progressive, inclusive Lancashire identity that is welcoming to everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or age
  • The creation of a new Lancashire county-region which includes Greater Manchester and Merseyside
  • The formation of a democratically-elected Lancashire Assembly, using a fair voting system
  • The devolution of powers over transport, health, education, economic development, culture and tourism to the county-region, with democratic oversight
  • The encouragement of informal Lancashire-wide networks in the areas of higher education and research, culture and the arts, sport and other areas
  • The encouragement of democratic forms of social ownership – ‘a co-operative commonwealth’
  • The empowerment of local government and town/parish councils
  • Close and collaborative working with our neighbours in Cumbria, Yorkshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire and the formation of a Northern Confederation

See the full statement on http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/lancashire-re-united-the-case-for-a-new-county-region

There is a Lancashire United facebook page and also tweets as @lancsunited

A Lancashire Day Anniversary: Bolton and South Lancs Community Rail Partnership

Last year it was very different. We were able to celebrate Lancashire Day with a packed carriage of people marking the formation of Bolton and South Lancashire Community Rail Partnership. About 70 of us joined the train between Manchester, Bolton and Pretson with on-

Lancashire Day 2019 – Mark, Julie and Sid with Nortehrn conductor, Preston

board entertainment by Julie Proctor, Sid Calderbank and Mark Dowding. On or return to Bolton we were treated to Lancashire hot pot and Eccles Cakes. Poetry, including Allen Clarke’s A Gradely Prayer, was unveiled at Bolton station. Since then, progress has been rapid despite all the obvious problems.

The CRP has won funding from Northern, Bolton at Home, CrossCountry and Avanti to allow us to employ a full-time officer. Steph Dermott was appointed in June and has built up tremendous respect within the rail industry and wider community. Covid-19 hasn’t stopped us doing things and our sister organisation, Bolton Station Community Partnership, has been moving forward with arts and community-related projects at the station. Work on the station

A last look round the upstairs room before major renovation works commence to transform the space into a community hub

buildings are virtually complete and final negotiations are underway with the University of Bolton to create a community arts hub in the extensive space on Platforms 4/5. It just remains for the accessible lift to go in, imminently. Meanwhile, three projects are under development in Wigan including the first of the ‘Clock Tower Trails’ which will link Wigan and Bolton using existing footpaths connecting intermediate

Nearly finished!

stations. The next phase will be Bolton to Salford and Manchester and good links have been established with Salford City Council. The CRP website is www.boltoncommunityrail.org.uk

Bolton Bicycle Bookshop

In the last Salvo I announced the arrival, with all bells tingling, of The Bolton Bicycling Bookshop is born! It’s proving a good way of getting out and about, and keeping fit. 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).

Beer, coffee, pies, stamps, incense sticks: Good places to buy my books

A 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

Bunbury’s real ale shop – a little palace of culture

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! From December 2nd (after lockdown lifts) my books will also be available at The Carnforth Bookshop, a short walk from the station.

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 Bolton Trades Council last week, following a similar talk to Bolton Unison. Lots of support.

The 1996 edition of ‘Will Yo’ Come O’ Sunday Mornin’?’ is still available, price £5 from Lancashire Loominary

The celebration will take place on Sunday September 5th 2021 – get it in your diary now! My book on the mass trespass is available price £5 (plus postage if not local) – see below.

Moorlands, Memories and Reflections

My ‘centenary celebration’ of Allen Clarke’s classic book of the Lancashire hills, Moorlands and Memories, is selling well. Must be Christmas panic buying. 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 or free local delivery. Special rates if mailing to furrin parts. Details are on my ‘Lancashire Loominary’ website www’lancashireloominary.co.uk or email me for details at info@lancashireloominary.co.uk

Small Salvoes

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 £6. The design will feature a Lancashire rose with the words ‘Bolton – Lancashire’. The ideal Covidmas present. May do it as a t-shirt when it gets warmer.

Tripe Matters

The Tripe Marketing Board (of which I am a member) is possibly the UK’s most progressive offal-based trade association. Just in time for Christmas, it has issued its ever-popular Diary, for 2021. It does indeed make the ideal Christmas present, at least alongside Moorlands, Memories and Reflections. As well as including 365 different dates of the year, the diary is interspersed with useful features, such as the results of ‘TripeDog 2020’, won by Pee-Pee. Profiles of celebrities with a taste for

The strikingly minimalist cover of the Tripe Marketing Board Diary, 2021

Tripe feature, including Nancy Sinatra. It should also be said that tripe-based dishes could be ideal for those Christmas parties when, in the current situation, you don’t want family guests to stay too long. The foreword by Sir Norman Wrassle, chairman of the TMB, is characteristically under-stated, self-effacing and delicate in tone. But he ends with a clear rallying call to eat more of this basic Lancashire delicacy: “if it was good enough for your granddad, then it’s good enough for you.” I’ll say ‘amen’ to that. See www.tripemarketingboard.co.uk for more details

Hannah Mitchell Foundation re-founded

The HMF is alive and kicking, once again! The annual general meeting was held by zoom on November 23rd and was well supported, considering we’ve been near-dormant for over three years. A new steering group has been elected and we agreed to seek partners in a new ‘Campaign for Northern Devolution’. 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 democratic devolution to the regions of the North.

Family Business by Ged Melia

I’m enjoying reading this new novel by Ged Melia. It’s about the rise of a family transport business in Bolton, covering the period from the First World War through to the 1950s. It’s a gripping story revolving around two brothers and the tensions between them and other members of the family. The story closely follows the history of the ‘family firm’ as well as the wider history of Bolton itself. There are lots of familiar places featured and Ged has done his homework on the pattern of local 20th century development. It has echoes of Arnold Bennett’s Clayhanger and really has a feel for a business sector which is seldom documented in literature. Published by GHP and available on amazon

Doug Hamilton

I was very saddened to hear of the death of Doug Hamilton last week. Many readers will remember him as Head of Passenger Transport at Durham County Council until his retirement a few years ago. He had been living in Lymm, near Warrington, since his move from Durham. Doug’s early career was with the Scottish Region of BR, in the chief civil engineer’s department. He had a deep knowledge of Scottish railways and loved reminiscing about his work in the Borders. He will be sadly missed; condolences to his family.

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Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events

ALL STILL CAPED…But:

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The Salvo Publications List  – see www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

Moorlands, Memories and Reflections (2020)  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.” See the website for details of how to buy: http://lancashireloominary.co.uk/index.html/order-form

The Works (2020). 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.

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 local postage or £3 further afield in UK. 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.

‘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 plus post and packing. 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

 

 

 

Categories
Current News

Lancashire Re-united

 

Lancashire Re-united:  a Lancashire Day thought-piece

Lancashire and Yorkshire both have strong identities and despite historic rivalries, we have more in common, as Jo Cox would have said, than what divides us. Yet while our Yorkshire neighbours are building up momentum for a ‘One Yorkshire’ region, Lancashire is lagging behind. On Lancashire Day 2020, this paper argues for a re-united Lancashire, with its own democratically-elected assembly, based broadly on its historic boundaries but looking to the future for a dynamic and inclusive county-region that could be at the forefront of a green industrial revolution. It isn’t about creating top-down structures but having an enabling body that can help things happen: in business, arts, education and other fields. As well as a new county-region body to replace the mish-mash of unelected regional bodies and mayors with little accountability, a re-united Lancashire also needs strong local government (that is genuinely local) working co-operatively with the communities it serves and a vibrant economy that is locally based where profits go back into the community.

Back in 1895, Bolton writer and visionary Allen Clarke said:

“I would like to see Lancashire a cluster of  towns and  villages, each fixed solid on its own agricultural and industrial base, doing its own spinning and weaving; with its theatre, gymnasium, schools, libraries, baths and all things necessary for body and soul. Supposing the energy, time and talent that have been given to manufacture and manufacturing inventions had been given to agriculture and agricultural inventions, would not there have been as wonderful results in food production as there have been in cotton goods production?”  (Effects of the Factory System, 1895)

Utopian? Perhaps –  we need our utopian visions!. But there’s an element of realism there too. He recognised that capitalism had unleashed enormously powerful productive forces, but not necessarily with the best results. What Clarke was saying over a century ago is being said by many green activists and thinkers today and was what Gandhi preached in his own time and what ‘small is beautiful’ thinkers like Leopold Kohr, Franz Schumacher and John Papworth argued.

Humanity has the resources and skills to create a better world, for everyone; the consequences of not trying are worsening climate change and all that follows from it. The old cliché remains true: think globally, act locally – and regionally.

Clarke looked forward to a Lancashire that was a greener, more self-sufficient place – within a co-operative rather than a capitalist system. Now, as we struggle to emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, is the time to think differently about the world we live in. This paper is about what Lancashire could look like in the next twenty years – by which I mean the ‘historic’ Lancashire, including Greater Manchester and much of Merseyside. But this is not about looking backward – it’s about creating a progressive and inclusive vision for a re-united Lancashire ‘county-region’ within a prosperous North and a Federal Britain. A Lancashire Co-operative Commonwealth.

The state of the county

The Lancashire of Allen Clarke’s day has changed in so many ways. In the towns, gone are the mills and mill chimneys with their attendant pollution and poor working conditions inside the factory walls. But we have also lost some of the civic pride and buoyancy of the great Lancashire boroughs including Clarke’s beloved Bolton.

‘Lancashire’ itself has been split and divided in what was a travesty of democracy. No wonder there is a very worrying degree of despondency and cynicism within these towns that ‘nothing can be done’ and we are powerless. It becomes easy to blame scapegoats, be they immigrants, asylum seekers, politicians or whoever.

Lancashire has yet to find a new role that can build on its past achievements, without just being a dull collection of retail parks, charity shops and sprawling suburbia, nor indeed a heritage theme park. We have many successful businesses and a thriving academic sector with great universities, some world-class, in many towns and cities; there is the potential for that to spin-off into new industries and services that are world-leaders.

Manchester has emerged as a dynamic regional centre, though many of the once-thriving towns surrounding it are in a parlous state. This has got to change and consigning towns like Bolton, Oldham, Rochdale and Bury to the role of commuter suburbs is not acceptable. Instead of the centralised ‘city-region’ we need a more decentralised and collaborative ‘county-region’ with several centres and smaller hubs connected by good rail links.

There is a disconnect between urban and rural, with tourist ‘honeypots’ around Lancashire and areas like the Ribble Valley and Trough of Bowland besieged by traffic from towns and cities and homes for local people made unaffordable by urban dwellers buying up second homes – a process accelerated by Covid-19.

The county that was stolen

Allen Clarke’s Lancashire has been shrunk by an undemocratic diktat in the 1970s. Nobody asked the people of Bolton, Rochdale, Oldham, Wigan and other towns if they wanted to be part of ‘Greater Manchester’. We have an elected mayor but without the democratic oversight of an elected council – which at least the original Greater Manchester Council had, before it was abolished by Mrs Thatcher in 1986. Something else we weren’t asked about. Now, in 2020, some politicians are talking about further municipal vandalism with the destruction of the remaining ‘Lancashire’ county council and three ‘super’ councils replacing it and the existing districts. Talk about making a bad job even worse. In Cumbria, there is talk of creating one single unitary authority; this would mean the death of ‘local’ government.

Allen Clarke was a strong believer in municipal reform and backed The Municipal Reform League, formed in Lancashire in the early 1900s. There’s a need for something like that but on a bigger scale, addressing the huge democratic deficit in the English regions, particularly the North, as well as the loss of power by local government. We need a ‘Campaign for Northern Democracy’ that can involve Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Cumbria and the North-East as friendly allies and partners.

Samuel Compston of Rossendale, a radical Liberal of the old school, spoke of the virtue of ‘county clanship, in no narrow sense’. He was on to something and his words were carefully chosen. Regional or county pride does not pre-suppose antipathy to other regions and nations, and it needs to include everyone within the region. But it requires a democratic voice, not just one person elected every few years as ‘mayor’, nor a committee of local authority leaders whose prime loyalty is to their own council ward.

Yorkshire has been quicker off the mark and the Campaign for a Yorkshire Parliament has won wide cross-party support; the Yorkshire Party has made several local gains. The Yorkshire-based ‘Same Skies Collective’ has developed some fresh new ways of thinking about regionalism. The Yorkshire Society is succeeded in reinvigorating a strong, inclusive Yorkshire identity – a very good model for us to follow in Lancashire.

Here, there’s a ‘Friends of Real Lancashire’ and we have a Lancashire Society which currently has a low profile. Lancashire needs to play its part in the regionalist revival  with a much higher profile and cross-party support. A reformed Lancashire that includes Greater Manchester and Merseyside makes sense as an economic unit but also chimes with people’s identities – in a way that artificial ‘city regions’ never will.

‘Greater Manchester’ typifies the problem of ‘city-regions’. It has reduced the once proudly-independent county boroughs to the status of satellites – commuter suburbs of Manchester (or ‘Manctopia’ as it was described in an excellent TV programme recently). Nearly 50 years on from the creation of ‘Greater Manchester’ our ‘city region’ still has precious little legitimacy and if there was a referendum tomorrow on being part of Lancashire or ‘Greater Manchester’ I have little doubt about the result.

A democratic new Lancashire

Regional democracy must be the next big jump for our political system with county assemblies, elected proportionately, taking real powers out of Westminster and Whitehall, backed up by strong well-resourced local government which has the right scale (not too big!).  In England, we haven’t grasped the distinction between the national, regional and local, with cack-handed attempts to combine the regional and local (witness current attempts to create a unitary authority for all of Cumbria and three huge ‘local’ authorities covering all Lancashire). The latter are neither sufficiently ‘strategic’ to be effective regional bodies, and anything but ‘local’. Cumbria itself is big enough to be a county-region but still needs effective local government beneath it.

We need to get power out of the centre – Westminster/Whitehall – and give county-regions such as Lancashire real powers (see below) complemented by local government which really is ‘local’ and relates to historic, ‘felt’ identities which make economic and political sense.

Parameters and powers

A re-constituted Lancashire county-region should include much of what once constituted Lancashire with the additions of parts of historic Cheshire to the south (Stockport, Tameside and Trafford in Greater Manchester). In some places, e.g. Warrington, Widnes and Runcorn, local referenda on joining the appropriate county-region could be held. The historic ‘Lancashire north of the Sands’ really makes more sense within a Cumbria county-region that works closely with its Lancashire sister. This provides a county-region of significant size able to wield economic clout without being too large (which a region of ‘The North’ would be, both in population and geographical scale). Crucially, it would reflect people’s identities.

A major failure of the attempts to create regional assemblies during the Blair Government was their obvious lack of powers, prompting the successful attempts by the advocates of the centralised status quo to label them as expensive ‘white elephants’. While on one hand it makes sense for a new county-region to evolve gradually in terms of the powers and responsibilities it has, it must be able to demonstrate a clear reason to exist from the start. That means taking over responsibility for many of the areas which Wales and Scotland already have. It should include tax-raising powers.

The county-region should be empowered to support economic development across its area, investing in emerging industries, research and marketing. The ‘Lancashire Enterprises’ of the 1980s, stimulated and overseen by Lancashire County Council, would be a good model to start with. Part of its role should be to encourage new social enterprises and encourage greater employee and community involvement in large enterprises.

For transport, a ‘Transport for Lancashire’ should be created to take over the powers of existing transport authorities, as well as the ineffective Transport for the North. There should be close collaboration between sister bodies in Yorkshire, Cumbria, the North-east, and the Midlands, with formation of joint bodies to develop inter-regional links.

Another regular canard against regional government is that it creates ‘more politicians’ – ’jobs for the boys’, another effective line of attack against the idea of a North-East Assembly in 2004. It depends how you look at that. Regional devolution must include reducing the number of MPs at Westminster, as their functions transfer to the county-region. The same goes for the civil servants. Some powers that are currently devolved, but with little democratic scrutiny (transport, health, etc.) could simply come under the democratically-elected county-region, with members elected by a proportional voting system.

Localising local government

One of the most disastrous decisions of local government reform in the 70s was the destruction of small, usually highly efficient, local councils. Medium-sized towns, such as Darwen, Heywood, Farnworth, Radcliffe and others often ran their own services, built good quality housing and underpinned a very strong sense of civic pride. They were ruthlessly destroyed in the spurious cause that ‘big is better’ and the knee-jerk approach of far too many bureaucrats to centralise as much as possible. Can anyone honestly say that these medium-sized towns have benefitted from the changes imposed on them in the 70s?

Within a Lancashire ‘county-region’ local government should ultimately be based on smaller but empowered and well-resourced units that reflect people’s identities – the Darwens, Athertons, Radcliffes as well as larger towns such as Oldham, Burnley, Blackburn and Blackpool. However, in the short term use should be made of existing powers to create local councils (‘town’ or parish councils) for small and medium-sized towns that don’t have their own voice, based on the ‘Flatpack Democracy’ model developed by independent town councillors in Frome, Somerset.

These smaller but more powerful local councils should co-operate with their parent borough council and neighbouring communities on issues of mutual concern within a Lancashire county-region – a ‘co-operative commonwealth’ as argued below.

Having vibrant town as well as city centres must be a major element of the county-region. This means having a vision for town centres which offer something that the mega-stores don’t offer: a sense of conviviality and sociability. The arts have a key role to play – small galleries, larger public facilities including theatres and annual festivals (Bolton’s Film Festival is a good example) can help revive town centres and give them a new role.

Some Lancashire towns have been successful in developing niche manufacturing which offer highly skilled, well-paid jobs – but there’s a need for much more, working in partnership with the higher education sector. The ‘Preston Model’ should be rolled out to other similar-sized towns and cities to encourage much more local procurement and business support. It all needs sensitive encouragement which should come from re-structured and empowered local councils working within a collaborative framework provided by the county-region’s Lancashire Enterprises, as part of  ‘The Lancashire Co-operative Commonwealth’.

A new green industrial revolution for Lancashire

Allen Clarke’s prophecy in Effects of the Factory System in (1895) that the cotton industry was doomed has finally come to be. Most of the mills that once dotted the south Lancashire landscape have been demolished. A few have survived but many are in poor condition, with only the prospect of demolition ahead of them unless something is done. The University of Bolton has had the sense to re-use some old mill buildings as part of its campus.

Yet most of the surviving Lancashire mills, perhaps with the exception of Manchester’s Ancoats, don’t have the wonderful mix of creative industries, office space and living accommodation that has been achieved with some of the mills in Yorkshire. At Saltaire, Salt’s Mill is perhaps the finest example, though rivalled by the Dean Clough Mills in Halifax. More should be done to protect our Lancashire mills and find good uses for them. Why should Yorkshire have all the fun?

Allen Clarke would have loved the idea of putting the mill buildings to better use – as places to live, but also as office and art space, recreational centres and performance areas. How about mill roof gardens? There’d be no shortage of space, with room to grow fruit and veg. Time for the ‘Incredible Edible Mill’!

We also need to build new, inspirational buildings that can take their place alongside the fine architecture bequeathed us by past generations. We need a vision, at least as radical as that of the Bolton landscape architect T.H. Mawson, of what our towns and cities should look like in the next 20 years, not what developers think is ‘good enough’ for us and makes the quickest return for them. We need some new Lord Leverhulmes (for all his faults!), women and men of vision, able to work collaboratively and creatively. Lancashire could be at the forefront, once again, of an industrial revolution – but this time a green revolution which benefits everyone, not just a handful of entrepreneurs.

Sharing the same skies: the countryside for everyone

Alongside a vibrant urban society, economy and culture, we need to make the best of our countryside, the ‘green lungs’ that make Lancashire so special. At its best, it can compete with the Lakes and the Peak District in terms of scenic beauty and is relatively well served with vibrant shops and smaller towns.  It’s a huge asset in attracting talent into the region as a place to live and work.

Yet public transport access to the countryside is nothing like as good as it ought to be. Some of the most attractive areas have little or no bus services, or they don’t operate on Sundays – just when people need them. Places like Rivington, Pendle and Holcombe – let alone the Ribble Valley and Pendle – can be clogged with cars and motor bikes at weekends. At the same time, many stations that gave walkers access to the countryside, have closed.

Never mind HS2, let’s rebuild a world-class local transport network. For a fraction of the cost of that high-speed white elephant, we could have a network of modern, zero-emission trams and buses serving town and country, feeding in to a core rail network. If we look at the examples of Germany, Switzerland and Austria their popular rural areas typically have either frequent train services or rural trams connecting from the larger urban centres.

One of the few bright spots during the coronavirus outbreak has been the remarkable growth in cycling. Clarke and his friends Johnston and Wild would be delighted. Quiet roads, good weather and time on your hands was the ideal combination. Cycle shops have enjoyed a boon. I hope this renewed interest in cycling will survive, particularly if the Government puts its money where its mouth is and provides funding to expand cycle facilities in both town and country. That will need a strong regional body to implement cycle infrastructure working with local authorities and communities – a clear role for Transport for Lancashire.

People will still use their car to get out into the countryside and that needs to be managed and provided for. Car parks can be ugly, but so can cars parked alongside verges. The more alternatives there are available, the less likely we are to assume that the only way to enjoy the countryside is by that form of transport which does most to disfigure it.

Why not copy the example of some of the national parks in the United States, which prohibit car access to the most sensitive areas? If you get there by car, leave it in a ‘parking lot’ and either walk, get on a local bus or hire a bike. It could work in some of our national parks including the Lakes and popular visitor locations such as Rivington and the Pendle Forest. The exciting plans for a ‘South Pennines’ regional park could include sensitive measures to restrict visitors’ car access and promote use of public transport, cycling and walking.

Allen Clarke wanted to see a new ‘agricultural revolution’ in Lancashire, and that’s still relevant. Much of Lancashire, particularly in the north of the county, has a highly productive agricultural sector and we need to guard against precious agricultural land being lost to development. We need to do much more to feed our own people and not be dependent on imported foods.  The ‘incredible edible’ model, of small-scale food production within towns was invented here in Lancashire and needs to be rolled out in every town and village.

Beyond a boundary: a Red Rose Co-operative Commonwealth?

The future of England should be about county-regions co-operating with empowered, but geographically smaller, local councils. There should be strong encouragement to co-operate on issues when it makes sense, and to share resources and specialist staff. That co-operation should extend further, across the North. Why not a ‘Northern Federation’ of county-regions – Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, the North-East and Cumbria, collaborating on issues of joint concern, such as strategic transport links and academic co-operation?

Good, democratic governance must be about addressing inequality, jobs, the environment, health, education and having a thriving and diverse cultural sector. Allen Clarke’s vision in 1895, of locally-based and socially-owned units of production make sense in a modern digital age, co-operating as equals with partners across the globe.

His idea of a ‘co-operative commonwealth’ could certainly work at a Lancashire level; after all, it’s where co-operation began. Allen Clarke, with and his radical friends Solomon Partington, the co-operator and feminist Sarah Reddish and Samuel Compston looking over his shoulder, would have said “what are you waiting for?”

And we can’t wait. The coronavirus pandemic has focused people’s minds on the dysfunctional way we have lived our lives. An even bigger threat is climate change which requires re-thinking every aspect of how we live, travel, work and play. A democratic revolution is needed to create appropriate governance that can address those issues.

That revolution needs to go beyond Lancashire and the North. We need to build a Federal Britain which is no longer dominated by London: a federation of equals. Now is the time to create that Allen Clarke’s vision of a ‘Lancashire Co-operative Commonwealth’ that can, in the words of Clarke’s heroine, Rose Hilton – get agate with the job ofwashing the smoky dust off the petals of the red rose” and create a county-region that is fit for the 21st century. A Lancashire re-united.

Lancashire United: What we stand for

  • The promotion of a strong, inclusive Lancashire identity that is welcoming to everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or age
  • The creation of a new Lancashire county-region which includes Greater Manchester and Merseyside
  • The formation of a democratically-elected Lancashire Assembly, using a fair voting system
  • The devolution of powers over transport, health, education, economic development, culture and tourism to the county-region, with democratic oversight
  • The encouragement of informal Lancashire-wide networks in the areas of higher education and research, culture and the arts, sport and other areas
  • The encouragement of democratic forms of social ownership – ‘a co-operative commonwealth’
  • The empowerment of local government and town/parish councils
  • Close and collaborative working with our neighbours in Cumbria, Yorkshire, Cheshire and Derbyshire and the formation of a Northern Confederation

Lancashire Day, November 27th 2020

See facebook group #LancashireUnited twitter @lancsunited and www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

Categories
Current News

Northern Weekly Salvo 287

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: paul.salveson@myphone.coop

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

General gossips

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

LMS Black 5 passes through Lostock on Monday, at the point where the detonators went off…

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.

The Pike Snack Shack at Rivington

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.

Brian Northey

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

Astley Bridge Junction with Halliwell Pilot coming onto the branch

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 info@lancashireloominary.co.uk

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

Colin Speakman (left) is one of the walking class heroes (something to be) in bad company with Les and Salvo in Clitheroe

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/

Small Salvoes

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

Farnworth’s Town Hall no longer echoes to debate!

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.

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Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events

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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

Categories
Current News

Northern Weekly Salvo 286

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: paul.salveson@myphone.coop

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

General gossips

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.

So what dosta think o’this Burnham chap?

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

A joyful train…and the Lights are still on!

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.

His Excellency (seated of course)

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 Quiraing

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

Good job it wasn’t standard gauge! Last bit of Skye Marble Railway on Broadford Pier

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.

Al fresco coffee at Synergy Cycles

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.

Our Gondola of the people, at Ulverston

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.

Glimpse of The Gondola

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 info@lancashireloominary.co.uk

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

Cost of book is £8.99 retail/£10.00 inc post and packing or email rachelzzzyx@gmail.com  (give a postal address to send the book to). Payment is either by cheque or paypal.  paypal.me/rachelfrancis222

Small Salvoes

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).

John Papworth

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.

Will Hayes

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/

Locked-down lunches

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!

Quiz time

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

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84401214954?pwd=MzlvVWxhWGJ2b1A2UFVSdW9qYW9Qdz09

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

 

 

Categories
Current News

Northern Weekly Salvo 285

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: paul.salveson@myphone.coop

Publications website: www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

No. 285 October 2nd   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

We denizens of Bolton had been getting restless. Despite having slipped down the league table of infectious places, we were (until Thursday morning) the only town where all pubs, cafes and restaurants were closed, other than for takeaway. Seasoned drinkers hit on the clever ruse of driving over the frontier to neighbouring boroughs (some with higher infectious rates) for a drink.

This hardened Bolton boozer had to go all the way to Yorkshire to get a drink and fish and chips! She demurred on the pudding, opting for another glass of Chateau Mytholmroyd

They succeded in slipping round border guards at Radcliffe, Hindley and Walkden, or bribed them with tripe and cowheel.

The Tory leader of the Council, Conservative MPs and Labour mayor of Greater Manchester came to the rescue in a rare example of political unity, calling on the Government to relax the ban on pub opening in Bolton. The Government finally acceeded to Bolton’s just demands. But I wonder what would have happened, had the ban continued, if all cafe, pub and restaurant owners defied the Government and opened on the same basis as neighbouring towns? After all, the Governemnt seems to have a relaxed view about breaking laws. But anyway, such militancy proved unnecessary and we can now enjoy a sit-down fish and chips, a curry or just a pint without having to go to Radcliffe, Belmont or even Scarborough.

But…. it seems bizarre that these decisions are being taken by people in Westminster; it’s a great argument for why we need regional government which understands local and regional conditions (see below). Clearly this Government hasn’t the faintest idea what is going on outside its own bubble, as the North-East farce also demonstrates. This issue of The Salvo has an extended section on regional devolution, alongside the usual stuff.

Janet Tyndale

Many readers active in the community rail world will have known Janet Tyndale. I was shocked to receive an email from her partner, Peter, to say that she had died suddenly on September 3rd. She was a lovely person, highly creative and full of enthusiasm. My condolences to Peter and her family.

Taking the train….a joyless experience?

The last issue of The Salvo commented on people’s experience of train travel and what a joyless experience it has become. I remain to be convinced that closing down catering outlets and shutting toilets on stations is a good way to tempt people back. Many locked-down areas are once again being told that public transport should only be used for ‘essential journeys’. Some TOCs have a policy of not allowing food or drink on trains, but given that on-train visible presence is non-existent on many services, you can probably eat your cheese butties without challenge. And the Northern practice of cordoning off parts of trains so that guards ‘can carry out their duties’ has the effect of making some trains over-crowded, with no apparent sign of the guard going about their mysterious ‘duties’. As a former guard myself I’d like to know what they might entail. Still, the majority of trains are pretty empty. No wonder.

A joyful experience

After a moan about train travel, we had a lovely excursion to Scarborough, travelling via Blackburn and Leeds to York with Northern, from where we joined the last of the season’s ‘Scarborough Spa Express’ hauled by what purported to be 45562 ‘Alberta’. I say purporting because it isn’t really, as any self-respecting steam type will tell you. It’s former Bristol Barrow Road (82E)  ‘5X’ 45699 ‘Galatea’ done up to look like Holbeck’s finest (55A), 45562, which was cruelly scrapped in 1968.

So-called ‘Alberta’ arrives in York, bound for the coast

I have to say (call me sad, I don’t care) that ‘Alberta’ was one of my favourite engines and I have many happy memories of her/him, including a footplate ride on the Fridays-Only illuminations train from Huddersfield to Blackpool one October evening in 1966. So I was very happy to imagine what pulled into York was my old darling Alberta. It was a pleasant run to Scarborough and back to York, where ‘Galberta’ or ‘Albertea’ was detached. We spent a pleasant few hours in ‘the jewel of the Yorkshire Coast’ enjoying fish and chips in ‘The Golden Grid’, an open top bus ride to Peasholm Park and a ride on the North Bay Railway. We know how to enjoy ourselves. The run from York back to Blackburn was on time, with two class 47 diesels at the front. The schedule is somewhat relaxed, allowing long waits for scheduled services to pass in front. But the five hours seemed to pass quickly, even without (I hear you saying) the soporific effects of alcohol.

A walk along th’cut

Those enterprising folk at Bolton and South Lancs CRP are still pushing ahead with plans for their ‘Clocktower Trails’ – a series of self-guided walks starting at the Bolton station clock tower and paralleling (roughly) the railways to Wigan, Preston, Manchester and Blackburn.

Vernon Sidlow struggles to reach the button for ‘the green man (four legged version)’. Maybe next time he’ll go by horse

We might even do one to Bury as well. Trail-blazer Venon Sidlow and myself did an exploratory walk from Bolton towards Manchester, using the two viaducts on the former Bolton – Bury Line, now converted for walking, cycling and horse-riding. After Darcy Lever Viaduct we dropped down to join the former canal, which now forms part of ‘The Kingfisher Trail’.

The canal is filled in as far as Little Lever, though the course is very clear and well-signed. After crossing the Farnworth – Little Lever Road the canal is intact as far as Nob End (no childish giggles in the back row). In parts it is very wide, reflecting the level of traffic that once occupied this section of ‘the cut’, serving local collieries. At Nob End the Bolton section of the canal was joined by the Manchester branch, reaching the junction by a flight of locks, which stand derelict. Beyond Nob End towards Bury the waterway was severed back in 1936 when the embankment burst. Beyond there, parts of the canal are intact through to Radcliffe and it makes for a grand walk. We went down the path alongside the locks and crossed the Croal by a footbridge which takes you up towards Farnworth station.

Famous railway battlefields (1) Clifton Junction

MY appetite was whetted for further canal exploration and the following day we started our ramble at Clifton Junction, a station that keeps itself very much to itself with only two trains a day. Or is it three? Certainly none on a Sunday anyway. It was, once upon a time, the junction for the East Lancashire Railway’s line from Bury, joining up with the Lancashire and Yorkshire’s Bolton – Manchester route. It was the scene of a famous battle on March 12th 1846 over ‘running rights’ and access payments.

The railway parallels the canal from Clifton Junction towards Salford Crescent

The East Lancs took umbrage at the L&Y’s insistence that all its trains should call at Clifton Junction to have tickets inspected (so the host company could calculate what it was owed) and a row ensued. The L&Y placed an obstruction on the East Lancashire branch ensuring trains would have to stop whether they liked it or not. The scene was witnessed by a large gathering of police officers who had been sent up from Salford, who no doubt enjoyed the spectacle.  Trains from the rival companies faced each other angrily across the junction. Malcolm Borrowdale takes up the story ”there ensued a pushing match between the two trains, a rather unfair contest since the L&Y unsportingly sent up another engine from Manchester to help. It must have been a splendid and noisy spectacle with the three engines at full steam and going nowhere! During the contest the ELR scored a point by using a heavy train of wagons loaded with stone to block the L&Y’s down line (the track from Manchester). Within an hour and a half there were eight trains blocking both railways at Clifton Junction and nothing was being gained by either side. The senior officers of the Lancashire & Yorkshire sloped off and left their passenger superintendent in charge of the mess. Being a man of common sense he demobilised the army of platelayers and labourers and sent away the L&Y trains and so the Battle of Clifton Junction fizzled out with the East Lancs train whistling its way all the way to Manchester.”

After the situation was resolved, Clifton Junction settled into a century or more of a sleepy existence, until the last train to Bury and Bacup ran on December 5th 1966. My canal-walking mate Vern was with me on that last day, 54 years ago when we slipped and slid up the steep gradient to Ringley on a near-empty diesel railcar.

This time, the route was along the former Manchester, Bolton and Canal which is clearly walkable, linked by a path from the station alongside the former Chloride factory. Close by was the L&Y’s old generating station for electric trains on the Manchester – Bury line, which it energised in 1916.

One of the original milestones along the canal towpath

The canal is partly filled in but as you get towards Pendleton parts still have some water, along with old prams, dead dogs and the like. Several of the original milestones survive. The canal path ends close to what was Brindle Heath Sidings. You’re on your own after that, though with a bit of map-reading and local intelligence, you can soon pick up the path along the River Irwell, which takes you into Salford and central Manchester. We chose to head back to Clifton, using the river path which is pretty but of less interest.

Constitutional conundrums – special feature!

Bubbling below the surface of Covid-19 and Brexit is the vexed question of what becomes of our ‘United Kingdom’. In this series of articles, friends as well as myself speculate on the future, from a Northern and Scots perspective. Comments welcome! My own article is quite long so it’s downloadable from my website, the piece below is just a summary. For the full works, go to http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk/2020/10/01/the-case-for-progressive-regionalism/

A very disunited kingdom…Paul Salveson

The United Kingdom is less united than it has ever been. Scotland is moving increasingly towards independence, whilst Wales is showing growing interest in taking devolution much further, with support for independence also going up. Prospects for a united Ireland are becoming ever more pronounced, stimulated by Brexit and changed attitudes and life styles. The ‘Britain’ that we have known for generations is slipping away and unless we splinter into (at least) three parts, it needs to be re-imagined, based on a federation of equals.

The English left is completely at sea with issues around identity. There is a view that being ‘internationalist’ means that loyalties to nation, region and even perhaps locality are dangerous. So we have left the door open to the right to seize on identity and propel it in a reactionary direction, with English nationalism being its outcome, now shared by many Conservatives as well as the far right fringe.  Starmer appears to be making a pitch for it – but it’s a really dangerous road to tread and a ‘patriotic’ English Labour will always be outbid by the right.

With the devolved nations increasingly moving apart, where does that leave England? Calls for an ‘English Parliament’ continue to be raised by politicians on both the left and right of the political spectrum, though ‘English nationalism’ remains the preserve of the right, despite occasional opportunist attempts by sections of the left to capture it for a more progressive political trajectory.  It will struggle; and the reality is that an English Parliament would be dominated by the South and London – with the regions, particularly the North, more neglected and isolated than ever.

Progressive regionalism for England

The alternative to an increasingly right-wing English nationalism which is the antithesis of the progressive nationalisms of Scotland, Wales and Ireland is, in England, progressive regionalism. It is showing some signs of life, particularly in the North. It is the truest form of patriotism, recognising and celebrating the diversity of the English nation and not accepting regions being subservient to the centre (London, obv.). Neither is it antagonistic to other nations within the UK, recognising that we have much in common and share a similar sense of neglect by a traditionally over-centralised state.

What does ‘progressive regionalism’ actually mean? It’s partly about taking power out of the centre – in the case of the UK, Westminster – and devolving functions to sufficiently large entities. In a way, what Scotland and Wales have is ‘regional devolution’ that would be recognisable to a continental politicians. Certain powers, for example defence, etc. are ‘reserved’ for the central body. In the case of Scotland, the Scottish Parliament has devolved power over a wide range of areas including transport, health and education. The same could work for the English regions. Scotland – a majority, if polls are to be believed – wants to go further to full independence which is only a decision that the Scots (i.e. those living in Scotland) can make.

An English regionalism would want to see powers over all ‘domestic’ areas devolved to regional bodies, with tax-raising powers. Size is important. You wouldn’t devolve powers over transport policy to a local authority, neither would you do that for strategic aspects of health, education and planning. British political thinking has been very slow to understand there is a ‘middle tier’ of government that could do what the central state currently does but which too local focus would be inappropriate.

This is a shortened version of a longer piece The case for progressive regionalism. See http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk/2020/10/01/the-case-for-progressive-regionalism/

Interested in the debate on regionalism? Let me know and I’ll add you to the Hannah Mitchell Foundation mailing list.

Rant from Radcliffe: why we need a Campaign for Northern Democracy. Richard Walker

Do we need Campaign for Northern Democracy?  Well certainly ‘yes’ because without it we are heading for an unnecessarily acrimonious break-up of the UK, and some kind of mean-spirited, angry, impoverished Little England remnant state.  But we also need it because in the North of England we don’t currently live in a meaningful democracy.

We can start either at the top or the bottom of the government hierarchy to demonstrate we haven’t got a democracy.  Here’s the list from the bottom up:

  1. Local councils are elected as three-member wards elected by first past the post which leads to crazily disproportionate outcomes in terms of share of votes -v- share of seats. The contrast with Scottish local councils which have switched to single transferable vote (STV) PR for local elections is powerful.
  2. Local districts in the North are too big for real democracy for local issues – Bolton at 250,000, Kirklees/Bradford/Leeds at 400,000+ are very large for the lowest tier of local government. We need a new tier of local neighbourhood, parish and town councils, as advocated by the Flatpack 2021
  3. Although the Government appears to have pulled its “Devolution” White Paper due to Tory party internal opposition, the thrust of its plans was nothing to do with devolution and everything to do with making units of local government bigger in order to achieve cost savings (easier outsourcing) and to make it easier to control from the centre.
  4. Mayoral Combined Authorities (which the pulled White Paper was going to create more of) have no proper elected democratic scrutiny – incredible.
  5. Local media is dying out and so there is weakened local media scrutiny of what is going on in council chambers and Mayors’ offices.
  6. There is no regional tier.
  7. The Westminster Parliament is not a democracy when one of its two houses was always unelected and its membership is now more blatantly than ever based on party corruption/patronage…and the other is elected by first past the post from single member constituencies.
  8. Everything about the local, Mayoral and Westminster tiers is more about sustaining the two-party duopoly than delivering genuine democracy.
  9. We have no written constitution, the government is undermining the independence of the judiciary, and is trying to wriggle out of being bound by the European Convention on Human Rights (which NB is not an EU thing), so we have even less protection than we thought we had under our ramshackle constitution.
  10. And the monarchy – well nobody dares say the words Federal Republic, so maybe let’s not go there…

Let’s be clear what happened recently with passage of the Internal Market Bill by the Commons on 29 September 2020.  Every single Conservative candidate for the December 2019 general election had to sign a pledge that they would back Boris Johnson’s ‘oven ready’ Brexit deal, which put a customs border down the Irish Sea.  Johnson signed the deal and every single Tory MP in the new parliament voted for it.  It’s now an international treaty with the force of international law and now last night not a single Tory MP voted against the Government giving itself the powers to unilaterally break that treaty, which not only turns Britain into a rogue state at risk of EU sanctions but also defies the Good Friday Agreement and risks reigniting the Northern Ireland troubles, meaning bombs, deaths and misery.  The Bill also just happens to empower the Westminster government to completely cancel Scottish and Welsh devolution.

All very well, high power politics, but the reason we are not a democracy is that nowhere today in the national media is anybody pointing out that the entire ‘Get Brexit Done’ election campaign was a blatant lie and the mandate Johnson won is a fake.  The media is completely complicit and that is before the government installs Charles Moore and Paul Dacre to roles supposedly reserved for political neutrals.

What’s the Northern angle on this?  Well, guess what, ‘levelling up’ was also a complete lie from the word go too.  There is literally no plan and no clue on what to do or how to do it.  When the good voters of the Red Wall work that out, they are going to be either very angry or just switch off entirely.

My take on a Campaign for Northern Democracy is that we need to demand:

  1. PR for local elections,
  2. New resources for democratic scrutiny of Mayoral Combined Authorities,
  3. PR for House of Commons elections and a regional ‘Bundesrat’ House of Lords as well as and on an equal footing with the call for:
  1. a democratic regional tier of government.

To me that is a call for a comprehensive constitutional convention.

This should also come with a message to Keir Starmer’s Labour Party as follows: in 2021, either to get behind a progressive alliance for an electoral pact to offer a platform of electoral and constitutional reform at the next general election, or prepare to be fought by the Campaign for Northern Democracy.

The above is almost exactly the manifesto put forward by the Green Party’s Natalie Bennett, who may have started off very much as a southerner (being from Sydney) but is now a proper Northern lass, having moved to Sheffield!

Sweeping up the dog’s breakfast. Thoughts from a railway doctor (aka Jim Ford)

The more I see of this issue (local and regional government – ed.), the more problems become apparent because so many politicians have monkeyed around with local (i.e. below Westminster) democracy. Leaving a complete dogs breakfast, as we can see with what is happening with Covid. Blackpool with rising cases not locked down because it is a unitary and Southport locked down simply because it is part of a Merseyside Metro, similarly with Wigan initially locked down as part of Greater Manchester. Better to debate the issue, rather than get too bogged down in detailed proposals. The general opinion in Merseyside is that the Liverpool City Region is too small already (and too much politically aligned with Labour!). Liverpool likes it because it allows a city which has halved its population to appear to punch above its weight, but the west side of Wirral (where my in-laws reside) would if given the chance, secede from Merseyside and join an independent Cheshire (they already managed to shed L postcodes and get CH ones). Given half a chance, Southport would similarly join Lancashire. Leaves just Liverpool and St Helens, which is definitely not viable. Manchester by contrast is surrounded by a constellation of towns and is a true agglomerator. This doesn’t apply to Liverpool.

The way the NHS does it is to regard Cheshire and Merseyside as linked for re-configurations etc. and similarly with the Fire and Police. That is a problem locally for us in Southport as it means that we have a ‘regional’ boundary running so close to our town that many of our streets cross it, as does ironically our split site hospital, but that is a local issue and relates probably to the future status of West Lancashire. Adding Cheshire into the Liverpool City Region would make it more balanced – town and country, Tory and Labour with more than one powerful city to call the shots.

I suppose that leaves Cheshire/Merseyside and Lancashire/Greater Manchester, but there will always be boundary issues – e.g. with Macclesfield and Manchester Airport ending up in Cheshire/Merseyside! I like the idea of ‘Northumbria’, which many in the non-Lancashire leaning parts of Cumbria would identify with, so maybe Cumbria and Northumbria, again giving a town and country mix (Workington/Whitehaven tend to look that way anyway). And Morecambe Bay (NHS speak), basically the area south of Broughton which is known locally as ‘the Peninsulas’, could actually revert to Lancashire/Manchester, as it looks to Manchester and to a lesser extent Liverpool for its services and transport.

In population terms, I think that Cheshire/Merseyside, Manchester/Lancashire and Northumbria and Cumbria would have largish, similar sized populations with good political and town/country mix, just like Scotland and Yorkshire.

As for Transport for the North, I really need convincing that this is the right model for anything other than competitive dissent. I haven’t quite recovered from their conference in Manchester last year when they had Northern, TPE and Network Rail presenting their visions but in practice mostly apologising. I asked why Merseyrail Electrics were not there as they have by and large done what it says on the can and are as responsive to local circumstances as possible and the TfN head honcho said that they had forgotten to consider them. A railway at the time falling to bits and he didn’t even think about the one model that was working…….

The United Kingdom – an Asymmetric Union…from David Prescott

The United Kingdom has recently started to be described as ‘four nations’, as in a four-nation approach to tackling Covid-19, where health is a completely devolved matter.  This quickly demonstrated both the strengths and weaknesses of devolution. Once they recognised that Westminster did not set the health rules the three devolved nations appears to have generally managed well, within the limitations imposed by the lack of devolution in certain areas such as border controls and finance.

One regular problem was and remains the constant reporting of English only policy and instructions by a national media, because it was presented by “UK” ministers was confusing and potentially damaging.  This is the norm in the national media reporting of all areas of devolved activity, where Scotland is subjected to a constant barrage of ‘national’ news, but which only applies in England.

However, viewed from Scotland the biggest threat to the union is now the new UK single market legislation, which was rejected by all the parties in the Scottish Parliament except the Conservatives. This issue illustrates how unworkable the United Kingdom has become. The problem is simple and in two parts:

  1.    The intention is that standards that are set in one of the four nations will be accepted by the other three.  That is fraught with all sorts of risks with producers seeking to press their case in one of the four nations because they will gain acceptance in the other three.  There is a risk that one of the four will become the equivalent of a flag of convenience for producers with easier or more lax standards.
  2.     This proposal has been put forward so that the UK government can agree standards with other nations on trade deals that can be applied to the four nations, which has its own issues.  But it also means that if the UK government, acting in its role as the English government, want to change wholly internal and otherwise devolved matters it can inflict those on the other three nations.

This has brought into sharp focus the confusion of roles that has so unbalanced the UK. From Scotland it now looks and feels as if we are living in a greater English state, one for which we cannot vote, but which is presenting itself as the United Kingdom.

All a matter of branding?  No, it is much more important than branding as, where they can, the devolved nations are moving in different social and economic directions, with the English moving more towards an American model driven by the Westminster clique and the demand of London, big business, wealthy people, and its finance industry.  The Scots are moving more toward a European model (trespass laws and planning are examples) but have also led the way with the smoking ban and alcohol pricing.

This has become more apparent as Brexit unfolds onto a European supporting (or at least tolerating) Scotland with a perceived stronger performance with the pandemic and where polls are now showing a consistent move to over 50% support for independence, for the first time.

Ultimately the whole construct is being shown for what it always was a gesture to keep the two other mainland nations quiet, but without thinking through the implications of having no independent English parliament.  Without a separate English parliament, the UK will not be a United Kingdom but an English empire.

And this is driven home by the opening in Edinburgh of the UK government’s major new offices to bring together all the UK civil servants under one roof, which has the (unintentional?) feeling of being the new Governor General’s office.

What is clear is that the UK parliament and government cannot continue to also act as the English parliament and government.  A unionist fresh start needs to introduce a suitable form of self-government in England, determined by the English and reflecting the emerging needs of England and its different regions, leaving Westminster as the UK government.  This would result in four equal nations and a much smaller United Kingdom government, on the Australian/Canadian model.

However, if this is not acceptable to the English, then they must accept that the rights to self-determination are just as reasonable in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland as they were in the British colonies in the 1950s and 60s and negotiate an independence/self-determination settlement with any of the other nations that requested it.

The status quo is no longer sustainable.

Reflections on ‘Moorlands and Memories’

Moorlands, Memories and Reflections is now with the printers. It marks 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’.

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. There’s railway interest in several chapters: the last trains from Horwich and Lostock Junction, summer evenings with signalmen at Entwistle and the renaissance of the East Lancashire Railway. Maxine Peake has very kindly written a foreword.

I will publish it as my second ‘Lancashire Loominary’ product. It should be back from the printers by about October 15th. The price will be £21 plus postage but Salvo readers can benefit from a special price of £20 including postage until November 15th. Go to my website www.lancashireloomionary.co.uk or just send me a cheque (made out to ‘Paul Salveson’) or transfer £20 to my account 23448954 bank sort code 53-61-07. Don’t forget to email me to say you’ve done it, with your postal address. I am doing a ‘3 for the price of 2’ offer. i.e. £40, until November 15th.

Small Salvoes

Last Train from Horwich

The most recent story in my Bolton News’ ‘Looking Back’ feature was about the last train from Horwich, which ran on September 25th 1965. Along with eight others, I was privileged to ride in the cab of 42626 on

A disreputable bunch on board 42626 about to leave Horwich, September 25th 1965

the 12.05 from Horwich to Bolton. The tale is here:

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/18749864.end-era-last-train-pulled-horwich-station/

The next feature will be on the remarkable head teacher of Prestolee School, Teddy O’Neill, known to his foes as ‘The Idiot Teacher’.

Bolton Station Mela

We’ve just heard that we’ve been awarded £4000 from Bolton Community and Voluntary Services to put on the first-ever ‘community rail mela’ next year. The multi-cultural festival will take place at the station and in other venues across the town, bringing together Bolton’s diverse communities.

Thatcher’s Prisoner

I’m enjoying reading Thatcher’s Prisoner by Olivia Frank. It’s the story of a North Manchester Jewish girl growing up in the late 1950s in a male body. She gets recruited by Israeli intelligence (The Mossad) and experiences a range of adventures including the Entebbe Raid in Uganda. She falls foul of MI5 and is imprisoned, initially at the notorious Risley, then the only slightly less unpleasant Walton Prison. Despite her obvious allegiances she recognises that the Palestinians do have a case and hates the war-mongering Ariel Sharon. I’ll do a longer review in due course, but the book is available on Amazon.

Wanderings to Windermere

An early Autumn treat featured a train trip to Windermere. I like the station – it’s well-designed and welcoming, with a cycle hire facility next door. We strolled down to Bowness and visited Matt Nuttall’s Lakes Gallery in Bowness and the delightful gardens in the Quaker Meeting House grounds at Gatesbield. Then a pleasant bus ride to Haverthwaite on the no. 6. No, we didn’t go on the lovely Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, instead opting for a very pleasant walk to Backbarrow, once home to a large iron works. The site has now been sensitively re-developed for housing. Then it was bus to Ulverston and a pleasant hour in The Rose and Crown before taking the train back to Preston. We changed onto the Liverpool service and caught a glimpse of 6201 ‘Princess Elizabeth’ heading north, reminding of my first sighting of a ‘Prinni’ at the tender age of six. 46201 drifted into Platform 4 at Preston a Euston express.

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 www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

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.

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Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events

ALL STILL CAPED…But

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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. 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 get a better idea from going to my website: http://www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

 

 

Categories
Current News

The case for progressive regionalism

For a progressive English regionalism

Paul Salveson

Disunited kingdom

Covid-19 has highlighted how centralised we are. It’s bizarre that someone in London can stop me from going out for a pint in Bolton.  There are suggestions that a white paper on devolution will be published soon. Now is the time for some radical thinking on how England can be democratised. This paper argues for ‘progressive regionalism’ as a solution to the ‘English Problem’ – what to do with a highly centralised, outdated and undemocratic model of political governance which has presided over an increasing gulf between London and the South with the rest of England which is only likely to get worse with the economic effects of Covid-19 (as well as Brexit) starting to make themselves felt.

A disunited kingdom

The United Kingdom is less united than it has ever been. Scotland is moving increasingly towards independence, whilst Wales is showing growing interest in taking devolution much further, with support for independence also going up. Prospects for a united Ireland are becoming ever more pronounced, stimulated by Brexit and changed attitudes and life styles. The ‘Britain’ that we have known for generations is slipping away and unless we splinter into (at least) three parts, it needs to be re-imagined, based on a federation of equals.

The English left is completely at sea with issues around identity. There is a view that being ‘internationalist’ means that loyalties to nation, region and even perhaps locality are dangerous. So we have left the door open to the right to seize on identity and propel it in a reactionary direction, with English nationalism being its outcome, now shared by many Conservatives as well as the far right fringe.  Starmer appears to be making a pitch for it – but it’s a really dangerous road to tread and a ‘patriotic’ English Labour will always be outbid by the right.

With the devolved nations increasingly moving apart, where does that leave England? Calls for an ‘English Parliament’ continue to be raised by politicians on both the left and right of the political spectrum, though ‘English nationalism’ remains the preserve of the right, despite occasional opportunist attempts by sections of the left to capture it for a more progressive political trajectory.  It will struggle; and the reality is that an English parliament would be dominated by the South and London – with the regions, particularly the North, more neglected and isolated than ever.

Progressive regionalism for England

The alternative to an increasingly right-wing English nationalism which is the antithesis of the progressive nationalisms of Scotland, Wales and Ireland is, in England, progressive regionalism. It is showing some signs of life, particularly in the North. It is the truest form of patriotism, recognising and celebrating the diversity of the English nation and not accepting regions being subservient to the centre (London). Neither is it antagonistic to other nations within the UK, recognising that we have much in common and share a similar sense of neglect by a traditionally over-centralised state.

What does ‘progressive regionalism’ actually mean? It’s partly about taking power out of the centre – in the case of the UK, Westminster – and devolving functions to sufficiently large entities. In a way, what Scotland and Wales have is ‘regional devolution’ that would be recognisable to a continental politicians. Certain powers, for example defence, etc. are ‘reserved’ for the central body. In the case of Scotland, the Scottish Parliament has devolved power over a wide range of areas including transport, health and education. The same could work for the English regions. Scotland – a majority, if polls are to be believed – wants to go further to full independence which is only a decision that the Scots (i.e. those living in Scotland) can make.

An English regionalism would want to see powers over all ‘domestic’ areas devolved to regional bodies, with tax-raising powers. Size is important. You wouldn’t devolve powers over transport policy to a local authority, neither would you do that for strategic aspects of health, education and planning. British political thinking has been very slow to understand there is a ‘middle tier’ of government that could do what the central state currently does but which too local focus would be inappropriate.

A further differentiator between civic regionalism and English nationalism is that it is inclusive: it embraces all who live and work in the region: it isn’t about ‘birthrights’ and blood loyalties. Leave that for the far right.

Not local, not national. The importance of the regional

The importance of regional government lies in providing a strong ‘middle tier’ of government between the national and local. Within England, an aversion to ‘regional’ government has often led to either an over-centralised approach with central government taking on inappropriate powers, or to an expectation that local government can take on functions which are really too strategic for them. This can lead to a dog’s dinner of ‘combined authorities’ which are very poor substitutes for democratically elected and well resourced regions, working with local government.

A democratic deficit

There are suggestions that white paper on devolution will be published soon. Now is the time for some radical thinking on how England can be democratised. The ‘combined authority’ model, pushed through by George Osborne, is not real devolution and needs to be scrapped. It’s astonishing that this apology for devolution, with an elected mayor but without elected members, has been accepted so meekly. Once the mayor is elected they have virtually no accountability.

We are seeing combined authorities such as Greater Manchester and Merseyside take on increasing powers, often at the expense of local authorities who are fobbed off by being members of various combined authority committees. At least when we had the metropolitan county councils (abolished by Thatcher) they were accountable to directly-elected politicians. Democracy in the ‘combined authorities’ hardly exists. The chain of accountability if you have concerns over transport, planning, the environment and health are very long and tortuous, with no obvious way of influencing policy. The alternative is very clear, using the model that works for Scotland and Wales: directly-elected assemblies, using a fair voting system. The London model of an elected mayor overseen by an elected assembly (based on PR) works up to a point but the assembly members need more power.

The North of England

Over the last 30 years the growth of regionalist politics in the North of England has been slow and hesitant. The Scottish nationalist and socialist Chris Harvie called it “the dog that never barked”. Since then, we’ve seen the emergence of regionalist parties in Yorkshire, the North-East and Cumbria. None have yet to make a significant breakthrough, but give them time. The Hannah Mitchell Foundation was set up in 2010 to provide a non-party ‘think tank’ on Northern issues and the need for ‘democratic devolution’. More recently, ‘Same Skies West Yorkshire’ has emerged as a lively outlier which takes the need to be fully inclusive of Yorkshire’s diverse communities seriously.

Currently, the Hannah Mitchell Foundation is considering its future role, with a suggestion to re-name it ‘Campaign for Northern Democracy’ (CfND). Civic Revival is developing a niche as an informal network of local civic activists with a base in the North.

One super-region, or several Northern regions working together?

Should Northern regionalism aim for a pan-Northern governing body? There are arguments for and against, but the reality is that a ‘Northern’ political body – a ‘super region’ – would be very large, covering a population of over 15 million. This is larger than any of the existing German lander. Arguably, it would be simply too big for a viable regional body. At the same time, it would rub up against current campaigns, admittedly still at embryonic stages, for regional government in Yorkshire and the North-East.

‘Identity’ is an important thing and as things stand, regional identities for some parts of the North, e.g. Yorkshire and to some degree Lancashire and the North-East, are stronger than an overarching ‘Northerness’. In fact, the two could easily co-exist.

Going for ‘historic’ regional identities, suitably configured to represent modern day realities, makes more sense. This could combine with close working across the North on a range of sectors. Already, Transport for the North is an example of this, though it needs more power and resources, as well as greater accountability.

Historic ‘reconfigured’ regional identities could include:

  • Yorkshire, covering North, West and South Yorkshire, plus unitaries north of the Humber
  • ‘Northumbria’ – Co. Durham and Northumberland (i.e. ‘The North-East’)
  • Lancashire – Existing Lancashire plus Greater Manchester and Merseyside
  • Cumbria – the existing county
  • Cheshire – the existing two ‘Cheshires’ plus Warrington and Halton

These are just suggestions – there’s a need for a debate. It wouldn’t suit everyone – some Lancashire campaigners want to see Lancashire ‘North of the Sands’ return to Lancashire. Yet the existing ‘Cumbria’ makes a lot of sense and there is nothing to stop the people of Ulverston, Barrow and Grange from celebrating their historic cultural identities as Lancastrians. The county of Cheshire, before it was split into two (or more) parts makes sense as one small region. There would be an argument for Merseyside (population 1.4m) being a separate regional authority. This would still leave ‘Lancashire’ as a sizeable region, with Greater Manchester absorbed into it. Discuss.

A key point is that regions do not have to be the same or similar size. They certainly need to be big enough, both in population and geographical size, to do things that a local authority would struggle to do. Cumbria for example has a population about half a million but covers a geographical area of 6,768 square miles. Compare that with Greater Manchester which covers 493 square miles but has a population of 2.8 million. The final outcome should depend on what people want, rather than having something imposed (as in 1974) which nobody is really happy with.

There would be much scope for pan-Northern collaboration. Transport is an obvious sector, with east-west links traditionally having low priority. The existing Transport for the North forms a starting point to address that problem, with five or six regions collaborating rather than the current twenty-plus authorities which make up TfN. A ‘Council of the North’ could be formed to bring together regional assemblies to share and debate issues of common interest and when appropriate speak with a common voice.

A comparison with Germany

The position in Germany gives food for thought. It has a strong, well-established system of regional government. The 16 lander (states) vary in size a great deal. Nordrhein-Westfalen has a population of nearly 18 million covering a land mass of 13,565 square miles. However, only five states have a population between 18 and 6 million. The remaining eleven have populations of between 4 m and the smallest, Bremen, with just 683,000. Equally important in considering English regionalism is what the German lander actually do, and don’t.

The jurisdiction of the federal government includes defence, foreign affairs, immigration, citizenship, communications, and currency standards. The states have powers over police (excluding federal police), most of education, transport, housing, health, among others. The states often choose to work together on specific issues. The current devolved powers for Scotland are similar in many respects, though in Germany the states have stronger embedded powers under the ‘Basic Law’.

A Federal Britain

The logic of the UK’s current direction (or at least, ‘one kind of logic’) is for a Federal Britain, an idea that has been advocated by a few thoughtful politicians. It wouldn’t satisfy all the aspirations of Scots and Welsh nationalists, but may well be seen by many as a good compromise, providing it is a genuine federation of equals, not the current Westminster-centric approach. But if Scotland does decide to go for independence, there should still be scope for collaboration on the huge range of issues where there are common interests.

The federation should comprise the devolved nations and, within England, regional assemblies (i.e. not an English parliament). England itself could have a national forum based on the English regions, agreeing to co-operate on relevant issues, but the power should lie in the regions.

The federation should have a degree of flexibility, with some nations (and regions) having perhaps more powers than others. There should, however, be an agreed number of ‘reserved powers’ for the Federal Government, which could include defence, foreign affairs, immigration and citizenship. The position of Ireland is an interesting and challenging one, and even a future united independent Ireland should have a special, close relationship with this new Britain.

The question of where the location of a British federal government should be located is a minor issue. Given London’s historic role as the capital of the UK, there are sound reasons for keeping it there and avoiding the tokenism of putting it somewhere ‘in the middle’.  In any case, the political centre of gravity will have changed fundamentally, making Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Belfast, Cardiff and other great cities infinitely more important than now – and London less so.

There would be a much smaller civil service, given that most of their functions would be devolved. The number of MPs should be much less, elected on the basis of a fair voting system. The Lords should be re-structured as an elected body reflecting the national and regional diversity of the UK, again through a proportional voting system.

Local and hyper-local

The debate around regionalisation and federalism should not neglect the importance of local government, which has suffered a serious loss of power, status and resources over the last 30 years. Regional government must go with well-resourced local government with strong powers. As a principle, regional government shouldn’t take powers from the local but from the centre.

The current trend towards ever-larger local authorities should be reversed. Local government should mean what it says it is, not an under-resourced sub-regional set of councils without any deep-rooted identities and no support from the community. Local government needs fundamental reform, with a move back towards smaller authorities which have the powers to co-operate with neighbouring authorities and do whatever they want to do that is legal (e.g. running their own buses, housing provision, commercial activities as well as the traditional core responsibilities including schools, local health and social care.

The last few years have seen the growth of ‘hyper-local’ political parties and groups of radical-minded ‘independents’, who are coming together under the ‘Flatpack Democracy’ banner, first unveiled in Frome, Somerset. This is a very positive development and again highlights the need for grassroots democracy. If we are to bring local democracy back to the people, we need more town and parish councils which would work positively with reformed district councils to revitalise their communities. In many cases, this needs the establishment of new parish/town councils, particularly in areas that are more urban and have seen their identities lost through centralisation. Within my own area, places that stand out include Farnworth, Radcliffe, Colne Valley, Nelson and Darwen.

Making it happen

No-one would say that any of this is going to be easy. The big questions are “would it be an improvement? Would it help revive struggling communities? Would it help safeguard the best of what we have created in the UK these last 200 years?”

If the answer is ‘yes’ to at least some of these questions, there is a need for networks that can push the agenda for radical reform. In some cases it may be about political parties promoting change (including at the ‘hyper-local’ levels) but it is important that thinking within all the existing mainstream political parties is influenced.

As the main opposition party in Westminster, Labour is well placed to promote civic regionalism, but it would need to shed decades of centralist and sectarian thinking. Starmer should avoid the siren calls of English nationalism and look at the progressive alternative that is regionalism. Greens, Lib Dems and even some Tories should be open to ideas that run counter to English nationalism.

And the problem is England and we, the English. We are not prepared to think through creative ways forward that ‘threaten the union’. But the biggest threat to the union is to sit back and do nothing. The union that has existed for centuries, based on a centralised state in London, is no longer fit for purpose and we must not repeat the mistakes that were made with Ireland in the 1920s which – after a lot of bloodshed and bitterness – led to complete separation. We need constructive engagement with people in Scotland, Wales and Ireland – not to try and persuade them that we live in the best of all possible worlds, but that we should all be partners in helping to create one, at least one that is better than we’ve got. That means a big change within England.

“The dog that never barked” – English regionalism – needs to wake up and start yapping. It has enough to yap about, and there are growing opportunities to intervene. Probably the most immediate support will come from the Northern regions but there may be similar rumblings in other parts of England. The forthcoming white paper is the obvious immediate issue. Step forward Campaign for Northern Democracy!

Paul Salveson,   September 30  2020

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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: paul.salveson@myphone.coop

Publications website: www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

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: https://www.civic-revival.org.uk/tag/walker/

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: https://www.eastcheshirehospice.org.uk/john-jones/

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 chri_chilton@hotmail.com, 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:

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/18684368.coal-king-bolton-boasted-100-pits/

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: https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/18652646.visionary-town-planner-sought-make-bolton-beautiful/

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: https://shop.keypublishing.com/product/View/productCode/SPECTRAVEL/Train%20Traveller

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 www.westhighalndline.org.uk

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 https://midpenninearts.org.uk/programmes/pendle-radicals/

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 https://flatpack2021.co.uk/

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: http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk/2020/09/04/bolton-community-rail-news/

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 Hilary.fairclough@bolton.gov.uk

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 www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

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.

 

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Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events

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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. 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: http://www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

 

 

Categories
Current News

Bolton Community Rail News

South Lancashire Community Rail Partnership (B&SLCRP) and Bolton Station Community Partnership (BSCP).

September 3rd 2020

Dear Colleague

We hope you are keeping safe and well and getting back to some normality in your lives. Please find below some news items from our recent joint committee meetings.

Best wishes,

Paul and Julie.

Committee Meetings

We have now held three joint committee meetings by Zoom and the last one, held on the 14th August, was filmed for Northern to use as an example of how Community Rail organisations have adapted during lockdown. Although Zoom has its limitations, it does allow ease of participation and we have had some very far flung locations featuring on the calls as people have been away on holidays and day trips when they have dialled in.

Guided Walks Programme

We are developing a programme of guided walks and a pilot route has been mapped out by a group of walk leaders. Steph Dermott, B&SLCRP Community Rail Officer, made a successful application to the Station Adoption Fund for boots, coats and equipment that can be loaned to people who do not have these but who would like to take part in the walks. The first walk will hopefully be held towards the end of September. Clothes and boots will be sanitised between uses in the way clothes and shoe shops are doing this. There will also be an appeal for donations of other equipment including walking poles and Ordnance Survey maps.

Update from the University of Bolton

Good progress has been made with the University of Bolton’s involvement in the building refurbishment project. The Deputy Vice Chancellor, Dr. Kondal Kandadi, came for a visit and gave assurances that the University are still very interested and looking to progress the lease arrangements as soon as possible. A member of the facilities team has been appointed to work with the Council regarding the rates payable on the premises. Sam Johnson (Head of  Schools of the Arts and Creative Technologies) is now talking to students and staff as to how they can be involved and a successful internal funding proposal has been made for a £5,000 research project to look at this. The initial plan is for two community groups from Farnworth, working with Bolton at Home, to make art works for display at the station. Students will be involved and research papers will be written to evaluate the project. Sam is hoping to start the project in September. Sam said, ‘There is lots on the horizon with many opportunities coming up including exhibitions in the Platform Gallery. The University sees the station building as a long-term project, not a short investment.’

Platform Planters’ Garden Project

Dave Mills, together with the other members of the Platform Planters, has produced a power point proposing the re-planting of the existing troughs on platforms 4 and 5 and to have other containers along the platforms planted up. The group are concentrating on 2021 now and are initially looking at red and white flowers planted separately as well as larger foliage plants. They also want to include different herbs and spices and have plants linked to the moors. The presentation is an interim plan – a full plan will be developed later in the Spring of 2021.

Richard Walker, Treasurer, asked David if the group could create some costings for the project so that funds can be identified.

Anyone who is interested in joining the Platform Planters gardening group, please send an email to Julie Levy julielevy9@yahoo.co.uk in the first instance.

Community Rail Officer’s report

Steph reported that she had been visiting other Community Rail and Station Adopters groups including the Station Friends at Westhoughton. She has also met Martin Keating, the Regional Community and Sustainability Manager at Northern. Steph recently submitted a successful bid for the Guided Walks programme (see above) and attended various Zoom meetings online, including one delivered by Community Rail Network which looked at how to encourage people back to using the railways as many are afraid to use them again. Steph has also completed Level 3 Safeguarding training course and will now become the Deputy Safeguarding Lead. She also reported that she had assisted in taking the new display boards to the Platform Gallery and had visited Bromley Cross and Walkden stations.

Platform Gallery

Phil Porter, a Horwich based artist who was artist in residence at the station last year, has been working since then on a series of paintings of passengers travelling to and from the station. We hope to open the Platform Gallery (P5) with his exhibition called ‘This Journey’ in late September.

Maddie Smith, a Bolton based artist, is writing an Arts Council bid to work in partnership with the Platform Gallery and other art venues to make artworks exploring the concept of ‘shielding’. This will include community workshops for artists with disabilities. The application will be submitted soon and there have been two meetings with Steph and Julie to discuss the project.

Any Other Business

  1. The ‘Cotton Queens’ project, lead by Kath Thomasson from the City of Sanctuary in partnership with Gaynor Cox from Bolton at Home, has been shortlisted for the Community Rail Network annual awards. This project was featured in the University’s online Worktown Festival and included the creation of different textile pieces in the Community Room as well as the writing and recording of an audio drama piece recreating the lives of some mill workers, which has been very well received.
  2. Mark Foster, Chair of the Bolton Model Railway Society, has offered to make films for our two organisations to be used for marketing, documentation and promotional purposes. Everyone agreed this was a good idea and thanked Mark for this offer.
  3. Paperwork has been prepared by Richard to register the B&SLCRP as a Community Interest Company. This process was completed on the 26th August and the CRP is now officially Bolton and South Lancashire Community Rail Partnership Ltd. Bolton Station Community Partnership currently remains the same, though we are having a look at whether charitable status would suit our purposes.
  4. Nigel Valentine reported he is still working on the task of getting some poster cases for the groups to use. An application will be made to the Station Adoption Fund in the first instance.
  5. Poetry Competition update. The deadline for the 25 years and over applications is the 31st August 2020. Terms and conditions are available on the website.

https://www.boltoncommunityrail.org.uk/

  1. We are looking at a possible twinning of our station with the Hauptbahnhof – the main station in our twin town of Paderborn. There is a very active Anglo – German group there and a newer PaderBolton group here in Bolton that would welcome this move.

If you have any items of news you would like to contribute to the newsletter or know of someone who would like to join our group, please get in touch with –

paul.salvesson@myphone.coop   or

julielevy9@yahoo.co.uk

 

 

Categories
Current News

Lancashire Loominary No. 1

The Lancashire Loominary

www. lancashireloominary.co.uk
An occasional update from Lancashire Loominary 

No. 1   August 11th 2020

Hello, this is an update about publications and events at Lancashire Loominary, my modest little publishing business. It’s about publishing fiction and non-fiction on the history and culture of Lancashire (by which I mean all of it) and its people. It’s not about ‘the great and the good’ but so-called ‘ordinary’ working class people who did extraordinary things. I’ll do this roughly every 4-6 weeks. Let me know if you don’t want to receive it.

The original ‘Lankishire Loominary’ was published by James T. Staton in Bolton in the 1850s and 1860s. The name changed on a fairly regular basis; at one point it was ‘The Bowtun Loominary, Tum Fowt Telegraph Un Lankishire Lookin’ Glass’. But I like the alliteration of Lancashire Loominary and its textile connections. The reason you’re getting this is because you’ve either bought, helped or promoted previous examples of my work and I thought you might be interested in future titles. The coronavirus carry-on meant that the launch of The Works was muted to say the least. But hopefully Moorlands, Memories and Reflections will strike a chord with people in the centenary year of Allen Clarke’s masterpiece, Moorlands and Memories. But it still looks as though ‘public’ launch events will be difficult. Maybe an open-air launch on the top of Winter Hill? (only half joking).

This newsletter complements my Northern Weekly Salvo – here is the latest one: (http://www.paulsalveson.org.uk/2020/08/04/northern-weekly-salvo-283/) If you don’t already get it and would like to, please send me an email address.

Moorlands, Memories and Reflections

Coming soon: the next production from Th’Loominary……… 2020 is 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 a lovely book, very readable and entertaining, even if he sometimes got his historical facts slightly wrong. It was set in the area which is now described as ‘The West Pennine Moors’ It also included 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.

My book is a centenary tribute to Clarke’s classic – Moorlands, Memories and Reflections. 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 and Darwen’s ‘freeing of the moors’;  a few additional snippets about the Bolton ‘Whitmanites’, handloom-weaving, railway reminiscences, the remarkable story of ‘The Larks of Dean’ and Lancashire’s honourable tradition of supporting refugees (including the much-loved Pedro of Halliwell Road). The story of Lancashire children’s practical support for the locked-out quarryworkers of Snowdonia in 1900-3 is covered in some detail, including the remarkable ‘Teddy Ashton Picnic’ of 1901 in Barrow Bridge, which attracted 10,000 people. It will be profusely illustrated.

It will sell at around £25 depending on final costs for printing. It should be out in mid-October when I’m back from my birthday break on Skye. I will offer a modest discount to previous customers with option of home delivery if within cycling distance of Bolton (which for me is about 7 miles).

Late news…I’m delighted to say that Maxine Peake has written a lovely foreword to the book.

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

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 – 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 Morning Star hated it. If you want a copy I can offer it for £10 plus £2.50 postage to those of you on this mailing list. 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 www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

If you’ve already read and hopefully enjoyed The Works it would be great if you could do a short review of it on my facebook page (Lancashire Loominary). Feedback on how it could have been better is also welcome, especially as I’m starting work on the next novel (see below). Here’s a review by Mike Pedler:

 “I enjoyed reading The Works. It is a warm hearted (and counter factual!) tale of how the world-famous Horwich Loco Work is saved from British Rail Engineering’s attempted closure by a workers’ cooperative drawing inspiration from the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders. I enjoyed the descriptions of the local politics and trade union life of the 1970s and ‘80s before and during the Thatcher years. Populated by some admirable Lancastrian characters and underpinned by a strong belief in what working people can endure and achieve, it displays an optimism of the will much needed in our current crises.”

The Works is available in the following outlets – please support them!If you know of any local shop which might like to take my books please let me know. I do a third discount, sale or return.

  • Rivington Village Tea Rooms
  • Justicia Fair Trade Shop, Knowsley Street, Bolton
  • Kev’s Cuts, Halliwell Road, Bolton
  • The Wright Reads, Winter Hey Lane, Horwich
  • Horwich Heritage Centre
  • A Small Good Thing, Church Road Bolton

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 mainly set in Lancashire 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. I’m aiming for an early 2021 publication date.

Look out for my features in The Bolton News

The Bolton News runs a local history supplement each Wednesday called ‘Looking Back’. I’ve started doing a regular feature, each fortnight, on different aspects of Bolton life. The last one (July 29th) was on Bolton’s trams (see https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/18621143.boltons-first-rate-tram-service-kept-town-move ). The previous feature was on ‘The Colne Papers’, the newspaper train which ran through Bolton in the middle of the night, at great speed. It was also published in The Lancashire Telegraph, here: https://www.lancashiretelegraph.co.uk/news/18572514.paper-train-brought-news-high-speed-east-lancs/?ref=rss. This Wednesday, August 12th, it’s on the work of T.H. Mawson and his visionary plans for the development of Bolton and its surrounding area.

and in Chartist……

I write a regular column called ‘Points and Crossings’ for Chartist magazine, one of the brightest and most intelligent magazines of the left. A recent column was a critique of Labour’s nationalisation plans for the railways: https://www.chartist.org.uk/labours-british-railways-mark-2-is-a-dead-duck/. The current one has my thoughts on the cycling revival: stillborn or a new lease of life for the bike? Let me know if you’d like a sample copy.

Still in print: previous publications

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

‘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 for previous purchasers of The Works. 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 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. 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. Only a couple left, but the forthcoming Moorlands, Memories and Reflections has quite a lot about it.

Other titles still available:

Socialism with a Northern Accent (Lawrence and Wishart)

This was my take on a progressive Northern regionalism, with a foreword by the much-maligned but admirable guy, John Prescott. Time for a new edition really.

Railpolitik: bringing railways back to communities (Lawrence and Wishart)

This is an overview of railway politics from the early days to semi-monopolies and current arguments for nationalisation, or co-operative ownership?

Categories
Current News

Northern Weekly Salvo 283

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: paul.salveson@myphone.coop

Publications website: www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

No. 283 August 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

Greetings from Locked-Down and Out Bolton. The ‘Lockdown Phase 2’ hasn’t gone down too well here in Trottertown, I have to say. Unsurprisingly, the Far Right has jumped on to the bandwagon and blamed ‘The Asians’  but at least Bolton’s ruling Tory group has had the sense to suspend one of their councillors who posted a blatantly racist rant about BAME communities, the Chinese and whoever else he could think of (including his own Government) to blame. Yes, across parts of the North we’re seeing a rise in the infection rate, though not here at the moment.  Maybe we are all to blame to some extent, following the relaxation of lockdown last month and mixed messages about what’s safe.

I accept that you can’t have too localised lock-down rules and perhaps ‘Greater Manchester’ and parts of Lancashire is the sort of scale you need. The big issue though is consent.  This was imposed on us by a London-centric government which hasn’t much of a clue about anywhere north of Watford and whose handling of the Pandemic has been shambolic.

Tasteful eh? My Ammanford Colliery brick, complete with battery-operated flickering candles. See below ‘What we did on our Welsh holiday’

What trust they did have has been largely squandered through numerous U-turns and the antics of Cummings.  It seems that Andy Burnham was ‘consulted’ about ‘Lockdown 2’ and gave it the OK, but the whole thing highlights how marginalised the North of England is. Compare us (population of over 15 million) with Scotland and Wales, which have got a degree of control over their nations’ destinies. The ‘North’ isn’t a nation (might be a good idea) but is a very large region with a growing sense of identity (discuss). Covid-19 has shown how powerless we are.

One example of the impact of the latest pronunciamento is the effect on local restaurants. The new rules don’t say we can’t go out for a meal, but the effect of the media hype, and lack of detail, has been to scare people into not going out. We had a lovely meal at our favourite Indian (The Lagan, Lostock) last night but there was only a handful of other diners. The manager said they’d been doing well recovering from the lockdown – until last week’s announcements. Empty tables, cancellations – despite all the trouble they, and thousands of other small businesses, have gone to in making sure they are safe. It’s not good and we currently have a toxic mix of general frustration, business set-backs and racist provocation. It’s a big conceptual leap, but the North needs its own accountable and trusted government which could handle crises such as this one with the consent of the people, not arbitrary impositions by a remote bunch of silly billies in London.

Take the train, somewhere, please….

It’s OK to use the train. Official. I’ve made a few journeys in the last couple of weeks, including a pleasant outing to Barrow-in-Furness (see below).

Bolton town centre looking quieter than usual. No beheadings on this weekend

The train was about 10% full, with part sealed off so the conductor could avoid contact with passengers. A trip to Crewe a few days earlier had no such arrangements. Some trains have got seats taped off, others haven’t. All a bit odd and inconsistent. Maybe different depots are determining their own procedures, even if it’s the same company. I’m obviously missing something, maybe friends in Northern will lighten my darkness.

But anyway, punctuality is high and you’ve no trouble finding a seat. Trains are still very, very quiet. Compare my recent trip to Barrow with throngs of motorists heading up the M6 to the Lake District. We’ve a lot of persuading to do if rail is going to make a recovery to patronage levels anywhere near pre-Covid.

It’s going to be particularly hard to get people using the more rural parts of the network, typically those covered by community rail partnerships. Services on some routes were cut completely during the worst of the lockdown, with ‘rail replacement buses’ provided to carry round fresh air. Some routes around England are still suspended with replacement buses provided instead. I can understand the logic but I don’t accept it.

In a different age: crowds join a Carlisle train at Settle

If you’re running a large network with a mix of commuter, long-distance and for want of a better word ‘rural’ services, it will always be the rural services which get chopped first, with staff redeployed to operate ‘busier’ services. Yet the impact on rural communities will be serious, as well as deterring visitors from using the train.

All the arguments which have been made since the mid 90s for locally-managed railways come back to play. We have yet to learn the lessons from the local railways of Germany, Switzerland and other countries where the local train is the top priority, not the bottom one; because that’s their only priority. More on this on the Rail Reform Group website www.railreformgroup.org.uk

Lancashire day out to Ulverston, Barrow and Walney Island

Ulverston and Barrow-in-Furness are Lancashire towns. ‘Lancashire North of the Sands’ to be precise. As with comments above, nobody asked them if they wanted to be part of ‘Cumbria’ back in the 1970s. It would be interesting to see if Barrovians and Ulverstonians still regard themselves as Lancastrians; I suspect many do, just as most Boltonians, Owdhamers, Rochdalians and Wiganers regard themselves as Lancastrian. Ulverston still has its ‘Red Rose Club’ and the Barrow RMT banner proudly displays the red rose. In an age in which we get ‘consulted’ about everything under the sun, the really big decisions about identity, place, whether we go to war – avoid the consultancy game.

Sorry, didn’t mean to go into a rant, I was just going to tell you about my enjoyable day out with Martin Bairstow, the noted railway historian and Yorkshireman. We ‘took train’ to Ulverston, knowing the weather forecast was dire.

A bedraggled Martin Bairstow poses in front of a Blueworks bus in Ulverston

The coastal scenery between Carnforth, Grange and Barrow is always wonderful regardless of the weather. We didn’t have long in Ulverston, about an hour and half to look round and find somewhere to eat. The sit-in facility at The Chippy Bank was closed so we opted for their take-away fish and chips. It was absolutely delicious, though finding somewhere dry to eat proved a challenge. We managed after a fashion and then set off to look round the attractive town. A coffee would be nice, we agreed. Gillam’s Tea Rooms was closed but nearby Poppies on Union Street was open and we got a table. Throwing caution to the wind we went for the scones with jam and cream to go with our coffee. Truly scrumptious. By now, rather bloated, it was time for our ‘express’ bus to Barrow via Roa Island, the X11. The cafe staff knew exactly where to catch it from, top marks again.

Buses in Ulverston tend to shirk the town centre for understandable reasons – the streets are quite narrow – though I think our little minibus would have made it. Service X11 is operated by local company Blueworks whose main business is taxis. The service would, in bygone times, have been a classic ‘tendered’ route funded by the local authority. Sadly, Cumbria County Council don’t do that sort of thing anymore. Instead, the operator runs it for the benefit of the community and gets a bit of help from local people, via ‘Friends of the X112’. Blueworks runs two ‘rural’ routes: ours (X11) from Ulverston to Barrow along the coast road and Roa Island, and the X12 service from Barrow to Coniston, on alternate days.

It’s a good business model for a lightly-used rural bus service. Instead of the vagaries of tendering where a good operator might lose out to a predatory but cheaper large company, you get a degree of continuity and local support. It’s that man again

The former Roa Island Hotel to the right, the station was just beyond

This is community transport par excellence, not something provided ‘for’ you, but a service run with you. The driver was friendly and helpful, offering help with the one other passenger get her bags out of the bus and dropped off at the doorstep. She was also happy to do a photo stop at Roa Island for a picture showing the bus by the site of the old station. Thanks, Blueworks, I will be back to sample your X12. For timetables see https://blueworksph.com/ Friends of the X112 has a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FriendsoftheX112/

We got to Barrow unsure of what to do for the next two hours, having just missed a train back down the coast. Conveniently, we got to a bus stop just as a Stagecoach service announcing ‘West Shore’ hove into view. We correctly assumed this would take us to Walney Island, with time to take the air, now it had stopped raining. The no. 4 service is well used, operating at 15 min intervals, serving the large council estates on the island.

So a grand day out. Gradely even. We got back to Barrow with time to look round the town centre, mourn the passing of Dixon’s Cafe, and head for home on the 15.52 Airport service.

What we did on our Welsh mini-holiday, pubs mostly

It was a spur-of-the-moment decision to go to Wales, but a good one. A very sociable trip, great to catch up with friends Penny, Les and David. It had to be made by car, enabling visits to Aberglasney Gardens and the National Botanic Gardens of Wales, located close to each other in rural Carmarthenshire. We stayed the first night at The Red Lion in Knighton, good to see that Neil is doing OK with the B&B business. Unlike England, pubs and restaurants are, for now, only able to service drinks and food to be enjoyed outside.

Llanwrtyd: The Neuadd Arms on left (looking suitably askew) with HoWL Trail signs in foreground

The Red Lion hasn’t got a beer garden so we had an enjoyable breakfast in our room. We stopped off for coffee/coffi at The Sosban in Llanwrtyd; they were making good use of the riverside gardens. Nice to see the directional signs for the ‘Heart of Wales Line Trail’ and sorry we missed the HoWL Trail Bitter in the Neuadd Arms, which also serves as the Official HQ of the Monster Raving Loony Party.

Both gardens we visited are magnificent though I’d say that Aberglasney has the edge. When I went 15 years ago it was still being restored; it’s amazing what they’ve achieved. That isn’t to say the Botanic Gardens aren’t fabulous, though the site is crying out for a miniature railway to take you round. Between Aberglasney and The Botanic Gardens is Dryslwyn Castle (7018) and its associated railway station.

A case of ‘stop and await instructions’ at Dryslwyn

Much remains, clearly very well looked after by its owner. I mean the station of course. Odd that loco 7018 carried the name ‘Drysllwyn Castle’ with two ‘l’s. A Swindon mistake?

We spent the night at the St Govan’s inn at Bosherston. Another lovely pub trying its best in difficult circumstances. It wasn’t raining and we were able to eat outside. There’s much to see and do around here – we did a circular walk taking in the ‘lily ponds’, Stacpole Quay and the magnificent coastal walk back. It must be done of the best coast walks in the UK.

We then headed north via Pembroke, Neyland and Haverfordwest to the very un-Welsh sounding village of ‘Rosebush’.

Welcome to the Zinc Hotel

Connoisseurs of unusual pubs will know it as the location of Tafarn Sinc, or ‘The Zinc Hotel’, built from corrugated iron sheets. It is by the site of the old station on the loop from Letterston Junction (south of Fishguard) to Clynderwen which closed back in 1937. The pub, which is community-owned, has created a ‘railway garden’ with some track and part of the original platforms.

A long wait for the next train, but who cares? The beer’s good

The semi-covered annex was very handy in the driving rain. Rosebush itself had some of the richest slate quarries in Wales, if not the world, but they were worked out by the 1930s.

From Rosebush we headed across the Preseli Mountains via Newcastle Emlyn to Lampeter where we’d booked in at The Falcondale Hotel. It’s a magnificent mid-Victorian hotel, built in the Italianate style with lovely grounds. The rain had stopped sufficiently to enjoy a meal on the terrace. In the morning we had breakfast in our spacious room which was a real treat. We then headed for home, pausing to look round the fascinating second-hand shop on the outskirts of Lampeter (on the road to Tregarron). I came away with some much-desired crocosmia and also a brick from Amamnford Colliery. You never know what you find in these places. We stopped off at The Boathouse, by Ellesmere, for a cream tea. Excellent scones. So a good few days, for pubs, cream teas, coast walks, gardens and bricks.

Black guards matter: In praise of Asquith

Good to see that the man who challenged BR’s colour bar at Euston is being recognised by the BBC. The family of a black train guard who overturned a racist recruitment policy at Euston railway station in the 1960s has said he has been omitted from history lessons. Asquith Xavier won the right to work at the station in 1966, but received hate mail and death threats. “I think he’s such a positive example, and one we really need at the moment,” his grand-daughter Ms Xavier-Chihota said on the centenary of his birth on 18 July.

Asquith, who lived in Chatham, Kent, worked as a guard at Marylebone Station and in 1966 applied for a promotion at Euston, where guards were paid an extra £10 a week. At the time the station was operating a whites-only recruitment policy, a ban enforced by the local unions and station management. His story made its way to parliament, and the then secretary of state for transport Barbara Castle. As a result of his action, on 15 July 1966 BR announced colour bars at London stations had been scrapped. When he began work he continued to face racist abuse and at times had a police guard. Mr Xavier, who died in 1980, was part of the Windrush generation, moving to England from Dominica after World War Two. “He believed that black people’s lives mattered equally,” Mrs Xavier-Chihota said.

Civic Revival is launched: kindred spirits sought

We were able to participate in last Friday’s launch of ‘Civic Revival’ after we’d found reception up in the Preseli Mountains. It’s the brainchild of Peter Stonham, publisher of Local Transport Today, and is being run by Richard Walker, another good mate who is on secondment from his job at the Department for Transport. Civic Revival’s website tells us:

We believe people across the country are looking to, willing to, and able to take greater responsibility for reviving their local communities. Many are already doing so, inspired by one or more of the five themes we identify above…”   It continues…

At Civic Revival we are seeking to connect these important building blocks, each one of which helps support the others. Together they add up to a framework for empowerment to create places that feel attractive, lively and thriving because they have kept and are using the qualities that make them distinctive, rather than struggling because they have lost them. Read our mission statement in full here.  Civic Revival is based in Hastings, Bolton and London. Meet us here. Across our five themes, we are gathering reports and curating what we find to be useful thinking about the necessary and the possible. Our own views are found at ‘In Our Opinion’. We’d love to meet like minds. See how you can connect with us.”

I like it being based in ‘”Hastings, Bolton and London”, with the capital coming third after Bolton. It’s early days but I think there’s a niche for Civic Revival and I hope Salvo readers will take up the offer to ‘connect’.

A bit more from Civic Revival…People, places and empowerment

For most of us, the places we live and regularly go are part of the structure of our lives.   They are the setting for our own life stories and give us a feeling of belonging, continuity with the past, a set of common experiences and a sense of pride: they form part of our identity.

A small good thing: The Justicia stall at Bolton Station’s Food Festival

In Britain we have a fabulous heritage of thousands of towns, villages, cities, city neighbourhoods and suburbs that are all distinct ‘places’. Each has its own history and character, its own genius loci – spirit of place. In each can be found things that have meaning: telling stories of achievement in the past, or examples of people striving to do well now.  By and large people are proud of their place, and love to see it thrive.  They are also pleased to tell the story of their place, and share it with visitors.

At Civic Revival we are searching for the crucial factors that determine whether a particular place – neighbourhood, town or local area – has the feeling of identity, custody and self-esteem that make it a good place to live in or go to:  the ‘something special’ that distinguishes it from elsewhere.

But instead we find far too many of our places seeming threatened or beaten by an economic system gone malign: some neglected, hollowed out; others actively ruined by greed and soullessness.  Four decades of ‘the wrong kind of globalisation’ have damaged not only our places; they have damaged our sense that we can be active custodians of our own destiny.

This era may now be passing.  At Civic Revival we believe there is an opportunity now to shape the next economic era, and repair that damage.  We believe that action at the local level must be placed centre stage.  Getting places right can be the key to recognising and nurturing people and their aspirations, as well as being a general source of delight.

Bolton station is a good example of civic revival. Just need to get that carpet down and a bit of furniture…

We argue that the worst form of ‘governance’ is when things are done to people. It’s slightly better when they are done for people, although that is not a very good way to support the sharing of responsibility. It’s positive when things are done with people, as that brings a genuine sense of involvement. But it’s best when they are done by people for themselves – which is the empowerment of communities and groups that we call civic activism.

In places across the country exciting things are already happening, and glimpses of a better future can be seen.  But, sadly, they feel like they remain generally the exception, not the rule.  Our mission is to find out more about the good things happening, develop and share understanding of what works and what doesn’t, and do what we can to spread the word of what we call the civic revival.

On this website you’ll find the background and intentions of the group who have come together to do this. We hope that you’ll share our passion and ambition, and connect with us and others of like mind.”

From https://www.civic-revival.org.uk/

Moorlands, Memories and Reflections

No Salvo is complete without an update on my Moorlands, Memories and Reflections. 2020 is 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 a lovely book, very readable and entertaining, even if he sometimes gets his historical facts slightly wrong.

Allen Clarke (left) with his mate ‘Owd Tom’ from Wigan, cycling to Wembley in 1924. No sign of lycra there!

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.

My book is a centenary tribute to Clarke’s classic – Moorlands, Memories and Reflections. 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.

Darwen’s Jubilee Tower, built to celebrate Queen Vic’s Jubilee and ‘free-ing of the moors’, features in the book

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/early October.

Little Salvoes

Gondolas of the People: a tram celebration

I’ve started doing a regular feature for The Bolton News’ ‘Looking Back’ feature.

A Farnworth-bound tram at Moses Gate Station

It will cover some of the less well-known aspects of Bolton’s history. Here is the latest piece, telling the story of Bolton’s trams – a fine example of municipal enterprise. The link to the feature is here:

https://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/18621143.boltons-first-rate-tram-service-kept-town-move/

Bolton’s Community Rail Hub’ takes shape

Nearly, nearly there. The restoration of Bolton station’s upstairs offices and meeting rooms on Platforms 4/5 is nearly complete. 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.

Garden Railway Phase 3 Complete

The extension of the Heights of Halliwell Garden Railway, also known as GR Phase 3, is complete.

Phase 3 complete, on time and to budget

Trains are running but the hoped-for official launch has been postponed due to Lockdown Phase 2. Phase 1 has been slightly delayed owing to Phase 4 being prioritised, coupled with an unexpected surge of tripe infection at Phase 2b.

Con tha speik Lanky?

Catherine Green is presenting a series of talks for Radio 4 on ‘Dialect’. She now has an online link to ‘Tongue and Talk’: the Dialect Poets’. The first episode – from last year’s Dialect Festival – goes out at 4:30pm on Sunday 16th August and will available for a month on BBC sounds: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000lsv2

Sheep rush for last cheese and onion pie at The Pike Snack Shack

A warmly recommended place to stop for a light snack is The Pike Snack Shack on George’s Lane, on the way up to Rivington Pike. It has been open since March and offers takeaway food and drinks which can be enjoyed from the adjacent benches. You can even see what remains of Horwich Loco Works.

Sheep on the rampage at Rivington, after the last cheese and onion pie at The Pike Snack Shack

On a recent visit our lunch was interrupted by the incursion of about 500 sheep, on their way down from Winter Hill to the nearby farm for their annual trim.

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

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. 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 www.lancashireloominary.co.uk

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.

James Kay of Turton Tower

Richard Horrocks has written and published an important book on the life and work of James Kay, once resident at Turton Tower. He invented the ‘west spinning process’ for flax in 1825 which enabled the Irish linen industry to take off. His invention enabled very fine linen yarns to be produced by steam-driven machinery. It is comparable in importance to Crompton’s invention of the spinning mule which revolutionised cotton spinning. Kay’s wet spinning process is still the basis of modern linen spinning, mainly concentrated in Russia and China. The price from the author/publisher is £10.00 including 2nd class postage. It can be purchased from Turton Tower for £7.50 when it opens again. Contact arichardhorrocks@hotmail.com; address 10 Easedale Road, Bolton, BL1 5LL.

In Excited Times

Nigel Todd has just re-published a fascinating account of anti-fascist campaigns on Tyneside and Wearside. In Excited Times: The People Against The Blackshirts, first published in 1995, reveals the extensive web of fascist sympathisers that existed in the North-east, the shadowy presence of MI5 and the work of anti-fascist campaigners “for whom the Second World War began long before 1939.” It includes a lot of contemporary material including photographs. He highlights the work of the writer Jack Common, son of a Heaton railwayman, who became editor of The Adelphi arts magazine. But the book has a very strong contemporary relevance. Nigel writes:  “Once more, fascism is virulent in Europe. From gangs of swastika-waving thugs fire-bombing refugee hostels and black families, and on to political parties attracting millions of votes…we again face the elements of a nightmare thought to be dead and buried half a century ago. So, how our predecessors dealt with a similar challenge is surely of more than passing interest?”  Published by Bewick PressTyne and Wear Ant-Fascist Association ISBN-898880-0-1-8

A Lakeland Boyhood

I reviewed David Clarke’s fine autobiography, A Lakeland Boyhood, in the last Salvo. Here’s a reminder that it’s well worth buying. It’s 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 £12.99 from Hayloft Publishing Ltd.

Yorkshire’s traveller through time

Same goes for Colin Speakman’s latest book –  the biography of a remarkable Yorkshireman, John Phillips (1800-74). A very well written, engaging book which is superbly produced at a highly affordable price.  John Phillips: Yorkshire’s traveller through time is published Gritstone, price £15.

 

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Special Traffic Notices: Coming Events

ALL STILL CAPED…But Bolton City of Sanctuary walk being planned for later this month

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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. 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 wrote a great song about the events – ‘Will Yo’ Come O’ Sunday Mornin’?’ Only a couple left, but forthcoming Moorlands, Memories and Reflections has quite a lot about it.

You can probably get a better idea from going to my website: http://www.lancashireloominary.co.uk