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LANCASTRIANS by Paul Salveson

Mills, Mines and Minarets: A New History

recommended by Norman Warwick

This has rightly been described as a landmark new history of the great English county of Lancashire, exploring its people’s impact on Britain and beyond.

This popular history explores the cultural heritage and identity of Lancashire. The county stretching from the Mersey to the Lake District and Paul Salveson charts its transformation from a largely agricultural region noted for its religious learning, becoming the Industrial Revolution’s powerhouse, as an emerging self-confident bourgeoisie driven economic growth. This capital boom came with a cultural blossoming, creating today’s Lancashire.

Industrialists strongly committed to the arts endowed galleries and museums, producing a diverse world of science, technology, music and literature, as captured in some of the county´s major festivals such as The Rochdale Literature And Ideas Festival and associations like the Science And Literature group in Rochdale.  Lancashire developed a distinct business culture, but this was also the birthplace of the world co-operative movement, and the heart of democracy campaigns including Chartism and women’s suffrage. Lancashire has generally welcomed incomers, who have long helped to inform its distinctive identity: fourteenth-century Flemish weavers; nineteenth-century Irish immigrants and Jewish refugees; and, more recently, ‘New Lancastrians’ from Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe. Salveson captures all this.

This long-overdue book explores contemporary Lancastrian culture, following modern upheavals and Lancashire’s fragmentation compared with its old rival Yorkshire. What future awaits the 6 million people of this rich historic region?

I have attended a few events featuring Mr. Salveson as a speaker, and whilst I think we are polls (sorry, poles) apart in our politics I feel we share the same aspirations whilst differing perhaps in the way those aspirations are best achieved. That said, I found myself recognising the damage done by politics as I re-read this landscape through Salveson´s eyes.

I share in the general critical acclaim for the writer and his several works.

‘An important account of Labour’s traditional, community-based values with many lessons for today’. said John Prescott, former MP, on Paul Salveson’s Socialism with a Northern Accent.

‘As Paul Salveson shows throughout this book, love of our Lancashire countryside has always been at the heart of progressive working class politics.’  said Maxine Peake on Paul Salveson’s Moorlands, Memories and Reflections

‘The strength of the Lancashire people is within me. You get on and do it. There are no airs and graces.’

Jane Horrocks, The Guardian

‘Salveson is strong, and offers an alternative history … his meticulous research provides a rich vein for future local amateur and professional historians.’ — Northwest Bylines 

‘In the early morning the mill girls clumping down the cobbled street, all in clogs, making a curiously formidable sound, like an army hurrying into battle. I suppose this is the typical sound of Lancashire.’ — George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

‘Put Lancashire right and you put England right. Settle the factory system, and you solve the social problem of the century. Wash the drooping Red Rose, clear the soot off its polluted petals, give it more soil and more fresh air to grow in, and when the flower of Lancashire is once more blooming England will become a flourishing garden of delight.’ — Allen Clarke, The Effects of the Factory System, 1895

Paul Salveson PhD, MBE is Visiting Professor at the Universities of Bolton and Huddersfield. His academic career focussed on Lancashire dialect and literature; he later pioneered community railway projects across the UK. His books include With Walt Whitman in Bolton and Northern Rail Heritage. He divides his time between Bolton and Grange-over-Sands.

On a personal level I recognised the damage done to both community spirit and aspiration over the past fifty years, and I remember the outcry and the lamentations that shoved out parts of Lancashire into Greater Manchester.

Closed down mills and mines today pock mark the Rochdale area I lived in as the M62 carries shoppers to Leeds  or Manchester.


preview by Norman Warwick

Following last year´s successful event, the second edition of the “Lanzarote Book Fair” will be held between May 2 and 5 in the streets of La Villa Teguise. This year the Lanzarote Book Fair 2024 will take place in the old capital as the Book Fair is to be dedicated to the figure of Ángel Guerra in memory of his 150th anniversary of his birth in Teguise.

This literary event was announced at a press conference recently  at the Spínola Palace-Museo del Timple, advising us of the different activities that this fair 2024 will feature. Our cover picture shows members of the team promoting the event, Juan Gómez-Jurado, Santiago Auserón, Eloy Moreno and Elena Martín showing the poster of the event.

The president of Isla Literaria, the association in charge of its organization, Tomás Pérez-Esaú indicated in which specific areas the tents will be placed.  Strategic locations will be centred at The Timple Museum, The House Of Culture and The Library.

I love the historic air around Villa Teguise. With its sloping narrow streets, and buildings that range from tiny residences to huge buildings with grand architectural edifices, with its live music in those streets  and large public squares echoing centuries of folk lore and accompanying live folk-dance performances in which both tourists and residents are welcome to join, and its tables and chairs sitting on the cobbles outside the restaurants, there is a somehow medieval charm to this former capital of our island.

It conveys its love of visual arts in a number of art and craft stalls and galleries and in the wonderful surroundings of the La Galleria, our favourite restaurant in the town.

Teguise also pays homage to literature, including those who write it and publish it, as well as to the characters of literature. In fact, one of the most thrilling arts events we have ever attended was in Villa Teguise a few years ago when we followed a (free !!!) night time street performance of Romeo And Juliet. Hundreds of us followed the action through the public banter of the opening scenes, to eavesdrop on the loved-up couple´s balcony conversation, and subsequently bore witness to pledges of love and acts of anger and murder. I often think that these days Shakespeare might be writing for East Enders and Corrie and Emmerdale !

There is also a wonderful library along the streets of Teguise at which we recently attended the book launch of San Antonio de Texas and Lanzarote. A beautiful love story by author José Juan Romero Cruz which we published on these pages on 7 December last year.

The library in Teguise is a Tardis-like property that contains several rooms, each of which are lined floor to ceiling with ancient looking books and somehow, too, each room seems bigger than the building they are in. It is a library to treasure and the difference is marked between this location and the library I worked in at Rochdale in the UK: That was a multi-million pound new-build, of a similarly tardis like feel but this award winning glass coated building; built for diversity and an uncertain future. The libraries here on Lanzarote are built for community and to perpetuate literary legacies.

I love that Lanzarote, is still rightly in thrall of the late visionary artist, Cesar Manrique and encourages artists to integrate in the community and work one art form to complement and enhance another. The visual arts and literature sit side by side, and another of their good companions is music.

So it was no surprise when Perez-Esua announced at this press conference launching the Book Fair 2024 a confirmation that “the musical activities will be placed in front of the church,” is how Pérez-Esaú explained it.

We were also told that the popular authors, writers of literary best-sellers Juan Gómez-Jurado, Eloy Moreno and Elena Martín, and the composer and singer Santiago Auserón will headline the event’s activities.

It will be a different fair with spaces dedicated to adults, young people and ´the little ones´. Currently they are still looking for people who want to present their works at the “Fiera del Libro de Lanzarote”, to do so they must send their application before March 10 through this website, laferiadellibrolanzarote.com

We know that Roger Trend, another author we have mentioned previously on these pages early in 2024, will be attending the affair and we´re pretty certain he will be working to publicise and talk about his wonderful book. Roger launched his most recent work, a book entitled The Island Of Volcanoes.

This work achieves a wonderful fusion of the scientific and the aesthetic, two words that don´t often feature together in the shaded area of any Venn diagram.

The text is deeply researched and authoritative and succeeds perfectly in being both well informed and informative. Roger Trend writes the complex in a simple enough manner to make any floating reader want to study geology and visit these mountains that changed the nature of our island around four hundred years ago. Any reader will also be tempted to visit Lanzarote by the glorious photographs showing the splendour of the mountain scenery (if not greenery!). That the photographs would serve our tourist board very well, but the truth is that each location and each photograph was selected to convert the science and circumstance that resulted in the eruptions. There are some scientific and geological terms I wasn´t familiar with until reading my copy of Roger´s book and usually there was a short user´s guide to help me smoothly pass them by. This certainly made my literary claim to the summits less tortuous than it might have been and actually allowed me to enjoy the exhilaration of learning, even on this particularly steep learning curve.  

To close the presentation previewing the Lanzarote Book Fair 2024 the person in charge of the Publications Service of the Lanzarote Cabildo, María José Alonso, highlighted that “the importance of meetings like this, of support for publishing activity and the book as a tool for the transmission of knowledge and a fundamental pillar of the leisure industry.”

Well said that man !

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