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An Ormskirk Christmas

An Ormskirk Christmas

The Nativity Scene outside Ormskirk Parish Chrurch

The Nativity Scene outside Ormskirk Parish Chrurch

Ormskirk Bygone Times has been collecting the memories of our page followers over the last couple of years and it seems that amongst our 5000+ followers, many people share the same memories of the Ormskirk Christmas experience.

For many children the season was about visiting Father Christmas in his grotto at Burgesses on Church Street.  Or to those a bit younger, Parker Franks on the same site.

The traditional junior school Nativity plays bring back memories of red shiny paper used for a fire and silver tinsel wrapped around coat hangers for Angel halos.  Boys dressing gowns for Shepherds coats and singing Away In A Manger to our beaming parents sitting quietly watching, not a digital appliance in site, just the brain to record the memories and a photo for the local paper.

Our very own Dot as an angel in her school Nativity play

Our very own Dot as an angel in her school Nativity play

School Christmas dinners were exciting and at the end of the meal Father Christmas dropped in, oddly enough he never looked like the one in Burgesses.

Mahoods on Beaconsfield corner had a Christmas Toy department upstairs with train sets laid out and running.  Taylors on Moor Street was full of seasonal gifts and toys.

The Nativity Scene at the Parish Church has changed little over the years, a plastic screen on the front to protect the contents from theft or damage being the main change.

Shops in the town offered seasonal fayre of the highest quality.  Butchers provided local fresh Pork,Turkey  and Goose with home delivery.

Moor Street in the late 1960s

Moor Street in the late 1960s

Car Parks were unheard of until the late 1960s, before then parking was wherever you needed to be and for however long you chose, although most people walked into town and carried their shopping home themselves.

The town had everything people needed for a comfortable family Christmas and it was all done without excess or t’internet with most workers having just a couple of days off.

Many people will remember the winter of 1962/63 when snow drifts 6ft to 8 ft high almost caused a problem.  It was nothing a few men with  spades couldn’t put right.

A selection of adverts relating to Christmas in Ormskirk

An advert for Stokers Toys

Swarbrick's Pork Butchers Advert

Skaife Advert

More Doctors In More Houses

More Doctors In More Houses

During the 19th and early 20th Centuries, the number of Medical men in the town grew with the building of fine residences to accommodate the Doctors, their apprentices, their families and servants and their social calendar.

Ormskirk Hall located on Burscough Street Ormskirk

Ormskirk Hall located between Alfred Wragg’s photography studio and The Wheatsheaf on Burscough Street. It was later demolished to build Wheatsheaf Walks

Ormskirk Hall, a large town house with a prominent portico entrance and large rear landscaped gardens and tennis courts, was the residence for several generations of the town’s medical men. With each generation a Surgery was named for the Surgeon of the time.

Dr Suffern had a house at the corner of Burscough Street and Derby Street West and it is still referred to as Dr Suffern’s House long after it was demolished in the 1960s to create a piece of wasteland where we could park for free.

The Mansion House on St Helens Road which is now a dental surgery

The Mansion House on St Helens Road which is now a dental surgery

The Mansion House on St Helens Road a former boys academy, was the doctor’s house of W.P. O’Regan in the 1930s after he first had a surgery at 3 Derby Street, The Mansion House had been the residence of Doctor William Anderton, the oldest of the Ormskirk Practitioners, dying in 1916 in his 69th Year. Dr Anderton was the Medical Officer of Health for Ormskirk UDC for over 40 years and Public Vaccinator for the same number of years.  He had retired in 1913 and was succeeded by Doctor Young, but at the outbreak of War Dr Young enlisted and Dr Anderton returned to his duties, giving a few more years of service to his patients.

Doctor Marsden lived and worked at Ormskirk Hall, 28, Burscough Street, he served the towns people for 38 years until he retired in 1928 and moved to Surrey where he died aged 74 in 1932. Dr Marsden was a founder member of the Ormskirk Golf Club and a member of the cricket club. He akso worked as a surgeon at the Cottage Hospital. His son, H. E. Marsden took over the practise after old Dr Marsden retired and also held the post as Medical Officer to West Lancs. R.D.C. Young Doctor Marsden was tragically killed in a flying accident in Dublin before WW2 and it is credit to his service that many years later a floral tribute was dedicated to him in the Parish Church at the 1972 Flower Festival.

Doctor John Philip Pendlebury will likely still be remembered by some in the town. He was the house surgeon at the Ormskirk Dispensary and the Cottage Hospital and held the position as constabulary surgeon up until about 1929 the senior Doctor in the town. Dr Pendlebury was tragically killed after an accident on the London Underground following an earlier stroke, a tablet dedicated to his memory is situated in the Parish Church.  One of Dr Pendlebury’s last patients may well have been the Music Hall star Charles Coburn, who fell ill with pneumonia in Ormskirk in June 1929.

Knowles House which was demolished to build the library

Knowles House which was demolished to build the library

Knowles House, which was built in the glorious Georgian style, was for many years home to Doctors working in the town. In 1892, Irish born Dr John Joseph Hanly left the town with an amazing send off by his patients, colleagues and local dignitaries, who congratulated him on his work in the town and presented him with a gold chronometer watch.  Dr Hanly was the son of an Irish GP and his son became a GP. He emigrated to Victoria, Australia soon after leaving Ormskirk and died there in 1932 aged 74.  A later resident of Knowles House was Doctor John D. Craig, a man also remembered in modern times as an excellent physician.

Dr Suffern's House, demolished to build a car park and then the police station

Dr Suffern’s House, demolished to build a car park and then the police station

Doctor Symonds of Ormskirk was a strong character and a professional amongst professionals who when needed led the way to ensuring the medical practitioners of the town were shown great respect by all who needed their services. Initially in the early 1850s Dr Charles Price Symonds had his practise in the Troqueer Buildings in Aughton Street, after establishing his practise there he moved into The Ormskirk Hall, Burscough Street and lived there until his death in 1905 aged 87. In 1862, Dr Symonds took the lead, with the support of all the medical practitioners in the town, in bringing about the prosecution of one Josiah Archer Bowen of Bretherton, who was suspected and charged by Symonds and his fellow medics of ‘…unlawfully and wilfully and falsely pretend to be and take the name and use the title of Surgeon’ the case was heard at the Ormskirk Petty Sessions, Bowen was fined £20.00, it is interesting to look back now on records not available to the justices in 1862. On the 1851 census for Bretherton, 27 year old Bowen lists his occupation as, ‘student in surgery’.  At the 1862 hearing, no record of his medical qualification as a surgeon in either London or Edinburgh could be found in records presented, he had passed 2 minor medical exams. He had signed a number of death certificates signing himself as a ‘Sub’ M.R.C.S. which no one at the time understood what that meant.  In 1871, the census tells us that Bowen had moved to Fishergate, Preston and his occupation is given as, ‘M.D. University of St Andrews, Licensed Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow, Licensed Doc. Of Apothecary London,General Practitioner’.  Which means, that in the space of 8 years, he had taken 3 different University courses.  In 1881, still in Preston, he is an M.O. of St Andrews University.  In 1891 a Doctor of Medicine, Duly Registered Surgeon; In 1901 he has moved to Southport as a ‘semi retired medical practitioner, surgeon and J.P.  . It is a curious story indeed.

Detailed accounts of the lives of the Doctors of the town link to many other professions and families from Ormskirk and Ormskirk Bygone Times has compiled a wealth of information on these people.

Doctor In The House Pt. 1

Doctor In The House Pt. 1

Ormskirk had no less than 8 ‘surgeons’ listed in the Baines Directory of 1824/25.  Father and son William Snr and William Bibby Jnr. practised from different surgeries, the former in Burscough Street and the latter in Church Street.  Burscough  street seemed to have a busy practise as there were  doctors Anderton,  Ellis, Hancock, Houghton and Yates listed there in that same directory.  William Bibby  Snr and Thomas Hancock did move to a new surgery on Lydiate Lane before 1830. (Lydiate Lane became Derby Street).

The doctors had served their apprenticeships with senior partners and after taking an exam at the end of their apprenticeship they joined the practise or opened their own surgery.

Beaconsfield House

Beaconsfield House

By the 1830s, a new Doctor had settled in the town, Yorkshire born Doctor Lax, who initially joined the practise of William Bibby Snr.  William Lax graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons London in 1827.  In 1850, Doctor Lax bought a ‘close’ of land in Lydiate Lane, (Derby Street) to build a surgery , at the same time land was acquired by the town from  the Earl of Derby and Lord Stanley for the building of a Police Station and A Trustee Savings Bank in the same street.  By 1861, Dr Lax had had a grand residence built at the junction of Moor Street and St Helens Road .William’s first wife, Ormskirk born Anne Jane nee Wareing, died within months of their daughter Anne Jane (1833 – 1924) being born.  His second wife, Mary Maria Sourbuts, (1821 – 1898) was 15 years William’s junior and they had four children, only 2 surviving to childhood.

Derby Street, the site of Dr Lax's surgery

Derby Street, the site of Dr Lax’s surgery

Doctor Lax’s eldest daughter Anne Jane born 1833 never married and she was the Superintendant of the Parish Church Sunday School for over 50 years .  After the death of her father, Anne moved from St Helens Road to a large 12 room property at 52 Derby Street which she re-named Beaconsfield, to reflect the home she had grown up in at Beaconsfield Corner.  Her neighbour, in the house called Abbotsford, was another local Doctor, Hugh Heald, and next door to the Heald household was another large dwelling,   Walmsley House, home of Anne’s half sister Lucy Sophia Parker nee Lax, who had married Thomas Percy Parker, son of the Aughton Brewer Thomas Sumner Parker, in 1890.  Thomas Sumner Parker had bought the Aughton Street (Sudbury Star) Brewery from the Sudbury Brothers sometime between 1875 and 1881. Interestingly, Thomas Sumner Parker lived out his last days at Town End living next door to George Lea, the renowned local journalist and Author.

A newspaper cutting relating to the bequests of Miss Ann Lax

A newspaper cutting relating to the bequests of Miss Ann Lax. Click for a larger view

The story will continue soon with Dr Brandreth,  Dr Knowles, The Mansion House, Dr Suffern’s House and Ormskirk Hall, all Doctors Residences.

Captain Edward Sudbury (1820-1870)

Captain Edward Sudbury (1820-1870)

Captain Edward Sudbury

Captain Edward Sudbury

Sudbury ‘s Star Brewery , situated at the start of Prescot Road, and therefore within the Aughton Parish, was a successful business which Edward Sudbury joined as a partner along with his brother-in-law, Joseph Hewitt Pye (1817-1862). Nottinghamshire born Edward was a surveyor by occupation and worked not only for the ordnance survey but also the Ormskirk & Southport Building Society. He had trained as a land surveyor and had considerable experience in drainage and enclosure which he brought to the county.  His first few years in Ormskirk saw him marry a young lady from Rainford, Hannah Pye, whose family not only owned the Star Brewery but also the brickworks at Martin Lane Burscough.

The Brewery at Town End, owned by Edward Sudbury and later his four sons

The Brewery at Town End, owned by Edward Sudbury and later his four sons

Edward Sudbury was a Captain in the 54th Lancashire Rifle Volunteers (54th LRV) from the 1860s succeeding Lieutenant John Dickinson.

Edward Sudbury died at home, at the Brewery, Aughton in 1870. His funeral was a large affair and the town’s business closed their shops and offices at 12 noon as a mark of respect. People of the town lined the streets to bow their heads as the funeral procession passed on it’s way to Ormskirk Parish Church led by the band and troop of the 54th.

An advert for the Sudbury Star Brewery

An advert for the Sudbury Star Brewery. Click for a larger view

Amongst the mourners there was a carriage containing the town’s prominent citizens as Edward had been a Brother of a local lodge and had held office.

The 54th Rifles fired three volleys over the grave and the Masons performed their traditional funeral ceremony at the grave side with J. B. Lambert giving a moving testimony.

After his death, the Star Brewery continued for a number of years under the management of his four sons.

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show – Sept 1904

“Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World” Travelling Show – September 1904

'Buffalo Bill Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World' paraded along Moor Street with the Deadwood Stage. Note the original clucas Shop in the background.

During the 1904 tour of the “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West and Congress of Rough Riders of the World” travelling show, the touring company passed through Ormskirk on the way to Southport from the previous venue in Wigan.

Cody with the Cowboys and 'US Cavalry' taken in Scotland in 1904

Cody with the Cowboys and ‘US Cavalry’

September 30th 1904 the main body of the show travelled by several dedicated trains from Wigan through to Southport but the stagecoach and several dozen of the show riders paraded through the town, no doubt to create some publicity.

The show travelled from New York to Liverpool in Spring 1904 and then used 4 special trains to travel to the first venue, Stoke on Trent.

Buffalo Bill with the Oglala Lakota

Buffalo Bill with the Oglala Lakota

The 1904 UK tour began in Stoke on 25th April and after performances in England, Scotland and Wales and 132 towns the tour ended in Hanley, Staffordshire on October 21st. A total of 4114 miles of train travel took the performers around the country and the shows were hugely well attended.

There had been an earlier tour during 1902/03 but the nearest it came to Ormskirk was Liverpool and local people had waited for the return of the show and lined the streets to watch the different riders parade past.

A tour poster from the 1904 tour

A tour poster from the 1904 tour. Click for a larger view

There weren’t just ‘Cowboys and  Indians’ in the show, as it had been previously, this time there were Cossack horsemen from Georgia, Mexican Vaqueros, Turks, Argentine Gauchos, Arab Spahis (Horse Soldiers) , and Mongolian riders. The parade must have been colourful and spectacular.

Oglala Lakota Sioux were a huge part of the show and performed throughout the history of the Buffalo Bill shows giving some thrilling performances that must have had crowds mesmerised and enthralled, especially the young children watching the show.  Although Sitting Bull had left the show a decade or more earlier, his son, Young Sitting Bull did apparently appear in this tour.

After leaving Southport the tour went on to Leigh and newspaper accounts of the event still survive.

Ormskirk Bygone Times has created a small display and booklet on the tour and the show which will be available to view at our exhibition in Skelmersdale Library on Saturday 28th November 2015. Please call in for a chat and to see our growing mobile exhibition.

Arthur Fairbrother 1890-1916

Arthur Fairbrother 1890-1916

Arthur Fairbrother 1890-1916

Arthur Fairbrother 1890-1916

Arthur Fairbrother was born in Chorley in about 1890. The youngest son of Amos and Jane Fairbrother, he spent his early years growing up in Chorley, before moving to Wigan and eventually Skelmersdale, where both he and his father worked in middle management for the Orm Weaving Company.

Arthur answered the call of his country in July 1915, joining the Royal Field Artillery as one of the many volunteer soldiers inspired by the recruiting campaigns that were famously spearheaded by Lord Kitchener. Assigned to 151st (Howitzer) Brigade the office worker turned soldier left home for training on Salisbury Plain, where he would stay until 29th November 1915, when an early morning start signalled deployment overseas.

The unit left Larkhill Camp at 4am bound for Southampton, where they would board the SS Inventor for their journey to France. It was on this voyage that Arthur got both his first sense of the danger he would face and the first taste of rations that he would, for the foreseeable future, be living on.

A page from the diary of Arthur Fairbrother written during 1915

A page from the diary of Arthur Fairbrother written during 1915. Click for a larger view

“Left Southampton at 4.30pm,” he writes in his diary. “All men had to wear lifebelts during the voyage as a precaution should the boat be sunk or damaged by hostile ships. We were escorted by two torpedo boat destroyers who never lost sight of the valuable cargo of men, horses and arms.”

“On this day we made our first acquaintance with Army biscuits, but as we were hungry, we got them down with the aid of some so called tea, which, in my opinion was good water spoiled.”

The 151st Brigade spent the next two weeks marching across France to St Ouen and making preparations to take their first active role in the war, by the 16th they were ready to move into the ‘firing line’ for the first time. The unit spent the first six days in the firing line making improvements to the unfinished gun pits that they had inherited, before, on the 22nd, “we fired our guns for the first time in France, giving the Germans 70 rounds of 4.5 shells on their frontline trenches.”

The unit spent Christmas 1915 at the front, an experience that was far from the family Christmases many of the men at home had been used to. “We had stew for dinner and biscuits and jam afterwards. I think the cook must have forgotten the time, for we did not get our Xmas pudding until 3pm. However I think we all enjoyed the little bit we got, and we thanked the senders (Daily News) for the only reminder of Xmas we had in the foodline.”

Arthur Fairbrother's sweetheart Wyn

Arthur Fairbrother’s sweetheart Wyn

On Boxing Day Arthur found the time to write to his sweetheart Wyn (Winifrede), who like many wives, girlfriends, mothers and fathers was anxiously awaiting news of loved ones from the front. His brief letter, written on what appears to be a blank receipt from a retailer in Paris, due apparently to a lack of writing materiel, can be seen pictured with this article.

The unit was pulled out of the front line on 28th December and enjoyed a relatively peaceful New Year, with the Officers putting on a show of sorts for the enlisted men. “At night we were ‘entertained’ by the Officers and had a good show under the circumstances,” writes Arthur. “Afterwards we adjourned to another room and held an impromptu concert and were handed oranges, cake, sweets, cigarettes and coffee. Under the circumstances it was a very good show.”

The letter written by Arthur Fairbrother to Wyn, Boxing Day 1915

The letter written by Arthur Fairbrother to Wyn, Boxing Day 1915. Click for a larger view

On 10th January 1916 the 151st were once again ordered to the firing line, with positions being occupied on the 12th and their arrival being greeted by immediate fire from the German artillery. “We began to feel ‘quaky’ as it was our first time under enemy shell fire,” says Arthur. “However we got into the gun pits at about 8pm. A few minutes later a salvo came very near to where our horses were stood, shrapnel killed two horses instantly and one man was hit in head and legs, two others were blown out of their saddles – shock resulting- and it left us with three men in hospital.”

The unit would spend the next few months moving in and out of these positions, sporadically exchanging fire with German artillery and shelling the enemies front line trenches, although as in most places on the Western Front a large portion of Arthur and his comrades time would be spent digging, sandbagging and otherwise improving or repairing their positions, with work parties an almost daily occurence, as a typical diary entry from 20th April indicates. “Built our dugouts up again, and later in the day fired 50 rounds on an enemy battery. At night the enemy shelled well over our position.”

A pre-war portrait of Arthur Fairbrother

A pre-war portrait of Arthur Fairbrother

Of course these periods of relative quiet were punctuated by periods of intense activity, with the unit being called into action for a number of large scale bombardments. On 16th January for example the unit came under heavy bombardment, which Arthur describes vividly in his diary.

They gave no mercy and we were like rats in a hole, some had not time to get to the ‘Bomb and shell proofs’ and took their chance in their dugouts, lying on the floor. I was in a dugout far away from the others which we used for writing. I got down against the thickest part of the side and lay with my blankets over my head. I was terrified, for no sooner did one shall burst, another burst nearer. lt was real agony, for shells were dropping 10 yds and nearer to the dugout. Shells kept coming over and renting the valley and any minute I was imagining one or two would catch me and I should have been no more.”

A newspaper article commemorating Arthur Fairbrother

A newspaper article commemorating Arthur Fairbrother. Click for a larger view

On more than one occasion over the first few months of 1916 the unit was called into action to help repel German attacks and it must have come as a considerable relief to Arthur to have been granted leave back to ‘Blighty’ on June 3rd 1916. “After a very weary journey ‘Blighty’ was reached and in my particular case, ‘lovely’ Wigan came into view at 6.45pm 4th June,” he writes.

At this point in the diary Winifrede has written, “Arrived in Gathurst Sunday 5th June 3pm – to spend first leave from France.”

By now the 151st Howitzer Brigade had been reorganised and Arthur’s Battery had been reassigned to the 149th Brigade and it was to this unit that he returned after his leave. Arthur was present in the Somme region of France during some of the darkest days for the British soldiers on the Western Front and it was at Delville Wood on 15th October 1916 that he was killed during an artillery barrage.

Arthur Fairbrother is buried at Guard Cemetery, Lesboeufs, France along with over 3000 other men from Britain and the other Allied nations.

Guards Cemetery at Lesbouefs, the final resiting place of Arthur Fairbrother

Guards Cemetery at Lesbouefs

A transcript of his War Diary was kindly donated to the Skelmersdale Heritage Society by Ann and Geoff Whalley, and it is with their kind permission that we have been able to retell Arthur’s story on the Ormskirk Bygone Times site, the original was donated to the National Archive and is held in their collections at Kew.

Ormskirk Bygone Times hold a considerable collection of information on many of the men, from Ormskirk and the surrounding area, who fought and died in both World Wars and we aim over the course of the coming months and years to tell the stories of as many of those men as possible.

Thomas Herbert Stretch – 28th Jan 1851 -25 Dec 1929

Thomas Herbert Stretch – 28th Jan 1851 -25 Dec 1929

T.H. Stretch

T.H. Stretch

Thomas Herbert Stretch was born in January 1851 in Booth Kirkdale.  His father, Thomas Stretch Snr, was a cotton broker who had served an apprenticeship as a clerk before marrying and starting a family.

By 1865, Thomas Snr. had moved his family to Burscough Street in Ormskirk and lived at Vine Cottage, the very last property before the Burscough Boundary.

From the first years of the Family living in the town they were very much involved with the local community and from as early as 1865 Thomas Snr was a director of the annual show for the Ormskirk & Southport Agricultural Society. He was also a winner of several prizes for his poultry entries, including ducks, bantams and his very successful Cochin China Buff chickens.

Champion Collie "Ormskirk Emerald"

Champion Collie “Ormskirk Emerald”

Whilst Thomas Stretch carved a successful business career in the town and proved an expert poultry breeder and exhibitor, his sons became local sporting heroes and excelled at athletics and cricket.

In later years Thomas Herbert Stretch took over the poultry breeding and exhibiting and also entered the world of pedigree dog breeding, specialising in the Rough Collie breed, with which he found local, national and international success.

Ormskirk Christopher, the first collie ever to sell for over £1000

Ormskirk Christopher, the first collie ever to sell for over £1000

The Rough Collies bred from the Burscough Street kennels were of the highest standard for the breed and competed at Cruffs and at shows all around the UK. Thomas became the foremost collie dog expert in the World and his animals were supreme Champions.  The dogs were almost always given names with the prefix Ormskirk.

The first Collie dog in the World to sell for £1000.00 was Stretch’s Ormskirk Christopher, which was sold to an American kennel and for several decades his champion dogs were exported to breeders all over the World.

An advert for Spiller's Victoria Dog Food, featuring Ormskirk Foxall, one of Stretch's collies

An advert for Spiller’s Victoria Dog Food, featuring Ormskirk Foxall, one of Stretch’s collies

As a show judge he had an unrivalled expertise and commanded respect for his knowledge and understanding of the Collie breed. He travelled to Scotland and Ireland to judge at shows such as the Perthshire Canine Society, the Forfar Poultry Show, Belfast Dog, Poultry & Pig Society show and the County Antrim Agricultural Association Show. That is besides the dozens of English County Shows he attended, both as a judge in Poultry and Collie dogs and as an exhibitor.

Champion Collie "Ormskirk Amazement"

Champion Collie “Ormskirk Amazement”

One of his early successes as a breeder of Rough Collies was in April 1887 at the Warwickshire Dog Show, where his dog Sir Latham was awarded 3rd prize. In July of 1887 at the Chester Show, Sir Latham won first prize and a special silver cup award. In Belfast in 1891, his pair of Rough Collies, Ormskirk Paradox and Ormskirk Stella both won first place in the Dog and Bitch classes respectively, then in 1892, his Ormskirk Ormonde and Ormskirk Hilda took first prize in both their classes. In Dublin in 1893, Ormskirk Hermit and Ormskirk Memoir again won their class.

The Stretch family of Vine Cottage were a family with very close connections to many of the town’s noted families, for more information on the family please visit our group at https://www.facebook.com/Ormskirkbygonetimes

Coulton’s Bakery, Windmill Avenue

Coulton’s Bakery, Windmill Avenue

Coulton's Bakery, which still stands today on Windmill Avenue

Coulton’s Bakery, which still stands today on Windmill Avenue

In 1901, Thomas Coulton (1870 – 1936) had a small grocery shop at 22 Wigan Road with a bakery at the rear owned by William Fryer.  Thomas had served his apprenticeship with Ainsdale baker Robert T. Duerden but had been born in Halsall/Rufford.

The bakery was taken over by Thomas Coulton and the new factory was built in 1903 on Windmill Avenue. By 1911, Coulton, the Managing Director of the bakery, had moved his family into the large family home Blairgowrie, Ruff Lane, later to become the Nurses Home.

Blairgowrie, the house on Ruff Lane that was owned by Thomas Coulton and would later become the nurses home

Blairgowrie, the house on Ruff Lane that was owned by Thomas Coulton and would later become the nurses home

Thomas travelled to the United States in the early 1920s to look at the mechanical processes used there in bakeries and his son Wilfred also travelled to North America in the 1920s as the Bakery Manager visiting factories in the Chicago area. Wilfred is recorded as travelling to the USA quite a few times in the early 1920s. On one journey he appears to have travelled with a Mr Warburton.

Machinery from Coulton's factory on Windmill Avenue

Machinery from Coulton’s factory on Windmill Avenue

Bakery factories in Canada were visited by Wilfred in 1921, the Harrison Wholesale Bread Baker factory in Montreal, and the Ideal Bread Company in Toronto, Ontario.

The Ormskirk Bakery business thrived and modern methods of production were brought into the factory. Local deliveries, domestic and commercial, meant that the Coulton Vans became familiar sights around the area, with the business expanding to a factory in the Southport area, where Thomas Coulton lived in the later years of his life.

A Coulton's delivery van based at the Southport factory

A Coulton’s delivery van based at the Southport factory

Thomas Coulton took a keen interest in local civic matters and he sat on several committees at the Workhouse in Wigan Road during the 1920s.

If you have any of your own stories relating to Coulton’s Bakery or any of the other businesses in the town we would love to hear them, so get in touch with us here.

An advert for Coulton's Purity Bread

An advert for Coulton’s Purity Bread

The Iron Horse

The Iron Horse

Ormskirk Railway Station

Ormskirk Railway Station

The Railway reached Ormskirk in the 1840s and with its arrival a whole new world of opportunity opened up for ordinary people of the town.  Everyday travel to work at all destinations to Liverpool and Preston meant that people were motivated to learn new trades and skills and this meant a change in income.

The type of housing being built in the town to accommodate the professional working class and the growing number of successful tradesmen led to the building of the towns own areas of superior quality housing.  Many of these large detached houses are still standing today in the St Helens Road, Ruff Lane and later Knowsley Road, areas.  Southport Road was also a part of the town which saw rapid development from a road containing old cottages and a busy rope factory to a well planned modern street offering larger homes to the business people living and working in the town.

New housing on Ruff Lane. Built as a result of expansion after the introduction of the railway to Ormskirk

New housing on Ruff Lane. Built as a result of expansion after the introduction of the railway to Ormskirk

The Railway also created a demand for hotel and Inn accommodation which in turn led to the renovation and extension of several town centre hostelries. The Commercial Hotel on Railway Road became a thriving concern for travellers and there was also carriage service there for travellers wishing to visit the area on business or pleasure.

Market Days were destination points for travellers from all over the County and indeed beyond and this swelled the towns population each Thursday and Saturday, bringing revenue to the town regularly and allowing many local businesses to expand and diversify.  With the emergence of the retail concept in the latter half of the 19th century, shops in Ormskirk became bigger and better appointed with a wide range of stock on offer to visitors and locals, the range of market stalls began to change from farm produce and agricultural supplies to more domestic needs, like materials, clothing, footwear and even souvenirs for the visitors to take away with them.

a souvenir seller on Ormskirk Market

a souvenir seller on Ormskirk Market

Ormskirk thrived with the new Railway connection and continued to expand and grow , whilst its local agricultural production increased with the new markets the farmers could reach using the goods trains into Preston and Liverpool.

If you have any of your own stories about the railway in Ormskirk we would love to hear them, you can get in touch with us here.

Mobile Phone?

Mobile Phone?

Phone box relocated next to the clock tower

Taken this week by OBT follower James, this photo shows the relocated phone box adjacent to the clock tower.

Anyone strolling through Ormskirk this week would have been rather startled and taken aback by the sudden appearance of a red telephone kiosk adjacent to the Clock Tower. Heads swivelled as people passed the bright red obelisk daring to compete with the towering iconic stature of the town centre Clock.

It’s apparently not a permanent fixture and has shuffled across the street from outside the HSBC, where it had languished since the late 70s/early 80s. Quite where it had been before that has not been ascertained.

This particular kiosk is not as historically valuable as the grade 11 listed kiosk near to the TSB in Derby Street. The grade 11 listing was awarded because the Derby Street box is a ‘Jubilee Box’, so named as it was designed to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of George V and Queen Mary, our present Queen’s grandparents, in 1936. A gold Tudor Crown appears on all four sides of the kiosk close to the roof, although the gold painting of the crowns was a modern idea to accentuate the heritage value of these boxes, the crown was originally red.

The previous location of the phone box outside HSBC

The previous location of the phone box outside HSBC

In 1953 Queen Elizabeth had all crowns changed to the St Edward’s Crown, the Coronation crown and the kiosk on Moor Street has this crown, dating it to around 1953.

Ormskirk’s growing modern population living on the new estates around the outskirts of the town relied on these kiosks as their main form of emergency contact. Home phones were not a common service in many homes in the 1930s, 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s. The town was well served for kiosks though, with town centre ones at the (old) Bus Station on Knowsley Road, on Moor Street outside what is now Middleton’s cycles, three outside the main Post Office and further out there were boxes on Tower Hill, near Hallsworth’s, Thompson Avenue, outside Pigott’s and Dyers Lane as well as on County Road near the Fire Station and Scott Estate.

The Grade II listed kiosk on Derby Street can be seen in the background of this photo taken c. 1950

The Grade II listed kiosk on Derby Street can be seen in the background of this photo taken c. 1950

The essential service they provided meant that people have clear memories of the occasions when these kiosks played an important part in their lives whether it was ringing the midwife in the middle of the night, contacting the police in an emergency or just using it to ring school friends / sweethearts who were waiting outside their local box for a pre-arranged call.

Next time you pass your local kiosk take a moment to appreciate its iconic status and the role it has played in our developing world of technology.

Ormskirk Bygone Times have a mobile display available for any local group or event, the display covers a vast array of stories and histories of the townspeople and buildings

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