Royal Visits To Ormskirk
We don’t have to go too far back in time to find firm evidence of visits to Ormskirk by the Royal Family. In the Summer of 1885, Edward, Prince of Wales, later to become Edward VII, came to the town for a short visit to Lathom House.
To mark the occasion, as was the trend at the time, a commemorative medal was struck and made available as a souvenir of the visit. The town folk and dignitaries met the Prince’s train at Ormskirk Station, which had been newly painted, making the Royal party welcome with declarations of the support of the town for the Queen and the Royal Family. Around £350 was raised through subscription for the staging of an elaborate reception. At the Railway Station a 40ft x 30ft awning ‘upon polished pillars’ was erected and the Station approach right up to Derby Street was festooned with garlands and flowers, at the expense of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Company.
Almost 3000 local school children were to be gathered in a suitable part of the town to collectively sing ‘God Bless The Prince Of Wales’ and in the evening the whole town was to be ‘illuminated’ at the expense of the local gas company. On his return to the station after his short stay at Lathom House, the main thoroughfare through the town, Moor Street, was thronged with well wishers.
It is probably during this visit, according to reports, that the Prince and Princess acquired a taste for Ormskirk Gingerbread.
Moving forward a few decades, the new King, George V, our own Queen’s grandfather, passes through the town on a tour of the Northern industrial towns of Lancashire. He is accompanied by Queen Mary, who can be clearly seen in the rear of the Royal car as it passes along Moor Street and drives into Church Street. The Steps of the King’s Arms give locals a vantage point from which to spot the Royal Couple.
In 1921, another Prince of Wales visits the town, the visit is recorded by the Ormskirk Advertiser and the Prince mixes with the veterans of the World War accompanied by the Earl of Lathom.
The next visit to the town comes in 1945, when George VI and Queen Elizabeth, our present Queen’s parents, drive through the town along Moor Street with throngs of people lining the streets once again.
Moving into the 1960s, Royal visits to Edge Hill College, St Helens Road saw Princess Margaret opening a new wing at the College in 1962 and afterwards being driven through the town with hundreds of school children lining Moor Street to wave her past and Prince Philip has also visited the College.
Ormskirk Bygone Times have accumulated a collection of photographs and new reports related to these Royal Visits and we would be interested in hearing from anyone with any pictures of Princess Margaret being driven through the town and also any pictures of the visit of The Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles and Diana, to Skelmersdale and Up Holland in the mid 1980s. If you can help us out at all you can contact us here.
A Lusitania Survivor Visits Ormskirk
On May 7th 1915 RMS Lusitania was sunk by a German U boat U20 off the southern coast of Ireland. Of the 1,960 souls on board bound for Liverpool from New York, 767 survived.
On that voyage was Sarah Lund nee Mounsey of Chicago Illinois and her husband and father. Sarah’s mother, Fanny Mounsey nee Sewell had been lost on the Empress of Ireland in the St Lawrence Seaway on May 29th 1914. Fanny Mounsey was travelling to visit family in Keswick, Cumberland at the time of the sinking of the Empress of Ireland and her body was never recovered.
A year later, Sarah Mounsey received a letter out of the blue at her home in Chicago from the Superintendant of the Ormskirk Union Workhouse, possibly Albert Horsfall Whittaker. An unidentified lady, in considerable distress, had been admitted to the workhouse in Wigan Road, Ormskirk and the poor wretched woman was only able to utter repeatedly the name ‘Mounsey’ and the letter went on to explain that this lady, known as ‘Kate Fitzgerald’ had a fear of water. For whatever reason, a link was made to the Empress of Ireland sinking a year earlier and the Superintendant sent a letter to Sarah, (who knows how he sought out her address) asking if this might be her mother.
Sarah immediately left her home, with her husband and father to travel to Ormskirk, via New York and Liverpool, aboard the ill-fated Lusitania with the aim of meeting this mysterious lady. Fate intervened and Sarah, though suffering the terror of being flung into the sea as the ship exploded and being showered with debris was, after several hours in the water, pulled into a lifeboat.
Sarah lost her husband of just 1 year , and her father that day, she spent time in Queenstown, Ireland recovering but insisted on pressing on to Liverpool and then Ormskirk to meet the woman she was praying, now more than ever, was indeed her missing Mother, Fanny Mounsey.
Sadly, that was not to be, the lady in the workhouse was nothing like Sarah’a dear mother and Sarah was forced to return home to Chicago a widow, and without either parent.
Sarah did re-marry and lived until 1978, dying aged 92.
A tragic story amongst a tragic event.
Market Cross or Horology Square?
In the years before the Ormskirk Clock Tower was erected in 1876, there had been nothing to identify the spot but the name Market Cross. No structure or marker has been in situ for generations. The name may even derive from the road system and there may never have been an actual cross there at all. Certainly when tenders were invited for the design and build of the tower, one local whit wrote to the Advertiser suggesting, ‘ Surely the archives of our semi-fossilised Court Leet would throw some light on the architectural form of this ancient Cross, and if no member of that venerable body is of an antiquarian turn of mind, they might mortify the flesh by denying themselves the periodical dinners, and divert the proceeds to employ a gentleman with a taste for routing amongst what Carlyle called their “dry-as-dust “ accumulations……’
Market Place was used as the address for the businesses on each corner. In the 1820s, Bookseller Wm Leak’s printers and circulating library was at the corner of Aughton Street and Moor Street, with the George & Dragon on the corner of Church Street and Aughton Street , the Eagle & Child at the corner of Church Street and Burscough Street and Owen’s Ironmongers on the corner of Burscough Street and Moor Street.
The width of Moor Street merging with the narrowness of Church Street isn’t really an issue in modern times, but for those who remember the through traffic, especially on Market Days or coupled with Southport Flower Show, will truly know the meaning of traffic congestion. Add that to the traffic lights at the clock and buses or Westbrook Lorries turning into and up from Aughton Street, it was a risky place to cross at any time.
Some of the businesses used the Market Cross address into the 1900s, Mawdsleys famous gingerbread bakers just used ‘The Cross’ as their address.
The George & Dragon became the National Westminster bank, The Eagle & Child became Stoners, then Kirk’s, then briefly Lawrence’s butchers and was for many years Johnson’s the cleaners when the business moved from Moor Street.
Owen’s Ironmongers became Pennington’s Tailors in the early 1900s, it was HP Radio for a good while, Collingwood Jewellers in the 80s and then H. Samuels.
Martin’s Bank held it’s position for many years and the building has remained a bastian of financial service to the town.
Images before the Clock Tower are pretty rare but one day something may turn up.