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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.

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