The Power of Derby Street
Prior to the 1890s Derby Street was known for a short time as Lydiate Lane. There had not been much need for access towards Lathom in the early 1800s from that part of Ormskirk as the main route would have been either through Westhead via Hall Lane or along Tinker’s Hill (Tower Hill) and into Dark Lane. Once the railway arrived, the area close to the railway station began to grow in importance, a through route from Southport to connect the station merged in with Greetby Hill Lane through to Dark Lane. The Lydiate family of Waggoners from Lathom may well have been the reason for the original name, although centuries earlier there must have been a well trodden footpath between Burscough Priory and the Parish Church.
The Model School, later the United Charity School and the original Savings Bank next door were the first public buildings erected along the street in the 1840s although a couple of large town houses had been built to provide residences for the gentry of the town away from the crowded bustle of the town centre.
It wasn’t until the new police station and court building was built to replace the Burscough Road station that the street started to really take on its own purpose and identity and grow into the business centre for the town. A new public House opened adjacent to the railway bridge in the early 1850s, The Railway Inn, run by Henry Twist, he had run a beer house on the site for a few years and with the Commercial Hotel opening before 1861 being run by former potatoe trader from Lydiate Lane, James Baker, the business brought into the town by the railway brought trade to the two businesses.
By the mid 1850s the street had seen its name changed to Derby Street, in recognition of the Earl of Derby’s generosity in donating the land for the new police station and court. The court building was built to house the Magistrates Court and petty sessions plus the County Court. William Welsby was the first assistant Clerk to the Court, Thomas Brandreth was one of the first Magistrates, along with James Culshaw of Trenchfield, Aughton; the Rev. John Kershaw of Burscough Street; John Rosson of Moor Hall, Aughton; Sir Thomas George Hesketh of Rufford New Hall; Edgar Musgrove of West Tower, Aughton; John Prescott of Dalton Grange, Dalton; William Roberts of Firgrove, Lydiate; Dr Charles Symonds of Ormskirk Hall, Burscough Street; and Capt. Charles Webb, of Brooklands, Scarisbrick.
The first Attorneys to set up in Derby Street, close to the court, were Welsby and Hill, the above mentioned William Welsby and his partner, Charles Hill.
Ormskirk Bygone Times will be looking closely at the growth of the importance of Derby Street, the Court Building and the surrounding businesses during the latter half of the 19th Century and the massive impact the street had on the life and prosperity of the town.
Please visit our page at https://www.facebook.com/Ormskirkbygonetimes to find out more about the town or to share any photos or memories of Ormskirk to our 5600 followers.
An Important Little Street
The unimaginatively but logically named street, Derby Street West, was built to ease congestion in the town around the late 1890s. Most likely it did start off as a two- way street, especially as the Fire Station was situated on the south side behind what is now Walter Brown House.
Built parallel to Church Alley, the street initially consisted of neat garden fronted 3 up 2 down terraced houses, mostly on the North side and the council yard and fire station on the south side, with the Council Yard foreman living at No 1. A row of quasi semis was built on the South Side several decades later.
For a small street it was a busy part of the town, not only housing the fire station, but also several shops and businesses. The first motor vehicle dealer in the town was Herefordshire born William Biggs, he opened his business at 32 Derby Street West, along with his brother Harry. The business was mainly bicycles in the early 1900s with the motor vehicle business growing in the town within a decade.
Another successful business in the street was that of hairdresser John Crompton Gouge of 2 Derby Street West. John Crompton Gouge was the grandson of Aughton Street hairdresser John Crompton, a well known business in the town dating to the early 19th Century. Initially running a business from his father-in-laws home in Burscough Street, Gouge and his wife, Margaret nee Fyles, ran the shop there up until his death in 1927 and then his son John, a barber, inherited the business.
The drama in the street was well provided by the fire station, the engine, known affectionately by locals as ‘The Orme’ was pulled by six horses belonging to Alf Brown from the Commercial Hotel, they had another high profile roll, pulling the hearse belonging to Mr Brown, whose other occupation apart from landlord was as an undertaker. A firsthand account of a call out for the fire engine from 1910 recalls how, having only travelled 100 yards from the station to just near the Drill Hall, a wheel came off the engine because the horses took the bend around into Southport Road so fast.
Another business which thrived for many years in the street was that of Frederick Brooker Rudd, he had two premises there, No 16 and No 28. He was a piano and organ tuner & repairer by trade and moved to Ormskirk from Everton before 1920. He married the daughter of Scottish born Tailor, William Gardiner, who lived around the corner at 47 Burscough Street, next door to Knowles House, William Gardiner worked for the Poor Law Guardians and was the tailor to the Union Workhouse. Frederick Rudds business developed into selling recorded music and gramophones from No 28, he died in 1961.
In 1971, No 28 became another music store, Soundgood Records was opened there in October 1971 by Liverpool and England football legend Tommy Smith.
If anyone has any memories of the businesses and families who occupied Derby Street West please think about sharing them with the group at https://www.facebook.com/Ormskirkbygonetimes
With Love From Ormskirk
As Valentines Day once more approaches, let’s look back at how the romantics of the town put a lot of effort into marking the day with their own true love.
In the 1830’s, 60,000 valentine cards were sent by the relatively expensive postal service in Great Britain. These cards were not as we find today, mass produced and put out on display for you to browse and select what suits. The cards sent in the 19th century were mainly homemade, elaborate postcards, decorated with silk and lace and ribbons.
People of Ormskirk would have been as skilled as anyone else at crafting a special card for their Valentine with coin spent on a little piece of ribbon or lace from the local milliners in the town, for those who could afford that. Many girls probably sacrificed trimmings from their Sunday Bonnets and possibly various other apparel, to decorate their cards.
We can only wonder at how so many thousands of cards were sent on Valentines Day at a time when many young people would only be able to make their mark ‘X ‘on their marriage lines! Symbolic tokens of love crafted onto a homemade card, along with it being the 14th February must have helped to deliver the message without words!
Young people met through the workplace, Church or Chapel or family occasions, Ormskirk was a town which adored its gatherings and festivities all year round, with Church Bazaars, Town Galas, theatrical and musical performances available at several theatres and venues in the town and many groups for young people to meet and fall in love. It wasn’t all about working a 6 day week with no time to relax, people in the 19th century didn’t travel miles to work, days were long but social events were very well supported, there was little to stay at home for! Entertainment brought people together outside of work.
Once the cards were made and ready to post, the busiest place in the town on the 13th and 14th February in the 19th century would have been the post office, for most of those early years it was at the corner of Aughton Street and Church Street, offering delivery the same day for local post, the foot post from Southport arrived late in the day, by 5.30 if the post man made good time.
The marked difference between 19th Century homemade Valentines Cards and the more modern mass manufactured cards which we know of is the cost and possibly more so the personal touch. The only financial gain then was for the post office.
From A Distance – A New Perspective On Ormskirk Parish Church
A treat for those who have never been able to ascend to the dizzy heights of the Parish Church Tower. We have views covering all four sides of the tower. The netting is there to prevent birds getting inside.
On a clear day the uninterrupted view from all sides is stunning and it does show how elevated the Church is. We all know the tower from the outside, these images give you a peak at the inside and the inside out. Can you spot your house?
The photos were taken during the 2014 Summer Fete.