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