Before The Railway Came To Town
The Railway line was built in 1849 from Liverpool to Preston, passing through Ormskirk and from then on opening up a whole world of opportunity for local people to leave, or for strangers to arrive.
Before the railway came, people of the town had the choice of coach travel on various routes and the coaching inns ran a strict timetable.
In the early 1820s, the King’s Arms on Moor Street was the staging post for four very important coaching routes. Daily journeys aboard the ‘Invincible’ left Ormskirk at 6am for Carlisle, Glasgow and Edinburgh and then at 6pm for Liverpool. A coach to Leeds left the King’s Arms daily at 6am calling at Blackburn, Burnley, Colne and Keighley. The Royal Liverpool left at Noon daily for Lancaster where a passenger could change to the Lord Exmouth and travel on to Newcastle. The Liverpool coach left at 3 in the afternoon. The Royal Pilot ran to Manchester in Summer on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11am.
The George and Dragon public house at the corner of Church Street and Aughton Street was also a busy staging post, with five established routes, The Mail coaches to Liverpool and Carlisle left at 8.30pm each day. The Telegraph Mail service ran to Kendal at 10am and to Liverpool at 6pm. The New Times ran to Carlisle at 6am and to Liverpool at 7pm. The Umpire left for Liverpool at 12noon and for Newcastle at 5pm. The Eclipse ran to Liverpool at 9.30am and to Southport at 5pm.
The Wheatsheaf in Burscough Street had a coaching route with The Amity leaving for Liverpool every Wednesday and Saturday at 7am returning at 7am the next day and a Sunday excursion to Southport during the summer at 8am returning at 8pm.
By the late 1820s, a London Royal Mail coach was stopping off in Ormskirk at the George and Dragon every evening at 6pm, the established routes above carried on into the 1830s with the Talbot Inn introducing the Fair Trader calling from Liverpool daily at 1.30pm on the way to Kendal and the Royal Irish Mail from Lancaster calling every day at 4pm.
These established routes were starting to dwindle into the 1840s, the Ship Inn on Moor Street played host to the Southport to St Helens noon coach with The Victoria covering the Wigan to Southport route daily calling at the King’s Arms at 9.45am and returning at 5.30.
By 1855, there is just one route still in operation, a coach from the Railway Station, calling at the King’s Arms at 11.15 on it’s way to Southport and returning at 4.30pm.
By 1869 all the routes have ended. The Railway took the trade. Faster, cleaner, probably more reliable, though this is hard to say.
Ormskirk Bygone Times have a database of all the towns pubs if anyone has an interest in the history of trade in the town.