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Chapel Street Chapels
The Chapel Street area is one of the oldest parts of Ormskirk. Formerly a small lane projecting from Scarth Hill Lane, which became St Helens Road, the building of Chapel House and several rows of cottages along the lane in the 17th Century meant that the town extended further East to the edge of the Moor and being close to the road in from Wigan and St Helens it would have been a busy area. From the late 1650s, Chapel House was the home of Rev. Nathaniel Heywood M.A. (Trinity College, Cambridge).
Nathaniel Heywood was baptised at Little Lever, Bolton-Le-Moors Sept 16th 1633. Despite being a sickly child and often considered to be failing in health he survived his weakness. He was an exceptionally gifted scholar and was admitted to Trinity College Cambridge at the age of 14 on May 4th 1648. After he graduated he went to work as a minister in Eccleston near St Helens where he married a local girl and they then moved to Illingworth, West Riding.
Nathaniel had been Minister at Illingworth Chapel, West Riding, living with his older brother Oliver, the Minister at Coley Chapel, Northowram, Nr Halifax, before coming to Ormskirk in the spring of 1657. Nathaniel and his wife had nine children and he was well known in the town for his ability to never get into debt and manage his family with good judgement.
In 1672, Nathaniel built two small chapels outside of the town, one adjoining Lady Stanley’s house at Bickerstaffe, 2 miles South of Ormskirk, and one at Scarisbrick, two miles north of Ormskirk Parish Church. He preached on alternate Sundays and found them very well attended. It was whilst preaching in the pulpit at the Bickerstaffe Chapel in 1674 that, after several warrants had been issued against him for his continued non-conformity, a band of soldiers took him from the pulpit with a pistol pointed at his head, even as Lady Stanley (Elizabeth Bosville, 1645 – 1695) bravely stood her ground trying to prevent them seizing the minister.
He was taken to Up Holland where he was bound over to appear at the next assizes at Wigan, once there, his accusers expected him to be sent to Lancaster Jail but the JP intervened and he was acquitted and sent home.
He then continued his travels around the district on foot or on horseback, travelling to preach as far away as Toxteth Park and for a week he travelled to the West Riding to visit his brother and to preach there. On his journey home, he stopped at Rochdale and Bolton to preach .
In 1662, the brothers were both ejected from their respective parishes after refusing to adhere to the Uniformity Act of 1662. Nathaniel and Oliver were used to conducting their sermons without direction or prayer book. In 1662 Nathaniel set up a dissenters meeting house at Chapel House after being ejected from his role as Vicar of Ormskirk. After Nathaniel’s death on 16th Dec 1677 aged 44 and after being ill for over a year, Nathaniel’s Brother Oliver wrote : ‘My dear and only Brother, ten years a public preacher and half that period Vicar of Ormskirk, but turned out on Black Bartholomew’s Day in 1662, having preached in private since,and prophesied in sackcloth, is now clothed in white robes before the throne of heaven….He was a Christian, and a minister if great ability,an ornament to his generation, eminent for zeal, piety, humility and all ministerial endowments’
The funeral took place at the Parish Church and was attended by ‘a vast confluence of all descriptions of people’. He was interred in the chancel in the burial place of the Stanleys of Bickerstaffe with their ‘free consent and desire’. The Constable of the town led the funeral procession, carrying the town mace.
Descendants of Nathaniel Heywood include the Liverpool Banking family of Sir Benjamin Heywood, the first Baronet of Claremont being the owner. Another descendant is William Ewart Gladstone, MP and Prime Minister four times between 1868 and 1894,
The dissenters meeting house remained open after The Rev. Heywood died, his son, also Nathaniel, carried on his father’s ministry, building a Chapel on the street in 1696 which remained there until the land was bought in Aughton Street to build a new one.
An Ormskirk Tradition: The Sunday School Walks
St Peter and St Paul Sunday School anniversary walk holds so many memories for many people in the town, apart from during the War years when children walked from their own schools in groups, the procession has walked through the town during June.
Several followers of Ormskirk Bygone Times have shared images from over the years with followers of the OBT Social Media page, these are worth sharing with the readers of the Advertiser too.
Many people will remember Miss Leatherbarrow, Miss Potter and Miss Webster from the 1960s, when the Sunday School was held at Greetby Hill School. Prior to that it was held at the Derby Street School for girls and the Aughton Street Boys School.
Riot At Ormskirk
The Historical Market Town of Ormskirk was rocked to the core on Wednesday 20th October 1824 when a riot broke out in the town and shots were fired.
The trigger which led to no less that 2000 of the townsfolk taking part in the riot was the appointment to Deputy Constable at the Court Leet by the Jury Foreman, Harvey Wright, of Mr Thomas Howard, instead of the re-elected Deputy-Constable, Mr Derbyshire. The Earl of Derby, as Lord of the Manor, was the Steward over the Court Leet and seemingly the remainder of the 12 man jury took the dismissal of their elected Deputy very badly. (The High Constable of Ormskirk in 1824 was Robert Barton).
The Jury were dismissed but as is the custom, the name of the new Deputy Constable was announced at the door of the Town Hall and all those who heard the announcement immediately responded with hisses and groans.
Jury Foreman Harvey Wright ordered the outgoing Deputy Constable. Mr Derbyshire, to give up his Staff of Office to Mr Howard. Derbyshire refused to obey the order at which point Wright ordered the newly appointed Deputy Constable, Mr Howard, to take the staff by force.
The court was dismissed and Harvey Wright left for his home on Aughton Street but he was followed by a huge mob shouting and hissing after him. Wright was being bombarded with rocks and stones and had to take refuge in the store of Mr William Garside down Aughton Street. The only person who was there to help Wright escape the mob was town Surgeon Mr Henry William Ellis, (later to marry Wright’s second Daughter Mary) who himself was hit and injured by a rock and managed to drag Wright into the Garside shop.
The mob remained outside the shop and continued to yell and hurl missiles into the store and at one point a shot was fired which narrowly missed hitting Mr Wright in the chest.
The noise and shattering of plate glass must have woken Mr Garside who was sleeping above his shop,he came down and bravely confronted the mob begging them to consider his home and his family. The mob moved away but only to set fire to a barrel of tar and roll it further down the street to Wright’s house where they placed it against the front door.
The barrel burnt quickly however and caused little damage, but the mob continued to march through the streets with blazing torches with the deposed Deputy Constable Mr Derbyshire raised on the shoulders of a few of them.
The rioting carried on for a good length of time, with local shopkeepers supplying the rioters with shot, crackers and squibs to keep the uproar going. None of the Jury, nor the town officials nor the newly elected Deputy Constable Howard made any attempt to calm the offenders. (Crackers and squibs were small sticks of explosive or fire crackers, the term ‘damp squib’ meaning one which didn’t work properly due to moisture.)
It was Saturday, 3 days later, when the town Constable and new Deputy finally made between 20 and 30 arrests, including Mr Derbyshire, the ex Deputy Constable. All were bound over to the Quarter Sessions to answer to the charge of rioting.
Philip Forshaw of Bath Springs Brewery seems to have been a very hard working and dedicated business man. He had built a small empire out of his investments in Brewing and distributing Ale to Inns, Public Houses and Beer houses across the County.
Not everything in Philips life followed the same pattern of success, by August 1862 he had been struggling with ill health, (he was partially paralysed after a stroke), he had been involved in several legal battles with clients, employees, tenants and his own family. No wonder that he tried to sell his Bath Springs Brewery that August. His plan might have been to retire to his newly built home on Lord Street and take things easier.
The tragic circumstances surrounding the sudden death of his eldest daughter Martha, just weeks after her second child was born, would have been a great blow to Philip. His legal fight to regain control of his business interests from his next of kin had most likely caused considerable animosity between his Family. After Martha’s death, within a week, Philip and his nephew John Forshaw had drawn up Philips last will and testament.
The will goes a long way to help see what kind of a man Philip Forshaw really was. Within the first few sentences he names his two illegitimate sons, John and Philip Baldwin, as his executors. These young men had been living with their mother in the cottage at the back of Forshaw’s Ship Inn since they were young boys. Their mother Catherine Baldwin had lived in Up Holland when she gave birth to her sons, John in early 1845 and Philip born 1st October 1848. A relative had the licence at the Bird ‘ith Hand beer house, Hall Green, Upholland and it is probable that Philip Forshaw had business interests at the Beer House.
It is not possible to say for sure whether when Catherine and her sons relocated to the Ship Inn Cottage in Ormskirk, any of Philip’s family knew Catherine and her sons were the other family in Philip’s life but quite possibly they did not move there until after both his daughters were married.
The first bequest Philip makes in his will is one for the sum of £1000.00 to be used for the sole purpose of building a parsonage for the vicar or incumbent of the Parish of St Mark’s Church Scarisbrick.
The second bequest is for the sum of £1000.00 to be invested by the Vicar of Ormskirk for benefit of the poor of the town, whereby £100.00 per year from the annuities should be used for consumables such as coal and bread for the needy however the Vicar sees fit. He also left £100.00 each to the Foreign Missionary Society and the Southport Strangers Charity.
There was a further legacy of £100.00 to be used to fund medical care for the poor of the town at the Dispensary, and the Rev. James Taylor Wareing of Wellfield House, Westhead in Lathom Parish, was charged with seeing to it that the money was used wisely.
There was however, the strangest of provisos added at the end of the first set of charitable donations. It appears that Philip Forshaw had misgivings about one or two members of the town’s legal fraternity. His words are as follows:
‘I Declare that the legacies or sums of money before given for the benefit of the Incumbent or pastor of the church at Scarisbrick aforesaid; For the poor of Ormskirk; To the Ormskirk dispensary And for the Southport Strangers Charity, shall be null and void in case William Welsby of Ormskirk aforesaid, Solicitor, Charles Hill of Ormskirk aforesaid, Solicitor now or later his clerk or any partner or partners of them or either of them shall be holding any appointment, office or employment, honorary or otherwise or be Trustee Manager Chairman or Clerk or otherwise connected so as to give them or either of them directly or indirectly a voice in the mode or manner of the distribution of such Legacies or any of them or concerned in any way as to the investing of the same or any of them.’
The above declaration is on page one of Philip’s eight page will, the will was made public within days of his death and the details of the charitable donations made the newspapers in several local towns that same week. Philip’s solicitor was his nephew John Forshaw of Preston.
Another declaration on page three reads, ‘The sum of £100.00 lent by me to the Reverend Joseph Bush, Vicar of Ormskirk aforesaid on a note of hand I forgive him and release him from the payment thereof and all interest due thereon.’ Rev Bush was the Vicar of Ormskirk from 1853 – 1870 and in 1909, a stained glass window was put in at the church to commemorate the work of Rev Bush and his wife Annabel Theodosia Bush.
Philip’s only surviving daughter Annie, who was married to bank manager William Henry Smith and lived in Southport, was included in the will along with her two half-brothers John Baldwin and Philip Baldwin and she was left one third of the estate. There was however another declaration :
“and in the case of the said Annie Smith for her separate use free from the control of any husband and without power of anticipation”
‘Any Husband’? Philip covered all his bases! By 1871, William Henry and Annie Smith had 8 children and lived at 132, Lord Street, Southport. Philip had died in 1865 and his estate was valued at under £25,000.
Interestingly, William Henry and Annie Smith are not enumerated at their home address in 1871, all eight children are left at home in the care of servants. It took a while to find out where the Smiths had gone, then they turned up, as house guests at ‘The Firs’, Lathom, home of Charles Hill, solicitor of Ormskirk…..
The next episode will cover the property Philip left, the bequests to the ordinary people in the town and the tragedies of the 30 years beyond his passing.
On Saturday night into Sunday morning of May 5th/ 6th 1956, sisters Margaret Jane (69) and Mary Ormesher (67) were viciously killed in their own home, ‘Ivy Dene’, 8 Asmall Lane, Ormskirk. The house was the former Brickmakers Arms, a ten room house with a court yard behind, which contained several small dwellings, all accessed via a passage way between number 6 and number 8.
The spinster sisters lived a quiet life with their black spaniel dog ‘Trixie’, being regarded as a reliable alert dog,Trixie was known to greet people noisily. The dog was in the kitchen of the house where the two ladies were found and Trixie had received a considerably heavy blow to the head, she was in a poor state when the house was entered by a neighbour and followed the neighbour out of the back door.
Minutes later P.C. Mellor arrived, there being police houses at that time just 100 yards up the road. At the September inquest, P.C. Mellor states that apart from the victims and various items he noticed, a small mongrel dog came out from under the kitchen table as he stood surveying the awful scene. The sisters did only have the one dog, known to be a black spaniel.
At the inquest several people made statements to the court about hearing a variety of noises, groans, breaking glass, bin lids clattering, voices, both male and female. These noises appeared to have been heard from around 11.15 and 11.30 pm.
The area behind the Brickmaker’s Arms was a small compact yard overlooked by no’s 1 & 2 cottage to one side and No’s 3 to 7 cottage along the back, residents at no 2 and no 3 all heard the noises later reported in depositions, however, on the night they were dismissed as ‘someone having a bit of bother’ or ‘someone drunk’ and everyone went to bed again.
Mary Ormesher had arrived home from her shop alone between 10-10 and 10.25 pm, she was carrying the brown attaché case she always used for the shop takings in her right hand and something else in her left hand, but the neighbour who saw Mary from the window did not see what else Mary was carrying.
At around 10.18pm, another neighbour who had been out and was returning to his cottage in Brickmakers Yard, saw a man he did not recognise across the road from the Yard. Sometime later, another neighbour left his house by the front door to take some golf clubs across the road to a neighbour, returning at 11.20 but he did not mention seeing or hearing anyone in the area.
Despite a witness coming forward in the days that followed the murders saying they also saw a man with a similar description in the same area, that man does not seem to have been identified in the days/weeks following.
The police searched the house and found that the brown attaché case was on the kitchen table and contained a small amount of silver but the two khaki cloth money bags which Mary used for the takings were missing. After a thorough search of the house, small quantities of money, wrapped in paper, were recovered from various rooms. Despite local rumour that said the sisters were hoarding cash, only a modest amount was recovered and the house had not been ransacked at the time of the murders. Mary had not left a will but the letters of administration granted on June 12th declared an estate of £1722.14s.4d. Margaret had not left a will either and in the letters of administration granted on June 20th her estate was £249.13s .4d.
The town came to a standstill for the joint funeral of Margaret and Mary, it was a poor day and rained constantly but hundreds of people lined the streets to pay their respects as the funeral cortege passed through the town from the hospital to the Parish Church. The sisters were laid to rest together in the Parish Church and for many years their grave was tended by Stanley Draper C.B. E. Church Sexton.
Five weeks after the murders, and after searches using police dogs at Ruff Wood, Edge Hill College and the Burscough Brick Works, the investigation was not progressing and although 1000 fingerprints had been taken and eliminated, the decision was made at a special court on June 14th to begin to fingerprint every male in the district aged over 16 who was living in the district on the weekend of the murders. This was to be done by plain clothed detectives visiting people in their own homes and it was expected to take up to a month to complete the exercise.
The person or persons who committed these murders has never been officially named and identified, rumours would emerge over the years as to the identity and fate of the killer. The case will never be closed.
Memories recently shared by a cousin of the family, paint a picture of a hard working woman in Mary and a gentle caring person in Margaret Jane.
“Maggie and Polly were such gentle souls – there wasn’t an ounce of animosity in them. Mother and I visited quite a lot and were always made very welcome. Polly was the bread winner and Maggie the homemaker who also looked after their mother Emma – she died aged 84 in 1951. Auntie Maggie always ‘read our tealeaves’. Polly opened the shop every day –including Sundays- she was so very well known in the town, she always had a roaring fire burning, like everyone else they had evacuees during the war, there was a young boy and later a mother and son.
Their murder was a dreadful shock for everyone, not least the family – it was unbelievable.
If only the one witness- Trixie their little dog, could have talked.
Although the house was quite big they only seemed to use the one room-it always felt very homely, Maggie made delicious pies!”
The shop in Church Street had been the subject of a demolition order due to the condition of the old building since the early 1950s and following the deaths, the order was carried out and the shop demolished and re-built.
Ormskirk Bygone Times has copies of the reports of the events following the murders and the details on the coroner’s enquiry.
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Sixty Years On: Part 1
On May 6th this year, it will be 60 years since the town was rocked with the tragic news of the brutal double murder of the Misses Margaret Jane and Mary Ormesher.
The sisters were the daughters of the late Edward and Emma Ormesher, who had brought their family up on Asmall Lane, close to “Ivydene”, the house which was to become the scene of their deaths.
There were five daughters born to Edward and Emma, of which Margaret was the eldest, Mary the second child and then three more daughters, Emily, Ellen, who sadly died aged just 2 years old in 1897, and May. When May was born in 1900, Margaret was 12 years old.
Edward worked as a carter for a Mineral Water Company, he had moved the family to Chapel Street for a short time in the early 1900s where they ran a small beerhouse known as the John Bull at the corner of Chapel Street and St Helens Road, but they moved back to Asmall Lane where Edward took the licence for the Brickmakers Arms. Margaret Jane left home to become a live in domestic servant for a newly married couple Albert Kelsall and Hilda Clarice his wife, at ‘Highfield’, 31,Greetby Hill.
Younger sister Emily was married in 1917 to a soldier who was serving in the war, her younger sister May was a witness, the husband John William Allen was from Halsall Lane, Emily’s father Edward (Ned) Ormesher set up his own business after the Brickmakers Arms licence was made redundant selling small hardware like brushes and oil lamps from a horse and cart, he travelled around the district and was well known in the area. He had a brother Robert from Westhead and 2 married sisters, Mrs Lydia Light and Mrs Annie Lownsbrough, there were therefore several cousins of the sisters in the Ormskirk, Westhead, Lathom and Skelmersdale areas.
Mary Ormesher took a lease on a small shop at 24 Church Street and ran a sweet and tobacco business for a number of years. She became well known in the town and very well liked and respected as was her sister Margaret.
Whether it was because of local rumours that suggested the sisters were money lenders and were hoarding large sums of money, (rumours proved false by the C.I.D. team after the murders) or whether it was an opportunist robbery gone badly and devastatingly wrong, one or more people committed the murder at the Asmall Lane Cottage overnight from the 5th to the 6th May 1956. There had been intelligence sources relayed to the local police 18 months before the murders suggesting that the shop was going to be a target for a robbery and the sisters were advised to be vigilant.
The sisters apparently put up a desperate fight to fend off their attacker, police statements at the time were clear that whoever did enter the cottage, will have left with some serious wounds which would need medical attention.
Specific items of jewellery were taken, of which there were very precise descriptions, an 18ct gold patterned ring, similar to a man’s signet ring but with a large blue sapphire and two smaller sapphire stones on it. A lady’s oblong faced platinum bracelet watch made by Russell, with diamond chipping surround and sapphires at each corner, quite distinctive. Bought in 1942 for £95.00, which is almost £45.000.00 in today’s money, although the piece sounds so unusual it could well be worth more because of its quality.
The beloved family dog, a black spaniel called ‘Trixie’ was also killed on that night, which explains the lack of barking which might have alerted the neighbours more than they already had been that night, when breaking glass and ‘groaning’ and a man’s voice were discounted as anything serious.
The Ormskirk Advertiser immediately posted a reward of £50 to anyone providing information which would lead to the culprit.
There are so many aspects of the case which in modern times would most likely lead to an almost immediate arrest of a suspect, unfortunately it happened at a time when crime scene investigation was not supported by the technology and science available now.
Ormskirk Bygone Times have a large collection of information surrounding the sad loss of these two well known and well liked residents of Ormskirk. Part 2 of this article will follow soon
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Passing Through Westhead
Westhead, along with Newburgh, was a hamlet in the township of Lathom, according to the mid 19th century directories.
In 1851, a new church was built in the hamlet to serve the township of Lathom and the new church was dedicated to St James.
The land was donated by the 1st Baron Skelmersdale, Edward Wilbrahim- Bootle, of Lathom House, the sandstone was provided by Edward Stanley of Cross Hall, who at that time owned the quarry in Ruff Wood. The cost of the build was met in full by Lord Derby, who assigned the architect Sydney Smirke to create a unique church for Lathom. Smirke had designed the circular reading room at the British Library, the Bethlem Royal Hospital (now housing the Imperial War Museum) and Bickerstaffe, Holy Trinity Church.
Westhead was the home of pit workers and agricultural labourers with a scattered population, the hub of the village was the Halton Castle Inn, the landlord from the 1850s being James Culshaw, who had been a servant at Lathom House prior to being granted the license at the Halton Castle, his brother William being the landlord of the Queen’s Head in Ormskirk, both inns being part of the Lathom estate holdings.
The Culshaw family continued to hold the license at the Halton Castle for several generations into the 20th century.
Westhead Halt was a request stop of the Skelmersdale to Rainford line, remaining a favourite amongst rail enthusiasts because of the link to the Skem Jazzer.
If you came along to the re-opening of Ormskirk Civic Hall on Saturday, 9th April you may well have met a direct descendant of James Culshaw of the Halton Castle. Jon Culshaw, TV impressionist and comedian, was there to cut the ribbon and start a new chapter in the history of one of Ormskirk’s most important historic buildings.
Ottawa To Ormskirk
Sir Arthur Stanley (1869 – 1947) was elected MP for Ormskirk Division in 1898 , The constituency, officially designated as South-West Lancashire, Ormskirk Division consisted of the town of Ormskirk and a number of surrounding parishes, namely, Aintree, Aughton, Bickerstaffe, Croxteth Park, Dalton, Downholland, Halsall, Kirkby, Knowsley, Lathom, Litherland, Lunt, Lydiate, Maghull, Melling, Netherton, Ormskirk, Orrell and Ford, Prescot, Scarisbrick, Sefton, Simonswood, Skelmersdale & Upholland.
Sir Arthur held the seat for twenty years, although there was a close challenge in 1910 from William Lever, the Bolton born Industrialist and creator of Port Sunlight and Rivington Park.
Before Arthur Stanley became the Ormskirk MP however, he had been living with his family in Canada from 1888 until 1893, where his father, the Hon Frederick Arthur Stanley, (later to become the 16th Earl of Derby,) was the 6th Governor General of Canada. The whole family became great fans of the sport of Ice Hockey whilst living in the Official Residence in Ottawa and two of the sons and a daughter all played in the amateur Ice Hockey league, the first women’s amateur final was played on March 8th 1889 and one of the players was Isobel Stanley, Arthur’s sister, who was to influence her father more than anyone to create the famous Stanley Cup. In 1892, her father gave Canada the treasured national icon, (the Stanley Cup). He originally donated the trophy as a challenge cup for Canada’s best amateur hockey club, but in 1909, it became contested by professional teams exclusively. Since 1926, only teams of the National Hockey League have competed for the trophy. This now famous cup bears Derby’s name as tribute to his enthusiasm and encouragement for the development of the sport. In 1945, as further recognition of Lord Derby’s work, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the “Honoured Builders” category‘. This was the same Lord Derby who donated the land to build the Coronation Park in Ormskirk for the enjoyment of the town’s young people. After her marriage, Lady Isobel Stanley Gathorne-Hardy’s role as a pioneer of women’s ice hockey in Canada was acknowledged with the Isobel Gathorne-Hardy Award. The award is given to an active player (at any level) whose values, leadership and personal traits are representative of all female athletes.
Arthur and his brother William played at amateur level at the The Rideau Rink, named after the Governors Residence Rideau Hall, which was opened in 1889, playing for the Rideau Rebels, a team made up of Government staff and parliamentarians.
On his return to England Arthur lived at Knowsley Hall with his father and family, working as an MP for Ormskirk Division.
Arthur Stanley was knighted in 1917, he was the Chairman of the British Red Cross Society throughout the years of the Great War, and his last contribution to Parliamentary debate as the Ormskirk Division MP was in 1918, when MPs debated the Lotteries Bill in relation to fundraising for the war effort and the donations made by ‘rich ladies’ of their jewellery for raffle prizes to raise funds, Sir Arthur is recorded as commenting…..’ I take my own Constituency in Lancashire, and I say that at practically every one of these bazaars I have been asked to take part in at least a dozen raffles. Does not every Hon. Member when he goes to bazaars provide himself with a pocket full of silver in order that he may take tickets or raffles when asked? I say this does not introduce the spirit of gambling. Is morality in any way harmed by this very harmless amusement of raffling, and if no harm has been caused when it has been practised in pre-war times, is harm going to be done because it happens to be on a rather bigger scale?’
He went on to add: …… I would point out that many of these ladies are very far from rich. They gave that which to each of them was most precious, and they gave it in order to help what they felt was even more precious. They felt that they were giving these pearls for the relief of suffering, which they themselves would willingly have laid down their lives to avoid. Out of these pearls have been formed a necklace. Some Members have spoken of that necklace as though it had a price, but it has no price. It is a necklace formed of pearls given by women in this great War, and it is something which cannot be priced; it is something above all price. That is not all. When you have an object like that in your possession, an object which was placed in the possession of the Red Cross to be used for a most sacred purpose, how are you to dispose of it in the best way? Is it the best way to sell it to a jeweller or to sell it to a rich man? May it not possibly be the best way to sell it in such a manner that even a man who can only afford to give a shilling may have an opportunity of securing that necklace? I only ask the question. I do not expect hon. Members opposite to agree with me, but I do ask them to put to themselves the question which we have put to ourselves, what, when you have a great trust like this confided to your care, in order to help those who are suffering for their country, is the best way to realise it? I own myself I should think that that necklace had been more properly and more worthily bought by the poor man who managed to pay the shilling than by anyone who could afford to buy it.
Sir Arthur Stanley died on the 4th November 1947 in Eastbourne, having never married nor had issue and his estate valued at £133,000 was administered by his brother Frederick Arthur Stanley.
Arthur’s father Lord Derby, along with the Countess, attended a bazaar held in the Drill Hall in 1904 to raise funds for the rebuilding of St Paul’s Church, Skelmersdale.
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.
The History Of Ormskirk Civic Hall
Whilst the future of the Civic Hall is now uncertain, the history of the building is set in stone, quite literally. The land on which the purpose built drill hall was erected was donated to the Ormskirk companies of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion King’s Liverpool Regiment at the start of the 20th century by their long serving Colonel, James Eastham Esq. The stones built into the front of the building testify to that fact.
James Eastham was a brewer who lived at Edinfield, Southport Road. He was also the Colonel of the local Volunteer Yeomanry. His house is no longer there, although the old gateposts still stand adjacent to Southport Road, with the name Edinfield still clearly carved in the stone. Eastham had served as a volunteer with D Troop, the Lancashire Hussars when the Sgt Major and drill instructor had been Sgt Major James Ikin Nunnerley, 17th Lancers and survivor of the Charge of The Light Brigade, who became the drill instructor in the town in the 1870s when practise had to be done in the open and very often in difficult conditions.
The hall was used by the Volunteer Battalions and Cadet Battalions for drill practise as the length of the hall, extending to the rear down Church Fields, could accommodate the drilling patterns adequately but allowed the practise to be held indoors.
When the hall was not being used for military purposes, it was turned into a venue for tea dances, Dance Band concerts and theatrical performances. After the demolition of the Working Men’s Institute in the early 1960s, the council speculated as to whether it would be financially possible to refurbish and refit the Drill Hall to create a civic centre rather than spend £160,000 on a purpose built modern civic building on the derelict Moor Street site of the late Institute.
In the late 1960s the hall was bought by the council for £6000, after spending a further £31.500 on the hall, the newly refurbished Civic Hall opened its doors to the towns’ people on Saturday 12th December 1970, it was formally opened by Council Chairman Andrew Gore, with various social functions planned for the hall. Interestingly, the success of the new venue was quite possibly due to the initiative of the council members, who, in November 1968 had invited people from local groups and community organisations to meet at the Drill Hall to discuss possible future needs and requirements to which the planned refurbishment could be specifically tailored. On completion of the work and after the opening ceremony, those same groups and organisations sent their representatives back to see the finished hall, and it was unanimously agreed that the work done had made use of this public consultation to achieve the best result possible.
During the 1970s and 80s the hall was the centre of the nightlife in the town and was very busy and events were very well attended.
Many people will have memories of the discos, wrestling bouts, operatic shows, amateur dramatic presentations and a multitude of civic functions.
The building has been an asset to the town in so many ways for over 100 years, with some foresight there is potential for this building, given to the town so many years ago, to thrive again.
Ormskirk Bygone Times has researched the Eastham family and other stories from the town relating to this building and many others and you can read lots more about it on our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Ormskirkbygonetimes