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Jane Halewood: Her Ordinary Life

The Moor Street Cottages c1969

The Moor Street Cottages c1969

Jane Halwood was baptised at Ormskirk Parish Church on 25 January 1829. Her father, Burscough born Shoemaker, Adam Halewood, was already a successful shoemaker with a small shop just below the Snigs Foot in Church Street when his daughter was born.  He had been born in Burscough and baptised at Ormskirk in 1803 and had married Elizabeth, (Beth) Morecroft at St John’s Liverpool in July 1826, Adam had finished his apprenticeship as a cordwainer (leatherworker) and was able to set up his own shop and marry.

Adam died aged 50 in 1853, his daughter Jane had been working as a dressmaker for some years and her two younger brothers, George and Adam, had both completed their apprenticeship with their father and by the time of his death, they were both working from home as shoemakers and Jane was carrying on her trade as a dressmaker and milliner.

The Working Men's Institute taken shortly before it's demolition in the 1960s

The Working Men’s Institute taken shortly before it’s demolition in the 1960s

Sometime after their father died, the family all moved together to No 52 Moor Street, around the corner from Dr Lax, just two doors up in fact .  The Working Men’s Institute was newly built directly opposite their new home, it must have been a busy area.  Quite a pleasant place to live probably, as the Large Lamp from The Cross was relocated to just up from their front door in 1876 when the clock tower was built, the large double drinking well at the base must have been something to see, animals using the lower troughs and humans the upper fountain.

In 1884, the fountain was moved again to accommodate the statue of Lord Beaconsfield and Jane and her family must have been lucky to live so close to those celebrations, with the Earl of Derby himself performing the ceremony and the grand dignitaries of the county gathering opposite their house for a celebration banquet.

Jane’s mother Elizabeth opened a shop at the house in the 1880s and she also adopted a young boy, John Bimpson Balshaw, who grew up as part of the Halewood family.

The two brothers, Adam and George, married and moved to start their own shoe shops, Adam in Scarisbrick and George in Chorley.

The Disraeli statue circa 1880s with Jane's house just in view on right.

The Disraeli statue circa 1880s with Jane’s house just in view on right.

Jane remained at home and did not marry.  She looked after her mother and the shop, the shop was very popular, and many years after her death, grown men who had used the shop in their boyhood recalled as adults the ‘home made treacle toffee, parched peas and pop’.

Jane outlived all her siblings as well as her mother, dying in June 1900 aged 71 and is buried at the Parish Church. Her adopted brother, John Bimpson Balshaw briefly remained in the family home with his new wife but he died in 1903. His wife Hannah carried on the shop at Number 52 .

Jane’s life seems to have been quite ordinary, some of us can say we recall the Institute, unlikely any of us can recall the original Big Lamp and fountain at the cross, some of us can recall the Disraeli statue being in the old spot on Moor Street.  To think that Jane watched all those things come and go and go and  become iconic parts of the town is amazing. Such an interesting ordinary life.

Ormskirk Bygone Times will hopefully bring together people to share their memories of the changing town over time. It is the intention to take advantage of the facilities in the newly reopened Civic Hall and organise informal meetings on one evening a month in the upper front room of the hall.  Details will be announced via our social media group at https://www.facebook.com/Ormskirkbygonetimes and also here on our website.


  1. kev Donnelly says:

    My great granmother was born in Omskirk to Irish parents called Atkinson. She went to live in Liverpool when she got married. I believe in the 1800’s there was an Irish community in Ormskirk. Anyone know of any records from then?

    • dot broady-hawkes says:

      Hi Kev, there were two main Irish communities in the town, which can be identified mainly by the census. Many of them were of course Catholic and attended St Anne’s Church on Prescot Road with the school being on Hants Lane. The Irish community were mainly agricultural labourers and they had a he’s quarters so to speak where they could gather to be hired on as day workers for local farms, this was the Armstrong beerhouse on Aughton Street.

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