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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.
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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
More Doctors In More Houses
During the 19th and early 20th Centuries, the number of Medical men in the town grew with the building of fine residences to accommodate the Doctors, their apprentices, their families and servants and their social calendar.
Ormskirk Hall, a large town house with a prominent portico entrance and large rear landscaped gardens and tennis courts, was the residence for several generations of the town’s medical men. With each generation a Surgery was named for the Surgeon of the time.
Dr Suffern had a house at the corner of Burscough Street and Derby Street West and it is still referred to as Dr Suffern’s House long after it was demolished in the 1960s to create a piece of wasteland where we could park for free.
The Mansion House on St Helens Road a former boys academy, was the doctor’s house of W.P. O’Regan in the 1930s after he first had a surgery at 3 Derby Street, The Mansion House had been the residence of Doctor William Anderton, the oldest of the Ormskirk Practitioners, dying in 1916 in his 69th Year. Dr Anderton was the Medical Officer of Health for Ormskirk UDC for over 40 years and Public Vaccinator for the same number of years. He had retired in 1913 and was succeeded by Doctor Young, but at the outbreak of War Dr Young enlisted and Dr Anderton returned to his duties, giving a few more years of service to his patients.
Doctor Marsden lived and worked at Ormskirk Hall, 28, Burscough Street, he served the towns people for 38 years until he retired in 1928 and moved to Surrey where he died aged 74 in 1932. Dr Marsden was a founder member of the Ormskirk Golf Club and a member of the cricket club. He akso worked as a surgeon at the Cottage Hospital. His son, H. E. Marsden took over the practise after old Dr Marsden retired and also held the post as Medical Officer to West Lancs. R.D.C. Young Doctor Marsden was tragically killed in a flying accident in Dublin before WW2 and it is credit to his service that many years later a floral tribute was dedicated to him in the Parish Church at the 1972 Flower Festival.
Doctor John Philip Pendlebury will likely still be remembered by some in the town. He was the house surgeon at the Ormskirk Dispensary and the Cottage Hospital and held the position as constabulary surgeon up until about 1929 the senior Doctor in the town. Dr Pendlebury was tragically killed after an accident on the London Underground following an earlier stroke, a tablet dedicated to his memory is situated in the Parish Church. One of Dr Pendlebury’s last patients may well have been the Music Hall star Charles Coburn, who fell ill with pneumonia in Ormskirk in June 1929.
Knowles House, which was built in the glorious Georgian style, was for many years home to Doctors working in the town. In 1892, Irish born Dr John Joseph Hanly left the town with an amazing send off by his patients, colleagues and local dignitaries, who congratulated him on his work in the town and presented him with a gold chronometer watch. Dr Hanly was the son of an Irish GP and his son became a GP. He emigrated to Victoria, Australia soon after leaving Ormskirk and died there in 1932 aged 74. A later resident of Knowles House was Doctor John D. Craig, a man also remembered in modern times as an excellent physician.
Doctor Symonds of Ormskirk was a strong character and a professional amongst professionals who when needed led the way to ensuring the medical practitioners of the town were shown great respect by all who needed their services. Initially in the early 1850s Dr Charles Price Symonds had his practise in the Troqueer Buildings in Aughton Street, after establishing his practise there he moved into The Ormskirk Hall, Burscough Street and lived there until his death in 1905 aged 87. In 1862, Dr Symonds took the lead, with the support of all the medical practitioners in the town, in bringing about the prosecution of one Josiah Archer Bowen of Bretherton, who was suspected and charged by Symonds and his fellow medics of ‘…unlawfully and wilfully and falsely pretend to be and take the name and use the title of Surgeon’ the case was heard at the Ormskirk Petty Sessions, Bowen was fined £20.00, it is interesting to look back now on records not available to the justices in 1862. On the 1851 census for Bretherton, 27 year old Bowen lists his occupation as, ‘student in surgery’. At the 1862 hearing, no record of his medical qualification as a surgeon in either London or Edinburgh could be found in records presented, he had passed 2 minor medical exams. He had signed a number of death certificates signing himself as a ‘Sub’ M.R.C.S. which no one at the time understood what that meant. In 1871, the census tells us that Bowen had moved to Fishergate, Preston and his occupation is given as, ‘M.D. University of St Andrews, Licensed Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow, Licensed Doc. Of Apothecary London,General Practitioner’. Which means, that in the space of 8 years, he had taken 3 different University courses. In 1881, still in Preston, he is an M.O. of St Andrews University. In 1891 a Doctor of Medicine, Duly Registered Surgeon; In 1901 he has moved to Southport as a ‘semi retired medical practitioner, surgeon and J.P. . It is a curious story indeed.
Detailed accounts of the lives of the Doctors of the town link to many other professions and families from Ormskirk and Ormskirk Bygone Times has compiled a wealth of information on these people.
Anyone strolling through Ormskirk this week would have been rather startled and taken aback by the sudden appearance of a red telephone kiosk adjacent to the Clock Tower. Heads swivelled as people passed the bright red obelisk daring to compete with the towering iconic stature of the town centre Clock.
It’s apparently not a permanent fixture and has shuffled across the street from outside the HSBC, where it had languished since the late 70s/early 80s. Quite where it had been before that has not been ascertained.
This particular kiosk is not as historically valuable as the grade 11 listed kiosk near to the TSB in Derby Street. The grade 11 listing was awarded because the Derby Street box is a ‘Jubilee Box’, so named as it was designed to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of George V and Queen Mary, our present Queen’s grandparents, in 1936. A gold Tudor Crown appears on all four sides of the kiosk close to the roof, although the gold painting of the crowns was a modern idea to accentuate the heritage value of these boxes, the crown was originally red.
In 1953 Queen Elizabeth had all crowns changed to the St Edward’s Crown, the Coronation crown and the kiosk on Moor Street has this crown, dating it to around 1953.
Ormskirk’s growing modern population living on the new estates around the outskirts of the town relied on these kiosks as their main form of emergency contact. Home phones were not a common service in many homes in the 1930s, 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s. The town was well served for kiosks though, with town centre ones at the (old) Bus Station on Knowsley Road, on Moor Street outside what is now Middleton’s cycles, three outside the main Post Office and further out there were boxes on Tower Hill, near Hallsworth’s, Thompson Avenue, outside Pigott’s and Dyers Lane as well as on County Road near the Fire Station and Scott Estate.
The essential service they provided meant that people have clear memories of the occasions when these kiosks played an important part in their lives whether it was ringing the midwife in the middle of the night, contacting the police in an emergency or just using it to ring school friends / sweethearts who were waiting outside their local box for a pre-arranged call.
Next time you pass your local kiosk take a moment to appreciate its iconic status and the role it has played in our developing world of technology.
Ormskirk Bygone Times have a mobile display available for any local group or event, the display covers a vast array of stories and histories of the townspeople and buildings
Market Cross or Horology Square?
In the years before the Ormskirk Clock Tower was erected in 1876, there had been nothing to identify the spot but the name Market Cross. No structure or marker has been in situ for generations. The name may even derive from the road system and there may never have been an actual cross there at all. Certainly when tenders were invited for the design and build of the tower, one local whit wrote to the Advertiser suggesting, ‘ Surely the archives of our semi-fossilised Court Leet would throw some light on the architectural form of this ancient Cross, and if no member of that venerable body is of an antiquarian turn of mind, they might mortify the flesh by denying themselves the periodical dinners, and divert the proceeds to employ a gentleman with a taste for routing amongst what Carlyle called their “dry-as-dust “ accumulations……’
Market Place was used as the address for the businesses on each corner. In the 1820s, Bookseller Wm Leak’s printers and circulating library was at the corner of Aughton Street and Moor Street, with the George & Dragon on the corner of Church Street and Aughton Street , the Eagle & Child at the corner of Church Street and Burscough Street and Owen’s Ironmongers on the corner of Burscough Street and Moor Street.
The width of Moor Street merging with the narrowness of Church Street isn’t really an issue in modern times, but for those who remember the through traffic, especially on Market Days or coupled with Southport Flower Show, will truly know the meaning of traffic congestion. Add that to the traffic lights at the clock and buses or Westbrook Lorries turning into and up from Aughton Street, it was a risky place to cross at any time.
Some of the businesses used the Market Cross address into the 1900s, Mawdsleys famous gingerbread bakers just used ‘The Cross’ as their address.
The George & Dragon became the National Westminster bank, The Eagle & Child became Stoners, then Kirk’s, then briefly Lawrence’s butchers and was for many years Johnson’s the cleaners when the business moved from Moor Street.
Owen’s Ironmongers became Pennington’s Tailors in the early 1900s, it was HP Radio for a good while, Collingwood Jewellers in the 80s and then H. Samuels.
Martin’s Bank held it’s position for many years and the building has remained a bastian of financial service to the town.
Images before the Clock Tower are pretty rare but one day something may turn up.