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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.
Ormskirk In Deed
Property in and around Ormskirk has constantly changed hands for many years. Prime commercial sites at The Cross and along the four converging thoroughfares were valuable pieces of real estate with huge potential. Further out from the centre of town, small areas of development created their own importance to the town.
One such iconic property was the large, street fronted, 9 room house known for many years as Dr Suffern’s house, (He had started his practise in Railway Road) which was situated at the corner of Burscough Street and Derby Street, where the police station is now.
Ormskirk Bygone Times has acquired an original Indentured deed for this property dating back to 30th April 1821. An Indentured deed was a transfer of title written out twice by hand onto a large sheet of paper, the large page was then cut into two parts, a top part and a bottom part, with the indented cutting edge perfectly matching at the join, this was to avoid any attempt of forgery.
The property is described in the deed as being “at the west corner of Lydiate Lane and in part to the front of Burscough Street…”. Derby Street was originally known as Lydiate Lane right into the 20th Century. The size of the building is recorded as “containing in front to the said street twenty two feet five inches and to the said lane thirty five feet, eight inches more or less..”. The picture of the house shows the side view of the property and this matches the dimensions given in the deed quite clearly.
The owner of the house had been James Moorcroft, he had died and his nephew, Robert Moorcroft had been left as a trustee of the estate. Robert Moorcroft had however died before the estate could be settled and his own executors were left with the responsibility of disposing of the house. The executors were Henry Sharples, Gentleman and John Travis, Butcher, who were signing over the deeds to Thomas Hancock, Surgeon. There was a tenant in the property, Mrs Sarah Astley.
The Deed also covers a property across the lane, a dwelling house at the start of Butcher’s Row, which was in the tenancy of Edward Houghton. The ownership of this property is recorded in the deed as the “ inheritance of John Tatlock more late of Richard Tatlock afterwards of Richard Johnson in light of his wife afterwards of James Guest more late of Thomas Helsby…” Thomas Helsby then sold the property to James Moorcroft who then owned both sides of the Lane at its junction with Burscough Street.
The property in Butcher’s Row was adjoining the dwelling house that was being used as a public dispensary, this was before the purpose built dispensary building was founded by Dr Brandreth in 1830. (Now the Farmer’s Club).
The large house was still standing into the early 1960s, the adjoining properties to the front of Burscough Street were 3 storey houses but with no inside bathroom and they had become damp. The families were moved into Local Authority Housing and the whole block was demolished to make traffic flow easier at the junction and also to create a much needed car park.
This part of the town at one time saw some wonderful buildings, Knowles House opposite, demolished to build the library, Waveney House at No 3 Derby Street, once the Miss Valentines School for Young Ladies. The Walter Brown building across the corner still remains.
Ormskirk Bygone Times now has four original deeds dating back to the early 1700s relating properties in the area. They are always displayed at our public events and always draw a lot of interest.
Burscough Street In Old Photographs
Alfred Wragg had trained as an apprentice photographer in Bury and then Ormskirk from the 1880s under his father Herbert, as had Alfred’s older sister Caroline and younger brother Herbert Jnr. Caroline set up her own photography studio on Mesnes Street in Wigan in the 1890s and Herbert set his up in Church Street, Leigh. Alfred took over his father’s business at 30 Burscough Street. Alfred’s skill with the photography equipment meant he was not restricted to studio work and during his career he took hundreds of pictures in and around the Ormskirk district, recording a moment in time of a street or building. For this we will be forever grateful.
The first image (Image 1) shows the exterior of Alfred’s studio at 30 Burscough Street around 1905. Looking towards the clock, number 28 and the next building, number 26, is the old Ormskirk Hall, the residence for many decades of doctor’s practices, including that of Dr Marsden who was tragically killed in a flying accident in 1946. Ormskirk Hall was a large Georgian style double fronted three storey town house with a grand portico entrance supported by twin columns (Image 2). No 28 after the demolition of Ormskirk Hall became Soundsgood Records in 1975 when the Wheatsheaf Walk development was completed.
Evans and Ball had begun their wholesale grocery business at No 32, the other side of Wragg’s studio, but between 1895 and 1901 they took over No 22 Burscough Street and their operation thrived, they remained there into the 1960s.
Immediately after Evans & Ball’s warehouse stood the Wheatsheaf Hotel. This was another Georgian building with an entrance to their rear/side yard. A coach and horse had to negotiate a tight turn to pull out of the yard into the narrow street. The Wheatsheaf staircase was apparently one of the finest examples of Georgian wrought iron work in England. The Wheatsheaf was demolished in the mid 1960s to make way for the new development that took it’s name, Wheatsheaf Walk. If you look at the picture of the Wheatsheaf, taken in c. 1962, (Image 3), almost opposite was Swarbricks Pork Butchers.
This short run of shops and businesses in just one of the streets of Ormskirk, contained so much valuable history of the town, we strive at Ormskirk Bygone Times to make that history more easily accessible to people and if you can contribute with local knowledge or photographs you can contact us here.