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The Court Is In Session
The new Law Court and Police Station opened in Derby Street in the 1850s to great anticipation. It was hoped that the growth of the town and the business community in the town would benefit from the new asset and service.
The Police Court, the Monthly Sessions, the Brewster Sessions as well as the Magistrates Courts, brought all kinds of cases and people to the town. The Coroners Court was also held there and for many many years the South West Lancs Coroner was Sir Samuel Brighouse, a man raised in the town who knew the area and the people well. Born at Lathom August 1st 1849, he went to the Grammar School and then law school and became a solicitor, founding the law firm of Brighouse, Brighouse and Jones in 1871. Winning the election to county coroner in 1884, he held the post for 56 years , reputedly carrying out around 25,000 inquests, he was also a steward for Lord Derby viagra vente canada.
Early in his career he oversaw the inquest into the death of James Maybrick, at one time the main suspect in the Jack the Ripper case. His determination to see the work of not just coroners, but mortuaries and police surgeons held in the highest esteem by everyone is what seems to have driven his career, not caring for the tutting and head shakes of the elected authorities. Knighted in 1934 he died 15th January 1940. If he felt strongly about a subject, no matter how mundane, he felt it worth fighting for.
These are his own words, sent in a letter to the Advertiser on 29th May 1922:.
Dear old Derby Street, if it could only speak. Its utterances would surely be a new edition of the ‘Book of Lamentations’. Paved with setts, the old-fashioned carts of the farmer ground out cries from it that worried the scholars in the United Charity Schools, the lawyers in their offices, the justices on their judicial bench, and the police. And ultimately the setts were removed, and a span new macadam Derby Street was made and was duly christened on the day it was opened by a heavy unwieldly tractor engine, which left sore places that never seemed to heal. Aspirants for the Local Board came along, and swore by all their Gods that they alone could save the town, and incidentally Derby Street, from ruin and disgrace.
They were elected, and Derby Street wept at their apostasy.
Latterly in the moonlight Derby Street has looked like No Man’s Land in the Great War – all holes and craters.
Quite recently – it only seems a few days ago – the Urban District Council, with monies squeezed out of the long-suffering ratepayers of this long-suffering town, or with monies secured from the County Council of Lancashire – I care not which – gave Derby Street a new coat of something, and the inhabitants on each side thereof slept in peace. And now with the last week, after patching the poor dear in places, they have poured tar on it and scattered chippings on it, and they have left it for the traffic to do the rest. Every good housewife in Derby Street has just finished her spring cleaning and now her good man walks over her spring cleaned carpet and leaves tar and chippings behind.
Was there ever such a subject for mirth as Derby Street?
Overwhelmed with official and domestic cares, I seek no solace other than a glance at my dear street. A retrospective thought of all it had undergone convinces me that no human being could undergo what it has gone through and survive.
Poor dear Derby Street! I recollect you a street of green fields, where boys played with pipe stumps instead of marbles, and motor cars were unknown.
And if you could only speak, poor thing? What would you say about those who have pulled you to pieces, clothed you in new garments, put patches on you, overhauled you, mauled you, messed you about and have left you, as you now are, an object of scorn and derision, and an example of what a street should NOT be.
S . Brighouse.
Ormskirk Bygone Times has several records and documents relating to Sir Samuel’s early years as a boy in the town and they have been added to our mobile display. If any school, group or organisation would like us to put on an exhibition for them, please contact us through our social media group at https://www.facebook.com/Ormskirkbygonetimes or through our website here.
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.
Doctor In The House Pt. 1
Ormskirk had no less than 8 ‘surgeons’ listed in the Baines Directory of 1824/25. Father and son William Snr and William Bibby Jnr. practised from different surgeries, the former in Burscough Street and the latter in Church Street. Burscough street seemed to have a busy practise as there were doctors Anderton, Ellis, Hancock, Houghton and Yates listed there in that same directory. William Bibby Snr and Thomas Hancock did move to a new surgery on Lydiate Lane before 1830. (Lydiate Lane became Derby Street).
The doctors had served their apprenticeships with senior partners and after taking an exam at the end of their apprenticeship they joined the practise or opened their own surgery.
By the 1830s, a new Doctor had settled in the town, Yorkshire born Doctor Lax, who initially joined the practise of William Bibby Snr. William Lax graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons London in 1827. In 1850, Doctor Lax bought a ‘close’ of land in Lydiate Lane, (Derby Street) to build a surgery , at the same time land was acquired by the town from the Earl of Derby and Lord Stanley for the building of a Police Station and A Trustee Savings Bank in the same street. By 1861, Dr Lax had had a grand residence built at the junction of Moor Street and St Helens Road .William’s first wife, Ormskirk born Anne Jane nee Wareing, died within months of their daughter Anne Jane (1833 – 1924) being born. His second wife, Mary Maria Sourbuts, (1821 – 1898) was 15 years William’s junior and they had four children, only 2 surviving to childhood.
Doctor Lax’s eldest daughter Anne Jane born 1833 never married and she was the Superintendant of the Parish Church Sunday School for over 50 years . After the death of her father, Anne moved from St Helens Road to a large 12 room property at 52 Derby Street which she re-named Beaconsfield, to reflect the home she had grown up in at Beaconsfield Corner. Her neighbour, in the house called Abbotsford, was another local Doctor, Hugh Heald, and next door to the Heald household was another large dwelling, Walmsley House, home of Anne’s half sister Lucy Sophia Parker nee Lax, who had married Thomas Percy Parker, son of the Aughton Brewer Thomas Sumner Parker, in 1890. Thomas Sumner Parker had bought the Aughton Street (Sudbury Star) Brewery from the Sudbury Brothers sometime between 1875 and 1881. Interestingly, Thomas Sumner Parker lived out his last days at Town End living next door to George Lea, the renowned local journalist and Author.
The story will continue soon with Dr Brandreth, Dr Knowles, The Mansion House, Dr Suffern’s House and Ormskirk Hall, all Doctors Residences.
A Moving Story
In 1858, local benefactor, R. Hardy Wrigley, donated 2 drinking fountains to the town of Ormskirk. They were elaborate red sandstone bowls, positioned beneath an apex roofed portico. One fountain was sited on the corner of the then newly re-built Derby Street Railway Bridge, and the other was positioned on the bridge over the brook at the corner of Dyers Lane and Aughton Street.
The one we will all know, on the Derby Street Bridge, has a metal lions head spout. An oblong plaque was placed with the fountain naming the benefactor and the date 1858 was placed below the Apex. The one on the Derby Street Bridge is still there along with all the original detail. It is also a Grade II listed monument. As is the fountain in the St Helens Road Park. But the mystery here is, where did the Aughton Street bridge one go? There are people who can recall the Dyers Lane Fountain, but does anyone know why it was removed or where it was sent to?
The original design of Ormskirk clock tower in 1876 by Mr Balmer included drinking fountains fronting Church Street and Moor Street and a commemorative slab fronting Aughton Street. The full description of the Clock Tower construction is quite detailed.
So the clock had it’s own fountains from 1878, the Derby Street Bridge and Aughton Street Bridge had their own fountains from 1858.
The Lions head spouts on the clock tower fountains were added to all the fountains in 1998 by the WLDC. When and why were the plaques removed from the clock tower? Or are they re-sited somewhere? Did WLDC add the lions head spout to the railway bridge fountain in 1998 too?
Our photographic evidence for the twin fountains donated by Mr Wrigley shows the exact positions, could the history of flooding on Dyers Lane have led to the fountain being removed/relocated? Was the water supply to these fountains from an artesian well and the water table re-routed to the fountains?
The description of the clock tower from 1877 does not match the current photos, the fountains appear to have been moved at some point.
We have many photos of the Clock Tower over time and many images of the Derby Street Bridge but we think we have the only image of the Dyers Lane Bridge Fountain in our collection of original glass slides.
If you have any clues to the missing fountain’s whereabouts, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.
Let’s see if we can solve this mystery.
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.