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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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