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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
Before The Railway Came To Town
The Railway line was built in 1849 from Liverpool to Preston, passing through Ormskirk and from then on opening up a whole world of opportunity for local people to leave, or for strangers to arrive.
Before the railway came, people of the town had the choice of coach travel on various routes and the coaching inns ran a strict timetable.
In the early 1820s, the King’s Arms on Moor Street was the staging post for four very important coaching routes. Daily journeys aboard the ‘Invincible’ left Ormskirk at 6am for Carlisle, Glasgow and Edinburgh and then at 6pm for Liverpool. A coach to Leeds left the King’s Arms daily at 6am calling at Blackburn, Burnley, Colne and Keighley. The Royal Liverpool left at Noon daily for Lancaster where a passenger could change to the Lord Exmouth and travel on to Newcastle. The Liverpool coach left at 3 in the afternoon. The Royal Pilot ran to Manchester in Summer on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11am.
The George and Dragon public house at the corner of Church Street and Aughton Street was also a busy staging post, with five established routes, The Mail coaches to Liverpool and Carlisle left at 8.30pm each day. The Telegraph Mail service ran to Kendal at 10am and to Liverpool at 6pm. The New Times ran to Carlisle at 6am and to Liverpool at 7pm. The Umpire left for Liverpool at 12noon and for Newcastle at 5pm. The Eclipse ran to Liverpool at 9.30am and to Southport at 5pm.
The Wheatsheaf in Burscough Street had a coaching route with The Amity leaving for Liverpool every Wednesday and Saturday at 7am returning at 7am the next day and a Sunday excursion to Southport during the summer at 8am returning at 8pm.
By the late 1820s, a London Royal Mail coach was stopping off in Ormskirk at the George and Dragon every evening at 6pm, the established routes above carried on into the 1830s with the Talbot Inn introducing the Fair Trader calling from Liverpool daily at 1.30pm on the way to Kendal and the Royal Irish Mail from Lancaster calling every day at 4pm.
These established routes were starting to dwindle into the 1840s, the Ship Inn on Moor Street played host to the Southport to St Helens noon coach with The Victoria covering the Wigan to Southport route daily calling at the King’s Arms at 9.45am and returning at 5.30.
By 1855, there is just one route still in operation, a coach from the Railway Station, calling at the King’s Arms at 11.15 on it’s way to Southport and returning at 4.30pm.
By 1869 all the routes have ended. The Railway took the trade. Faster, cleaner, probably more reliable, though this is hard to say.
Ormskirk Bygone Times have a database of all the towns pubs if anyone has an interest in the history of trade in the town.