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Trouble Brewing: Part 1

Trouble Brewing

Bath Springs Brewery on Derby Street

Bath Springs Brewery on Derby Street

The Brewing business in Ormskirk found the greatest success during the 19th century.  For several decades, there were a number of sites around the town where production of Ale was on a huge scale.

To accommodate the new railway line from Liverpool to Preston, in the late 1840s engineers transformed the town by building a tunnel under Moor Street and a bridge over the tunnel was formed, the new Railway Road was put in connecting Moor Street to the new station in the 1850s. All this rapid development impacted on the tradespeople of Moor Street, many of the shops and homes were demolished for around a hundred yards starting from the Golden Lion on the North of the street, and the same thing happened to the buildings opposite on the south side.

Many small shops and businesses had to then look for new premises, this was at a time when the anticipated impact of the railway had already led to speculation that property and land in and around the town would increase in value.

The construction of the tunnel, the building of the bridge and the laying of the track will have disrupted trade for quite a long time, easy access would have been lost to the east end of Moor Street.

Forshaw's Brewery Bottle

Forshaw’s Brewery Bottle

Adjacent to the Golden Lion, a saddler was just starting out with his young family, Philip Forshaw, born Burscough 1813, was married with two small daughters in 1841 but by the end of the decade he had gone into partnership with two brothers to take control of several local beerhouses and also to take the tenancy of the Ship Inn, Moor Street in 1847. These investors were Thomas and Edward Greenall of Wilderspool.

When the railway opened in April 1849, Philip Forshaw was ready to move with the times and take advantage of the new business the railway would bring to the town.

Without wasting any opportunity he saw, Philip Forshaw was able to raise funds to construct a purpose built brewery on the site of the defunct public bath house on Derby Street, situated near the Bath Springs.

Philip was less lucky in his family life, he had married a girl called Ellen Berry in 1835, but lost her soon afterwards, he then married her sister Elizabeth, but after his wife gave birth to a third child in 1842, a son Philip, Elizabeth also died.  The baby also died a few weeks later.  Philip must have immersed himself in his brewery business because he sent his two young daughters away to school in Litherland at a very young age, and he worked hard to build the business, expanding his chain of pubs, beerhouses and inns all the time, covering a large area of Lancashire, whilst operating two breweries , the Bath Springs site as well as one in Liverpool, which supplied Ale to many more licensed houses.

By the late 1860s his reasonably sized Empire was employing many local people and his reputation in the County was one of a powerful force in the brewing industry.

The Ship Inn (first building on the left) on Moor Street in 1902

The Ship Inn (first building on the left) on Moor Street in 1902

That would all change in 1859 however, when he himself became seriously ill and his medical team advised him that he may not live out the year. His financial advisors pressed him to hand over the running of the business to his children, daughters Annie and Martha.

He probably had little choice but to agree, he quite probably felt very little unease at this, as Annie had  just married the brewery manager and Martha had just married the Superintendant of Police for Southport.

Just a couple of months later, despite the medical diagnosis, Philip made a full recovery and came back to the business realising that he no longer had any access to his own money or business.  His son-in-laws were no doubt in control of the business.

The sign above the Ship Inn which is still in existence today

The sign above the Ship Inn which is still in existence today

Philip had no choice but to instigate a suit to get the deed of settlement set aside, which the Master of the Rolls at the Chancery Court himself decided.

Philip Forshaw regained control of his business and to celebrate he sent out to be shared amongst his many (beer) houses, a considerable sum up money!

This is just the start of the story, what happened next, and what continued to happen for several decades all stemmed from this action. The story continues to unfold in our next article. Trouble was certainly brewing……….

For more on this intriguing story see Trouble Brewing Part 2

Ormskirk Bygone Times is holding a informal meeting in the Civic Hall on Thursday evening, 5th May in the upstairs meeting room.  We intend to hold a regular get together for anyone with an interest in any aspect of the history and heritage of Ormskirk and District. All are welcome, a charge of £1 per person is being asked to cover the cost of the room hire, anything above that will be donated to local worthy causes. Refreshments will be available for a small charge.

For more details, visit our social media page at https://www.facebook.com/Ormskirkbygonetimes


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