With Love From Ormskirk
As Valentines Day once more approaches, let’s look back at how the romantics of the town put a lot of effort into marking the day with their own true love.
In the 1830’s, 60,000 valentine cards were sent by the relatively expensive postal service in Great Britain. These cards were not as we find today, mass produced and put out on display for you to browse and select what suits. The cards sent in the 19th century were mainly homemade, elaborate postcards, decorated with silk and lace and ribbons.
People of Ormskirk would have been as skilled as anyone else at crafting a special card for their Valentine with coin spent on a little piece of ribbon or lace from the local milliners in the town, for those who could afford that. Many girls probably sacrificed trimmings from their Sunday Bonnets and possibly various other apparel, to decorate their cards.
We can only wonder at how so many thousands of cards were sent on Valentines Day at a time when many young people would only be able to make their mark ‘X ‘on their marriage lines! Symbolic tokens of love crafted onto a homemade card, along with it being the 14th February must have helped to deliver the message without words!
Young people met through the workplace, Church or Chapel or family occasions, Ormskirk was a town which adored its gatherings and festivities all year round, with Church Bazaars, Town Galas, theatrical and musical performances available at several theatres and venues in the town and many groups for young people to meet and fall in love. It wasn’t all about working a 6 day week with no time to relax, people in the 19th century didn’t travel miles to work, days were long but social events were very well supported, there was little to stay at home for! Entertainment brought people together outside of work.
Once the cards were made and ready to post, the busiest place in the town on the 13th and 14th February in the 19th century would have been the post office, for most of those early years it was at the corner of Aughton Street and Church Street, offering delivery the same day for local post, the foot post from Southport arrived late in the day, by 5.30 if the post man made good time.
The marked difference between 19th Century homemade Valentines Cards and the more modern mass manufactured cards which we know of is the cost and possibly more so the personal touch. The only financial gain then was for the post office.