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Chapel Street Chapels
The Chapel Street area is one of the oldest parts of Ormskirk. Formerly a small lane projecting from Scarth Hill Lane, which became St Helens Road, the building of Chapel House and several rows of cottages along the lane in the 17th Century meant that the town extended further East to the edge of the Moor and being close to the road in from Wigan and St Helens it would have been a busy area. From the late 1650s, Chapel House was the home of Rev. Nathaniel Heywood M.A. (Trinity College, Cambridge).
Nathaniel Heywood was baptised at Little Lever, Bolton-Le-Moors Sept 16th 1633. Despite being a sickly child and often considered to be failing in health he survived his weakness. He was an exceptionally gifted scholar and was admitted to Trinity College Cambridge at the age of 14 on May 4th 1648. After he graduated he went to work as a minister in Eccleston near St Helens where he married a local girl and they then moved to Illingworth, West Riding.
Nathaniel had been Minister at Illingworth Chapel, West Riding, living with his older brother Oliver, the Minister at Coley Chapel, Northowram, Nr Halifax, before coming to Ormskirk in the spring of 1657. Nathaniel and his wife had nine children and he was well known in the town for his ability to never get into debt and manage his family with good judgement.
In 1672, Nathaniel built two small chapels outside of the town, one adjoining Lady Stanley’s house at Bickerstaffe, 2 miles South of Ormskirk, and one at Scarisbrick, two miles north of Ormskirk Parish Church. He preached on alternate Sundays and found them very well attended. It was whilst preaching in the pulpit at the Bickerstaffe Chapel in 1674 that, after several warrants had been issued against him for his continued non-conformity, a band of soldiers took him from the pulpit with a pistol pointed at his head, even as Lady Stanley (Elizabeth Bosville, 1645 – 1695) bravely stood her ground trying to prevent them seizing the minister.
He was taken to Up Holland where he was bound over to appear at the next assizes at Wigan, once there, his accusers expected him to be sent to Lancaster Jail but the JP intervened and he was acquitted and sent home.
He then continued his travels around the district on foot or on horseback, travelling to preach as far away as Toxteth Park and for a week he travelled to the West Riding to visit his brother and to preach there. On his journey home, he stopped at Rochdale and Bolton to preach .
In 1662, the brothers were both ejected from their respective parishes after refusing to adhere to the Uniformity Act of 1662. Nathaniel and Oliver were used to conducting their sermons without direction or prayer book. In 1662 Nathaniel set up a dissenters meeting house at Chapel House after being ejected from his role as Vicar of Ormskirk. After Nathaniel’s death on 16th Dec 1677 aged 44 and after being ill for over a year, Nathaniel’s Brother Oliver wrote : ‘My dear and only Brother, ten years a public preacher and half that period Vicar of Ormskirk, but turned out on Black Bartholomew’s Day in 1662, having preached in private since,and prophesied in sackcloth, is now clothed in white robes before the throne of heaven….He was a Christian, and a minister if great ability,an ornament to his generation, eminent for zeal, piety, humility and all ministerial endowments’
The funeral took place at the Parish Church and was attended by ‘a vast confluence of all descriptions of people’. He was interred in the chancel in the burial place of the Stanleys of Bickerstaffe with their ‘free consent and desire’. The Constable of the town led the funeral procession, carrying the town mace.
Descendants of Nathaniel Heywood include the Liverpool Banking family of Sir Benjamin Heywood, the first Baronet of Claremont being the owner. Another descendant is William Ewart Gladstone, MP and Prime Minister four times between 1868 and 1894,
The dissenters meeting house remained open after The Rev. Heywood died, his son, also Nathaniel, carried on his father’s ministry, building a Chapel on the street in 1696 which remained there until the land was bought in Aughton Street to build a new one.
The Growth Of Aughton Street
Aughton Street has provided the town with a vast range of businesses and shops over the years, the street accommodated the market, with stalls stretching as far down as Park Road and beyond. Large employers operated along the street, the Gas Company was based there from the mid 19th Century and built houses for its workers close by. The Post Office moved from the top of the street and settled into the new premises during the early 1900s. The Boys School occupied a prime position on the street for many years and it was also home to the town Library for a number of years.
Small shops provided a vast range of goods and supplies, saddlers, grocers, poultry, dressmakers, tailors, china dealers, bakers, marine stores, furniture makers, watchmakers. Small enterprises which provided locally sourced and locally manufactured goods.
Around a dozen public houses enjoyed good and bad fortunes along both sides of the street, The Fleece, The White Bull, The Black Horse, The Queens on one side and the George & Dragon, Talbot, Black Bull, Forrester’s Arms, Bull’s Head, Star Beer House and Greyhound on the other side.
Yet behind the thriving shops and businesses there were on both sides many small courtyards and alleyways where people lived. The use of the spaces behind street fronted buildings for dwellings increased massively during the mid 1800s when migrating agricultural workers came into the town, many of them Irish Immigrants.
Two amazing Great War Memorials are forever linked to Aughton Street, the Boys School Memorial, currently safe in a private collection, and the Memorial in the main Post Office.
To the west the buildings at the start of the street near the clock have remained the same for over 100 years, whereas across the road, the original Mawdesleys Gingerbread shop, the Fleece Inn and downwards there were rebuilds and new builds over many years.
The street continued to attract national retailers, during a time when the town had everything a shopper needed.
Ormskirk Bygone Times has collected detailed history on the courts of Aughton Street and the families that lived in them, on the school and the businesses, visit our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Ormskirkbygonetimes for more information.
The Brick Stiles Becomes Stanley Street
During the mid 19th Century, Ormskirk saw rapid growth with new buildings of every size being erected for housing, business, social care, education and recreation. All this building required building materials and predominantly Brick. Like many towns Ormskirk was able to locally source bricks from its own Brick Field, situated conveniently close to the town in the area between Wigan Road and Derby Street.
Stanley Street was originally named The Brick Stiles and the brick fields were adjacent. The area of the field was set up with good drainage and the drying ground was opposite Mill Street. The Windmill Pub was at one time the Brick Makers home and is most likely built of local brick from across the road.
By the 1861 census the Brick Stiles had been renamed Stanley Street, honouring the local Stanley Family with connections to Cross Hall and also the Earls of Derby. There was just a Blacksmiths shop along the street at first but the development had begun. By 1871 numbers 1 – 9 had been built and housed police officers, school teachers and retired farmers,
Houses were built along the street to provide homes for purchase as opposed to tenancy and therefore they were larger than the older cottage style terraces found in other parts of the town and also had a more practical and modern layout. They also had the same bay windowed garden front which had been the style in the Victorian era to emulate the grander houses. By adding classic architectural features like elaborate stone around doorways and windows and decorative features on porches this gave an impression of status to the new owners.
By 1881, the street was complete and housed architects, manufacturers, teachers, auctioneers, insurance agents and many of the houses had live in servants. It was probably seen as a stepping stone towards the new houses on Knowsley Road and then even a future in Ruff Lane of the new developments in St Helens Road. Stanley Street was a purpose built model street and a very up and coming part of town in the 1880s and 90s.
Ormskirk Bygone Times has researched almost every resident of the street from the late 1800s with many interesting links to the town and the businesses in the town.
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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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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
From A Distance – A New Perspective On Ormskirk Parish Church
A treat for those who have never been able to ascend to the dizzy heights of the Parish Church Tower. We have views covering all four sides of the tower. The netting is there to prevent birds getting inside.
On a clear day the uninterrupted view from all sides is stunning and it does show how elevated the Church is. We all know the tower from the outside, these images give you a peak at the inside and the inside out. Can you spot your house?
The photos were taken during the 2014 Summer Fete.
The History Of Ormskirk Civic Hall
Whilst the future of the Civic Hall is now uncertain, the history of the building is set in stone, quite literally. The land on which the purpose built drill hall was erected was donated to the Ormskirk companies of the 3rd Volunteer Battalion King’s Liverpool Regiment at the start of the 20th century by their long serving Colonel, James Eastham Esq. The stones built into the front of the building testify to that fact.
James Eastham was a brewer who lived at Edinfield, Southport Road. He was also the Colonel of the local Volunteer Yeomanry. His house is no longer there, although the old gateposts still stand adjacent to Southport Road, with the name Edinfield still clearly carved in the stone. Eastham had served as a volunteer with D Troop, the Lancashire Hussars when the Sgt Major and drill instructor had been Sgt Major James Ikin Nunnerley, 17th Lancers and survivor of the Charge of The Light Brigade, who became the drill instructor in the town in the 1870s when practise had to be done in the open and very often in difficult conditions.
The hall was used by the Volunteer Battalions and Cadet Battalions for drill practise as the length of the hall, extending to the rear down Church Fields, could accommodate the drilling patterns adequately but allowed the practise to be held indoors.
When the hall was not being used for military purposes, it was turned into a venue for tea dances, Dance Band concerts and theatrical performances. After the demolition of the Working Men’s Institute in the early 1960s, the council speculated as to whether it would be financially possible to refurbish and refit the Drill Hall to create a civic centre rather than spend £160,000 on a purpose built modern civic building on the derelict Moor Street site of the late Institute.
In the late 1960s the hall was bought by the council for £6000, after spending a further £31.500 on the hall, the newly refurbished Civic Hall opened its doors to the towns’ people on Saturday 12th December 1970, it was formally opened by Council Chairman Andrew Gore, with various social functions planned for the hall. Interestingly, the success of the new venue was quite possibly due to the initiative of the council members, who, in November 1968 had invited people from local groups and community organisations to meet at the Drill Hall to discuss possible future needs and requirements to which the planned refurbishment could be specifically tailored. On completion of the work and after the opening ceremony, those same groups and organisations sent their representatives back to see the finished hall, and it was unanimously agreed that the work done had made use of this public consultation to achieve the best result possible.
During the 1970s and 80s the hall was the centre of the nightlife in the town and was very busy and events were very well attended.
Many people will have memories of the discos, wrestling bouts, operatic shows, amateur dramatic presentations and a multitude of civic functions.
The building has been an asset to the town in so many ways for over 100 years, with some foresight there is potential for this building, given to the town so many years ago, to thrive again.
Ormskirk Bygone Times has researched the Eastham family and other stories from the town relating to this building and many others and you can read lots more about it on our Facebook page 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.
Anyone strolling through Ormskirk this week would have been rather startled and taken aback by the sudden appearance of a red telephone kiosk adjacent to the Clock Tower. Heads swivelled as people passed the bright red obelisk daring to compete with the towering iconic stature of the town centre Clock.
It’s apparently not a permanent fixture and has shuffled across the street from outside the HSBC, where it had languished since the late 70s/early 80s. Quite where it had been before that has not been ascertained.
This particular kiosk is not as historically valuable as the grade 11 listed kiosk near to the TSB in Derby Street. The grade 11 listing was awarded because the Derby Street box is a ‘Jubilee Box’, so named as it was designed to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of George V and Queen Mary, our present Queen’s grandparents, in 1936. A gold Tudor Crown appears on all four sides of the kiosk close to the roof, although the gold painting of the crowns was a modern idea to accentuate the heritage value of these boxes, the crown was originally red.
In 1953 Queen Elizabeth had all crowns changed to the St Edward’s Crown, the Coronation crown and the kiosk on Moor Street has this crown, dating it to around 1953.
Ormskirk’s growing modern population living on the new estates around the outskirts of the town relied on these kiosks as their main form of emergency contact. Home phones were not a common service in many homes in the 1930s, 40’s, 50’s and even 60’s. The town was well served for kiosks though, with town centre ones at the (old) Bus Station on Knowsley Road, on Moor Street outside what is now Middleton’s cycles, three outside the main Post Office and further out there were boxes on Tower Hill, near Hallsworth’s, Thompson Avenue, outside Pigott’s and Dyers Lane as well as on County Road near the Fire Station and Scott Estate.
The essential service they provided meant that people have clear memories of the occasions when these kiosks played an important part in their lives whether it was ringing the midwife in the middle of the night, contacting the police in an emergency or just using it to ring school friends / sweethearts who were waiting outside their local box for a pre-arranged call.
Next time you pass your local kiosk take a moment to appreciate its iconic status and the role it has played in our developing world of technology.
Ormskirk Bygone Times have a mobile display available for any local group or event, the display covers a vast array of stories and histories of the townspeople and buildings
Tower Of Power
The Victorian Water tower that is so familiar to every generation in the town from 1853 onwards, dominates the Ormskirk skyline still, despite the removal of the original water tank some years ago. There was a viewing platform on the top from where you could see the Victoria Hotel in Southport, Parbold Hill, Rivington Pike, Harrock Hill, Hunter’s Hill, Ashurst Beacon, Knowsley Hall and Liverpool in the far distance. The access to the viewing platform in 1853 was via an iron tube running through the water in the tank.
Built to save the town from disease and deterioration, the tower had a massive impact on the health of everyone in the town from the first day it went into operation.
From October 1853 the water system in the town was operational and fed from a 226ft well which was sunk about 300 yards from the tower near to Bath Springs, where a public bath had been in use but had closed prior to the Tower being built. A powerful pump forced the water from the spring/well to the tower.
The Tower itself was sited to the North East of the town with open fields around it, there were no houses close by until Sgt Major Nunnerley built Inkerman Lodge almost directly opposite. The original area around the Tower was used for grazing cattle and sheep viagra en pharmacie sur ordonnance. The road had been known as Tinker’s Hill for generations but when the Tower was built it became Tank Lane. In the 1920s, it was voted by the council planning committee to rename it Tower Hill.
The water supply from the well served the town’s needs adequately in the first twenty years, but with the increase in population by 1876 the water table had sunk below the foot of the well on a number of occasions and supply was looking to be a problem.
Mr Mansergh, at the request of Central Government and on instruction from the council undertook a detailed study of the whole system in January 1876. His report, dated May 1876, confirms that the 226ft well used from the installation in 1853 was indeed becoming unreliable. A second well 60 feet deep had been sunk and had been used to pump 230,000 gallons per day for domestic, trade and railway supply. It was clear in his report that the 20 year old system drastically needed an upgrade.
His report recommended that a Davey Compound Differential Engine be bought with a pair of single-action lifting pumps in a purpose built pumping station, the expense of installation and housing of this new system Mansergh assured the committee, would be less than replacing the beam engine currently in use, with the capability of pumping 200,000 gallons in 12 hours.
The Tower remained in service to the town for a further 100 years and in 1976 it was awarded Grade II listed status. The abandoned tower lost the huge tank from the top and remains as a reminder of the ingenious engineering and foresight used in Victorian Times to improve the lives of ordinary people.
Several attempts to develop the building into commercial and domestic use have been submitted to the local planning and each one has been rejected, the building is once again on the market.
Other towns with similar Victorian Water Towers, have formed support groups to press for the restoration of their towers to celebrate the ingenuity and sheer skill of the people who built them and got them to work so well.
If you have any personal memories of the tower, whether working there, playing there (carefully and never climbing the interior spiral staircase to the viewing platform), swimming in the tank, (thought that was more in Ruff Wood) or wish to form such a group, please get in touch.