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Passing Through Westhead

Passing Through Westhead

The Skem Jazzer at Westhead Halt in 1951

The Skem Jazzer at Westhead Halt in 1951

Westhead, along with Newburgh, was a hamlet in the township of Lathom, according to the mid 19th century directories.

In 1851, a new church was built in the hamlet to serve the township of Lathom and the new church was dedicated to St James.

The land was donated by the 1st Baron Skelmersdale, Edward Wilbrahim- Bootle, of Lathom House, the sandstone was provided by Edward Stanley of Cross Hall, who at that time owned the quarry in Ruff Wood. The cost of the build was met in full by Lord Derby, who assigned the architect Sydney Smirke to create a unique church for Lathom. Smirke had designed the circular reading room at the British Library, the Bethlem Royal Hospital (now housing the Imperial War Museum) and Bickerstaffe, Holy Trinity Church.

The Halton Castle in Westhead

The Halton Castle in Westhead, which was operated by the Culshaw family for over 50 years

Westhead was the home of pit workers and agricultural labourers with a scattered population, the hub of the village was the Halton Castle Inn, the landlord from the 1850s being James Culshaw, who had been a servant at Lathom House prior to being granted the license at the Halton Castle, his brother William being the landlord of the Queen’s Head in Ormskirk, both inns being part of the Lathom estate holdings.

The Culshaw family continued to hold the license at the Halton Castle for several generations into the 20th century.

Westhead Halt was a request stop of the Skelmersdale to Rainford line, remaining a favourite amongst rail enthusiasts because of the link to the Skem Jazzer.

The Quarry in Ruff Wood

The Quarry in Ruff Wood

If you came along to the re-opening of Ormskirk Civic Hall on Saturday, 9th April you may well have met a direct descendant of James Culshaw of the Halton Castle. Jon Culshaw, TV impressionist and comedian, was there to cut the ribbon and start a new chapter in the history of one of Ormskirk’s most important historic buildings.

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