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The Court Is In Session

The Court Is In Session

Sir Samuel Brighouse

Sir Samuel Brighouse

The new Law Court and Police Station opened in Derby Street in the 1850s to great anticipation.  It was hoped that the growth of the town and the business community in the town would benefit from the new asset and service.

The Police Court, the Monthly Sessions, the Brewster Sessions as well as the Magistrates Courts, brought all kinds of cases and people to the town.  The Coroners Court was also held there and for many many years the South West Lancs Coroner was Sir Samuel Brighouse, a man raised in the town who knew the area and the people well. Born at Lathom August 1st 1849, he went to the Grammar School and then law school and became a solicitor, founding the law firm of Brighouse, Brighouse and Jones in 1871. Winning the election to county coroner in 1884, he held the post for 56 years , reputedly carrying out around 25,000 inquests, he was also a steward for Lord Derby viagra vente canada.

James Maybrick, the cotton merchant suspected of being Jack the Ripper

Though the identity of “Jack the Ripper” remains in question, many believe cotton merchant James Maybrick committed the five infamous murders before his own wife killed him!

Early in his career he oversaw the inquest into the death of James Maybrick, at one time the main suspect in the Jack the Ripper case. His determination to see the work of not just coroners, but mortuaries and police surgeons held in the highest esteem by everyone is what seems to have driven his career, not caring for the tutting and head shakes of the elected authorities. Knighted in 1934 he died 15th January 1940.  If he felt strongly about a subject, no matter how mundane, he felt it worth fighting for.

These are his own words, sent in a letter to the Advertiser on 29th May 1922:.


Dear old Derby Street, if it could only speak.  Its utterances would surely be a new edition of the ‘Book of Lamentations’.  Paved with setts, the old-fashioned carts of the farmer ground out cries from it that worried the scholars in the United Charity Schools, the lawyers in their offices, the justices on their judicial bench, and the police.  And ultimately the setts were removed, and a span new macadam Derby Street was made and was duly christened on the day it was opened by a heavy unwieldly tractor engine, which left sore places that never seemed to heal. Aspirants for the Local Board came along, and swore by all their Gods that they alone could save the town, and incidentally Derby Street, from ruin and disgrace.

They were elected, and Derby Street wept at their apostasy.

Latterly in the moonlight Derby Street has looked like No Man’s Land in the Great War – all holes and craters.

Quite recently – it only seems a few days ago – the Urban District Council, with monies squeezed out of the long-suffering ratepayers of this long-suffering town, or with monies secured from the County Council of Lancashire – I care not which – gave Derby Street a new coat of something, and the inhabitants on each side thereof slept in peace. And now with the last week, after patching the poor dear in places, they have poured tar on it and scattered chippings on it, and they have left it for the traffic to do the rest.  Every good housewife in Derby Street has just finished her spring cleaning and now her good man walks over her spring cleaned carpet and leaves tar and chippings behind.

Was there ever such a subject for mirth as Derby Street?

Overwhelmed with official and domestic cares, I seek no solace other than a glance at my dear street. A retrospective thought of all it had undergone convinces me that no human being could undergo what it has gone through and survive.

Poor dear Derby Street! I recollect you a street of green fields, where boys played with pipe stumps instead of marbles, and motor cars were unknown.

And if you could only speak, poor thing? What would you say about those who have pulled you to pieces, clothed you in new garments, put patches on you, overhauled you, mauled you, messed you about and have left you, as you now are, an object of scorn and derision, and an example of what a street should NOT be.  

S . Brighouse.

A brief biography of Sir Samuel Brighouse

A brief biography of Sir Samuel Brighouse. Click on the image for a larger view.

Ormskirk Bygone Times has several records and documents relating to Sir Samuel’s early years as a boy in the town and they have been added to our mobile display. If any school, group or organisation would like us to put on an exhibition for them, please contact us through our social media group at https://www.facebook.com/Ormskirkbygonetimes or through our website here.

The Power of Derby Street

The Power of Derby Street

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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 United Reformed School. From Ormskirk Bygone Times slide collection

The United Reformed School. From Ormskirk Bygone Times slide collection

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.

The Magistrates Court on Derby Street

The Magistrates Court on Derby Street

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.

Derby Street looking towards the railway bridge

Derby Street looking towards the railway bridge

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.

Please visit our page at https://www.facebook.com/Ormskirkbygonetimes to find out more about the town or to share any photos or memories of Ormskirk to our 5600 followers.

Doctor In The House Pt. 1

Doctor In The House Pt. 1

Ormskirk had no less than 8 ‘surgeons’ listed in the Baines Directory of 1824/25.  Father and son William Snr and William Bibby Jnr. practised from different surgeries, the former in Burscough Street and the latter in Church Street.  Burscough  street seemed to have a busy practise as there were  doctors Anderton,  Ellis, Hancock, Houghton and Yates listed there in that same directory.  William Bibby  Snr and Thomas Hancock did move to a new surgery on Lydiate Lane before 1830. (Lydiate Lane became Derby Street).

The doctors had served their apprenticeships with senior partners and after taking an exam at the end of their apprenticeship they joined the practise or opened their own surgery.

Beaconsfield House

Beaconsfield House

By the 1830s, a new Doctor had settled in the town, Yorkshire born Doctor Lax, who initially joined the practise of William Bibby Snr.  William Lax graduated from the Royal College of Surgeons London in 1827.  In 1850, Doctor Lax bought a ‘close’ of land in Lydiate Lane, (Derby Street) to build a surgery , at the same time land was acquired by the town from  the Earl of Derby and Lord Stanley for the building of a Police Station and A Trustee Savings Bank in the same street.  By 1861, Dr Lax had had a grand residence built at the junction of Moor Street and St Helens Road .William’s first wife, Ormskirk born Anne Jane nee Wareing, died within months of their daughter Anne Jane (1833 – 1924) being born.  His second wife, Mary Maria Sourbuts, (1821 – 1898) was 15 years William’s junior and they had four children, only 2 surviving to childhood.

Derby Street, the site of Dr Lax's surgery

Derby Street, the site of Dr Lax’s surgery

Doctor Lax’s eldest daughter Anne Jane born 1833 never married and she was the Superintendant of the Parish Church Sunday School for over 50 years .  After the death of her father, Anne moved from St Helens Road to a large 12 room property at 52 Derby Street which she re-named Beaconsfield, to reflect the home she had grown up in at Beaconsfield Corner.  Her neighbour, in the house called Abbotsford, was another local Doctor, Hugh Heald, and next door to the Heald household was another large dwelling,   Walmsley House, home of Anne’s half sister Lucy Sophia Parker nee Lax, who had married Thomas Percy Parker, son of the Aughton Brewer Thomas Sumner Parker, in 1890.  Thomas Sumner Parker had bought the Aughton Street (Sudbury Star) Brewery from the Sudbury Brothers sometime between 1875 and 1881. Interestingly, Thomas Sumner Parker lived out his last days at Town End living next door to George Lea, the renowned local journalist and Author.

A newspaper cutting relating to the bequests of Miss Ann Lax

A newspaper cutting relating to the bequests of Miss Ann Lax. Click for a larger view

The story will continue soon with Dr Brandreth,  Dr Knowles, The Mansion House, Dr Suffern’s House and Ormskirk Hall, all Doctors Residences.

A Moving Story

A Moving Story

Drinking fountain located on Derby Street

The drinking fountain that remains in place on the Derby Street railway bridge

In 1858, local benefactor, R. Hardy Wrigley, donated 2 drinking fountains to the town of Ormskirk. They were elaborate red sandstone bowls, positioned beneath an apex roofed portico. One fountain was sited on the corner of the then newly re-built Derby Street Railway Bridge, and the other was positioned on the bridge over the brook at the corner of Dyers Lane and Aughton Street.

The one we will all know, on the Derby Street Bridge, has a metal lions head spout. An oblong plaque was placed with the fountain naming the benefactor and the date 1858 was placed below the Apex. The one on the Derby Street Bridge is still there along with all the original detail. It is also a Grade II listed monument. As is the fountain in the St Helens Road Park. But the mystery here is, where did the Aughton Street bridge one go? There are people who can recall the Dyers Lane Fountain, but does anyone know why it was removed or where it was sent to?

Advertiser Article With Details About The Clock Tower

An article from the advertiser containing details relating to the clock tower. Click for a larger view.

The original design of Ormskirk clock tower in 1876 by Mr Balmer included drinking fountains fronting Church Street and Moor Street and a commemorative slab fronting Aughton Street. The full description of the Clock Tower construction is quite detailed.

So the clock had it’s own fountains from 1878, the Derby Street Bridge and Aughton Street Bridge had their own fountains from 1858.

The Lions head spouts on the clock tower fountains were added to all the fountains in 1998 by the WLDC. When and why were the plaques removed from the clock tower? Or are they re-sited somewhere? Did WLDC add the lions head spout to the railway bridge fountain in 1998 too?

The drinking fountain located on the corner of Dyers Lane

An old photograph showing the location of the drinking fountain on the corner of Dyers Lane

Our photographic evidence for the twin fountains donated by Mr Wrigley shows the exact positions, could the history of flooding on Dyers Lane have led to the fountain being removed/relocated? Was the water supply to these fountains from an artesian well and the water table re-routed to the fountains?

The description of the clock tower from 1877 does not match the current photos, the fountains appear to have been moved at some point.

We have many photos of the Clock Tower over time and many images of the Derby Street Bridge but we think we have the only image of the Dyers Lane Bridge Fountain in our collection of original glass slides.

A comparison showing the drinking fountains on the clock tower as they were and as they are now

A comparison showing the drinking fountains on the clock tower as they were and as they are now

If you have any clues to the missing fountain’s whereabouts, please get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

Let’s see if we can solve this mystery.

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