Shambling About Ormskirk

Another day out during my time off working. As far as my Travel Pass will take me, to Ormskirk, twelve miles north of the City in an altogether different world.

Off the train and along Burscough Street.
It’s Market Day. As it is every Thursday and every Saturday.

In fact there’s been a market here since the local monks were granted a Royal Charter to run one in 1286 by King Edward 1. (Who was also known as the ‘Hammer of the Scots’ and he battered the Welsh too. But in between brutalities was obviously keen on a bit of light shopping.)

You can see what there is.

I’m looking for some cheese, having remembered local Lancashire Cheeses from years ago on several stalls. Today I just find the one. It’s enough.Unlike King Edward 1 though I’m not much of a shopper. So am soon off for a more general shamble around.

Round the corner from the market I remembered there used to be a little cinema called The Pavilion.

Pavilion, Ormskirk

I’d come here in the early 1970s with my first girlfriend Pat, who lived in Ormskirk. It seemed to get hold of films after the major chains had finished with them. So prices were very low and we’d see the likes of the ‘Carry On’ films that had come out ten years earlier. We didn’t care. The back few rows of seats were doubles, so it gave us a place to be together when we were blatantly too young to be served in pubs.

And today? The Pivvy’s still here, though I learn it stopped being a cinema not too long after we used to go there.

It has been a club, but upstairs now looks like it might be someone’s house?

I wonder if their couches are all two-seaters and tip up when you stand up from them?

Around the corner an unwelcome development from recent years.
An inner ring road.
With superstore and retail park.

The big sheds doing what they always do and emptying the shop units in the town centre 500 yards away. And the ring road dividing the town from its own centre.

Not to be deterred from my explorations I cross the ring road.

And immediately find this gem of a surviving chippy from my teenage days.
Then this from a few years later.

In the days when our licensing laws were more mean-spirited than now a miracle would happen in Ormskirk every Thursday and Saturday. Yes, on the two Market Days all the pubs would be open all day. This was said to be principally for the benefit of the market traders, but it was also of huge benefit to the permanently thirsty housing workers of Liverpool in the 1980s.

On occasional Thursdays we’d take a half day off and a joyously large group of us would arrive in Ormskirk as soon after mid-day as the train could get us here. Lunch would always be at the Buck i’th’ Vine on Burscough Street and then? We’d do our best to share our custom round all of the pubs then, catching the return train we’d be tucked up in the Roscoe Head back in Liverpool by six o’clock. Happy.

On the way out of town, St Anne’s Catholic Church.
Just next to it, and surprising me by still being here, St Anne’s Parish Hall.
Or Pastoral Centre as they’re calling it now.

In the basement of here they ran a youth club that I’d often come to. The music and occasional bands they’d have on in there was what would later be called Northern Soul. It was the first place I saw older boys with jobs talking ridiculous amounts they’d just paid for rare records, singles at that. £40 for ‘You’re Ready Now’ by Frankie Valli being a particular memory.

But more particularly, this is where I met Pat. Sixteen years old we both were, in the summer of 1970. Pat had just started working at the NatWest bank in the middle of Ormskirk. I was still at school in Bootle, also working part time in a supermarket. I remember those days very happily but don’t have any photographs to show you. I don’t remember any being taken.

But I always think of Pat when I’m round here. She lived just round on the Liverpool road, Holborn Hill.
Back into town then, a splendid municipal display.
An even more splendid old sign.
And it still is a Fire Engine Station!
Don’t say you weren’t told.
Crossing the mighty Hurlston Brook.

Don’t be deceived by its apparent timidity. I have reliable reports of flooding.

Into the local park. I’m looking for something.
And here it is, first time I’ve actually seen it, the Park Pool.

In the summer of 1970 me and Pat did a sponsored walk to start raising the money for this. They’d have a big sign up in this bit of the park then and for years after showing the money slowly accumulating. So I’m glad to see it eventually got built, but also that it’s still here and functioning. I was afraid I might have found the former site of a swimming baths today.

Into the church yard.
Of the splendid Ormskirk Parish Church.
Where they do good bluebells.
It’s a gorgeous place.

And Sarah and I had a good look around it the last time we were in Ormskirk a few years back. So have a look at that if you’d like a nose round.

Another one our ‘housing day out’ pubs.
A snig is apparently a sort of eel, and they don’t have feet.
Some lamb chops for Sarah from this splendid butcher’s shop.
And oh no.

The Buck i’th’ Vine is closed down. Our favourite housing day out pub of them all, gone. I peered in the windows and it was looking very sorry for itself. Still looking in reasonable physical shape though, so maybe someone else will give it a go? Hope so. And hope it wasn’t our fault for not running the housing days out any more?

Back to the train.

Pausing briefly to wonder why there’s a statue of Disraeli here?

Well it was actually ordered by Blackburn you see. But when they got it they decided it was ‘too big’ and so it ended up here in Ormskirk. And if you really want to know any more you can find it here!



Published by Ronnie

Writing about life, Liverpool and anything else that interests me. As well as working with others to make the world a fairer and kinder place:

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  1. Well that brought back so many memories! Great to have a peek at Ormskirk. We used to go to the Buck for years and had lots of friends who lived nearby.
    Can’t believe it’s closed! Thanks for the tour, I really enjoyed it.

  2. Hello Ronnie,
    My in-laws live in Aughton, near Ormskirk, and I love to visit the town when we’re up visiting them.
    I only went to St Anne’s Youth Club once. Being without girlfriends in the Summer of 1970 my friend Kevin ‘Muffer’ Murphy and I had been advised that the girls there outnumbered the boys by about four to one, so we decided to pay a visit. I can remember on the bus journey from Maghull to Ormskirk, we were anticipating some success…….how could the lovely Ormskirk lasses resist our urbane charm and good looks, not to mention the ‘great smell of brut’ !
    Once inside however we soon realised that our source….probably Tony Temple…had totally miscalculated the girl / boy ratio. And to our horror the majority of the girls stood around the edge of the dance floor admiring the local lads as they practiced their energetic ‘northern soul’ dance moves to records we’d never heard before. It was the first time I’d heard ‘You’re Ready Now’ by Frankie Valli, but the DJ must have played it a further six or seven times by the end of the evening. And no, we didn’t have any success with the girls that evening.
    On the plus side the chips from Acropolis on the bus journey home were tremendous !
    Kind Regards

  3. Where my dad was born/grew up. As there was no swimming pool in the 1940s he used to swim in the canal! As a child I used to get the Merseyrail to here from Birkenhead every other Sunday to visit my nan.

    1. And the canal, as Sarah and I have found these last few weeks never gets closer than 2 or 3 miles from Ormskirk. In fact it does a big semi-circle around it, like the Georgian citizens of Ormskirk, the land owning ones, wanted nothing to do with it.

      1. Interesting. Do you know that’s how Trafford Park was formed in Manchester. When they built the canal through Duke of Bridgewaters land he insisted they buy ALL of it rather than him have to look at industrial ships. Not knowing what else to do with all that space, they created arguably the world’s first planned industrial estate.

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