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.)
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.
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.
I wonder if their couches are all two-seaters and tip up when you stand up from them?
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.
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.
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.
Don’t be deceived by its apparent timidity. I have reliable reports of flooding.
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.
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.
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.
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!