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Ormskirk Road

Ormskirk Road marks the entrance to Skelmersdale as the mainroad from Southport through Ormskirk on its way through to Wigan. Continuing on from Blaguegate Lane it commences from what used to be Wynn's Garage opposite the later Warden's Social Club and also marks the boundary for Skelmersdale and runs past Bromilow Road on the right, down past small Taylor Street also on the right with Mona's sweet shop opposite on the left, and down to what used to be the train crossing at Skelmersdale Station with the Railway Hotel (now the Roundabout Pub) next door on the right.

Ormskirk Road Ormskirk Road then continues straight on until it reaches the bottom of Sandy Lane on the right where the road continues on as Clayton Street. Here used to be the old Town Hall - centre for the Skelmersdale Council, and on the left the old bench where many of the old Skemmers would sit and chat, probably about the houses that used to be across the road, knocked down at the end of the 1960's which housed (from Sandy Lane back to the crossing) South West Lancs Farmers which was previously Clayton's shop, the Grady's, Aspinwall's, Wainwright's, Alf Anderton, Webster's chip shop, Horrocks', Banisters', Lawrence's, and the old yard railway siding with the Station master's house next to it.

Here's the article by Geoff Howard in 2 parts reproduced from the Advertiser 1998

Keeping track of railway history

Traffic island signalled the end of time
In a round about sort of way, Skelmersdale's Roundabout pub sums up the many changes Ormskirk Road has seen in the last 35 years. It was known as the Railway Hotel in the days when Skem had a rail link of its own. Obvious that one. Then Beeching's axe fell, the new town arrived, and they plonked a traffic island where the railway once ran.
"But why rename the public house The Roundabout just because of that?" asks local historian Margaret Hodges. "The railway played a big part in our lives and the name should have been kept as a link with the past," a sentiment echoed by many old Skemmers. Cockles and prawns, sarsaparilla, rhubarb nourished by good old fashioned horse muck, enough to whet the appetite for a peep into Ormskirk Road's past. Home to the finest row of terraced houses for miles around, built for the managers and overseers of the Orm Weaving Mill. And just a short stroll from 'Ticklebelly corner'. Adults only need read on to find more about that!

Skem crossing William Bradley and his crew paving Ormskirk Road on the Town Hall side of the level crossing. Even the local dogs turned out to inspect the workmanship in those days.

Part of Ormskirk Road, adjoining Sandy Lane, was decimated two generations ago for the Railway Road roundabout and 'public open space' alongside. A row of quaint cottages topped by a veritable battery of chimney stacks once stood there, Clayton's provisions and garden tools on the corner. It later became South West Lancashire Farmers. Remember shop assistant Mary Kenyon, storeman Harry Birchall (who was the Uncle of Bill Birchall, author of "Bills Book" - Editor), driver Richard Heaton and the last assistant Mrs Ashurst? Council gas engineer Mr T. Aspinwall had a double fronted home in this row, just yards away, Webster's chip shop. And always a warm welcome in the nearby goods and coal yard from Fred Marsh, agent for all the coal which arrived.

The Railway Hotel Old Skelmersdale characters gathered outside the Railway Hotel. The car pictured here was the first to be owned by anyone in Skem ... That's the driver Mr Simmons talking to Tom Rawsthorne.

Ormskirk Road has certainly seen its share of characters. Ernie Bullen and Jimmy Duffy who boiled cockles and prawns for sale around the hostelries. Miss Rotherham, who would scurry out into the road to collect horse manure deposits to sustain the rhubarb for which she was noted. Many a train passenger has cut it fine to sample "the finest sarsaparilla there ever was," sold at Charlie Frazer's.

Neighbours in Ormskirk Road Neighbours in years gone by...
Mrs Forshaw (left) who lived at No 47 Ormskirk Road, Mrs Esp (centre) from No 51 and Mrs Marsh (right) from No 49

Ormskirk Road was home to Mona Hobson's sweet shop and cafe which enjoyed a reputation of its own, Percy Fox, too, of Fox's funeral undertakers. Tom Rawsthorne, who travelled carnivals for years dressed as a pantomine bobby, and Tommy Dolan who always fancied his chance with the gloves at the local boxing booths.


Bob Heyworth and his wife Phyllis have spent their married life of more than 50 years in Ormskirk Road's splendid line of Accrington brick homes. At three years of age he arrived in Skem from Bacup, a part of the country from which others came to pass on skills at the Orm Weaving mill. Topped by a tall chimney, it stood at the top of tiny Taylor Street off Ormskirk Road, making calico, and bandages during the war. But the Accrington brick row remains a magnificent reminder of Ormskirk Road's past. And the amazing thing is, they have all retained the original matching wooden window frames, serving to emphasise the beauty of this block of homes. Nearby, Bromilow Road runs off Ormskirk Road, a twist in its course at one point where courting couples would pause in bygone days. Not surprising then that it became known as Ticklebelly Corner. They had a name for everything in Skelmersdale at that time!

The 'Skem Jazzer' fires up memories

Dick recalls railway era
Born at 51 Ormskirk Road back in 1922, Dick Esp was fireman for three years on the Skem Jazzer which plied its way between Ormskirk and Rainford. The LMY tanker always pushed its two carriages out of Ormskirk then pulled them back in the opposite direction. With wooden steps to help passengers alight at Westhead, White Moss and Heyes Halt. Billy Walton, Nobby Balshaw and Fred Nash were Jazzer drivers in the time Dick fired up.
On one famous occasion, two of the drivers who played dominoes for the Railway team were 'unavoidably detained' by a match at Ormskirk's Eureka. And Dick took the 9-20pm from Ormskirk through to Rainford on his own. Imagine the commotion that would create in 1998. Dick Esp is one who remembers playing snooker at the original Wardens Club which stood in Ormskirk Road alongside the station.

'Finest bowling green in England'

And an era when the Railway public house, home to the Masonic Lodge, was fronted by a privet hedge, railings and stone flags. "It had the finest bowling green in England," in Dick's opinion, one where they thought nothing of playing an 80 handicap on a Saturday afternoon. Magees ales, known by the locals as 'Maggies', were sold at the Roundabout, BB and Crown Magee a splendid drink. And as the pub house undergoes refurbishment in 1998, what better time to consider whether it is possible to renovate the green which is still intact at the rear of the building.
It was to Dick's mother Jane that people in the Ormskirk area always ran when they had need of a midwife or someone to 'lay out' in times of bereavement.

Children in Ormskirk Road Local children assembled in Ormskirk Road. The cottages on the right were built in 1849, this picture taken opposite Ada Forshaw's house.