Ormskirk facts for kids
Market day in Ormskirk
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Ormskirk is a market town in West Lancashire, England, 13 miles (21 km) north of Liverpool, 11 miles (18 km) northwest of St Helens, 9 miles (14 km) southeast of Southport and 18 miles (29 km) southwest of Preston. Ormskirk is famous for its gingerbread.
Geography and administration
Ormskirk lies on sloping ground on the side of a ridge, whose highest point is 68 metres (223 ft) above sea-level, at the centre of the West Lancashire Plain, and has been described as a "planned borough", laid out in the 13th century. Ormskirk is an unparished area, surrounded by the parishes of Bickerstaffe, Aughton, Scarisbrick, Burscough, Lathom and Lathom South.
The town is located in the district of West Lancashire and is the site of the headquarters of West Lancashire Borough Council.
Since Ormskirk does not have a parish council, a voluntary association, Ormskirk Community Partnership, was created in 2009, with the support of the West Lancashire Borough Council, to act as a voice for Ormskirk. Ormskirk is home to Edge Hill University.
The name 'Ormskirk' is Old Norse in origin and is derived from Ormres kirkja, from a personal name, Ormr (which means "serpent" or dragon), and the Old Norse word kirkja for church. Ormr may have been a Viking who settled here, became a Christian and founded the church but there are no other records or archaeological evidence to support this and Ormr's identity is unknown.
There is no reference to Ormskirk in the Domesday Book of 1086, but it has been suggested that it may have been part of Lathom at that time. In about 1189, the lord of Lathom granted the church of Ormskirk to Burscough Priory, which does suggest that Ormskirk had been subordinate to Lathom before that date.
An open market is held twice-weekly, on Thursdays and Saturdays, in the pedestrianised centre of Ormskirk. The location was originally the junction of the main roads to Preston, Liverpool and Wigan, and was marked by a market cross going back to medieval times. During the 18th and 19th centuries the Cross, as the junction was known, was the location of a large lamp mounted on an obelisk with a circular drinking fountain for both people and animals around the base. This was moved to the junction of St Helens Road and Moor Street to make room for the erection of the clock tower in 1876. The fountain was then moved again to opposite the Drill Hall down Southport Road in the 1890s when space was needed to site the Disraeli statue. The market was established by a Royal Charter that was granted by Edward I of England in 1286 to the monks of Burscough Priory. Thursday has been market day in Ormskirk since at least 1292. The King also granted a borough charter to Ormskirk at about the same time, but this seems to have become extinct by the end of the fifteenth century.
The Ormskirk Poor Law Union was established in 1837, covering 21 parishes and townships from Tarleton to Simonswood, and from Birkdale to Skelmersdale. Ormskirk Union Workhouse was built in 1853 on Wigan Road and later became Ormskirk District General Hospital.
With its weekly markets, the town became a focal point for local farmers and their agricultural workers, cottagers, cow-keepers etc. to trade their goods and obtain necessities from the markets and from the retail establishments which were established along with public houses and inns. An engineering industry, based on making and mending agricultural machinery also developed.
The town became known for its gingerbread over the years when local women would bake the gingerbread in their own homes and then take it to the staging inns to sell to passengers. When the railway arrived in the mid 19th century, the local gingerbread sellers found a new market. They were allowed to sell their product to passengers travelling through the station. One particular customer Edward, Prince of Wales, later Edward VII enjoyed the local gingerbread so much he sent orders to the town. The baking of gingerbread became part of the retail history of the town, with several local bakers claiming to have the original gingerbread recipe. A well known local woman, Sally Woods, was a recognisable figure on the market selling her gingerbread.
Parish Church of St Peter and St Paul
The parish church of St Peter and St Paul is believed to be on the site of the original kirk, on a sandstone outcrop, and is the oldest building in the town. Its exact age is unknown; the building does contain some fragments of Norman architecture.
The parish church has many connections with the Earls of Derby and the Stanley family. Many family members are buried in the church's Derby Chapel, including Thomas Stanley, the first Earl, who caused Richard III to lose his crown by changing sides at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, and the Royalist James Stanley, the seventh Earl, who was beheaded at Bolton in 1651 after the Civil War. His body is buried in one coffin and his head in a separate casket.
This is one of only three parish churches in England to have a tower and a separate spire, and is unique in that it has both at the same end of the building. (The other two are St Mary's Church, Purton and St Andrew's Church, Wanborough, both near Swindon, in Wiltshire). Legend has it that Orme had two sisters, one who wanted a tower and one who wanted a spire, and Orme built both to please both. Regrettably, the truth is not so romantic. The 'steeple' dates from the early fifteenth century, but the original blew down in 1731 and was rebuilt between 1790 and 1832. The large west tower was added to the church around 1548 to house the bells of nearby Burscough Priory following the dissolution of the monasteries. One of these bells can still be seen in the church.
The A59 is the main road, with Preston to the north and Liverpool to the south. The A570, from Southport, crosses the town from west to east and provides a link to the national motorway network at junction 3 of the M58, about three miles from the town centre.
The town's railway station, which was refurbished at a cost of £1 million in 2009, is a northern terminus of Merseyrail, and the line continues, with a change from electric to diesel multiple units, through to Preston, after the direct service was partitioned in 1970. This line was promoted by the Liverpool, Ormskirk and Preston Railway in August 1846, but was completed by the East Lancashire Railway. The route and Ormskirk station opened on 2 April 1849, the undertaking being merged into the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway on 13 May 1859.
The Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway built the Skelmersdale Branch line to Skelmersdale and Rainford Junction, which opened on 1 March 1858. Passenger services ended on 5 November 1956, goods to Rainford Junction finished on 16 November 1961 and to Skelmersdale on 4 November 1963.
Parks and open spaces
The town has three main parks and a number of other smaller play areas and open spaces. The main parks are:-
- Victoria Park, named after Queen Victoria, is Ormskirk's oldest park, established towards the end of the 19th Century. It contains a monument to local heroes of the Boer War and Crimean War. It is located on the triangle of land between Knowsley Road, St Helens Road and Ruff Lane.
- Coronation Park, a large park in the town centre on Park Road, which has children's play areas, skateboard area, games area for football and basketball, fitness equipment, duck pond, bowling green, bandstand and wildlife meadow. The Park was established in about 1905 by the former Ormskirk Urban District to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII.
- Ruff Wood, a countryside park on the edge of the town, on Ruff Lane.
Images for kids
Ormskirk Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.