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Ormskirk is a market town in Westmarker Lancashiremarker, Englandmarker. It is situated north of Liverpoolmarker, northwest of St Helensmarker, southeast of Southportmarker and southwest of Prestonmarker.

Geography and administration

Ormskirk lies on sloping ground on the side of a ridge, whose highest point is above sea-level, at the centre of the West Lancashire Plainmarker, and has been described as a "planned borough", laid out in the thirteenth century.

Ormskirk is an unparished area, surrounded by the parishes of Bickerstaffemarker, Aughtonmarker, Scarisbrickmarker, Burscoughmarker and Lathommarker, and the unparished town of Skelmersdalemarker.

The town is located in the district of West Lancashiremarker and is the site of the headquarters of West Lancashire District Council. It is home to Edge Hill Universitymarker.

History

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 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 archeological 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 Lathommarker 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.

The distinctive tower and spire of Ormskirk Parish Church.
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 Bosworthmarker in 1485, and the Royalist James Stanley, the seventh Earl, who was beheaded at Boltonmarker 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 spire, and is unique in that it has both at the same end of the building. (The other two are at Purtonmarker and Wanboroughmarker, both villages near Swindonmarker, in Wiltshiremarker). 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.

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 Prestonmarker, Liverpoolmarker and Wiganmarker, and was marked by a market cross until it was replaced by the current clock tower in the nineteenth century. 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 Tarletonmarker to Simonswoodmarker, and from Birkdalemarker to Skelmersdale. Ormskirk Union Workhouse was built in 1853 on Wigan Road and later became Ormskirk District General Hospital.

Transport

Ormskirk railway station.
The A59 is the main road, with Prestonmarker to the north and Liverpoolmarker to the south. The A570, from Southportmarker, 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 stationmarker, 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 Prestonmarker. 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 Skelmersdalemarker and Rainford Junctionmarker, which opened on 1 March 1858. Passenger services ended on 5 November 1956, goods to Rainford Junctionmarker finished on 16 November 1961 and to Skelmersdale on 4 November 1963.

Local economy

Ormskirk is now mainly a retail centre, which also has a number of bar and restaurants.

There is a Tescomarker on Church Street and a Morrisons on Park Road, formerly home to the local gasworks and local Rover/Austin Morris car dealership (Balmforths). A new Marks & Spencer food store has also been opened. There is a small retail park with a McDonalds, an Argos catalogue store, and an Aldi supermarket, in a shopping development known as Two Saints in honour of the aforementioned Church. Ormskirk also has an indoor market situated on Moorgate.

The Alpine bar (formerly The Arriba) stands at the west end of the indoor market on the site of an earlier bar called the Brahms and Liszt, itself converted from Ormskirk's last cinema, The Pavilion.

The only significant manufacturing business remaining in Ormskirk, in 2007, is Atkinson & Kirby, who make hardwood floors, employing 80 people. Other businesses in the town are mainly professional and financial services, such as solicitors, estate agents, architects and accountants.

Education

Ormskirk Schoolmarker (ages 11-18) is on Wigan Road in the east of the town, situated on a site formerly home to the demolished Cross Hall High School. Ormskirk School is the result of a merger between Ormskirk Grammar Schoolmarker and Cross Hall High School. St Bede's Catholic High Schoolmarker (ages 11-16) is on St Anne's Road next to the A59 and Prescot Road, and opposite St Anne's church. Edge Hill Universitymarker is on the A570 St Helensmarker Road heading east. Skelmersdale and Ormskirk College, Further Education, have a site in the town centre on Hants Lane. Ormskirk is also home to a public library.

Notable connections

Members of Parliament for Ormskirk



Other connections



Gallery

Image:Beaconsfield monument.JPG|The Beaconsfield monument on Moor Street.Image:Buck i'th' Vine Inn.JPG|The Buck i'th' Vine Inn on Burscough Street.Image:Nunnerley memorial.JPG|Memorial to Sergent Major Nunnerly in Victoria Gardens.Image:Tower Hill Water Tower, Ormskirk.JPG|The old water tower on Tower Hill.

Notes

  1. Townships: Ormskirk, British History Online
  2. [1], Ormskirk historic town assessment, Lancashire County Council, 2006
  3. [2], Map of Lancashire parishes
  4. http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/location/index.htm Edge Hill's 'how to find us' page
  5. [3], Ormskirk Workhouses
  6. [4], Atkinson & Kirby home page
  7. "Tributes as ex-Everton goalie dies, aged 76", Ormskirk Advertiser, Issue 13,698, 20 December 2007 page 12


References

  • Duggan, Mona, Ormskirk, The Making Of A Modern Town, 1998 ISBN 0-7509-1868-3


See also



External links




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