The Court Is In Session

Being a historian I was interested to find how and why Derby Street in Ormskirk came to be such a bad influence on the local council tax payers. The new Law Court and Police Station opened in Derby Street in the 1850s to great anticipation. The Coroners Court was also held there and for many years the South West Lancashire Coroner was Sir Samuel Brighouse, who wrote with some eloquence and, if he felt strongly about a subject, no matter how mundane, he felt it worth fighting for.

And he did write about it, sending a letter to the Advertiser on 29th May 1922.


Dear old Derby Street, if it could only speak.  Its utterances would surely be a new edition of the ‘Book of Lamentations’.  Paved with setts, the old-fashioned carts of the farmer ground out cries from it that worried the scholars in the United Charity Schools, the lawyers in their offices, the justices on their judicial bench, and the police.  And ultimately the setts were removed, and a spanky new macadam Derby Street was made and was duly christened on the day it was opened by a heavy unwieldly tractor engine, which left sore places that never seemed to heal.

Aspirants for the Local Board came along, and swore by all their Gods that they alone could save the town, and incidentally Derby Street, from ruin and disgrace. They were elected, and Derby Street wept at their apostasy.

Latterly in the moonlight Derby Street has looked like No Man’s Land in the Great War, all holes and craters.

Quite recently, it only seems a few days ago, the Urban District Council, with monies squeezed out of the long-suffering ratepayers of this long-suffering town, or with monies secured from the County Council of Lancashire, I care not which, gave Derby Street a new coat of somethingand the inhabitants on each side thereof slept in peace. And now with the last week, after patching the poor dear in places, they have poured tar on it and scattered chippings on it, and they have left it for the traffic to do the rest.  Every good housewife in Derby Street has just finished her spring cleaning and now her good man walks over her spring cleaned carpet and leaves tar and chippings behind.

Was there ever such a subject for mirth as Derby Street?

Overwhelmed with official and domestic cares, I seek no solace other than a glance at my dear street. A retrospective thought of all it had undergone convinces me that no human being could undergo what it has gone through and survive.

Poor dear Derby Street! I recollect you a street of green fields, where boys played with pipe stumps instead of marbles, and motor cars were unknown.

And if you could only speak, poor thing? What would you say about those who have pulled you to pieces, clothed you in new garments, put patches on you, overhauled you, mauled you, messed you about and have left you, as you now are, an object of scorn and derision, and an example of what a street should NOT be.  

S . Brighouse.

Who could disagree with Sir Samuel Brighouse? 99 years on, such phrases, as in “They were elected, and Derby Street wept at their apostasy”. The abandonment or renunciation of a political belief or principle? Monies squeezed out of the long-suffering ratepayers of this long-suffering town?

Nothing has changed, and probably never will!

With thanks to Ormskirkbygonetimes

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