Ormskirk Market Day

W Lancs coat of arms

News update


Next meeting...

Wednesday 24th July 2024

Inns and Beerhouses of Ormskirk

Dot Broady-Hawkes

Guide Hut, Moorgate, Ormskirk (Opposite Hesford's) L39 4RU

Doors open 7pm, AGM starts 7.30pm

Refreshments available, all welcome

 Next Ormskirk Library Family History Helpdesk

Monday 5th Agust 2024

10.30 a.m.- 11.30 a.m.

See "Events" and "Meetings" pages for details of upcoming events.

Ormskirk Gingerbread


All things Ormskirk Gingerbread

This Gallery page brings together material related to Ormskirk Gingerbread from our Research Library, newspaper articles, Society photograph collections and research by members of ODFHS, we hope you find it interesting and useful if you are conducting your own research into this area.


ODFHS at Gingerbread Festivals

Organised by Ormskirk Community Partnership in 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2022 and 2023


ODFHS Committee members Pam Richardson and Kate Hurst with a Gingerbread Lady. 

ODFHS stall, 2022 Gingerbread Festival

gingerbread1 July 2022


Crowds enjoying the sunshine at the 2022 Gingerbread Festival

gingerbread4 July 2022


The ODFHS Committee Members, 2022 Gingerbread Festival

gingerbread6 July 2022



Ormskirk gingerbread in historical sources


"Notes on Altcar Parish" by Rev. William Warburton, 1895
Historic Society of Lancashire and Cheshire (volume 47) 
“The story is told of an Ormskirk ginger-bread vendor, known as “Nut Harry,” who found the ice during the frosty weather an assistance to locomotion. Having called at one cottage, he had only to place his tin box on the ice, and slide it before him to the next cottage where he hoped to effect a sale.”
“Preparatory to Rush-bearing Sunday the larders of the villagers were replenished, and friends from a distance were invited to partake of specially prepared dinners. On the Monday following, a number of stalls were erected, not far from the church, for the sale of sweets, Ormskirk gingerbread, &c., and occasionally a travelling show put in an appearance.”

Ormskirk Advertiser June 28th 2018 - When Gingerbread Ladies looked after town's sweet tooth.

"Nostalgia" by Dot Broady Hawkes

The enterprising Gingerbread Ladies of the town began a tradition which has remained a unique part of Ormskirk history. 


 Gingerbread Families

Ormskirk Advertiser June 14th 2018 - The characters who helped make our gingerbread such a tradition.

"Nostalgia" by Dot Broady Hawkes

In 1979 a booklet was published by Jack Haslam covering the history of the Gingerbread ladies of Ormskirk and Cumbria.

For his research, Jack made contact with the Ormskirk Advertiser.  

Advertiser director, Miss Dorothy Hutton, the 96-year-old granddaughter of the founder of the paper, and editor Geoff Howard, along with nostalgia reporter, Ruth Hurst-Vose all contributed to the booklet.

Their knowledge of the development of the Gingerbread industry in the town bought together various details which explain how a small town like Ormskirk was able to promote the home-baked Gingerbread beyond the town boundaries.

While it is certain that the Ormskirk Gingerbread recipe was unique to the town, the origin of gingerbread goes back to medieval times in England, when it was given out at festivities by the lords of the manor.

Certainly in Ormskirk there was a claim by the Fyles family of having sold the "celebrated old original Gingerbread" since 1732.

In their advert, the business address is given as the Railway Station and 26, Derby Street West.  A previous address had been 74, Burcough Street.

It was reputidly Sarah Fyles herself who sold the gingerbread to the Prince of Wales on hisvisit to Lathom House via Ormskirk Railway Station in 1885 and this is why the Fyles wrapper used the Royal cipher on their gingerbread packets.  Sarah Fyles also sold her gingerbread in Moor Street on Market Days.



 Research into Ormskirk Gingerbread families by Kate Hurst, ODFHS Chair

Kate has compiled a list of local Gingerbred Traders from census records 1851 - 1911 and family trees for some of the well known sellers.



Family Tree of Sarah Fyles (1840-1910), hawker of Gingerbread




Family Tree of James Gregory 1752 - 1802, gingerbread baker





Family Tree of Margaret Norcross, gingerbread maker, cake maker,

Elizabeth (Betty) Threlfall, gingerbread manufacturer,

Margaret Rimmer, gingerbread manufactuer

Florence Brighouse, assistant in gingerbread business




The Family Tree of Sarah (Sally) Woods (1855-1935), pedlar, hawker Scan_20230510_4.jpg


A series of articles by Dot Broady-Hawkes in the Ormskirk Advertiser "Nostalgia" column gives a detailed history of the Gingerbread Story of Ormskirk.



June 14th 2018 - The characters who helped make our gingerbread such a tradition.

In 1979 a booklet was published by Jack Haslam covering the history of the Gingerbread ladies of Ormskirk and Cumbria.





June 28th 2018 - When Gingerbread Ladies looked after town's sweet tooth.

The enterprising Gingerbread Ladies of the town began a tradition which has remained a unique part of Ormskirk history.


December 12th 2019 - Story of Garlick the Gingerbread man - among his many aliases.


December 19th 2019 - Gingerbread wars and how it was used to cover fraud.


September 2nd 2021 - Gingerbread gives an enticing taste of the past.


Nostalgia Column - A Modern Gingerbread Event 

31st August 2021

Dot Broady-Hawkes


Useful websites



See here for some history of Ormskirk Gingerbread.



Ormskirk Grammar School Magazine, 1930s, author unknown


The "Borough" Pocket Guide to Ormskirk c. 1910 

"But no account of the town would be complete without reference to "Ormskirk Gingerbread".  What other kinds of confectionery are to other places, this delectable cake is to Ormskirk.  Its orgin is unknown, and, much as we would like to quote the legends respecting the same, we must refrain, out of respect to space.  There are families in the town who have been engaged in its manufacture for one hundred and twenty years, and it is certain that, if bought from the right people,nothing can be found better to please "the sweet tooth".



Gingerbread shops and the battle to be purveyor of the original recipe

Ormskirk Advertiser June 21st 2018 - The gingerbread tradition that led to so many claims of being the original.

"Nostalgia" by Dot Broady Hawkes

Looking at the old images of the streets in the town there are several signs with which shops lay claim to being the supplier of Ye Olde Original Gingerbread.

Although several businesses developed from the original gingerbread sellers bringing the trade into a family grocery business, the Mawdesley family established their gingerbread trade straight from their shop at No. 1, Aughton Street very early in the 1800s.

Their family name became so well known for the product that the term Mawdesley's Gingerbread was a very identifiable brand.

 Sharples at 18 Church Street was run by Elsie Sharples and her sister.

Dorsets cafe and bakery in Church Street claimed to have been established in the 1790s and also to be the town's original old gingerbread shop.

The Dorset family were connected by marriage to the Mawdesley family, but both families carried on their businesses selling Ye Olde Ormskirk Gingerbread.

The recipe may have changed but the old bakers always said that it was the way it was mixed and baked rather than the ingredients.




Wigan Observer and District Advertiser 12th May 1888


Ormskirk Gingerbread - royal connections


Ormskirk Advertiser June 7th 2018 - How the Royal Family got a taste for Ormskirk Gingerbread treats.

"Nostalgia" by Dot Broady Hawkes

There are many connections between HRH The Prince of Wales and the 1st Earl of Lathom, Edward Bootle-Wilbraham of Lathom House, not least of these was their shared interest in shooting.  There were many occasions when the Prince of Wales and Lord Lathom were guests at shooting weekends and in 1885, the shooting weekend was held at Lathom House.

In the summer of 1885, the Prince and Princess of Wales travelled to Ormskirk by train.  The townsfolk and dignitaries met the prince's train at Ormskirk station, which had been newly painted, making the royal party welcome with decorations and banners.  During their visit the Royal party was presented with gingerbread, which led to a regular request from the couple for further supplies.  It also led to an increase in the number of shops in the town selling gingerbread, with several shops claiming to be the original.


Her Royal Highness the Princess Mary of Cambridge was presented with Ormskirk gingerbread when she visited the town on 8th October 1872. 

The Ormskirk Advertiser (10th October 1872) noted the event which took place during a public reception for the royal party (which included Princess Mary's husband, the Duke of Teck) on Ormskirk Station platform;

"Lord Skelmersdale escorted the Princess Mary to an open carriage, which was in waiting outside the station, with a pair of horses attached, the Duke of Teck following.  The crowding on the platform was simply disgraceful at this point, the road being almost blocked up.  As they passed through the station three women named Margaret Threlfall, Alice Shaw, and Annie Yates, presented her Royal Highness each with a large tin of Ormskirk gingerbread, and a lady handed to the princess a handsome bouquet of flowers, all of which presents were accepted in a most graceful and gracious manner.  Fearing that his Royal lady's arms were being overladen with the gingerbread, the Duke, addressing her, is reported to have said, "Mary, I will carry them;" but the Princess quickly replied "No, thank you; they will do for the children".


H.R.H The Prince of  Wales visited Ormskirk in July 1885, on his departure from Ormskirk Station he was presented with gingerbread.

The manner of the Prince's departure from Ormskirk as reported in the Ormskirk Advertiser (23rd July 1885);

His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales left Ormskirk at half-past ten on Friday morning, and met with an enthusiastic reception from the inhabitants, who were out betimes to greet the Prince on his way from the residence of his host [Earl of Lathom] to the Preston Agricultural Show.

The Prince of Wales, whilst  walking under the awning on a floor of crimson cloth, was presented in a good-humoured manner by the Earl of Lathom to the three women named, each of whom held a handsome red box filled with four pounds of gingerbread.  His Royal Highness smiled and raised his hat after the Countess [of Lathom] had explained to him that the tribute of the humble doners was given in the hope that his Royal Highness might have some momento of his visit to our ancient town.  The Prince again raised his hat and said "I am very much obliged to you.  It is very kind of you to give me the gingerbread".  The Prince then directed his enquery to commission the liveried servant to place the boxes in the saloon.


 Ormskirk Gingerbread Recipes

The original Ormskirk Gingerbread makers guarded their recipes closely, but here are a selection of various recipes published over the years.


 Gingerbread_Glasgow.JPG                   Gingerbread_Northern_weekly.JPG

Glasgow Observer and Catholic Herald 28th March 1903                 Northern Weekly Gazette, 28th October 1911


gingerbread donkey mould

A donkey-shaped gingerbread cutter



 Gingerbread can still be found for sale in the town today

Thompsons gingerbread

Mr. Thompson's Ormskirk Gingerbread for sale at the 2022 Gingerbread Festival



Scott's butchers offering Ormskirk gingerbread for sale (Photographed 2023)



gingerbread2 July 2022

Ormskirk Community Partnership stall at the 2022 Festival


gingerbread3 July 2022

 Gingerbread for sale at the 2022 Festival


Representations of Gingerbread can be found in many places around Ormskirk Town Centre


The Cricketers, Chapel Street, Ormskirk (Photographed 2023)



Gingerbread Man outside Hayes Travel, 1 Burscough Street, in preparation for the Coronation of King Charles III (Photographed 2023)





 A Gingerbread Man advertises Flavours Cafe, 25 Moor Street (Photographed 2023)


 D.C. Scott & Sons, Butchers, 25-27,Church Street Ormskirk where the company has been in business since 1923.

(Photographed 2023)


Ormskirk Station (Photographed 2023)



Gingerbread making is one of the trades represented on planters in Aughton Street (Photographed 2023)

Part of a mural by Carrie Reichardt unveiled in Ormskirk Town Centre in March 2022 (Photographed April 2022 KM)

Some images from the July 2022 Ormskirk Gingerbread Festival, together with a short YouTube video of the event (no sound) -


Ormskirk Church
Ormskirk Parish

Ormskirk railwaymen 1908
Ormskirk Station

Scarisbrick Hall 1815
Scarisbrick Hall

Skelmersdale Station

Moor Street market
Moor Street