Ormskirk Market Day


Future Meetings

Meetings are held at the Guide Hut HQ, Moorgate, Ormskirk L39 4RU

Talks start at 7.30pm (doors open at 7pm)

Non-members are welcome (£2.00 admission)

Wednesday 24th July 2024

Inns and Beerhouses of Ormskirk

Dot Broady-Hawkes

 Wednesday 28th August 2024

Sent to the Madhouse

Louise Wade


Wednesday 25th September 2024

Arthur William Davenport - Ormskirk Boy / Man of the World

Keith Broadbent


Wednesday 23rd October 2024

The Boat  Families of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal

Kate Hurst


Wednesday 27th November 2024

Annual quiz and social evening with raffle and refreshments, come along and test your general knowledge.

The quiz will be hosted by Colin MacDonald


 We do not hold meetings in December, the next meeting will be January 2025.


Previous meetings 2024



Wednesday 26 June 2024

Honoured by a King

Ormskirk to Rouen, the extraordinary wartime story of Cecil Maples of The Elms, Derby Street, Ormskirk
By Kathryn MacDonald
In May 1915 retired solicitor and Ormskirk J.P. Cecil Edward Maples sailed from Southampton for Le Havre in France and made his way to The King Albert 1. Hospital in Rouen where, at the request of the Red Cross, he took on the role of Director and Treasurer.  For over eighteen months he worked tirelessly alongside New Zealand nurse, Miss Dormer Maunder to establish a hospital for injured Belgian soldiers.  Both were ultimately rewarded with the highest civilian honour by the King of Belgium in 1916.  Cecil Maples' exceptional wartime contribution is told through his own meticulous records and poignant album of mementoes.

Wednesday 22nd May 2024

Annual General Meeting followed by a raffle and presentation:

Family History and the Lost Buildings of West Lancashire

 West Lancashire's rich heritage is not always obvious in the 21st century.  Many architectural features of the past have been lost due to the effects of wars, politics, changing fashions or neglect.  Funded by Lancashire County Council and crowdfunded donations ODFHS have published a freely available booklet which brings the family history of these important buildings to life.  The booklet will be officially launched at Ormskirk Library (11 am Monday 11th June), but there is an opportunity for a preview and a chance to hear more about the buildings following the 2024 Annual General Meeting. 


 Wednesday 24th April 2024

A 16th Century presentation by Lizzie Jones

In celebration of Shakespeare's birthday, actor and author Lizzie Jones gave an enthralling performance as Anne Hathaway.



Wednesday 27th March 2024

 "Gingerbread": Ormskirk's Lost Victorian Magazine

Roy Bayfield

The Ormskirk Advertiser is familiar to us all as the town's newspaper, but did you know that for three years in the 1880s another periodical recorded the people and happenings of the area? Gingerbread was a monthly magazine that ran from 1886 to 1889, being renamed along the way as The Ormskirk Yeoman. Containing news and opinions about current issues, humour, fiction and articles about 'local celebrities' - as well as advertisements for Ormskirk businesses - Gingerbread is a fascinating document of its times. Roy Bayfield has researched the magazine at The British Library; his presentation will bring to life the history of Gingerbread, showing examples of what was found in its pages including jokes, poems, controversial stories and profiles of local dignitaries.

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Wednesday 28th February 2024

The Civil War in Lancashire

Civil War enthusiast Phillipe Le Pinnet and his son, Freddie, gave a packed audience some fascinating insights into what life would have been like for the ordinary fighting man in the 1640s.

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Wednesday 24th January 2024

The History of the Masonic Hall and Lodges of West Lancashire

Fred Hargreaves

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Meetings 2023

The ODFHS 2023 talks programme was varied and enjoyable with excellent support from members and visitors alike. 

These are the subjects of our 2023 meetings;

Wednesday 22nd November 2023

ODFHS annual social evening including a quiz and raffle.

Hosted by Colin MacDonald

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Wednesday 25th October 2023

Clothing the Skeleton

Ernie Savage

Wednesday 27th September 2023

Workhouse Ancestry

Louise WadeLouise’s lively and engaging talk discussed the career of John LIVESLEY, her 4xgreat-uncle, setting it against a detailed examination of the workhouse system. As John LIVESLEY wasn't her direct ancestor at all, Louise asked the question, “Do I want him in my direct line - do I love him or loathe him?” She invited her audience to share their thoughts at the end of the talk.

Wednesday 23rd August 2023

Is it Art?  The Creative Branch of My Family Tree

Kate Hurst

Wednesday 26th July 2023

The Archives of Edge Hill University 

Dan Copley, Edge Hill University Archivist

Wednesday 28th June 2023

Westhead Through Time

Members of the ODFHS Committee

Wednesday 24th May 2023

AGM followed by Old photographs of Ormskirk and District and another chance to see displays from the Library Open Day

Wednesday 26th April 2023

Ormskirk's Royal Visitors

Members of the ODFHS Committee

Wednesday 22nd March 2023 

Not just the 3 "R"s; Life in a Lancashire School - Louise Wade

Louise recounted her experiences in researching the history of Shevington Community Primary School, which was 200 years old in 2014, whilst placing the school's past in the context of the national education picture.  The school closed in 2017, but Louise's extensive research is now housed at Wigan Archives.

Wednesday 22nd February 2023

Skelmersdale from the Domesday Book to New Town - Skelmersdale Heritage

Wednesday 25th January 2023

New Year, New Start:  Enrich your research with ODFHS Publications by ODFHS Committee Members.

Family history researchers know the thrill of finding a new piece of information about their ancestor and the world in which they lived.  The aim of January's meeting was to demonstrate how resources from the ODFHS Library, video and data collections might provide researchers with those all important insights to the past.

ODFHS 2022 talks programme

 Wednesday 23rd November 2022 

Our traditional end of year quiz and raffle by Colin MacDonald

Six teams competed for the honour of becoming ODFHS quiz champions for 2022.

 Wednesday 26th October 2022

What Connects William the Conqueror, Monty Python, Burscough Wheelwrights and Manchester Airport? by Keith Broadbent

Keith began researching family history about four years ago and quickly became hooked as he looked into Percival, Birtwistle, Forshaw, Woodall and Dearden ancestors.

 Wednesday 28th September 2022

An Ormskirk Murder Mystery by Dot Broady Hawkes

An unsolved murder at Halsall.  Dot related the little-known story of the murder by drowning of Elizabeth Threlfall in October 1832.  Did the chief suspect, Elizabeth's husband Thomas Threlfall, do it?

Wednesday 24th August 2022

The Lost Crosby Fort by Dr Alison Burns

Wednesday 27th July 2022 

Around Ormskirk and District in 6 Objects : Stories From the Society's Archives - Kathryn MacDonald

 Wednesday 22 June 2022

Useful Free Websites: Creative Ways To Research Your Ancestors For Nothing by Kate Hurst

Understanding that the lockdowns of 2020 and 2021 prompted many people to take an interest in researching their family history, Kate (ODFHS Chair) presented a brief guide to six useful websites packed with unusual information that can add extra details to the life stories behind the names in our family trees - with the added bonus that every single one is completely free to access!

Wednesday 25 May 2022 

Platinum Jubilee Show And Tell Evening

To tie in with the celebrations for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, we invited anyone with interesting stories or artefacts relating to previous royal events to bring memories and souvenirs to our May meeting. 


Wednesday 27 April 2022 

The Stanleys and the Wars of the Roses by Jean Gidman

ODFHS member Jean Gidman gave her new talk on the Stanley family and their involvement in the thirty-year conflict better known as the Wars of the Roses. Over the years, Jean has done a huge amount of research into the Stanleys, and has written multiple books about the various personalities hiding in their family tree. Her presentation left us all in no doubt that, to get on in late mediaeval England, it was very much a case of "who you know, not what you know"!


Saturday 2 April 2022

The 1921 Census: Searching for Grandad by Kate Hurst (via Zoom)

A Zoom alternative to our live March talk was given at 10a.m. and 6p.m., allowing several ODFHS members from overseas to join us. Following each talk, audience comments provided some interesing talking points.


Wednesday 23 March 2022 

The 1921 Census: Searching for Grandad by Kate Hurst with Using The 1921 Census for House History by Keith Broadbent

ODFHS committee member Keith Broadbent gave a brief overview of how he had used the 1921 census to research the history of his own home, offering tips about how to search creatively, the benefits and drawbacks of the new data, and how to fill in the gaps in your research using alternative resources.

Afterwards, Kate Hurst (ODFHS Chair) gave a new talk, based on her first encounter with the newly-released 1921 census, to demonstrate how it helped her to learn more about the early life of William Everard Siggs, the grandad that she never met.


 Wednesday 23 February 2022 

Welcome back and remembering Bill Huyton. 

 A link to a YouTube video for this meeting can be seen on the Members' Pages.


Wednesday 26 January 2022 - 19:30 (GMT)

ZOOM TALK: Researching House History

Guest speaker Jackie Depelle (a former Chairman of the Yorkshire Group of Family History Societies, who has previously given presentations for public events like the Really Useful Family History Show, The Family History Show Online and The Genealogy Show) gave a talk showcasing the extensive collection of sources (both online and awaiting discovery in archives) that researchers can explore to investigate the history of their own homes (or those of their ancestors).


Wednesday 27 October 2021 - 19:30 (GMT)

ZOOM TALK:  The Salvation Army Tracing Service

ODFHS member Stephen Huyton gave a very informative talk about the Salvation Army's family tracing service, which was established by the Booth family in the late nineteenth century, in an effort to re-establish contact between families who became separated due to migration for work and social reasons. An overview of what the Family Tracing Service can and can't do, the costs involved and the impact of the relatively recent GDPR regulations were all considered in a presentation that concluded with many questions from the audience and an interesting discussion of some of the points raised.


Wednesday 22 September 2021 - 19:30 (British Summer Time)

ZOOM TALK:   Lost Crosby Fort

Our guest speaker Dr. Alison Burns gave a talk focusing on the story of the now demolished site between Crosby and Hightown that used to be the location of Fort Crosby. 

The research for Fort Crosby was carried out on behalf of the Sefton Landscape Partnership Scheme who commissioned a booklet on the history of Fort Crosby. The Fort was established at the end of WW1 and was finally demolished in 1967. It still holds a place in the memory of many local people and, although this area now forms part of the landscaped coastal path, it remains of interest as part of the recent history of the area.


Wednesday 25 August 2021 - from 19:30 (British Summer Time)

ZOOM TALK:   DNA and Me - a personal case study  (Alan Cooper)

A bluffer's guide to DNA and examples from our webmaster's own family tree of what DNA analysis can (and can't) reveal.

  • Members may view the slides from this talk on the Members' Pages
  • Links to online DNA genealogy resources may be found on the More.. page


Wednesday 28 July 2021 - from 19:30 (British Summer Time)

ZOOM TALK: Dating Old Photographs  (Stephen Gill)

Ormskirk and District Family History Society (registered charity no. 1004895) invites you to join them for our July meeting, which will be held via Zoom. Our guest speaker Stephen Gill will give a talk on a family history resource that many of us can find in our own homes - old photographs! Even more importantly, he’ll be offering some guidance on how to use clues in the pictures to estimate the date when they were taken.We hope that this talk will be of interest to family historians, photographers and perhaps even historical fashion enthusiasts, and we are sure that it will prompt all sorts of questions.



Wednesday 23 June 2021 - 8p.m. (British Summer Time)

Dot Hawkes, the ODFHS Programme Secretary, will give her new talk on the Graham family of Aughton Street, Ormskirk, who established themselves as millstone manufacturers. The presentation hopes to explore why the Grahams (who had Irish ancestry) might have been drawn to Ormskirk, what made their French burrstones so useful, and also explains how they became millionaires.

Invitation links will be sent out by e-mail approximately one week before the talk. If you do not receive a link and would like to join this meeting, please contact chairman [at] odfhs.email (replace [at] with @)

Not only will this help us to get a better idea of the level of interest in this meeting, it will also allow us to make sure that we’ve got the right Zoom subscription to accommodate everyone on the day.



Wednesday 26 May 2021 - 8p.m. (British Summer Time)

Our 2021 AGM was guided by our Secretary's comprensive report, compiled using contributions from various committee members. Thanks to the virtual format of this year's meeting, out-of-area Society members (including those in Canada, New Zealand and Australia) were amongst the attendees.

Due to the postponement of the 2020 AGM, Kate Hurst (Honorary Chair) and Pam Richardson (Honorary Secretary) were re-elected for the period 2020-2022, and Sally Dean (Honorary Treasurer) was re-elected until 2023.

Papers for the AGM may be viewed via the Members' Pages.

After the AGM, Kate Hurst (our Chair) gave a shortened version of her talk on researching 17th century people from Ormskirk who were fined for recusancy (or, refusing to attend Anglican church services), prompting many useful and interesting comments from the audience.



Wednesday 28 April 2021 - 8p.m. (British Summer Time)

ODFHS held a virtual Family History Help Desk, which allowed many members to attend one of our meetings for the first time, and allowed for a discussion on a wide variety of topics that individuals had encountered in their research. The Stanley Earls of Derby, Latin records, why women "took in washing", pre-1800 Catholic records, tips on using the Lancashire BMD and Lancashire Online Parish Clerks websites, searches for grave locations, newspaper obituaries, asylum records, DNA testing and the many related ethical issues, identifying an unknown 4xgreat grandmother and local medical facilities were some of the subjects that found their way into the conversation.



Since April 2020, we have produced occasional "virtual talks" and other videos for our YouTube channel. All are between 20 and 60 minutes in length, and cover a range of subjects - feel free to explore any link that interests you!


A Virtual Talk | Christmas Beef In Burscough (3 January 2023)


A Virtual Talk | An Introduction to our Boat Families Website (14 November 2021)


A Virtual Talk - Ormskirk Gingerbread | Exploring A Tradition (10 September 2021)


A Virtual Talk - A World Before Surnames (29 May 2021)


A Virtual Talk - The Renovation Of Ormskirk Parish Church (27 February 2021)



A Virtual Talk - Unusual Records From West Lancashire (19 January 2021)


A Virtual Talk - Christmas 1870 In Ormskirk (12 December 2020)


A Virtual Talk - Dining With Our Ancestors: 1600-1800 (13 November 2020)


A Virtual Talk - The 1918-19 Flu in the Ormskirk Area (18 September 2020)


Rufford Old Hall | History and Lancashire Day Events (16 July 2020) 


A Virtual Talk - Birth, Marriage and Death in Old Newspapers (5 July 2020)


A Virtual Talk - Illegitimacy in Your Family Tree (2 June 2020)


A Virtual Talk - Complementary Resources in Family History (5 May 2020)


A Virtual Talk - Celebrating 10 Years of the Boat Families Website (8 April 2020)



Following requests from members; on the fourth Wednesday’s meetings, from now on we will open the Guides' Hut earlier, at 19.00 (7.00 p.m.) to allow members to meet and chat. We will also stay open a little longer after the talk has concluded, again to allow members to exchange information.

FREE ENTRY for MEMBERS, Visitors £2.00 admission.

All meetings are on the fourth Wednesday-evening of each month (except December, when we do not meet).                                        







Ormskirk Church
Ormskirk Parish

Ormskirk railwaymen 1908
Ormskirk Station

Scarisbrick Hall 1815
Scarisbrick Hall

Skelmersdale Station

Moor Street market
Moor Street