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Ormskirk is a market town in Lancashire, 13 miles north of Liverpool. With a population of 24,000 in 2011, it's the main town of West Lancashire Borough.

Skelmersdale is a "New Town" 6 mi (9.7 km) east, created in the 1960s. It's larger, with a population of 39,000, but is mostly just residential and industrial.

The rest of the Borough is a quiltwork of fields and villages extending north to the Ribble estuary, with a total population of 111,000.



Both towns are modern yet their names are Old Norse: Ormskirk means "Ormr's church", perhaps a foul-breathed fellow, since Ormr was a serpent or dragon. It stands on a sandstone ridge above soggy fields, reclaimed from wetland in the 18th and 19th century. Skelmersdale (usually just called Skem) means "Skjaldmarr's dale". Skem and Ormskirk grew from the 19th century when the Lancashire coalfield was exploited, and farm smallholdings became market gardens and dairy farms to supply the burgeoning cities, with milk churns clattering away early mornings on a leash of railways.

After the Second World War Britain's housing was in poor condition, and the population was booming. A series of "New Towns" were hurriedly built, sometimes greenfield and sometimes around an existing town core — for practical purposes Skelmersdale was greenfield. The positives were that it re-housed a great many people swiftly and inexpensively, to a far better standard than they'd enjoyed even before the Luftwaffe re-arranged their old abode. The downside was samey, ticky-tacky centreless burbs, with no community feeling, and an in-built assumption that everyone would get around by cars made in Britain.

The area suffered from the late 20th century economic slump. West Lancashire didn't itself have traditional textile or metal-bashing industries, but depended for its prosperity on nearby towns that did. It kept going and continues to eke a livimg from retail, local government and education. In 1974 the Borough of West Lancashire was created, with Ormskirk and Skem its towns. Edge Hill Teacher Training College became a university in 2006, with its main campus in Ormskirk.

Get in

West Lancashire Borough

By plane


The nearest airport is Liverpool (LPL IATA), but Manchester (MAN IATA) has better flight connections.

By rail


Trains from Liverpool Central run every 20 min and take 35 min via Walton, Aintree (for race track), Maghull and other small places. An adult single is about £8.

Trains from Preston run hourly and take 30 min to Ormskirk via Croston, Rufford (for Old Hall) and Burscough Junction. Change at Preston from London Euston, Manchester or Glasgow.

1 Ormskirk railway station north side of town has a staffed ticket office, tickets, toilets and a waiting room. There is step-free access to all areas.

Trains from Wigan to Southport cross the north of the district every 30 min, via Appley Bridge, Parbold, Hoscar, Burscough Bridge and New Hall (for Martin Mere) but they don't run through town. You can change at Burscough Bridge to Burscough Junction and ride one stop to Ormskirk.

Skelmersdale lost its railway in 1956. Since 2020 work has been underway to restore a rail link, but it won't happen any time soon.

By bus


Arriva Bus 310 runs every 30 min from Liverpool via Aintree and Maghull to Ormskirk and Skelmersdale.

Stagecoach Bus 2A runs from Preston hourly via Penwortham, Hutton, Much Hoole, Tarleton, Rufford and Burscough, taking 80 min to Ormskirk. Don't take Bus 2, which bypasses town on its way to Southport.

Arriva Bus 275 / 285 runs every 30 min from Wigan via Orrell to Skelmersdale and Ormskirk, and continues to Southport.

Huyton Bus 152 runs five times a day from St Helens to Ormskirk.

Ormskirk bus station is 200 yards south of the railway station.

2 Skelmersdale bus station is in Concourse shopping centre.

By road


Get on M58, which branches west from M6 at Orrell near Wigan. Junctions 5 and 4 are for Skelmersdale and Jcn 3 is for Ormskirk.

Get around


For Rufford Old Hall take the train towards Preston, and it's half a mile north of Rufford station.

The trains towards Liverpool also stop at Aughton Park and Town Green, convenient for the south fringes of Ormskirk.

Preston Bus 313 runs every 30 min from Skelmersdale to Newburgh, Parbold and Burscough, and Bus 312 runs hourly from Skem to Appley Bridge and Wrightington Hospital.


Rufford Old Hall
  • 1 Ormskirk Parish Church (Church of St Peter and St Paul), Church St, Ormskirk L39 3RD, +44 1695 572143. This Anglican church is from 1170, on the site of a Saxon church; the carving set in its east wall probably originated there. Unusually, it has both a tower and a spire, from 15th century though later rebuilt. The Scarisbrick chapel is also 15th-century and the Derby chapel (resting place of eight Earls of Derby) is 16th, but the nave was re-done in Gothic in the late 19th century. The exterior is Perpendicular Gothic. Church of St Peter and St Paul, Ormskirk on Wikipedia
  • The Roman Pillar at the entrance to Coronation Park is not a Roman souvenir, but a fancy Doric pillar that was chucked out, along with much else, when the Victorians rebuilt the parish church.
  • 2 Rufford Old Hall, 200 Liverpool Rd, Rufford, Ormskirk L40 1SG, +44 1704 821254. Apr-Oct: F-Tu 10:30AM-4:30PM; Nov Jan-Mar: F Su 11AM-3:30PM. Gorgeous timber-framed Tudor-Jacobean manor, with a 19th-century wing, and now run by National Trust. With fine gardens. Adult £10.50, child £5.23, NT free. Rufford Old Hall on Wikipedia
  • 3 Martin Mere, Fish Lane, Burscough L40 0TA, +44 1704 895181. Daily 9:30AM-4:30PM. The Mere was a large lake, drained in early modern times to reclaim as farmland. This corner of it is still lake and wetland, a WWT wildlife reserve. It has many migratory birds in winter but the flamingoes aren't hopelessly lost, there's also a "safari" section, and a webcam to watch the resident beavers. Adult £15.95, conc £13.60, child £8.55. WWT Martin Mere on Wikipedia
  • 4 Bank Hall is a Jacobean mansion that fell into ruin in the 20th century. When it was used a film location for the 1969 The Haunted House of Horror the producers didn't need to change much. In 2022 the interior was refurbished as private apartments: the Hall remains closed to the public, but it's hoped to re-open the gardens.
  • 5 West Lancashire Light Railway is within this borough, but see Southport for details. It's at Hesketh Bank off A59 from Preston.


Ormskirk Parish Church
  • What's on? Read Champnews[dead link] or Lancs Live, or listen to BBC Radio Lancashire on 103.9 FM.
  • Ormskirk Civic Hall is a multi-use meeting and entertainment venue, in a late Victorian drill hall on Southport Rd.
  • Capitol Cinema is in Concourse Shopping Centre in Skelmersdale.
  • Golf: nearby courses are Ormskirk GC, Hurlston Hall, Mossock Hall, Dean Wood and Houghwood.
  • Leeds and Liverpool Canal circles the north of the district, coursing from Liverpool via Maghull, Burscough, Parbold and Appley Bridge towards Wigan, the Pennines and Yorkshire. It has multiple access points, a good firm towpath and is navigable throughout.
  • Horse racing: Aintree is north side of Liverpool, so Ormskirk or Skem might be a convenient base. It's best known for the Grand National, but has regular National Hunt (jumps) races Oct-April. See also Newton-le-Willows for Haydock Park, which has flat racing in summer and National Hunt in winter.
  • Football: this large borough is lacking its own team. For top-flight soccer head to Liverpool or Everton, for Rugby League head to Wigan or St Helens.
  • Motorfest is a heritage car rally held at the August bank holiday in Coronation Park, Ormskirk. There are similar events around that time of year in Southport and Aintree.


  • Skem has most shopping, with Concourse the main retail mall. Asda 100 yards north side is open M-F 7AM-midnight, Sa 7AM-10PM, Su 10:30AM-4:30PM.
  • Ormskirk town centre has Morrisons, open M-Sa 7AM-10PM. The town market is held on Thursday and Saturday around the clock tower.
  • Ormskirk Artisan Market is first Sunday of the month 11AM-4PM.




Bank Hall, "The Haunted House of Horror"


  • 1 Lancashire Manor Hotel (Best Western), Prescott Road East, Skelmersdale WN8 9QD (by M58 jcn 5), +44 1695 567260. Well-run comfy place just off motorway. B&B double £100.
  • 2 Secret Garden, Holland Moss, Skelmersdale WN8 9PZ (off Nipe Lane), . Glamping in Skem?? Whatever next, a mountain gorilla reserve on the Ribble marshes? Opened to some fanfare in 2021, this is certainly a novel way to experience the Borough of West Lancashire. Double tent £170.
  • 3 Miller & Carter, Springfield Rd, Aughton L39 6ST, +44 1695 420052. Comfy welcoming inn along the road to Aintree. B&B double £90.
  • 4 Briars Hall Hotel, Briars Lane, Ormskirk L40 5TH (on A5209), +44 1704 892368. Good mid-range hotel, some facilities tired. B&B double £100.
  • Premier Inn on A570 northwest: see Southport for this reliable budget chain, convenient for Ormskirk and the west side of the borough.



Ormskirk and Skelmersdale have 4G from all UK carriers. As of April 2022, 5G has not reached this area.

Go next

  • Liverpool and Manchester are unmissable nearby city destinations.
  • Southport is a coastal resort in genteel decline, where the tide never comes in.
  • Preston won't amuse you for long, but travel that way for raucous Blackpool, the Lake District, and the Pennine hills above Clitheroe.

This city travel guide to Ormskirk is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.