SKELMERSDALE /ˈskɛlməzˌdeɪl/ is a town in West
England. It lies on high-ground on the
River Tawd , 6 miles (10 km) to
the west of
Wigan , 13 miles (21 km) to the northeast of
15 miles (24 km) south-southwest of Preston . As of 2006, Skelmersdale
had a population of 38,813, down from 41,000 in 2004. The town is
known locally as SKEM /ˈskɛm/ . The first recorded use of the name
Skelmersdale appears in the
Domesday Book of 1086. It was under the
rule of Uctred as part of the hundred of West Derby .
The urbanisation and development of
Skelmersdale largely coincided
Industrial Revolution . Industrial scale coal mining began in
the early 19th century and continued to expand during that century to
give rise to
Skelmersdale as an important colliery village . The town
forms part of the
Wigan Urban Area .
Skelmersdale was designated as a new town in 1961.
* 1 Geography
* 2 History
* 2.1 Toponymy
* 2.2 Early history
* 2.3 New town
* 3 Transport
* 3.1 Road
* 3.2 Bus
* 3.3 Rail
* 4 Education
* 5 Economy
* 6 Shopping centres
* 7 Sports
* 8 Cadet Forces
Air Training Corps
Air Training Corps
Army Cadet Force
Army Cadet Force
Sea Cadet Corps
* 9 Twin towns
* 10 See also
* 11 References
* 12 Further reading
* 13 External links
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Skelmersdale is situated in a small valley on the
River Tawd . The
town was designed to accommodate both plant life and compact housing
estates. Even in the town centre there is an unusually large amount of
forestation. The large Beacon County Park lies to the east of
Skelmersdale, where the iconic Beacon Point lies, along with the golf
The town borders the village of
Upholland to the east, eventually
leading into the
Wigan area of
Greater Manchester , West Lancashire's
Ormskirk to the north-west, and Saint Helens to
the south. The M58 runs through Skelmersdale.
The New Town is the larger eastern half of the town, the Old Town
'Old Skem' is the smaller portion to the west.
Skelmersdale means "Skjaldmarr's valley", from the
Old Norse personal
name Skjaldmarr + probably
Old Norse dalr (or
Old English dæl) "dale,
valley". The name was recorded as Skalmeresedel in 1136. One placename
book suggests that it may be of Celtic origin, with the placenames
being in Celtic placename order: "Element/personal name/word", rather
than "Personal name/word/element", as with
Old English placenames .
It is known locally as "Skem", with a further distinction being made
between "Old Skem" (the area which was a small mining town prior to
1961) and the broader swathe of development on the east side of the
Until the creation of
Skelmersdale Urban District Council at the end
of the 19th century, the town was part of the Parish of
the West Derby hundred , an ancient subdivision of Lancashire,
covering the southwest of the county.
In the mid-14th century, the manor of
Skelmersdale was held by
William Dacre, 2nd Baron Dacre .
Skelmersdale's population in 1851 was only 760, but 50 years later it
had increased to 5,699. It was a busy coal mining town. Sadly, there
were over 100 fatalities in
Skelmersdale collieries from 1851 to 1900,
according to the Reports of the Inspectors of Coal Mines, and an
unknown number of serious injuries. In 1880 there were 14 Skelmersdale
collieries—most of them closed in the 1920s and '30s.
Skelmersdale War Memorial
The miners, many of whom were Welsh immigrants, brought with them
their own brand of
Nonconformist Christianity. By the start of the
20th century there were at least six dissenting chapels in the town:
two Wesleyan (Berry Street, closed in the 1920s, and
closed 1969), an independent Methodist, a
Primitive Methodist , a
Congregational and a Welsh Chapel (closed in 1963).
Today, there is little to remind people that the town was ever
associated with the once great
Lancashire Coalfield .
There were also numerous brickworks in the area, and in the
Victoria County History
Victoria County History ,
described as "a particularly bare, unpleasing district" owing to its
coal mines and brickworks .
Skelmersdale was designated a New Town in 1961, designed to house
overspill population from the north
Merseyside conurbation. The town
was the first in the second wave of designations.
Due to the arrival of a large number of former
the town retains a strong cultural association with Liverpool.
Although the traditional accent may perhaps be exaggerated upon in
younger generations, the role of
Liverpool in the recent history of
Skelmersdale cannot be understated, and many do still feel a close
connection with the city.
Skelmersdale endured mixed economic fortunes during the last three
decades of the 20th century. With the economic downturn in the late
1970s large industrial employers left the town en masse, resulting in
an increase in crime, drug abuse and poverty. Today, West Lancashire
has a crime rate well below the national average. 2006 was to see a
regeneration drive for the town coordinated through English
Partnerships and the Northwest Regional Development Agency and
publicly headed by the designer
Wayne Hemingway . Among the proposals
was a new central focus for the entertainment and commerce for the
town in the evening.
In 2012, a £20m vision to create a thriving town centre for
Skelmersdale was revealed. It is expected to create as many as up to
500 permanent jobs, and current projections seem to satisfy that
Skelmersdale faces a looming employment crisis, the
regeneration of the town centre is a step towards recovery, and up to
100 extra jobs would be generated during the scheme's construction
Proposals include a new food store as well as a number of bars, shops
and restaurants, and plans to include a five-screen cinema are also in
the works. A new promenade would be fronted by these establishments to
overlook the Tawd Valley Park, and a new civic square would also be
created between the Concourse Shopping Centre and the town library.
Regeneration specialists St Modwen have been working on the proposals
Lancashire Council and the Homes and Communities Agency. As
of February 2017, none of these developments have yet been realised.
According to urban planning consultancy Space Syntax, Skelmersdale's
fragmented streets have made its city centre relatively incaccessible
and has resulted in a segregated land use.
Hope Island, one of many roundabouts found within Skelmersdale.
Skelmersdale was originally designed to work on a roundabout system,
on which it still sits today. For ease of access there is a vast
subway network allowing pedestrians to move through the town without
needing to cross potentially hazardous roads. However, in recent
years, the subway system has been called into question with regards to
its safety and sustainability, as they are not regularly maintained by
the county council.
There are no traffic lights in the town. Skelmersdale's road system
has improved with better signage, although visitors still frequently
M58 motorway (
Wigan Motorway) runs along the south
Skelmersdale from the nearby
M6 motorway to the Switch Island
interchange at Liverpool. The A570 and the A577 both provide
The New Town areas of
Skelmersdale have a road-naming system where
"Road" and "Street" are rarely used and single-name roads are common,
e.g. Abbeywood, Fairburn, Brierfield, Thornwood. "Road", "Street",
"Lane" and "Drive" do appear in road names, but only in the parts of
the town (bordering on
Ormskirk , St. Helens and
Wigan ) that pre-date
the New Town development. The road names in New Town areas are also
arranged in a loosely alphabetical format with large areas being
defined by a single letter, for example Larkhill, Leeswood, Ledburn
and Lindens all connect to Ashley Road in the Ashurst area.
Roads in the industrial estates and the main roads in the town such
as Gillibrands Road follow the usual naming conventions, although the
industrial estates do feature street names beginning with the same
letter (such as Pikelaw Place, Penketh Place, Pinfold Place,
Priorswood Place) all part of the Pimbo Industrial Estate.
From September 2011, the company providing most of Skelmersdale's bus
Arriva , closed their depot in Skelmersdale, which employed
129 people. The depot was first constructed for Ribble Motors in the
1970s, and the premises will now be sold.
Skelmersdale is now served
by buses from
Arriva depots in St. Helens, Bootle and Southport.
Since the closure of
Skelmersdale railway station
Skelmersdale railway station in 1956, the town
has become the second most populous town in the North West Region
Greater Manchester ) without a railway station. The
nearest railway station is
Upholland railway station on the Wigan
Wallgate to Kirkby branch line (historically part of the
Bury Railway line. ) The
Skelmersdale Branch previously connected
Ormskirk and Rainford Junction.
In March 2009,
Network Rail proposed to extend the existing
Liverpool Central to Kirkby service, to terminate at a
new station in the centre of Skelmersdale. Rainford will then become
an interchange station for services to and from
Wigan Wallgate. In
June 2009, the
Association of Train Operating Companies
Association of Train Operating Companies published a
report, Connecting Communities, which also recommended the opening of
a new rail link to Skelmersdale. This time the recommendation was via
Skelmersdale Branch from Ormskirk. In February 2017, Lancashire
County Council identified the site of the form Glenburn Sports College
/ Westbank Campus site as the preferred location for a railway station
for the town. Despite the Glenburn Sports College being owned by the
council, the Westbank Campus site is owned by
Newcastle College and
requires purchase by the council in order for the station to be built.
Skelmersdale has a number of primary schools, and had three high
Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Engineering College , Lathom
High School and Glenburn Sports College, though the last of these
closed on 31 August 2016.
In 2013, Our Lady Queen of Peace achieved a 99% GCSE pass rate, with
almost every pupil achieving 5+ A* to C's.
Lathom High School
attained its best GCSE results ever, with 66.2% of pupils receiving 5+
A* to C's.
Lancashire College has a campus in the centre of the town. The
college merged with
Newcastle College in 2007 and was recently graded
as 'outstanding' in a recent
There is a
Transcendental Meditation movement community within
Skelmersdale, called "European Sidhaland". It has a Maharishi School
that has performed well in
Ofsted and school league tables. In 2011,
it was one of 24 schools that applied for and received government
funding as a flagship free school .
Skelmersdale also is home to a large public library whose facilities
include free internet access and an extensive local history section.
Although consisting predominantly of housing estates, Skelmersdale's
industry includes the Co-operative Bank (Skelmersdale's single
largest employer), distribution centres for
Asda , P"> 1439 Sqn
Crest showing Ashurst Beacon and Canadian Maple Leaf
AIR TRAINING CORPS
1439 (Skelmersdale) Squadron, Air Cadets, formed at
School in 1941 as the 'Beacon Squadron' and provided airmanship
training for young men and those about to join the RAF in time for the
Battle of Britain
Battle of Britain . The squadron continues to provide airmanship
training to young men and women in addition to other activities. They
are based on Daniels Lane.
ARMY CADET FORCE
The Army Cadets are part of 'S' Company of the
Lancashire Force. They
are based at Daniels Lane.
SEA CADET CORPS
The Sea Cadets are also well established in
Skelmersdale as "TS
Rodney" and are based at Tawd Road.
Lancashire is twinned with Erkrath (Germany), Cergy-Pontoise
Listed buildings in Skelmersdale
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