Skelmersdale /ˈskɛlmərzˌdeɪl/ is a town in West Lancashire,
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 Liverpool, 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
with the 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.
2.2 Early history
2.3 New town
6 Shopping centres
8 Cadet Forces
8.1 Air Training Corps
8.2 Army Cadet Force
8.3 Sea Cadet Corps
9 Twin towns
10 See also
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
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
There were also numerous brickworks in the area, and in the early-20th
century Victoria County History,
Skelmersdale was described as "a
particularly bare, unpleasing district" owing to its coal mines and
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.
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 April 2018, 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
services, Arriva, closed their depot in Skelmersdale, which employed
129 people. The depot was first constructed for Ribble Motors in the
1970s, and the premises were sold.
Skelmersdale is now served by buses
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
(after Leigh, 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
Skelmersdale Branch from Ormskirk. In February 2017,
Lancashire County Council identified the site of the former 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. As of 2017, Merseytravel and Lancashire
County Council have committed £5 million into a study to investigate
the possibility of re-opening the station. Combined with the creation
of a new station at
Headbolt Lane in Kirkby, it's believed that the
scheme could cost around £300 million to develop.
Skelmersdale has a number of primary schools, and had three high
schools: 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
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
Although consisting predominantly of housing estates, Skelmersdale's
industry includes the Co-operative Bank (Skelmersdale's single
largest employer), distribution centres for Asda,
P&G, Victorian Plumbing, a Walkers snack food
factory, the international headquarters and UK manufacturing
centre of Turtle Wax and many others.
Skelmersdale houses the
corporate base and a distribution centre for Matalan, the discount
clothing and homewares store.
Frederick's Dairies is located in
Skelmersdale who make ice cream for Cadbury.
Skelmersdale's town centre is made up of the Concourse Shopping
Centre, colloquially known as "the Connie". The Concourse boasts
many stores such as Poundland, Home Bargains and Argos, as well as a
McDonald's restaurant and KFC, both of which are located in the nearby
car park. The Concourse used to have an artwork by Alan Boyson, in the
shape of pyramids. These were located in front of the entrance
opposite the ecumenical centre until the early to mid 1980s, but were
taken down to be replaced by the glass extension.
There are also smaller shopping parades in
Skelmersdale which include
Sandy Lane, Digmoor Parade and Ashurst Shopping Centre.
The town's football team,
Skelmersdale United, plays in the Unibond
Northern Premier League Division One North
Northern Premier League Division One North and was a
FA Vase winner in
1971. One of its former players was Steve Heighway, who went on to
play for Liverpool. Former Everton midfielder- Leon Osman, played for
the club in his youth. He his son to St James Catholic Primary School
in Ashurst. Current Cardiff City player
Craig Noone also once played
for the club
The town is also host to an archery club, the Bowmen of
Skelmersdale whose collective members hold 19 county records
and 14 World Records held by three individuals from the same family
(Melissa-Jane Daniel, Harriet Daniel and Gary Daniel), 6 of which were
claimed at the National Flight Championships on 19 August 2006 held at
RAF Church Fenton.
Skelmersdale has units of the Air Training Corps,
Army Cadet Force
Army Cadet Force and
Sea Cadet Corps. These units take part in the local community life and
are routinely seen attending the Remembrance Sunday parade in the old
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. 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
^ ""Great Britain" World Gazetteer". Archived from the original on 9
^ a b Ward, David. "Back to the drawing board", The Guardian, 18
January 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2008.
^ Edward Baines, William Robert Whatton, Brooke Herford, James
Croston, The history of the county palatine and duchy of Lancaster,
vol. 5 (J. Heywood, 1893), p. 2
^ Pevsner, Nikolaus, Sir (2002) North
Lancashire Yale University
Press, New Haven ISBN 0-300-09617-8 p. 226;
^ "Townships: Skelmersdale". A History of the County of Lancaster
Volume 3. Victoria County History. 1907. pp. 282–284. Retrieved
2 January 2010.
^ "Your smart home is trying to reprogram you. It's failing".
CityMetric. Retrieved 2017-07-27.
Network Rail (November 2008)
Merseyside Route Utilisation Strategy
(RUS) Draft for Consultation, Page 93
^ "Disused Stations:
Merseyside RUS Draft
^ "Transport Briefing subscriber log in".
Lancashire County. "Details -
Lancashire County Council".
Lancashire.gov.uk. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
^ Houghton, Alistair (18 September 2017). "
Skelmersdale rail link
moves step closer as £5m funding revealed". liverpoolecho. Retrieved
19 September 2017.
^ "Half-empty Glenburn Sports College in
Skelmersdale to close". BBC.
20 May 2015.
^ ljepson. "Best GCSE Results EVER!".
Skelmersdale College (Dissolution) Order 2007". Office of Public
Sector Information. 1 August 2007. Retrieved 27 August 2008.
Ofsted (25 July 2008). "Full college inspection report". Archived
from the original on 28 June 2008. Retrieved 27 August 2008.
^ "Maharishi European Sidhaland". Maharishi European Sidhaland.
^ Byrne, Michael (1 September 2011). "
Maharishi School in Skelmersdale
hits back over Free School status criticisms".
^ "Welcome to the Library and Information Service web site".
Lancashire County Council. Archived from the original on 12 June 2011.
Retrieved 26 February 2008.
^ "The Co-operative Group – Project Formation". Business in the
Community. 2010. Archived from the original on 26 September 2010.
Retrieved 2 October 2010.
Asda Wal-Mart UK logistics and distribution centres". The Tracing
Paper. 1 February 2009. Archived from the original on 1 August 2010.
Retrieved 2 October 2010.
^ "Proctor & Gamble Celebrates Investment in Skelmersdale".
Northwest Regional Development Agency. 11 October 2004. Retrieved 2
October 2010. [dead link]
^ "Skelmersdale, Here We Come! Victorian Plumbing Bathroom Blog".
www.victorianplumbing.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-09-15.
^ "Bathroom firm acquires new
^ Heller, Lorraine (5 October 2005). "Walkers to open new snack
factory in UK". Bakery & Snacks. Decision News Media. Retrieved 2
Turtle Wax gets £1.6m to expand". Crain's Manchester Business.
Crain Communications. 7 October 2009. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
^ Wainwright, Martin (14 October 2004). "Industrial retreat opens way
for a 21st century city". The Guardian. UK: Guardian News and Media.
Retrieved 2 October 2010.
^ "New Cadbury ice cream range for winter". Talking Retail. Metropolis
International Group. 4 December 2007. Retrieved 2 October 2010.
^ "Concourse Shopping Centre".
^ a b "
Alan Boyson – Sculptor of
Skelmersdale New Town's Pyramid".
Modernism North West. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 7 November
^ "Bowmen of
Archery Sports Club - North-West
^ "Flight Records".
^ Result from National Flight Championshions 2006
Wilson, L. Hugh (1964)
Skelmersdale new town planning proposals :
report on basic plan prepared for the
Corporation by L. Hugh Wilson, Hugh Wilson & Lewis Womersley
Chartered Architects & Town Planners, with a foreword by A.J.
Kentish Barnes, Chairman of the
Skelmersdale Development Corporation,
Skelmersdale Development Corporation;
Riley, Frank (1986) People in Need of a Future: A Survey of the
Long-term Unemployed in
Skelmersdale Ecumenical Centre, Northway,
Howe, Don and Frank Riley (1982) Skem – The Broken Promise:
Skelmersdale New Town
Liverpool Industrial Ecumenical
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Skelmersdale.
Skelmersdale Heritage Society website
Potential Rail Improvements in North Western
England – Evidence
presented to the Transport Select Committee, 2002–03
Ceremonial county of Lancashire
North West England
North West England Portal
Blackburn with Darwen
Boroughs or districts
City of Lancaster
City of Preston
Lytham St Annes
See also: List of civil parishes in Lancashire
Leeds and Liverpool
Population of major settlements
Grade I buildings
Grade II* buildings
Geography of West Lancashire
Martin Mere (WWT Martin Mere)
Mere Sands Wood