Monday, 14 January 2019

A short Ormskirk pub crawl

My friend Ann and I decided to pay a visit to the historic market town Ormskirk to stroll around the centre and have a look inside some of the pubs. The market was in full swing when we arrived by train; both the railway and bus stations are just a few minutes' walk from the town centre and all three pubs that we visited.

Our first port of call was the Cricketers on Chapel Street. It is pleasantly decorated and consists of the main pub room and an extension called the Pavilion, which is more set up for dining. There is also an upstairs room and a beer garden. Five real ales were on offer: Gold and Hen Harrier both from Bowland, OSB (Old School Brewery) Headmaster and Detention, and Salopian Shropshire Gold. The Cricketers has won local CAMRA awards for West Lancs Pub of the Year in 2015, 2017 and 2018. The pub is popular with diners and has an interesting menu; children are welcome. Monday evening is quiz night.

A short walk brought us to Tap Room No. 12 on Burscough Street. Formerly a shop, it was converted into a single-roomed bar, and the wooden panels and genuine pub furniture successfully recreate the atmosphere of a traditional pub room. They had the following real ales when we called in: Salopian Oracle, OSB School's Out, Problem Child Rapscallion and Wainwright. They can also sell you 20+ gins as well as craft and continental beers. Although it is a small bar, there are several regular events each week: quiz night on Wednesday, open mike on Thursday and live music between 4.00 and 10.00 pm on Saturday.

Our final stop was the Court Leet in Wheatsheaf Walk, just off Burscough Street. The most interesting feature of this pub is its open air balcony on the first floor. The real ales available were: Sharp's Doom Bar, Greene King Abbott, Clipaty Hop and Cheshire Gold, both from Coachhouse, Ruddles Best, Saxon Red Ale and Barbarian both from Parker, and Big Bog Quagmire. Ann was drinking wine and particularly enjoyed the Shiraz. For food, there is the usual Wetherspoon's range, and children are admitted.

The beer was in good order in all three pubs, and I hope to write about other pubs in this characterful town soon.

The name Court Leet was taken from the original Court Leet which used to run Ormskirk's municipal affairs from a building on this site until its abolition in 1876. Sometimes the town officials would adjourn after their business was concluded to a long-gone pub called the Old Wheatsheaf, after which Wheatsheaf Walk is named.


  1. The really disappointing thing about Ormskirk is how the Snig's Foot Hotel has been prosaically renamed the "Market Cross" :-(

    1. I agree completely. It was formerly Disraeli's, which made some sense as there is a statue of Disraeli down the road, but previously since the 19th century it had, as you say, been called the Snig's Foot. According to our local paper, the Visiter, the word 'snig' means the foot of a dray horse, but I'm not convinced by that explanation.

      Although Ormskirk is famous for its market, I'm not aware of any market cross in the town. It is a pity to lose such a distinctive name to a bland and inaccurate one.

    2. In my childhood, "snig" always meant an eel, and a "snig pie" was an eel pie, although if made from eels caught in the Mersey it would probably be quite muddy in flavour.

      The nickname of the Mersey Hotel on the riverbank in Widnes is "The Snig".

      I assume the meaning of the Ormskirk version is different, though.

  2. I'd heard that a snig was an occasional extra horse deployed to help a heavy wagon up a steep hill when the gradient proved too much for one animal. This would make the load a double-header for a while until the cart reached the top and
    its an explanation that might have some traction as the pub is on a bit of a slope.
    Disraeli's was the venue (upstairs in a small theatre) where I once played a gig with the Cork Jackets - before we were famous of course!!!!

  3. I moved to the Ormskirk area in the mid seventies and Clive’s explanation is exactly what I was told.
    At time I was commuting to Liverpool and teaching with Tony Wilson/Molyneux who assured me that the Snigs was one of the few pubs that sold Burtonwood light mild!


Comments, including disagreements, are welcome.
Abuse and spam are not and will be deleted straight away.
Comment moderation is installed for older posts.