In 1304 an aristocratic businessman, Sir Robert de Lathom, bought a licence to start a weekly market in Newburgh. Sir Robert probably chose the village for a market because it was close to his home at Lathom House. Many landowners increased their incomes in this way, since tolls were paid for using the market.
The village grew in commercial importance and held an annual fair as well as the market in June, on and around the Feast of Barnabas.
Newburgh became large and important enough to elect a Court Leet – an early version of a town council – whose members had responsibilities including ale-tasting (for quality!) and window-looking (for payment of tax).
The Derby family (the major local landowner) provided employment for the majority of the village. The Derbys were on the losing side in the Civil War, but eventually their estates were restored. However, they moved their main dwelling to Knowsley Park and cut their very close connections with the village, although they continued to own most of its land.
The Red Lion in the early 20th century
The importance of the village is also shown in the number of inns. By the early 19th century there were five: The Red Lion, The Gold Lion, The Wheatsheaf, The Horse and Jockey and The Eagle and Child.
The 1851 census includes 11 tailors, six stonemasons, five wheelwrights, eight shoemakers, three grocers, one butcher, a resident policeman, two doctors, one schoolmaster and two schoolmistresses – suggesting that the village was still a centre for trade and commercial activities as well as health and education. There was a total of 613 residents with an average of five per household, twice that of the present village.
The Leeds and Liverpool Canal
The population was still largely dependent on the land for a living. Farmers with larger acreage often had secondary occupations such as inn-keeping. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal, built in the late 18th century, provided work for 19 residents who took their whole families on the barges when travelling, but also had houses in Cinnamon Nook and Culvert Lane. There are no references to miners in the census, but it is known there was a thriving, but short-lived coal industry (mines were located behind the Red Lion Hotel, using the canal for transport).
In 1714 Thomas Crane, a local boy who had an Oxford MA, endowed a school, for boys only, and returned to the village as its first full-time teacher. The school, now Newburgh Church of England Primary School, transferred to Back Lane in 1860 and took children up to the age of 14. Christ Church was erected in 1850-51.
In the early 1930s there were three oil lamps for the whole village, one outside the Post Office,one on the end of the Green and one half-way down Ash Brow. Shopping was mostly done in the village and Hunter’s – now the Post Office – offered home-cured hams, with black puddings, savoury ducks and pork pies made on the premises. Mrs Hunter provided refreshments for regular Saturday dances at the school in Back Lane.
The village shop in the early 20th century
The sale of the Derby Estates eventually brought about the most significant changes for Newburgh. This began in the 1930s and some village houses date from that period. Most of the new building, however, took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s and the population more than doubled. The desire to foster a sense of close community, despite growth and change, was evident at that time. Newburgh Fair was revived in 1977, the year of Queen Elizabeth’s Silver Jubilee. The Parish Council first met in 1983, the year that Newburgh won the Best Kept Village competition.
There was a landmark year for Newburgh in 2004, when the village celebrated its 700th anniversary. Click here to see the 700th anniversary record.
In 2014 Newburgh C of E Primary School celebrated its tercentenary. This included the production of a book to commemorate the occasion: Educating Newburgh – celebrating 300 years of education at Newburgh School.
Copies are available from the school if you have connections with the village. Please ring 01257 462916 or send a message via the school website https://www.newburgh.lancs.sch.uk/
Roll of Honour
In 2014 Newburgh Parish Council commissioned a Roll of Honour to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the 1914 – 1918 World War. The Roll was prepared by military historian Richard Houghton who is Honorary Secretary of the Lathom and Burscough Military Heritage Society. Click here for more Roll of Honour details.
For further information on Newburgh and local history see these publications (available at Parbold Library – telephone 01257 463769) and web links:
- Whitehead, John. Newburgh: a short history – Newburgh Association, 1981
- Perkins, J A. Newburgh in Times Past – Countryside, 1983
- Clayton, Shirley; Kindon, Jackie; Moore, Ailsa. Newburgh Then and Now – Newburgh Parish Council, 2004 (website version)
- Educating Newburgh – celebrating 300 years of education at Newburgh School.
- Bell, Douglas Hubert. Christ Church, Newburgh: the first century – Thomas Hutton, 1958
- Virgoe, J M. A History of Parbold – Carnegie Publishing,1994
- Price, William Frederick. Notes on some of the places, traditions and folk-lore of the Douglas Valley, 1899
- Reminiscences of Newburgh village life by Jackie Kindon, and reminiscences by Harry Hunter
- History of the revived Newburgh Fair from the 2017 Fair programme
- Ornamental Plants in 1304 By Joe Gilford, Hare Nurseries, Newburgh
- For information about research in the neighbouring parish of Lathom go to www.lathomparktrust.org.uk The website is a starting point for a journey of discovery about one of the most historically significant sites in West Lancashire.
- For Burscough Heritage Group contact Colin Wareing : email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lathom and Burscough Military History Society: www.lbmhs.co.uk
- Ormskirk Historical Society: http://www.odfhs.website/
- Lancashire History Association: www.lancashirehistory.org
- Leeds and Liverpool Canal Society: www.llcs.org.uk/