Infobox UK place
country = England
latitude = 53.547
longitude = -2.785
official_name = Skelmersdale
population = 38,813
shire_district = West Lancashire
shire_county = Lancashire
region = North West England
constituency_westminster = West Lancashire
post_town = SKELMERSDALE
postcode_district = WN8
postcode_area = WN
dial_code = 01695
os_grid_reference = SD4806

static_image_caption = The Concourse Shopping Centre, Skelmersdale
london_distance= convert|180|mi|km|abbr=on SE

Skelmersdale is a town in West Lancashire, England. It lies on high-ground on the River Tawd, convert|12.7|mi|km|1|lk=on to the northeast of Liverpool, convert|15|mi|km|1 south-southwest of Preston and convert|22.8|mi|km|0 west-northwest of Manchester. As of 2006, Skelmersdale had a population of 38,813, [ [ "Great Britain" World Gazetteer] ] down from 41,000 in 2004. The town is known locally as Skem.The first recorded use of the name Skelmersdale appears in the "Domesday Book" of 1066. 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 1800s and continued to expand during that century to give rise to Skelmersdale as an important colliery village. By the late-19th century, Skelmersdale had acquired a reputation as "a particularly bare, unpleasing district" owing to its coal mines and brickworks.

Skelmersdale was designated as a new town in 1961.



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 place-name book suggests that it may be of Celtic origin, with the place-names being in Celtic place-name order, i.e. "Element/personal name/word", rather than "Personal name/word/element", as with Old English|date=July 2008

It is known locally as "Skem",Ward, David. [,7843,1688251,00.html "Back to the drawing board"] , "The Guardian", January 18, 2006. Retrieved on May 12, 2008.] 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 which has now developed.

Early history

Until the creation of Skelmersdale Urban District Council at the end of the 19th century, the town was part of the Parish of Ormskirk in the West Derby hundred, an ancient subdivision of Lancashire, covering the south-west of the county.

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. [Pevsner, Nikolaus, Sir (2002) "North Lancashire" Yale University Press, New Haven ISBN 0-300-09617-8 p. 226;] 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 colleries - most of them closed in the 1920s and 30s.

The miners, many of whom were Welsh immigrants, brought with them their own brand of non-conformist 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 Liverpool Road, 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. The River Tawd flows through Skelmersdale into a country park. The main country park is at Ashurst Beacon, a hillside location that is also home to a Golf Club.

New town

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 Liverpool residents, the town retains a strong association with Liverpool to which it is linked via the M58 motorway.

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 town en masse, resulting in an increase in crime, drug abuse and poverty. Today, however, West Lancashire has one of the lowest recorded crime rates in England.Fact|date=October 2007

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. [ [ welcome to skelmersdale vision > progress diary ] ] Among the proposals was a new central focus for the entertainment and commerce for the town in the evening.



The layout of the town is unique for the oversized roundabouts (the largest of which is "Half Mile Island") and a complete absence of traffic lights. Skelmersdale's road system has improved with better signage, although visitors still frequently get lost.

The M58 motorway (Liverpool - Wigan Motorway) runs along the south of Skelmersdale from the nearby M6 motorway to the Switch Island interchange at Liverpool. The A570 and the A577 both provide connections.

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", "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.

Roads in the industrial estates and the main roads in the town such as Gillibrands Road follow the usual naming conventions.


The nearest railway station is Upholland railway station on the Wigan Wallgate to Kirkby branch line (historically part of the Liverpool and Bury Railway line. [ [ "Disused Stations:Skelmersdale" Subterranea Britannica] ] ) The Skelmersdale Branch previously connected Skelmersdale to Ormskirk and Rainford Junction. The rebuilding of a dedicated connection linking the town to Upholland has been proposed, which would result in the reopening of Skelmersdale railway station.


Skelmersdale has a number of primary schools, and has three high schools. These are Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic High School an Engineering College, Lathom High School a Technology College and Glenburn Sports College.

Skelmersdale & Ormskirk College has a campus in the centre of the town. The college merged with Newcastle College in 2007 [cite web | title = Skelmersdale College (Dissolution) Order 2007 | publisher = Office of Public Sector Information | date = 2007-08-01 | url = | accessdate = 2008-08-27] and was recently graded as 'outstanding' in a recent OFSTED inspection. [cite web | last = OFSTED | title = Full college inspection report | date = 2008-07-25 | url = | accessdate = 2008-08-27]

Skelmersdale also is home to a large public library whose facilities include free internet access and an extensive local history section. [cite web | url= | title = Welcome to the Library and Information Service web site | accessdate=2008-02-26 | publisher=Lancashire County Council]


Although consisting predominantly of housing estates, Skelmersdale's industry includes the Co-operative Bank (Skelmersdale's single largest employer), the cosmetic manufacturer Constance Carroll, a distribution centre for P&G, potato snacks from Walkers, 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. Skelmersdale is also home to Frederick's Dairies who make ice cream for Nestle and own several parlours across Lancashire.

hopping centres

Skelmersdale's town centre is made up of The Concourse Shopping Centre, [ [ Welcome to The Concourse Shopping Centre, Located in Skelmersdale ] ] colloquially known as "The Conny", and an ASDA supermarket.


The town's football team, Skelmersdale United, plays in the Unibond 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 F.C. for many years.

The town is also host to a quite famous archery club, The Bowmen of Skelmersdale, [ [ Bowmen of Skelmersdale] ] whose members hold over 70 national records and Fourteen world records. The world records are held by three individuals from the same family.Fact|date=September 2007


Further reading

* Wilson, L. Hugh (1964) "Skelmersdale new town planning proposals : report on basic plan" prepared for the Skelmersdale Development 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, Skelmersdale;

External links

* [ Skelmersdale Heritage Society website]
* [ Skelmersdale United FC Home Page]
* [ Skelmersdale History]
* [ Potential Rail Improvements in North Western England] - Evidence presented to the Transport Select Committee, 2002-03
* [ Skelmersdale Advertiser]
* [ Skelmersdale Champion]

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