Station Name: AINTREE RACECOURSE

[Source: Paul Wright]
Date opened: c.1890
Location: East of Warbreck Moor and north of Melling Avenue
Company on opening: Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway
Date closed to passengers: 31.3.1962 although last used on 25.3.1961
Date closed completely: 31.3.1962
Company on closing: British Railways (London Midland Region)
Present state: Demolished - currently the route of a cycleway/footpath.
County: Lancashire
OS Grid Ref: SJ367975
Date of visit: 19.6.2005 & 3.1.2011

Notes: Aintree Racecourse Station was located on the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railways (LYR) North Mersey Branch which had opened as a goods line on 27 August 1866 to provide a link into the Liverpool north docks. The line ran from Fazakerley Junction, on the Liverpool Exchange to Wigan Line, to Gladstone Dock. The line became an important goods route for the LYR and large yards and sorting sidings were up along it in the Aintree area. Connections were also made with both the LYR Liverpool and Preston route and with the line between Liverpool and Southport. The connections were in the form of chords. The link with the Preston line ran from east to north from Sefton Junction to Aintree Sefton Arms. The link with the Southport line ran from west to south between North Mersey Branch Junction and Marsh Lane Junction. 

The LYR originally had no intention of operating passenger services on the North Mersey Branch but the fact that it passed very close to Aintree Racecourse, the home of the Grand National, provided a good opportunity for revenue on race days as excursions could be run along the branch. On 13 May 1879 the LYR approved a single needle telegraph instrument for the signalbox that was situated at Cinder Lane which was in turn close to the Racecourse. The instrument was approved 'for the race traffic at Cinder Lane'. The approval suggests that race trains were operating on the branch as early as 1879 and that they were specifically visiting Cinder Lane although there is no evidence that any form of station existed at that time.

An LYR Board minute dated 28 March 1882 recorded that a platform was to be constructed at Cinder Lane to cater for the race traffic. It is not known if the instruction was followed up quickly but further alterations to signalling authorised on the 7 April 1886 saw bi-directional running introduced on the lines at Cinder Lane by the 13 July 1886. It is possible that the platform was constructed at that time.

It is known that for the Grand National meeting of 27 March 1890 the LYR had opened an excursion station on the east side of the road called Warbreck Moor over which the line passed on a bridge and that the station was called Aintree Cinder Lane. It is highly likely that the platform authorised in 1882 formed part of the station which had a curious layout. As the line at this point was on an embankment there was little room for a station that could cope with big crowds. To overcome this problem the eastbound track was raised to platform height and topped up to rail level with cinders. Trains going west could then use this line as a platform. Obviously when race days were held no traffic was allowed to use the eastbound track. As previously mentioned the signalling alterations that made this possible had been carried out in 1886. For the rest of the year goods services could use the line unimpeded.

Access for passengers was via two sloping paths which led up to the cinder platform from Warbreck Moor on the north side of the line. As the platform was actually a railway line none of the usual passenger facilities were provided as it was intended that passengers would quickly leave trains and later they would return at designated times and their trains would be waiting. Basic wooden structures for the use of railway staff were located by the exit at platform level and it is possible that there was a basic shelter. At street level on the east side of the road there was also a ticket collectors hut.

The station never had a public service. It served only race day specials. On race days trains would arrive from the east running on the correct line. At the end of the race meeting they would run wrong line to the east.

On 18 May 1910 the LYR renamed the station as Aintree Racecourse. Along with the LYR’s public station at Aintree Sefton Arms, and with the Cheshire Lines Committees Aintree Station, between them the three stations handled tens of thousands of race goers.

On 1 January 1922 the LYR was absorbed by the London North Western Railway and a year later that company became part of the London Midland & Scottish Railway (LMS). The 1920s and 1930s were probably the busiest years for the station but even after nationalisation on 1 January 1948 Aintree Racecourse continued to handle race day specials. By the early 1960s many people were using road transport to visit the Grand National and although dozens of excursion trains continued to run they could be accommodated at Aintree Sefton Arms or at the former CLC station which had become known as Aintree Central after 1950. The last excursions ran to Aintree Racecourse on 25 March 1961 and the station officially closed from 31 March 1962.

In 1969 the line from the Fazakerley sidings to Sefton Junction was singled. Through the site of the station it was the westbound line that was lifted and the cinders were removed from the eastbound track exposing the sleepers in the usual way. The wooden platform supports survived until the lines closure.. Excursions continued to operate through the station up until the 1970s for British Rail managers but they stabled at Fazakerley sidings which were to the east of the station.

The line continued to be used for goods services to the north docks until 2 February 1971 when the section of line between North Mersey Junction and the docks closed. Trains continued to operate to a British Rail engineering depot at Fazakerley but after the 1 May 1977 they could only run to the depot from the west as the connection with the Liverpool to Wigan line at the east end of the branch was removed on that date. In 1987 the Fazakerley engineers depot closed and the line from Sefton Junction to Fazakerley sidings, which ran through Aintree Racecourse station, was lifted .During the 1990s the route of the line through the station was converted into a cycleway and footpath.


Tickets from Michael Stewart

Additional source: The research notes of Tony Graham from LYR Records.

To see the other stations on the North Mersey Branch click on the station name: Ford, Linacre Road & Gladstone Dock


On 8 November 1912 a Race Day special of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway stands at Aintree Racecourse station. The picture is looking east and the train is standing on what would have normally been the westbound track of the North Mersey branch. The eastbound track can be seen running along the platform which was constructed from a timber facing backfilled with cinders. The eastbound track was raised up through the station site so it could run along the platform. On race days the eastbound line was taken out of use and the westbound became bi-directional. Trains would have arrived almost in convoy all of them heading west. They would then have gone onto the Aintree Gridiron for servicing. After the Grand National was over they would pick up passengers from the station heading east.
Photo from John Mann collection




1893 1:2,500 OS map

1908 1:2,500 OS map

1958 1:2,500 OS map

Looking south along Warbreck Moor in the early 20th Century towards Aintree Racecourse station. The single platform of the station was to the left of the bridge on the east side of the road. Access ramps and steps led up to the station from both sides of the Warbreck Moor.
Photo from John Mann collection


Aintree Racecourse station looking west on 22 October 1963. Heading east along the platform is Stanier 5MT (Black 5) locomotive number 44822.
Photo courtesy of David Bryant and John Bannon from their Steam on Merseyside & Beyond book.

Looking east at Aintree Racecourse station in 1965 as an ex LMS 8F locomotive heads west with a goods service. The station's single platform that had a railway line running along it, for eastbound traffic, can be seen to the left. One of the rails from the eastbound line can be made out in the picture running along the platform. When the station was in use, which was only ever on race days, the westbound line became bi-directional.
Photo by Jon Hughes

On 10th of March 1985 a Class 45 locomotive number 45 006 can be seen heading west through Aintree Racecourse station on an engineers train. The train was travelling along the site of the station's single platform. To the right of the train the wooden supports from the platform can be seen. By 1985 the line had been singled and the former eastbound track (the one that ran along the platform) had become bi-directional. When the station was open the eastbound track was covered up to the top of the rail with cinders which formed the platform.
Photo by Martin Brown

Looking east at the site of Aintree Racecourse Station in May 2003
Photo by Stephen Hoople

Aintree Racecourse station looking east from the Warbreck Moor bridge in January 2011. The station had only a single platform which was located to the left of the path. The metal fence marks the rear of the platform. The platform was unusual in that it was actually the eastbound track of the North Mersey Branch raised up above the level of the westbound. The track was then topped off with cinders so that it could be used as a platform. It was not used as a running line when the station was open for excursions.
Photo by Paul Wright

January 2011

January 2011

Click on thumbnail to enlarge

 

 

 

[Source: Paul Wright]


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