Grand National Specials
One of the most interesting forms of traffic over the North Liverpool extension line (i.e Halewood to Aintree and Huskisson) were the annual race specials to Aintree Central, run once a year for race goers to the Grand National Meeting at Aintree.
These were supplemented by Horse Box trains conveying the horses themselves, operating as early as the Wednesday before the actual meeting. These Horsebox trains over the post war years seem to have brought a fairly steady stream of B17's from such depots as March and Cambridge and I would suspect that B1's and K3's would also have been seen on such traffic.
The race specials themselves brought a rich variety of traffic to Aintree Central in the form of A3's, B1's, Compounds, 2P's , Black 5's, Jubillee's, B17's, Crabs, Standard 2's and 4's and 5's and 4F's among others. Most probably a V2 visited at some time (anyone help here?) plus it is also thought that a Clan arrived on one occasion. Certainly there is photographic evidence of a class 47 (Type 4) D1837 visiting in later years on a train from Glasgow on the 26th of March 1963 (Yes I know this is a steam site!)
Loco's off incoming specials were serviced down the line at Walton Depot (27E) Given that in later years the turntable there was out of action, things must have a been a bit on the hectic side - Loco's being sent out to turn via the triangle at Walton! See Fazakerley Jnc'c North South and West on the map below.
It seems there was usually a station pilot in evidence at Aintree on these days, 4F 43988 being used on one occasion in the 60's. It's duties that day included turning a whole train on the triangle at Walton due to the fact that it contained an ex Devon-Belle Observation Car in it's formation.
Of course the origination of these special trains changed from year to year but Bristol, Cleethorpes, Gloucester, Luton, Newcastle and Manchester seem to have been regular starting points at least up until the very late 1950's. Traffic gradually reduced post 1945 but even as late as 1962 there were seven specials to Aintree Central . These were:-
Manchester Cent 73142&44717
Kings Norton 44688
Cleethorpes 76087 & 44868
It was not unknown before WW2 for incoming loco's and stock to be sent up to Southport Lord St (after emptying) in order to be serviced there. This was due to the immense pressure on the shed at Walton. I haven't come across evidence of this practice post WW2, but it could not be ruled out. I await peoples notes on this with interest.
Given what a spectacular attraction Aintree Central was on GN days, it is amazing how little evidence exists of this traffic in the form of photographs (And certainly not as far as I know, at all on Cine) That said I recommend you check out a wonderful set of photographs in a fairly recent edition of Backtrack. I don't have the full details of this to hand , but will post them here asap. See also Steam World for March 1992 which includes some colour shots too!
I look forward to posting your Aintree Central GN photographs here in the not so distant future! Watch this space!.