A book called Aintree Past and Present was written on the history of Aintree Village, and
although people responded to our requests for photos and information, many came too late for
publication, the book has been out of print for some years now. However we are looking at producing another book and would still welcome more
photos, information or your comments about the Village. Please contact the Chairman at
email@example.com or leave a message via our guest book page.
The name Aintree originated from Saxon times and is interpreted to mean ‘one tree’ or ‘tree
standing alone’. At the time Aintree was mainly moss land; so perhaps the appropriate theory is
that the tree was planted by the Saxons to establish the centre of their new village. The local
people would like to believe that the Oak tree that was in Bull Bridge Lane, was the original
‘Ain-tree’, unfortunately in 2004 the tree had to be removed due to severe disease.
One of the first documented reference to Aintree is found in a Charter of Cockersand Abbey (the
monks being the most important landowners at that time), written about 1200. In 1296 William
de Aintree’s possession was 5 1/4 oxgangs of land (221 acres) and 1/4 of the Mill.
The Molyneux family became very prominent in the locality and their main home was in Sefton
until the 18C. Croxteth became their second home around 1535. It is uncertain when the family
came to own most of the land in Aintree; it is generally thought to have been granted to them by
royal favour. However, they still owned the land up to the 1930’s, when a plot of land was
purchased by Sefton Building Company to begin the building of Aintree Village.
The Molyneux family was very active in bringing about the Alt Drainage Act of 1779, which resulted
in great acres of marsh along that river becoming good agricultural land; an occurrence which
would bring hitherto unknown prosperity to the inhabitants of Aintree.
During the 19th Century, the family became noted for its sporting interests, including coursing
and steeplechasing. The second Earl of Sefton, known as Lord Dashalong, (because of his fondness
for driving a carriage and four), was a keen sportsman and gambler who sold off land to the
Waterloo Hotel at Maghull to found a steeplechase course. The rest is history.
There are several properties in the Village that were built as early as 1600’s:
Valley House Built circa 1638
Hunters House circa 1700
Abbey Cottage The Abbey name is mentioned in documents dated 1568 and can be traced back through Parish Registers as early as 1620, they farmed where the Holy Rosary Church now stands.
There are also several properties that were built in the 1700’s:
Aintree House Dr. Richard Lathom, a retired surgeon from Liverpool, came to live here until his death on 23rd April 1713, therefore this house could be almost 300 years old. Nicholas Blundell, a famous diarist, was appointed as the executor of his will, and as was the custom with men of importance at that time, Richard Lathom left ‘something on account’ to the poor of the Parish. In Sefton Church, where he is buried, a plaque states, ‘1714 Mr R.
Mill Square was built around 1750, originally as farm buildings, until Lord Sefton had them converted to small dwellings for his employees and their families. Outside one property is a stone tablet with date, ‘JET 1765’. Although we do not know what the inscription means, we are certain it was not the date it was built. However, tablets such as this were often made to celebrate an event such as a wedding or birth of a child.
Archives prove the village was not poor. Probate inventorie of a William Bower dated 1644 reads;
‘landes in Waltone and Fazackerlye and Liverpoole’, ‘Upholland and Wryghtynten’, ‘golde and
sylver’ valued £54.10s.0d., ‘sylver plate’ valued £23.6s.0d. His brother Richard died June 1624,
leaving 200 bushels of wheat valued £30.0.0. and 200 bushels of oates valued £30.0.0 Flax and
hemp was included in many inventories either listed as in the gound or in dozens. Both being
easy to grow in the damp moss.
Many prominent people lived in the area (others still do!). Two worth a mention are:
John Sadler lived at Aintree House, born 1720, son of Adam a printer. Adam bought Aintree House
in 1723 for £50. John Sadler was accused of being the publisher of ‘a most scandalous paper
lately printed at Liverpoole ...’. John later became interested in printing on pottery. He is credited
by some as being the discoverer of a method of printing on pottery from copper plates (previously
all decoration was hand painted). John married at the age of 57 and had three children. James
born 1786, ‘casually drowned in the canal at Aintree’ in 1794. Elizabeth, his only daughter lived
in Aintree Lane until her death in 1857, age 85 years.
Richard Abbey lived at Abbey Farm, (where the Holy Rosary Church stands). He was an apprentice
to John Sadler in 1767. Richard went on to open the first pottery on the Herculaneum site in South
Liverpool about 1794. He created a famous set of tiles depicting Aesop’s Fables. Both Sadler and
Abbey have pottery on display in Liverpool Museum. Many pottery sites and potters, followed in
the Liverpool area.
LEEDS & LIVERPOOL CANAL
Construction of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, the longest in single canal in the country, began in
1770 and was completed in 1816. The stretch of canal near Aintree Village was completed in 1774.
Passenger carrying boats were called ‘packet boats’ because they also carried parcels. There were
two passenger pick up points in the village, Wango Lane and Ormskirk Road, and travelling time
to Liverpool on the ‘Lancashire Witch Packet’ was two hours.
Today, access to the canal at Ormskirk Road is via ‘Wallys Steps’. Walter Crebbin, a local character
and keen angler, together with his wife they campaigned for access to be re-established after
building work nearby was completed.
As far back as the 1500’s and 1600’s, racing was held around this area. A race meeting was
advertised in a newspaper article dated July 1696, at Martin Mere, near Ormskirk. Later other race
meetings were held at Crosby, Aughton, Melling and Maghull. The last race taking place around
1786. In 1827 racing was restored in Maghull by John Formby.
A William Lynn of the Waterloo Hotel in Ranelegh Street, Liverpool, having an eye for furthering
his hotel business, planned to open up a flat racecourse at Aintree. The first race meeting taking
place on this new racecourse on 7th July 1829. Deciding then to join forces with John Formby,
they switched the races from Aintree to Maghull during 1837 and 1838.
In 1839 a syndicate was formed to organise the races, and upon purchasing the racing amenities
from William Lynn, they returned to Aintree where the first Grand National proper was held on
26th February 1839. The winning horse was named ‘Lottery’, ridden by J. Mason.
During the 1914-18 and 1939-45 World Wars there were no races at Aintree. The 1993 race was
void because there was a false start, the horses were recalled although some continued the race.
On Saturday 5th April 1997, the race was abandoned, due to a bomb scare, and thousands of
people were evacuated into the streets of Aintree. They were overwhelmed by the generosity and
hospitality they received from the locals and to commemorate this the Racecourse Company
commissioned a plaque that stands proudly on a wall near the winners enclosure. Aintree Parish
Council also dedicated a special award to the residents of Aintree for their help given.
The race was eventually held on the Monday 7th April, and was won by Lord Gyllene. Today the
Grand National course is about four miles four furlongs, where the horses will jump 30 fences.
The most famous horse to jump these fences was Red Rum, winning the National on three
occasions; 1973, 1974 and 1977 also coming second in 1975 and 1976.
There have been many improvements to the racecourse in past years, including the building of
three new grandstands, a visitor centre and a Virtual Reality simulated ride around Aintree’s
famous fences. In the heart of the racecourse a new golf complex features a superb driving range
and one of the longest nine-hole courses in the UK.
In 1953 a motor circuit was built at Aintree and quickly gained a reputation as one of the best in
the world, hosting a European Grand Prix and five British Grand Prix. Stirling Moss won his first
Grand Prix on it in 1955 and Jim Clark won the 1962 event.