When Ormskirk bound trains ran via North Mersey Branch

Back on 19th November 2020, via a Facebook posting, I asked this:-

I came across the black and white photo recently and it made me think because the destination board would have involved the train using the long closed North Mersey Branch from Bootle to Aintree via Linacre Road and Ford Stations. Those stations and that line ceased to be used for passenger trains in April 1951 except of course for Grand National trains. I’ve also attached a view of the start of the line [as it is today] just south of the present Aintree Station. Does anyone recall using it on a passenger train?

I also included a shot of the local British Rail network as it was back in the day when the North Mersey Branch was electrified:-

My good friend Jonathan Cadwallader responded to my FB posting by saying this – I have travelled on that line. Sometime in, I think, the late 1970s there was engineering work in the Kirkdale/Orrell Park area. In those days replacing a train service with buses was only done as a last resort. To maintain trains to Ormskirk, diesel multiple units ran from the reversing siding south of Sandhills, connecting with electric trains bound for Southport. They ran non-stop through Bootle and took the Aintree route from Marsh Lane Junction, re-joining the Ormskirk line immediately south of Aintree Station, as shown in your photo and then continuing to Ormskirk. I can’t recall whether this was just for one or two weekends or if these trains ran Monday to Friday as well.

And then a couple of days ago Jonathan came across a photo he’d taken when one of the dmu workings had taken place. His recollection is that the photo would probably date from the winter of 1983 or 1984. Here’s the shot he took as the dmu was leaving the usual route of Ormskirk – Liverpool trains at Aintree junction:-

My thanks to Jonathan for digging this photo out and allowing me to share it. Comparing it with the present scene in my own photo (above) of the junction as it is today shows very considerable change indeed.

Please click on the photos to enlarge them.