Welcome again to Then and Now, where each week we compare images of Merseyside streets, landmarks and buildings from bygone days with how they look today.

Our main photo this week shows the Queen and Queen Mother enjoying the annual spectacle of the Grand National at Aintree Racecourse. The date is March 24th 1956.

The royal couple, accompanied by Lord Derby and the Earl of Sefton, are being welcomed by racegoers as police organise a discreet cordon.

The Grand National of 1956 was famously remembered for the sudden fall of the overwhelming favourite Devon Loch, owned by the Queen Mother, just 40 yards from the finishing post.

Ridden by Dick Francis, Devon Loch had a five-length lead over his nearest challenger E.S.B. when he suddenly made a half-jump in the air. Although he was unable to continue the race, Devon Loch recovered and lived another six years.

When asked if she was disappointed, the Queen Mother remarked: ‘Oh, that’s racing!’

Deserted Aintree, Liverpool due to Coronavirus COVID-19

Deserted Aintree, Liverpool a year on from 2019 when record crowds attended the famous race 02 April 2020

The Devon Loch incident was not the first time a horse had tried to jump a ghost fence in the Grand National run-in. It happened in 1901 when Grudon attempted the same manoeuvre. This time, horse and jockey carried on and won the race.

Aintree looks very different in our modern image from April 2020. It is only a year on from the record crowds of 2019, but now the racecourse is deserted due to Covid 19 restrictions.

The 2019 winner, Tiger Roll, was the first horse to win back-to-back Nationals since Red Rum in 1974. He was also the first favourite to win the race since Comply or Die in 2008.

Hundreds of pictures from an unforgettable decade are packed into Clive Hardy’s fascinating book Around Merseyside in the 1960s. It’s available from our online shop or by calling the hotline on 01928 503777.