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Earliest meeting: Saturday 14th May 1859
Final meeting: Saturday 18th August 1860
Rock Ferry is a suburb of Birkenhead on the Wirral Peninsula, but prior to 1974 it was in Cheshire and first held steeplechase races in 1859. The area was dominated by Derby House and its estate which was owned by the Minshull family. The racecourse was on the estate close to the local hostelry, the Derby Arms, where Ordinaries were served and the prizes for the races were presented. Records indicate that Liverpool Amateur Races were held at the course on Saturday 14th May 1859 with the main race of the day being the Mersey Steeplechase over 1 ¾ miles. However, whilst at first glance this appears to have been a steeplechase meeting, in truth these were a series of foot races between individuals. The opening Rock Ferry Trial Stakes over half a mile was won by Mr H Bardswell; the Rock Ferry Steeplechase over 1 ¼ miles by Mr W M Bower, and the feature Merseyside Steeplechase by Mr H R Robertson. These were annual affairs, and the next year a meeting took place on Saturday 18th August 1860. Although the event was still taking place in May 1876 the races were quite clearly outside the rules of racing!

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Minshulls
Principal Races

Mersey Steeplechase, Rock Ferry Steeplechase, Rock Ferry Trial Stakes, Rock Ferry Consolation Stakes.

The full days race programme consisted of 5 races, three of which are shown, with the other two being A Match between sprint of 100 yards between A.Campbell and G.B.Shaw, and The Consolation Stakes over 4 furlongs.
The Stewards for the meeting were Colonel H.B.H.Rogers, Captain Faulkner and G.B.Shaw Esquire.
The final meeting took place on Saturday 18th August 1860.
Course today It is known that the meeting took place in the vicinity of the Derby Arms public house which still exists today. Given that Woodward Road is nearby, John Matthews asks whether the course was situated on the old Woodward Estate? A rough outline of where this estate would have extended, probably encapsulating the current Cammel Laird football ground as well, is shown below. If anyone has access to an 1859 map of the area then please make contact.
If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email

Much of the information about this course has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

London Illustrated News

Racing Illustrated 1895-1899

The Sporting & Dramatic Illustrated

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Sporting Magazine

A Long Time Gone by Chris Pitt first published in 1996 ISBN 0 900599 89 8

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1727

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
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  Quantity Cost
Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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