In 2007 the 159 year old link between the Topham family and the Grand National was finally severed when Paddock Lodge their home on the Aintree course, was sold thus ending a remarkable tale of a remarkable family.
?“Aintree’s Queen Bee” is the story of the last of the Topham’s to rule Aintree – Mirabel Topham, the formidable matriarch who struggled to keep the Grand National alive for nearly 40 years.?It is written by Joan Rimmer, a former Daily Express reporter and Topham family friend, who was given exclusive access to letters and documents kept by Mirabel.
?Actress turned redoubtable businesswoman, Mirabel married into the Topham’s in 1922. Her husband Ronald, a scion of the Topham dynasty which ran Aintree from 1848, was a feckless, drunken womaniser and the book reveals that he was convicted for indecent behaviour only for the case not to reach the papers because of a strike.
?Mirabel Topham dominated her business and family, but was a soft touch when it came to animals and she and the author corresponded for years in the guise of their Jack Russells!? Mirabel died in 1980 and her nephew Jim, who lived with her for the last 35 years of her life, died in 2005.
?The book also interweaves the story of Aintree’s near neighbour, Haydock Park, the lavish parties and aristocratic behaviour of those who ruled racing in those days.
Joan does justice to Mirabel’s extraordinary life in this extremely readable and entertaining book.
...for those of us who love and treasure the Grand National this fascinating book provides an extremely readable insight into the life of the woman whose own life is now part of it’s great and rich history.
It does … possess it’s fair share of fascination, interest and charm – just like its subject.