Monday, 29 June 2009


The photograph above (TOP) was taken today by Yours Truly and shows the rear end of the telephone exchange in Wellington Road as seen from Crescent Road. It is not my habit to go around taking photos of rear ends; the reason in this case was to illustrate the position of the former Christ Church School.

The black-and-white picture is a copy of a copy of a photo of Christ Church School. It is from the collection of Gaynor Williams who was a pupil there and remembers in particular a teacher named Miss Phyllis Owen.

The school entrance was in Vaughan Street and the canteen was on the corner of Gordon Avenue now occupied by a MUGA kickabout area. The children walked there to get their lunches. According to my mother who in the 1920s was a pupil at Christ Church School, the kids got there a lot quicker than they went back.



Cycle track
Cycle track
A highly scientific survey . . . ahem . . . of my last six or seven months’ mail and phone calls reveals that Rhyl’s most often remembered promenade attraction is the cycling and tricycling that used to be opposite the Queens.

Readers have sent the above pictures by email. The upper one  is believed to be from around 1930, by which time I think the space was called Queens Gardens. The lower one would be a decade or more earlier when it was Pier Gardens. Same place. Thanks, Gwyn and Brian.

The following image would be pre-WW2:

Have you got a more recent photo or postcard of the cycling track, or of the roller skating rink or activities anywhere else on the prom or at the fun fair? Do send it in for the delight of other readers. The email address is

Here is a rarity – an undated ticket from when the same place was known as Queens Park Cycle Track.


Sunday, 28 June 2009


Pennaf Clwyd AlynPennaf Clwyd AlynIn the past few years the dilapidated boarding houses in West Parade have been giving way to new blocks of flats. Some of the blocks are under private ownership, although they are not really upmarket places – there is no demand for pricey accommodation around here.

Local people have not created a demand for flats at all; our younger couples in particular want and need houses – preferably with a bit of a garden for kids to play in.

The three blocks in West Parade shown above have been built by Clwyd Alyn Housing Association for elderly tenants. In the order that they were created they are: Hafan Dirion (TOP), Swn Y Mor (MIDDLE) and Gorwel Newydd.


Saturday, 27 June 2009


This afternoon I walked up Edward Henry Street, turned right onto West Parade and found gigantic advertising boards and goods displayed on both sides of the pavement causing obstructions.

Then, rounding the corner of Water Street into Crescent Road, I found vehicles parked wholly and awkwardly on the pavement.

Don’t traders and drivers who behave like this realise that they may be helping to keep visitors away from Rhyl by making the resort look like a tacky and potentially dangerous place?



Shown above are recent acquisitions. The card at the top is unposted and undated but must be from the 1900-1918 period. It is either a picture of the Royal Alexandra Hospital with a tent in the foreground, or a picture of a tent with the Royal Alexandra Hospital in the background – you can please yourselves.

The colour card is postmarked 1918 and shows the eastern seafront (looking towards town). Denbighshire County Council’s proposed promenade masterplan includes ideas to bring new features to that comparatively dull end of the prom.

Some of us are getting a little weary of hearing about masterplans.


Thursday, 25 June 2009


Fun Fair, Triang RailwayThe picture at the top is dated 1966. It shows a corner of Sydenham Avenue and West Parade where miniature trains ran on a single track ten inches wide. This is thought to have been the only installation of its kind made by Triang the famous toy company.

The colour picture was acquired recently here at Jones Towers and shows what I take to be the same ride relocated a decade or so later. It is a card posted in 1978 from Rhyl to a Mr. Foreman of Castleford, Yorks. The senders are Mrs. Gardner and Ada who say, “The weather & everything else is fine.”

Two satisfied customers!


[This reference is added here for indexing purposes: Big Wheel.]


Wednesday, 24 June 2009


This week’s quiz question is:
Where in Rhyl would you find the building shown above? It is less than half a dozen streets away from High Street.

The answer will appear on this blog a week today, i.e. Wednesday 1st July 2009.



Last Wednesday on this blog I posted the photograph above (TOP) showing the upper part of a building in the west end of Rhyl and asked what is the building and what street is it in?

The answer is ‘Cartrefle’, 22 Palace Avenue. It is a small private care home for sufferers of Alzheimer’s and similar disorders. My best wishes to the residents and their families and all the staff.


Tuesday, 23 June 2009


RhylOn Tuesday, 22 August 1961, Michael J. Gregsten and Valerie Storie were sitting in a car in a cornfield in Berkshire when someone tapped on the car window. It was a man with a gun, and subsequent events led to the murder of Mr. Gregsten and the rape and attempted murder of Ms. Storie.

A petty crook named James Hanratty (pictured above) was tried for the murder. He claimed that he was in Liverpool at the time; then he changed his tune and said he was in Rhyl.

The evidence against James Hanratty was not all convincing. Nevertheless in 1962 he was convicted and hanged while police cheerfully disregarded a confession by a likelier suspect. After it was too late, six witnesses emerged to confirm that he was in Rhyl.

Forty years after his execution a DNA test indicated that Hanratty was indeed the guilty man – and yet the doubts remain.

Photograph from The Times newspaper.


Monday, 22 June 2009


Book by Fred HobbsThis book has been published to celebrate the transformation of the old Scala cinema in Prestatyn into the first all-digital cinema in Wales combined with an arts centre, performance space, cafe bar and meeting rooms.

The author is Fred Hobbs of Prestatyn History Club and Friends of the Scala. It is a comprehensive piece of work with old photographs and advertisements, and the events are described in chronological order - an excellent book.

The price is £5.99 and it’s a limited edition so get your skates on and buy it at the cinema, tel (01745) 850197. My thanks to Councillor David Thomas of Rhyl South West for bringing the book round for me to see.


Sunday, 21 June 2009


RhylRecently published was the document 'UK Climate Projections 2009'. It says that in the next 40 or 50 years in Wales as elsewhere, winters are expected to get wetter. Sea levels will rise high enough to pose continuous threats of flooding. Summer temperatures may increase by twice as much as the increase that killed tens of thousands of people across Europe in 2003.

Every day I see wasteful use of fuel, even in my own home. I see cars being used lazily and unnecessarily. Overhead there are aircraft – the biggest polluters of all – ferrying people huge distances for trivial reasons. If we fail to reduce carbon emissions sufficiently the cost of our selfishness would have to be paid by the next generations.

I hear people say, “Why should I worry? I’ll be dead and gone by then!”

You would think they knew nobody with children or grandchildren.



RhylPictured above (TOP) is a block of flats in West Parade owned by Haigh Properties. To the east of it is the turning for River Street, and to the west is the turning for Butterton Road. The block includes No.74 where Ruth Ellis (née Neilson) was born in 1926.

Her connection with Rhyl does not extend beyond that. Her father was a musician and moved around to wherever work was likely to be found. In early 1940s the family lived in London where she tried various jobs and ended up as a night club hostess.

Ruth Ellis was the last woman to be hanged for murder in the UK.

The how and why she shot and killed her lover David Blakely, and was executed in 1955 at age of 28, can be traced in various publications and in the film 'Dance with a Stranger' starring Miranda Richardson and Rupert Everett directed by Mike Newell (1985).


Saturday, 20 June 2009


Denbighshire County Council at long last decided to have a purge and clear some of the advertising boards (A-boards) from Rhyl town centre; 81 were illegally placed. The situation had been going on for years.

A Sussex Street trader was front-paged in this week’s edition of The Journal. The trader was telling a sob story about how the cruel council had taken away “my street sign”. As the pictures above show, he had five of them: three in High Street, one (massive) in Sussex Street, and another on the corner of Queen Street.

Now other traders may be suffering because he went too far.


Friday, 19 June 2009


Here are a couple of postcards with an early 1960s flavour.

At that time Sunny Rhyl was beginning to fall. The Queens Ballroom and Queens Theatre had gone. In 1962 one of the High Street cinemas, the Regal, closed. In the same year the Billie Manders Quaintesques ended their record-breaking run of 42 consecutive summer seasons at the Pier Amphitheatre (later renamed Gaiety Theatre).

Business was ebbing away and the summer season had started to shrink. Fewer people were coming and they were staying a shorter time. In the mid 1960s when entrepreneurs such as Freddie Laker of Laker Airways started running cheap flights to the continent that, as they say, put the top hat on it.



Victory ClubFollowing renovation of the former Robins Corner Café now Les Harker's Corner Cafe on corner of West Parade and Queen Street (TOP) there are more projects in Queen Street. The other photo was taken today and shows work in progress at the Victory Club (No.60).

A similar job is scheduled at the Adelphi (No.66, to your right of the Victory). Around 1960 as a schoolboy I worked a couple of summer seasons behind the range at the Adelphi, which was then a fish & chips restaurant with waitress service. The proprietor was the late Mr. Vernon Trehearn of Savoy Enterprises.

Another Queen Street premises due for a facelift is the takeaway named The Godfather (No.28) where I’m sure they make you a pizza you can’t refuse.


Thursday, 18 June 2009


drunkennessTuesday’s Daily Post carried a story by reporter Sam Lister about a big rise in fines for drunkenness. In the same edition an editorial says "Alcohol remains as much a menace to society as it ever has," then argues for increasing alcohol prices, more prosecuting for selling to under 18s, emphasising the health risks and so on.

(This is the same newspaper that only a few months ago appeared to be supporting a half-witted campaign to reduce the prices of alcoholic drinks to save pubs going out of business.)

Banning the sale from anywhere other than bona fide pubs and off-licences might be a good way to start if accompanied by doubling of the prices and halving of the licensing hours. County councils could take the lead right now by stopping the sale of alcohol on premises that they either own or subsidise.

There would be no need for councils to wait for a change in the law; they banned smoking on their premises long before there was a legal necessity to do so.



At the top of the hill in Rhuddlan Road, on corner of Pen y Cefndy, there used to be a pair of water towers. They are pictured above (TOP) during a rare snowfall.

The towers served Rhyl from 1897 as part of a system which pumped water to the whole Rhyl district from the Dolwen Reservoir in Llannefydd. The smaller tower was older and the first to disappear; the big one was demolished in 1982.

The colour picture is a view from Rhuddlan Road showing Bibury Lodge at the foot of the big tower. In the 1940s and ‘50s the house had beautiful gardens with ponds, an orchard, glass houses and grapevines; it was demolished shortly after the big tower.

My thanks to readers George Owen and Angela for sending a goodwill message, both pictures and all the information.


Wednesday, 17 June 2009


This month at a Rhyl Town Council committee meeting I had put down an item expressing concern about incursions by private cars on the pedestrianised area. None of the other councillors saw fit to take up the baton and run with it in my absence, and this is a pity.

Previous authorities pedestrianised the area to make it safer and get rid of some of the pollution caused by motor vehicles. The ethos has been slipping away because of ineffective traffic barriers, even though the one at the top of High Street seems to be working at present.

Market Street and Sussex Street are the most problematic. The picture above was taken earlier this year on a Saturday afternoon in Sussex Street; I counted 8 vehicles in sight; most (but not all) were outside the Baptist Church. There were another five in Market Street.

The problem exists and the solution is not hard to figure out.



Here is the eye-catching upper part of a building in the west end of Rhyl. I’ve never seen such an unusual combination of shapes anywhere else. So what is the building and what street is it in?

The answer will appear on this blog a week today, i.e. Wednesday 24th June 2009.



Last Wednesday on this blog I posted the photograph above (TOP) showing something that becomes visible as you walk along a street in the west end of Rhyl. So what is the name of the street?

The answer is Lake Avenue. This part of a wall is at the end of a short alley near Wellington Road.

In Victorian times the entire wall – most it has gone – marked the western boundary of the Winter Gardens development which was the subject of a previous post.


Tuesday, 16 June 2009


Plaza CinemaToday my landlords Clwyd Alyn Housing Assoc held a get-together of tenants at Rhyl Town Hall and I went along to do a history talk. Rhyl is barely 200 years old and doesn’t have a long history. Chester, for the sake of comparison, dates back more than 2,000 years. Rhyl is a spotty and wayward teenager of a town that thinks it is grown-up but is not really mature yet.

The pace of change in Rhyl is fast and furious compared with inland towns such as Denbigh and Ruthin. In the last few years we have seen the arrival of Drift Park, departure of Ocean Beach Fun Fair, destruction of The Grange in East Parade, erection of new blocks of flats in West Parade and so on.

Pictured above is a slide from the talk. It shows The Piazza restaurant on a corner of High Street and Sussex Street. Previously the building was Plaza Cinema (1931-1984). Before that, in Victorian times, the entire corner was occupied by Royal Hotel. The hotel sold some of its space to accommodate the Plaza, and then eventually disappeared altogether.


WED 22nd JUL 015 UPDATE: In the days of Plaza Cinema there was a side-exit that would take you almost into the Royal Hotel before depositing you in High Street. On the opposite side of the street I can just about remember the Crown Hotel (Foulkes’ Bar) which I learned subsequently had incorporated the former Manchester Arms.


Sunday, 14 June 2009


These postcards are recent acquisitions. They were published in 1960s when I was a teenager in Rhyl. Card at the top shows (left to right) the boating pool, Coliseum Theatre, paddling pool and then the original Pavilion which was between Water Street and Edward Henry Street.

Click on a picture to see a bigger version.

The other card shows Coliseum, paddling pool, Pavilion, roller skating rink, and then the cycling track which was opposite the Queens. This particular card was not posted; it was part of a batch pushed through a letter box. It says, “Dear Sylvia, we were going to send you these postcards while on holiday but we didn’t stay long enough to write them. Sam & May."


Friday, 12 June 2009


The canopy that has been over the front entrance to Rhyl Town Hall for a long time - since about October 2007 - is beginning to make more sense as part of a wider fencing and scaffolding job.

Preparations are under way for repair work on building.

The town hall opened in 1876 with a long-gone market hall at the rear, and the cost of the entire development was £8,000. The bill for the repair work is likely to be considerably higher.



This is to let you know that I have resigned from Rhyl town council. I was elected in May 2008 as a representative of Bodfor ward which is the town centre area. Having seen a council year round I decided that it wasn’t worthwhile to continue.

Most decisions affecting Rhyl seem to start as recommendations from county council staff; county councillors say yes to most of these. Town council acts as an advisory body up to a point but has no power to change anything.

Of the 22 members I was the only one who didn’t belong to a political party. I worked without payment of any kind and would have remained if politics in general were not in such a mess.

We have a town council, county council, Welsh Assembly, Westminster Parliament and European Parliament. Your average person does not understand clearly who is responsible for what.

One good thing has come out of the last 12 months: this blog. It reaches a lot of readers inside and outside Rhyl. Feedback has come from Ireland, Netherlands, USA, Thailand, New Zealand and other places.

Thank you all. I’ll keep the blog going for a while and then slide back into blissful retirement.


Thursday, 11 June 2009


The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.

Long ago the only way to cross from Rhyl to Kinmel Bay was via the river bridge in Rhuddlan.

Then a private toll bridge was built at Foryd Harbour, and this in turn was superseded by the present Foryd bridge (shown above) which is sometimes referred to as ‘the blue bridge’ but – as you can see in the postcard at the top – it hasn’t always been blue.

The present bridge opened in 1932 at a time of severe economic recession. Public works tended to continue at that time (as they do now) so as not to worsen unemployment. The bridge was designed by R.G. Whitley and constructed by Messrs Dorman, Long and Co.

Recently came news of a proposed additional bridge to be built at the Foryd as an alternative for people who wish to walk or cycle across more safely.

MON 17th SEP 2018 UPDATE: The additional bridge mentioned above opened in 2013 under the name Pont y Ddraig. Use the search box at the top left of any page to find references to it.
Returning to Foryd Bridge, here is a striking image from a 1950s postcard:



Wednesday, 10 June 2009


The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.

Pictured above is part of a wall built in Victorian times. It becomes visible as you walk along a street in the west end of Rhyl. So what is the name of the street?

The answer will appear on this blog a week today, i.e. Wednesday 17th June 2009.



The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.

Last Wednesday on this blog I posted the photograph above (TOP) and said that just three or four streets from Rhyl Town Hall you would find this ivy-covered lamp post. So what street is the lamp post in?

A reader was kind enough to point out that it is not a lamp post, it's a telegraph pole or, if you like, a telephone pole. Thank you.

The answer is South Kinmel Street, which is accessible by two alleys off Kinmel Street. If you pop down the alley opposite Labour Party office you would find it sure enough.


Tuesday, 9 June 2009


The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.

Above is a picture of Foryd Hall, Rhyl. It was a big house built in the mid 1800s by Townshend Mainwaring, a Member of Parliament, as a family residence. Mr. Mainwaring was MP for Flintshire and Denbighshire, which indicates how sparse the population was in those days.

The house stood with its back to the harbour and faced an area known as ‘The Mudlands’. By the end of the 1800s with enthusiastic support from Mr. Mainwaring, this area had been developed as Marine Lake.

Marine Lake with its surrounding pleasure gardens improved the view from Foryd Hall and no doubt increased the value of the house and Mr. Mainwaring’s ‘Packet Inn’ which was nearby in Quay Street. He had other business interests in the town and in other towns.

In the late 1930s, the derelict Foryd Hall and its grounds were purchased by a Mr. P. Collins who demolished the building and stated his intention to build a Scenic Railway on the land but never got round to it.

Below is an image of Marine Lake Fun Fair, probably 1920s. It is a view from the Oakland Avenue side looking towards Foryd Hall in the distance.

The shed-like building to your right of Foryd Hall may be the Alhambra Restaurant on what would become a generation later the Ocean Beach Fun Fair site.
[The sign in centre of picture says THIS IS THE CAT & CANARY GAME.]


Saturday, 6 June 2009


The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.

Secretary of State for Wales Paul Murphy, MP for Torfaen, pictured above (centre) was tainted fairly or unfairly by revelations about MPs expenses and has been thrown out of Gordon Brown's cabinet in a recent reshuffle.

Mr. Murphy was preceded by  and has been succeeded by  Peter Hain, MP for Neath, pictured left and right.

Mr. Hain resigned from ministerial office in January 2008 when it came to light that his campaign for Deputy Leadership of the Labour Party had failed to declare donations amounting to more than £100,000.

Mr. Hain is not the worst possible choice for Secretary of Sate for Wales; he was subsequently cleared of personal wrong-doing – but he is not exactly a breath of fresh air.


Friday, 5 June 2009


The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.

Further to this week’s two previous posts relating to West Kinmel Street, here are a few notes about Vivian Hewitt (1888-1965) who was a resident of the street for around 20 years

He was born in Grimsby to a wealthy family of brewery owners. After the early death of his father the family moved to Bodfari near Denbigh, where the young Vivian grew up and developed an interest in mechanical and technical things.

He became a pioneering aviator; he created an airfield near Foryd Harbour and gave flying exhibitions over Rhyl.

Vivian Hewitt was also a racing driver and drove at Brooklands. He was very keen on ornithology and eventually established a bird sanctuary in Anglesey.

SUN 15th MAR 2015 UPDATE: From files of the late Glyn Rees - a pic of Mr. Hewitt's car parked outside his home, 'Homefield', 21 West Kinmel St.