Friday, 30 January 2009

FLASHBACK #7

Promenade cycles tricycles

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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The undated postcard above is probably from late 1920s and shows the children’s cycling area on the promenade (in Queens Gardens opposite the Queens Theatre and Ballroom, now Queens Market). In the background to your left is the original Rhyl Pavilion theatre, which opened in 1908.

Cycling the same way round a roundabout in that rather sedate fashion may seem old hat in this skateboard era, but simple pleasures endure. The cycling was still there 30 years later when I was going large on the prom. Some of the tricycles had minds of their own, I recall – like supermarket trolleys of today.

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SUN 10th JAN 2016 UPDATE: Here are alternative views of the cycling track on cards, both postmarked 1932:

Promenade cycles tricycles

Promenade cycles tricycles

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Thursday, 29 January 2009

NEIGHBOURS FROM WHERE?

Easy StreetTHIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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In a recent edition of The Journal there was a story about Clwyd Alyn Housing Association’s policies on antisocial behaviour. Clwyd Alyn is the biggest landlord in the Bodfor ward. I am a Clwyd Alyn tenant and know that the neighbours issue is always current.

Clwyd Alyn deserve a high level of complaints. They knowingly give accommodation to people with behavioural problems and make a lot of money out of it. Clearly, a proportion of their tenants are addicted to alcohol and/or other drugs and are mentally ill and maybe have a history of offending and/or eviction.

Giving shelter to people like these may be profitable, but what does it do to streets such as Princes Street, Edward Henry Street and so on?

In Edward Henry Street is a beautifully restored property, the result of a project said to have cost nearly £1.5 million. Inside are small business units intended for starter companies, and also spaces for community use. No takers so far.

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Wednesday, 28 January 2009

MESSAGES

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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There is still a reluctance in some quarters to recognise that, although alcohol is legal it is just as much a drug and just as damaging as illegal drugs. Alcohol remains a nudge-nudge joke among its users, but there is nothing more corrosive in a community than this stuff. It damages lives and destroys families.

During a survey carried out by Rhyl Youth Action Group (RYAG) last year, nearly 700 young people who live in Rhyl were asked a number of questions. One was, “What things do you dislike most about Rhyl?” The second most frequent answer – only narrowly defeated by Litter/Rubbish – was Drug/Alcohol Problems.

Pity, therefore, that a councillor seems to be running a campaign in Rhyl in favour of alcohol use, along the lines of wanting to ‘keep our pubs and clubs in business’ and wanting them to stay financially accessible – by which I think he means cheap. This championing of a problematic drug seems to me highly irresponsible.

This week I was pleased to note that the Westminster Government has reversed the downward classification of cannabis and returned it to Class B status. Cannabis users talk in terms of ‘sensible use’ and ‘social use’ just as alcohol users talk of ‘sensible drinking’ and ‘social drinking’.

For the sake of young people, we ought to be sending a clear message: Kick all this stuff out of your life; you can live perfectly well without it.

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Tuesday, 27 January 2009

UPBEAT

RYAGTHIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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Pictured above are members of Rhyl Youth Action Group (RYAG) whose HQ is on the corner of Wellington Road and Elwy Street, picking up a zoom award for the group’s DVD titled ‘Rhyl’s Revival’ as best documentary 2009 at the Wales International Young People’s Film Festival.

The DVD runs just over 12 minutes and was shot on the seafront, in the town centre and various other places in the west and south west areas. Its message is that Rhyl is a good place to grow up, there’s plenty to do and the current regeneration effort means that the town has a promising future.

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Sunday, 25 January 2009

DOUBLE UP

Fun Fair THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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The photo above is from the collection of Rhyl Library. In this aerial shot you can see the double fun fair as it was in 1960.

Click on the picture to see a bigger version.

In the foreground is the Ocean Beach site; bottom left is the main entrance on the corner of West Parade and Sydenham Avenue, and bottom right is the doomed Ritz Ballroom.

In the background is Marine Lake with its Figure Eight Rollercoaster, and an enclosed track for speed boats. You can see a motor launch snaking away with group of passengers for a trip round the lake.

Ocean Beach and Marine Lake fun fairs were combined under the name Pleasure Beach. The complex was managed on behalf of Rhyl Amusements Ltd by Eric Hughes whose book ‘Rhyl at The Fun Fair' includes this picture and many more.

The book is out of print but you could see it at Rhyl Library (01745) 353814.

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Wednesday, 21 January 2009

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD #1


THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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This picture above shows a Victorian submarine with a Rhyl connection. It is the ‘Resurgam’, which was designed as a weapon rather than a passenger vessel. It was built in Birkenhead and launched on November 26th, 1879.

The Resurgam was on maiden voyage from there to Portsmouth when it developed mechanical problems and docked at Rhyl for repairs. One windy night the submarine was towed back into deep water by a steam yacht.

Then the steam yacht developed engine problems and – to cut a long story short – before they had got very far out from Rhyl, the submarine sank. ‘Resurgam’ is latin for ‘I shall rise again’. It didn’t that time.

To read the story in greater detail, please click on the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurgam

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Sunday, 18 January 2009

FLASHBACK #6

Fun Fair
Fun Fair

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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These pictures show Marine Lake Fun Fair in the 1920s. They were taken from the Wellington Road side of the lake. The one at the top is by Rhyl photographer Rae Pickard.

In the background of the pictures - to your right - the ‘Canadian’ Water Chute was the first novelty ride. You would get in a big flat-bottomed boat and be raised in a lift then shoved down the chute with an oarsman behind you to steady the boat as it hit the water.

After a few years the water chute was closed following a fatal accident. Many early 20th century fun fair rides would fail to get past the army of risk assessors that we have today! Most of the other rides at Marine Lake were created by clever Yorkshire-born engineer Albert Barnes.

In the background - to your left - the big white structure is the Figure Eight Rollercoaster. Mr. Barnes built it where it stood.

He also built miniature locomotives at his Albion Works in Rhyl for use at Marine Lake and for sale to other towns. He became eventually a Rhyl Urban District councillor and was a man of many other parts. His contribution to Rhyl was enormous, and yet he seems largely forgotten.

Albert Barnes ought to be commemorated officially.

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PING PONG


THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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Shown above is the top half of a Labour Party leaflet circulated recently. It refers to Denbighshire council proposals to cut back on street and cemetery maintenance to save money. “The Vale of Clwyd Labour Party,” says the leaflet, “believes that with sand dunes and sand banks in our town centres, weeds growing in the high street, flower beds pulled up the only missing is tumbleweed blowing down the high street.”

Say No to Tumble Weed towns, it says. Sign our petition, it says. Well, Denbighshire council agreed the cuts anyway, as they reluctantly have to from time to time when budget management becomes an issue.

You should think twice before putting your name and address on a political party’s leaflet, or you may be treated thereafter as a party supporter and sent all kinds of bumf – especially when a General Election is in the offing.

The Conservatives’ newsletter dated Winter 08, tended to claim ownership of public concerns about the Pavilion Theatre and Rhyl High School. The implication was that Denbighshire and/or Labour were getting things wrong or didn’t care. Tory publications such as this call for your support and – of course – for your name and address.

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THE ARCHERS

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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One of Rhyl’s best-publicised residents is David Archer, known locally as ‘Archie’, who was recently convicted of his 299th offence which was stealing a bottle of champagne from Marks & Spencer in Llandudno.

His ineptitude as a thief seems never to have led him to try some other profession. He is said to have spent in small instalments the equivalent of two life sentences behind bars. The cost to the public in terms of police resources, courts, prison, probation, rehabilitation and other services, must be gigantic.

Some commentators may seize upon his case history as evidence that ‘prison doesn’t work’. I would say that prison does work because when he is behind bars he is unable to commit offences against the community.

What would you do with the Archers of this world?

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WED 30th OCT 2009 UPDATE: This week The Visitor newspaper reported that Mr. Archer has been jailed for 12 weeks for attempting to steal a Cancer Research collection box from a pub in Colwyn Bay. It was his 318th conviction.

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TUE 29th DEC 2009 UPDATE: In yesterday’s Daily Post, Dan Beavan reported that Mr. Archer had been convicted of 321st offence: stealing two bottles of whisky. He was ordered to spend a day in jail and pay £85 costs.

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FRI 9th SEP 2016 UPDATE: Mr. Archer has celebrated 50 years as a criminal by being convicted again for the 371st time. Story in Daily Post: http://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/north-wales-news/david-archer-jail-theft-abergele-11863157

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Monday, 12 January 2009

MR CHEETHAM

Rhyl
THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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In Rhyl just over 100 years ago, visitor numbers were high and many business opportunities suggested themselves to the town’s entrepreneurs. Arthur Cheetham was versatile. Down on the beach he gave lectures on phrenology and would read your character by feeling the bumps on your head. He was a printer, publisher and retailer of stationery.

The advert above mentions that he was also a medical electrician, a hygienist, and the inventor of a patent medical battery.

Mr. Cheetham loved scientific novelties and  he was a photographer, so it is not surprising that he started making films as soon as the technology became available. He made films round the streets of Rhyl and elsewhere in North Wales, and exhibited them locally to astonished audiences.

Moving pictures! Imagine seeing them for the first time ever!

Arthur Cheetham was an enterprising man and a genuine movie pioneer. You can read more about him in the book ‘Glorious Rhyl - a peep at the past’ by Philip Lloyd, published in 2002.

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Monday, 5 January 2009

MILLER'S CROSSING

Chief Executive, Denbighshire County CouncilTHIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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Today the good citizens of Rhyl picked their way carefully across icy pavements and took a swipe at me in passing, being clearly of the opinion that we town councillors should see to it that county councillors should see to it that the relevant head of department at the county council should see to it that the staff throw grit on every inch of pavement across the entire county as soon as the temperature drops to zero.

Denbighshire County Council’s chief executive Ian Miller (pictured above doing a publicity stunt in Rhyl, January 2003) may or may not have agreed with the public on this point or commiserated, perhaps, with townspeople who went for a bus today and found the bus station closed for renovation (for ‘up to’ nine months) and buses departing from other locations. We’ll never know. Mr. Miller resigned last November.

Mr. Miller had an excellent prose writing style; it was almost a pleasure to receive from him – as I did on more than one occasion - a letter or email saying no. He resigned without explanation just before an inspector’s report revealed that the county authority was performing badly (blog posts passim). Mr. Miller offered no explanation for his departure, and he was not required to work a period of notice. What’s more he is said to have received a handsome pay-off.

Labour and Conservative MPs, AMs and councillors – and the press – found themselves in rare agreement that details of the settlement should be made public. Denbighshire refused on the grounds that the information was personal to Mr. Miller. That did not surprise me.

Once, I enquired of North Wales Police about the circumstances under which an officer had left the force; I was told that the police could not provide that information – even under the Freedom of Information Act ­­– because it was personal to the officer in question. Not long ago I phoned Denbighshire council offices to find out the salary of a particular council officer and met with a similar response:

‘I’m sorry I can’t tell you that. It’s personal, you see,’ explained a nice lady with a lilting Welsh accent. ‘In that case, what general grade or salary band would he be on?’ I asked.

‘I’m sorry I can’t tell you that, either. He’s the only one on it, and therefore the information would still be personal.’

I sighed and stabbed the wallpaper with my pen. ‘That information must have been in a newspaper advert for the job vacancy. Can you tell me what newspaper and when it appeared?’

‘I’m sorry I can’t tell you that.’

I drummed my fingers on the messed-up wallpaper and told her, ‘Well, I’m glad I didn’t marry YOU. You would never tell me ANYTHING. I’d say, did you have a nice day at the office dear, and you’d say: I’m sorry I can’t tell you that!’

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Thursday, 1 January 2009

FLASHBACK #5

Punch and JudyTHIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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At the top of High Street, the clock tower which stands in splendid isolation on a traffic island, looks as if it has always been there. Well, it hasn’t. The clock tower was erected in 1948 on the promenade walkway a few yards north east of where it is now and was usually referred to as the promenade clock.

The picture above shows the clock tower in its old location. In the background to the left of the photo is the Gaiety Theatre (previously named the Pier Amphitheatre). In the foreground, Professor Ted Green delivers the tale of ‘Punch and Judy’ to an unreconstructed audience.

The picture is dated 1982. I lifted it shamelessly from Chris Somerville’s marvellous web site about ‘Punch and Judy’ shows: http://www.punchandjudy.com/

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THU 9th APR 2015 UPDATE: Below is/are Punch and Judy presumably in the mid-to-late 1920s near the Conwy Memorial drinking fountain on promenade, opposite High Street:

Punch and Judy

Punch and the fountain had been located previously a few yards to the west, opposite the Queens.

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