Last Wednesday I posted the picture (TOP) and said that the door seemed to have a bit of character about it, and that the property was on a main road in Rhyl and appeared to be unoccupied. So where was the door?
The answer is Marine Drive. The door is the main entrance to Sunholme, 17-18 Marine Drive.
Until recently Sunholme was a residential home for the elderly. Back in the 1950s it was a private hotel with a regular full-page illustrated advert in Rhyl Urban District Council’s annual tourist guide. The 1953 guide speaks of 20 bedrooms all with hot & cold water and electric fires, electric lift to all floors, interior sprung mattresses throughout, plus television and a garage; the resident proprietors were Mr & Mrs R. Gibbins.
Shown above (TOP) is a recent picture of Hafan Deg Day Centre for Older People, Grange Road, Rhyl. At the rear of the day centre in a horseshoe shape is War Memorial Court which comprises 44 flats (sheltered accommodation). The entire complex is owned by Denbighshire County Council.
The other picture is from the collection of Gaynor Williams and shows what was there before: The War Memorial Hospital, a general hospital built in memory of local men who died in action in World War One 1914-18. It opened officially in 1923 and was demolished 60 years later.
Further information about the hospital can be found in ‘Memory Lane Volume 2’ by Harry Thomas. The book was published in 2004 by Gwasg Helygain 68/70 Kinmel Street, Rhyl LL18 1AW, tel (01745) 331411, email: email@example.com
The colour picture above was taken a week or two ago and shows the eye-catching Marina Apartments block of flats in Marine Drive. It is owned by Haigh Properties Ltd who also own the new building on the right, Hydro Apartments.
Marine Hydro was a major hotel as the full page advert from a Rhyl Urban District Council tourist guide shows. In its earliest days the hotel could provide hydrotherapy (water therapy) to soothe your pains and treat your ailments.
This community centre in Wellington Road is where Rhyl Town Council has its offices and holds meetings. When resigning as a town councillor last month I said, “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.”
Rhyl Town Council is a community council, and I heard a couple of days ago the Welsh Assembly is seeking powers from Westminster to strengthen the role of community councils in Wales and bring decision-making closer to the ground. It is a laudably democratic aim, but a lot of community councillors are county councillors as well – so the move wouldn’t spread the power around very much.
I would advocate scrapping town and county councillors altogether and making the county’s heads of department stand for direct re-election by the public every four years. That would ensure the highly paid heads of education, environment, housing, planning and so on, stayed in tune with the community and thought twice before foisting on us so many changes for which we never asked.
Here are two more postcards from the collection of Ann Hayes of Ruthin. The comments are by Ann:
High Street - you may have seen this one before but it’s a lovely glimpse of High Street at the turn of the last century. I think I bought it from someone in the USA.
The Shopkeeper - this is a very faded postcard and I have tried to enhance it in Photoshop. I haven't been able to identify where the shop is, but the franking is dated 2 January 1906 at Rhyl. The only clue I can see is the (dog?) bowl in front of the shop which has the name Hooson or Hodson on it. The card is addressed to Aunty in Portdonorwic and says, "Everything over and doing well a bonnie little girl. With best wishes for a bright new year, James". As well as meat there are loaves of bread and tinned food in the windows.
I feel deeply sorry to record here the death last Thursday of writer Malcolm Jones who was in his late sixties. Malcolm was a Rhyl lad, his father Douggie ran the rates department of the local council. Around 1960 as a teenager Malcolm was a pop/rock drummer with a group named The Dolphins, which gained a reputation for being ahead of its time, and he became a local entertainment agent and manager.
Malcolm became best known for creative writing; he was a tutor in the subject. A couple of years ago a collection of his poems was published as ‘Across Surrendered Ground’. In 1992 he brought out ‘When The Sea Came By’ about the Towyn floods disaster of 1990. Back in the mid 1980s Malcolm produced a children’s story set in Rhyl: ‘Norman And The Seagull’ with illustrations by Jim Taylor.
In recent years Malcolm seemed reclusive and plagued by illness and his own demons. Last time I saw him was in 2007; he was hospitalised at the Alex after a domestic accident. ‘We must do a project together,’ he said, ‘Give me your phone number. When I get out of here I’ll get in touch’. He never did and I knew he wouldn’t. Malcolm had past the point of organising himself to that extent.
My thanks go to retired musician and ex-Secretary of the North Wales Coast branch of Musicians’ Union, Morgan Borthwick, for letting me know that Malcolm had passed away.
The picture above (TOP) shows the Twiltex shop which sells furniture, carpets and drapery at Westcliffe Buildings, Wellington Road, Rhyl. The shop is located between Butterton Road and St John’s Church. A recent email from Mr John Jones has revealed that the site was once occupied by the Westcliffe Garage.
John says, “Attached are two photos of the Westcliffe Garage taken in the 1930s. My father, H. M. Jones – he is in the photos – ran the garage from about 1930 to his retirement in 1949. During World War Two the Army based at Kinmel Park Camp requisitioned the garage for storing vehicles and equipment, so my father ran his business from Brig-a-Don Garage, which was on the other side of Wellington Road facing St John’s Church.
“In addition to doing normal garage repairs Westcliffe Garage could accommodate up to 150 cars as in those days visitors tended to garage their vehicles under cover rather than leave them on the street during their stay. At this time we lived round the corner at 49 Butterton Road and later moved to 145 Wellington Road. At the rear of 145 there were a number of lock-up garages owned by my father and it was in one of these that Mr Albert Gubay set up his Kwik-Save Discount business.
After retirement my father entered politics and was a councillor on Rhyl Urban District Council and Flintshire County Council.”
Thanks very much for the photos and information, John. Plenty there for us to chew on.
This is Barratt’s Restaurant at Ty’n Rhyl, 167 Vale Road, tel (01745) 344138. Ty’n Rhyl is reputed to be Rhyl’s oldest house; it dates back to the early 1600s – a couple of hundred years before the town began to take shape. It is said to have been a single storey building at first, the upper floor with gables being added later.
In mid 1800s, Ty’n Rhyl was the home of Angharad Llwyd who was a Caerwys girl, a clergyman’s daughter. Angharad was a distinguished writer about Welsh history and a collector of antiquities. In 1866 she died at Ty’n Rhyl aged 86; many of her written works are in National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth.
Some of this information is from the book ‘Rhyl - The Town And Its People’ by J. W. Jones, published 1974. The picture was taken earlier this month by Yours Truly.
To some extent the history of Rhyl is a history of fires so the local fire and rescue service has played an important role – and continues to do so. The Rhyl brigade began in Victorian times and was manned by volunteers until all the volunteer brigades were nationalised during World War Two.
At first the fire engine was a hand-operated pump drawn by horses, then later a handsome steam-driven contraption. The fire station used to be at the back of the town hall; it was demolished in 1968. Some of this information is from the book ‘Rhyl - The Town And Its People’ by J. W. Jones, published 1974.
The picture above was taken earlier this month by Yours Truly; it shows the present £2.5 million fire station on Rhyl Coast Road. The building has meeting rooms for community use. At the time of writing, North Wales Police hold drop-in surgeries there on Fridays from 11am to 1pm. Go and tell them your problems.
Yesterday while taking my camera for a walk I noticed this door which seemed to have a bit of character about it. The property was on a main road in Rhyl and appeared to be unoccupied. So where was the door?
The answer will appear on this blog a week today, i.e. Wednesday 29th July 2009.
Above (TOP) is a postcard from the batch supplied by Ann Hayes of Ruthin. It shows Wellington Road near the turning for Kings Avenue.
Ann says, ‘This card was posted in June 1911 between Vancouver and Blanchard City, both in Canada. It says on the back that the sender's children are at school in the house marked with a cross. Under the street sign for Kings Avenue there is an advertisement for Allendale Boarding Establishment and on the fence below a notice for Tennis Lawn Glanmorfa, both with arrows pointing down the avenue.’
The other picture was taken today by Yours Truly. The shop with the blue fascia is Lloyds Pharmacy and on the opposite corner, behind the wall, is Kings House Surgery (Dr Landon). Buildings on the right-hand side of the road are houses of multiple occupation comprising flatlets and bedsits, some of which seem to be in poor condition.
On this blog there have been a couple of references to bathing machines (changing rooms on wheels) and here we see them illustrated clearly. A bathing machine could be pulled to and from the water’s edge by a horse. The picture shows the view looking westwards from the pier; it is an unused postcard and therefore undated. In the distance is Rhyl Pavilion which opened in 1908 so the picture dates probably from the 1910s.
Pictured here are singers from Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, who perform to great acclaim in the Rhyl district, across the UK and abroad. Left to right they are: George Owen of Rhyl (tenor), Naomi Harvey (soprano), Deborah Hawksley (mezzo soprano) and John Morgan (baritone). The group sing under the name The Garden Consort and are accompanied by pianist Roy Gregory.
A typical programme may include songs by Puccini, Mozart, Verdi, Strauss, Gershwin, Bernstein, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Gilbert & Sullivan. “They might have taken requests, so versatile and accessible were their talents.” Observer. “Here was singing of the highest quality.” BBC Radio. For further details please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The picture above (TOP) was taken this month and shows the Police Station in Wellington Road. The building seems out of keeping with the older-style buildings each side; it speaks of practicality and philistinism. The other photograph shows the previous police station which stood on the same spot – this is another gem from the collection of Gaynor Williams. It is a photo from the late 1950s, and the bobbies of Flintshire Constabulary (as it was then) look quaint lined up in rows and wearing helmets. The occasion is anyone's guess.
A couple of weeks ago the tenants, residents and leaseholders of Clwyd Alyn Housing Association received the landlords’ quarterly newsletter. Among the usual dross about how wonderful Clwyd Alyn thinks the Association is, there was a timely reminder about loan sharks and the role of the Wales Illegal Money Lending Unit (WIMLU) which is part of Trading Standards.
WIMLU prosecutes loan sharks who target vulnerable people in the community and make loans illegally without a licence. The ripoff artists have been known to demand extortionate rates of interest then bully and threaten their victims. If you know of anyone involved in this sordid business please phone the IMLU hotline 0300 123 3311; you can stay anonymous if you wish.
In Rhyl you can get money advice free from Citizens Advice Bureau in Water Street, tel (01745) 334568, Baptist Church in Sussex Street (01745) 342268 and other places. My first choice would be Clwyd Coast Credit Union in Bodfor Street (01745) 361274.
This is the first in a batch of unusual Rhyl postcards sent by a new friend, Ann Hayes of Ruthin, who was a child living in Rhyl in 1950s.
Of this postcard Ann says, “It was published by J B Shepheard, 11 Queen Street. The number above the door is 12 and the 2BB (or 2RB) to the left seems to have been written in chalk! I'd love to know who these young men are. I think they look like workers and wondered if they were a ship's crew or something similar.”
Hmmmm. Well, if the chalk mark says 2RB we could be looking at a group of soldiers from the 2nd Royal Berkshire (2nd Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment) billeted somewhere in Rhyl while training in the district during World War 1. Now I’ve said that, they may turn out to be railway porters. Any ideas anyone?
These two old prints depict Rhyl around 1860 just before the pier opened. They are available as postcards from Rhyl Library, Museum and Arts Centre in Church Street, tel (01745) 353814. Other cards available there include one showing the museum’s mural of the promenade c.1910 painted by Brian Philips, and another showing the ‘Taliesin’ design by Maggie Humphry which appears on the building’s exterior to the left of the main entrance. The cards cost 15p each, four for £1.
Today I paid a rare visit to Brickfields Pond Nature Reserve. Time did not permit a long visit but enough to serve as a reminder of what a splendid place it is at this time of year. The pictures above were taken today; the one at the top shows the Ffordd Derwen entrance (there’s another entrance in Cefndy Road).
The pictures in the centre are a general view from the east side of the pond and a shot of Baggy’s bench in memory of Countryside Services worker Peter Bagnall. The family of swans were not the only water fowl to be seen. If there’s a town park around here to beat Brickfields Pond I would be surprised to hear of it.
The Marine Lake and Pleasure Gardens looks worthy of its name here with all that greenery! Marine Lake opened in 1895 and the bathing pontoon (diving platform) shown above, was added a year later.
The Lake was created for sailing and rowing and never quite caught on as a swimming pool. Resident Mr Terry Roberts, now in his 70s remembers, “When I was a kid we used to go there swimming and come out covered with mud and slime. Our mothers played hell.”
Last Wednesday I posted the photograph above (TOP) asked where in Rhyl you would find the seat. The answer is Vale Road in gardens dedicated to the late Councillor Cyril Roberts, opposite Ty’n Rhyl.
First correct answer came from Mrs Lynn Roberts of Gordon Avenue, who was on this blog last week objecting to Denbighshire council’s intention to take trees away from her street. That battle continues.
Mr Gareth Roberts was another who came up with the right answer and thinks he recalls that there were cottages on the Vale Road site before the gardens. You may well be right, Gareth – thanks for getting in touch.
WED 15th JUL 2009 UPDATE: A message has arrived from reader George Owen who says, “The seat on Vale Road was the site of two very old one-storey cottages, and on the wall behind the seat you can still the V-shaped mark of the pitched roof where it was butted against the old chapel. I remember a friend who lived there, Nigel Millington. He now lives in Canada.”
The picture above appears on the front cover of a book titled ‘The Kinmel Park Camp Riots 1919’ by Julian Putkowski published by Flintshire Historical Society in 1989. The book is a detailed study of events surrounding thousands of Canadian soldiers at Kinmel Camp; they had been fighting in the Great War (World War One 1914-18). The war was over and they were agitating to go home.
On a Saturday night in November 1919 – in a drunken and unruly state – some began rioting at the camp. The violent unrest went on for two days; five soldiers were killed, many people were injured, much property was damaged. The picture shows part of the aftermath.
The five soldiers, along with more than 80 of their comrades from the camp who died during a ‘flu epidemic, are buried at the Marble Church in Bodelwyddan.
My thanks go to reader George Owen for reminding me about these events and sending an article that he wrote which was published in The Journal on 4 March 2009.
The picture above (TOP) is from around 1905 and shows the interior of Rhyl Railway Station, which had opened as a main station on the Chester to Holyhead line in 1848 and brought tremendous growth to the resort. The Vale of Clwyd railway was added ten years later to run from Rhyl to Denbigh (until 1955).
In 1899 the station was enlarged and the platforms extended – a sign of success. Since mid or late 1980s only two platforms have been used – a sign of downturn. The next picture shows the station in February this year. The other is a photo that I took last week of Rhyl No.1 signal box which is near Morley Road and still in use.
In response to a request, here are the positions of the memorial statue for military personnel killed in conflicts over the years. Above (TOP) is a picture from 1910s showing the statue in its original position – on the prom and facing the sea – just west of Rhyl Pavilion.
The picture in the middle is a copy of a card postmarked 1932 showing the statue on the prom near the top of High Street – and still facing the sea. The picture at the bottom is a photo I took last week showing the statue’s present position in Garden of Remembrance.
These days the statue has its back to the sea and its surrounding plaques continue to be updated with the names of Rhyl’s fallen as one conflict follows yet another. Details of the persons commemorated appear on a superbly researched web site: www.roll-of-honour.com/Flintshire/Rhyl.html
Some pictures suggest a particular day of the week. Above (TOP) seems to say Saturday; it shows the hustle and bustle of a busy day at the Open Air Bathing Pool on the prom. The pier is discernible in the background, far right. The card is postmarked 1932 and is from a Mr Laidler in Rhyl to a friend back home in Scotland.
The other card seems to say Sunday. The relaxed demeanour of the figures in the foreground indicates that time was passing at a slower pace. The location is the west end of the beach, possibly opposite Sandringham Avenue; the card is unused and therefore undated – may be around 1905.
Anthony Robert Marshall was the name of Rhyl's lifeboat 1949-68. This was the lifeboat that in 1962 rescued the Vickers Armstrong VA-3-001 hovercoach which blew off its moorings in a gale; people on shore helped to secure the VA-3-001 to the promenade railings. Everyone concerned received official thanks for the operation, especially Coxswain Harold Campini who received the Royal National Lifeboat Institution’s medal for gallantry.
A regular reader says that a junior member of her household was surprised to find no pictures of donkeys on this site. Well, we here at Jones Towers aim to please so here are a couple.
Motor cars did not start to get a stranglehold on Rhyl until the 1910s. Before that, donkeys were quite a common sight in town centre streets, carrying passengers on occasional trips from the beach to shops and boarding houses.
Above (TOP) is a picture that I took in 2000. The other is a card postmarked 1937 addressed to a Mr and Mrs Randall of Tettenhall, Wolverhampton, from friends who were staying in Rhyl and having a good time.
Last Wednesday I posted the photograph above (TOP, left) and asked where in Rhyl you would find the building. The answer is 56 Water Street on a corner of Crescent Road.
First correct answer came from regular contributor Gaynor Williams who went the extra mile and provided the black-and-white picture. It was taken about 1905 when the building was young. (I’m obliged to Mr Colum McCormack of Dyserth Road, Rhyl, for pointing out that the date 1903 appears on the back of the building.)
Mr Arthur Jones of Vale Road, Rhyl, remembers the upper part of the corner being occupied by the Melba Cafe (not to be confused with the Iris Cafe nearby). Later there was a Welsh souvenir shop on the corner and quite recently offices of Clwyd Alyn Housing Association, which may account for why the clock isn’t working. Only joking!!