Monday, 31 August 2009

WHAT A LIBERTY!

Capel Soar (above, top) is a striking feature of Sisson Street and still in use as a Welsh Wesleyan Methodist place of worship. It opened in 1895, same year as Marine Lake. You would suspect no connection between the chapel and showbiz; nevertheless that’s where the amateur dramatic group Rhyl Liberty Players hold rehearsals.

The group formed in 1942, in the middle of World War Two (‘Liberty’ was a buzz word at the time). Since then ‘The Libs’ have put on all kinds of stage plays. Occasionally they run drama workshops. The cast picture is from the 2002 production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’. It appears in the book ‘The Spirit Of Rhyl’ by Bill Ellis, published in 2004.

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SAT 5th DEC 2009 UPDATE: A reader has been in touch to say that prior to the opening of present premises in 1895, the chapel had been the other side of Sisson Street on the site where now stands the little Apostolic Church. Thank you, Jim.
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Sunday, 30 August 2009

SILVER LINING

World War Two (1939-45) delayed Rhyl’s downfall. At the end of the 1930s our boarding houses were starting to lose customers to the new alternative: caravanning. Then suddenly, because of the war, the boarding houses filled up with servicemen and civil servants who were billeted here from places at high risk, and even evacuees and prisoners of war were accommodated for short periods.

The government paid the bills and so Rhyl had a good war. A couple of bombs fell in Ernest Street area, possibly by accident, otherwise the resort was left unscathed. The photo above shows a 1945 ‘victory party’ in Gronant Street - a typical street party at the end of the war. It was supplied by Mr Leslie Slee for my book ‘Rhyl In The Second World War’ (2003) which is now out of print.

Residents were glad to see an end to the conflict; they were tired of hearing about deaths and casualties, and tired of rationing and having to do without. Some of the business people though, may have felt just a little tinge of regret that the war was over. No one knew what would happen next.

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TUE 6TH JUL 2010 UPDATE: Liz Espley has sent the following snap of Grange Road & District Victory Party, Monday 20th August 1945, outside The Grange Saloon fish & chips shop. Note the piano on the left. Photo by British Camera Craft, 7 Bodfor Street, Rhyl.


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Saturday, 29 August 2009

SERIOUS FUN

These are stills from a home movie circa 1960. The sequence was filmed at Botanical Gardens, Grange Road. Parents are watching children doing road safety training on tricycles round a miniature network of roads and traffic lights. Supervising with a clipboard is a police officer – a sergeant, no less. What a good idea: promoting road safety via a fun activity!
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Friday, 28 August 2009

WOODWORK!

Moira Evans of Russell Road has been a pal of mine for years and I knew she would come in handy for something one day. Sure enough, Moira has supplied the excellent 1939 picture of her grandad Thomas Bryn Evans – the adult far right – who taught Welsh and woodwork at Emmanuel School (it was a secondary school then). His class of lads are displaying handiwork such as first aid boxes, stools and tables, and picture frames.

In those days no girls would be in a woodwork class and no boys in
a domestic science (cookery) class. In retrospect that sort of separation seems odd but remained the status quo until barriers began to fall in the 1970s. The colour pic was taken by Yours Truly showing the present Emmanuel School on the same site in Victoria Road (off Vale Road); it is primary school now, managed by Denbighshire council.
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Thursday, 27 August 2009

JACK THE LAD

In January this year, Jack Jones set up a stall in Queens Market (near the Sussex Street entrance). Jack does jewellery repairs, watch and clock repairs and buys gold. He has been in the Rhyl district for about eight years. His is a West Bromwich family; they came often to North Wales coast on holiday.

To illustrate the point Jack has supplied a couple of 1957 pictures of himself as a lad aged 8 with his father at Robin Hood camp and at Towyn with his sister Ann aged 7. Ann is one member of the family who still lives in the Midlands; she works as an administrator in the National Health Service.
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Wednesday, 26 August 2009

QUIZ QUESTION # 16

This week’s question is short and sweet. Here’s the top storey of a town centre building which is north of the railway line and less than
a mile from the Children’s Village. So where is it?

The answer will appear on this blog a week today, i.e. Wednesday
2nd September 2009.
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QUIZ ANSWER # 15

Last Wednesday I posted the photograph of a plaque on the upper storey of a town centre house. I said that the building is less than half a mile from the town hall. So where is it?

The answer is 13 Windsor Street. The only fact at my fingertips about the house is that Colin Smith was born there; he was a double bass player active in the late 1950s on the Rhyl dance band scene.

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SUN 19th SEP 2010 UPDATE: Mike Jones of Enfield writes: I grew up in Rhyl from 1952 to 1970 and lived in 13 Windsor Street which my father Jim had bought in the late 1940s. Actually the Victoria House sign has only been there since the current owners bought the house from him in mid 1990's. When we lived there "Victoria House 13 " was a header over the door. It was a farmhouse in the 1860's!
Also, I note the recent death of Shelagh Terry of 14 Windsor Street. Shelagh lived there all her life from 1920; she was a well respected piano teacher who worked from her home from 1950s to 1990s
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Tuesday, 25 August 2009

GORPHWYSFA

Rhyl Naval And Sports Club, 98 Wellington Road, tel: (01745) 337439, presents a wide range of activities and entertainment from auctions to standup comedy. The building dates back to Victorian times; initially it was a private residence named ‘Gorphwysfa’ which is the Welsh equivalent of the English phrase ‘resting place’. One of its earliest occupiers was a Major Frederick Penn.

According to the book ‘The Commissioners Of Rhyl – the men who made the town’ by Marjorie Howe, Major Penn was a Midlands lad who moved with his family to Canada. Following a military career and civic work there, he retired to Rhyl and became a commissioner (forerunner of councillor). He had a special interest in education.

Bill Ellis says that ‘Gorphwysfa’ was where Rhyl’s first grammar school began, and in 1940s and early ‘50s it was a GP’s home and surgery: Dr Kelly's.
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Monday, 24 August 2009

HAT TRICK

Further to the post FORYD BRIDGE (Thursday, 11 June 2009) here are more pictures from regular contributor Gaynor Williams of the shop 'Aquarius' in Market Street, showing the bridge being built in 1931 (it opened in 1932).

What magnificent pictures! Thank you, Gaynor.
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Sunday, 23 August 2009

ABBEY STREET

Here are photos of the northern end of Abbey Street looking towards the sea, taken about 100 years apart. The old picture is a postcard from the collection of Ann Hayes – another fine shot by local photographer Rae Pickard. The structure on the promenade looks
like a large shelter; it is on the spot where later stood the Coliseum Theatre which opened in 1921.

The colour picture is a recent shot by Yours Truly. The shop on the right is closed and so is a restaurant a little further up. No boarding houses on the other side these days, just flats. On the prom, the Coliseum has gone but its curved back wall has been incorporated into the Drift Park development; the wall has decorative tiles illustrating Rhyl seafront scenes old and new.
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Saturday, 22 August 2009

SCHOOLDAYS

Earlier this week on this blog I was pleased to post pictures of stalls at Marine Lake Fun Fair sent by Carol Wells (was Humphreys). Carol was in Mrs Owen’s class at Christchurch Primary School, Vaughan Street, and has sent the picture (TOP) which shows an assembly in 1960.

Of this, Carol says, “I am sending you a photo taken in the assembly hall. This was actually two classrooms which had a folding partition. When we had an assembly the partition was opened up and pupils from other classes had to stand around or sit on desktops!”

“The other photo shows my class at Rhyl Grammar School in 1963. I'm second left on the front row; my best friend Val Bond is sitting next to me (1st left). We've got back in touch after many years – the Internet is very useful at reuniting people.”

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MON 8th MAR 2020 UPDATE: Peter Nelson who runs a shoe repair business in Queens Market is sitting in front row and on left. Peter doesn’t know the lad next to him but has identified some faces.
In the second row (left to right): Don’t know, Terry Hands, Ian Bennion and Pat Edmunds.
Third row: Richard Williams, Michael Bond, Vanessa White and
Susan Mason.
In the background: Brian Lloyd, Roger Peters, Michael Perry and Alison Smith.
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Friday, 21 August 2009

THE NURSES

A reader Mr E. Evans has sent this picture of nurses. He thinks that it was taken in East Parade, Rhyl, in 1962 and has no other information about it. The War Memorial Hospital in Grange Road was still in existence at the time, as well as the present Alex, and – if memory serves – there was a nurses’ hostel in East Parade. Can anyone shed further light on the picture for Mr Evans?

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THU 8th JUL 2010 UPDATE: Gwen Shevloff has written to say: These are not hospital nurses; they are members of Red Cross. The photo may have been taken in West Parade on corner of Butterton Road. There was nurses’ home at the former Pier Hotel in East Parade (top of Church Street). It was bought by Clwyd and Deeside Hospital Management Committee whose area manager was a Mr William Roberts, in the early days of the National Health Service.

Gwen worked for the NHS in those days. She started on July 5th 1948 as a clerk. The service was based at Royal Alexandra Hospital then at ‘Rhianfa’ in Russell Road.
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Thursday, 20 August 2009

MORLEY ROAD GARDENS

This plot of land in Morley Road was Rhyl’s first cemetery; it opened in 1859 and quickly filled up. Dyserth Road cemetery opened in 1891; thereafter no burials took place at Morley Road except in existing graves - and this stopped in the 1930s. For more details of Morley Road and Dyserth Road cemeteries and other local burial places please click on the following link: www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/FLN/Rhyl/

Morley Road cemetery became a park in the late 1960s and there were subsequent improvements; it reopened as Morley Road Gardens in 2006. Now the place is in the news because police have been given the power to disperse gangs of alcoholics who hang around in there and under railway arches.

Close to trouble spots is the £multi-million SOVA ‘Dewi Sant’ Day Centre that we were told would keep drinkers, drug addicts and vagrants off the streets. Projects like this can be a waste of money. They are largely ineffective, sometimes counter-productive, and should be scrapped in favour of building mental hospitals again.
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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

QUIZ QUESTION # 15

This plaque appears on the upper storey of a house which is north of the railway line and less than a mile from the town hall. So where is it?

The answer will appear on this blog a week today, i.e. Wednesday 26th August 2009.
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QUIZ ANSWER # 14

Last Wednesday I posted the picture (TOP) and said that the shapes and textures caught my eye as I turned a corner from a town centre street on to a main road. The scene is north of the railway line, so where is it?

Well, the first correct answer came from Gareth Morris who says, “The ornate porch belongs to a building called Epworth Lodge on the corner of Brighton Road /Bath Street. Epworth Lodge was occupied recently by the Probation Service but is now empty. I worked in the building from 1971 to 1974 when it housed the Aled Rural District Council; they moved there from the now Citizens Advice offices in Water Street. The Clerk to Aled Rural District Council was the late W. Brookes Parry, a solicitor who had his offices in Market Street.”

Thank you, Gareth. Such a shame to see Epworth Lodge and the Bath Street Methodist Church next door lying derelict. I hope that a buyer will turn up soon.
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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

FUN AT THE FAIR

A few months ago I posted the picture (TOP) of Marine Lake Fun Fair’s ‘The Great Navajo’ aka Parney Warner who was a fortune-teller; he retired from the game in 1939 but continued to operate stalls at the fun fair. Carol Wells of Shaw near Oldham has sent more information. Carol grew up in Rhyl and went to Christchurch School then Rhyl Grammar School.

Carol says, “The Great Navajo was my uncle (the husband of my mum’s sister). I knew him as Vivian Warner. (Parney must have been a nickname – Ed.) I never saw him dressed as an Indian as I wasn't born until 1949. Vivian and his wife Lilian used to stay with us in Rhyl for the summer and then return to Birmingham for the winter. I remember visiting their stall on the walk at the fair and helping there. Vivian died around 1967 and Lilian died in 1997.

She continues, “I'm sending you two photos. One shows the sisters, Lilian (left) and my mum whose maiden name was Irene Moreton, standing in front of a stall where you'd pull a handkerchief attached
to a string and find a prize at the other end. Pictured below working on a stall is my father Tom Humphreys who had five sisters; they
were children of Thomas Humphreys an insurance agent who was
well known in Rhyl.”
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Sunday, 16 August 2009

BOB THE PAINTER #1

This snapshot of painter Robert Evans Hughes (generally known as Bob) came from Ann Hayes, then the hunt for more information began. Bob was born in 1896 in Llanrwst and moved with his family to Australia. While serving in the Australian Army in World War One he was badly injured and thereafter took up painting in Australia. Later he studied in Rome and London before settling in Rhyl.

He lived upstairs in a house in Queen Street. He was a founder member of the art groups 'Prestatyn 57' and 'Colour Circle'; the latter used to meet in a back room of the Bay Tree cafe, 47 Wellington Road (now Asha’s Indian restaurant). The cafe’s proprietor Harry Jones was a member and so was local author Bill Ellis.

Bob produced a lot of pictures of landscapes and other subjects in oils and watercolours and exhibited widely. He seems to have been a man of generous spirit – gave away a lot of his work. The abstract dates from the late 1960s and is titled ‘High Summer Scene’; the other was in the first of the prestigious John Moores Exhibitions (1957) and is titled ‘A Bend In The Conway’. The pictures were on sale recently at £850 and £1250 respectively.
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BOB THE PAINTER # 2

Two more examples of work by Robert Evans Hughes: a painting of Foryd harbour, and a logo which he designed for amateur drama group Rhyl Liberty Players. In the 1950s and ‘60s Bob made a tremendous impact on the arts scene around here. In 1970 he died peacefully at his home in Queen Street, and in 1988 in Rhyl Library’s gallery there was a retrospective exhibition of his works.

In the exhibition notes, fellow local artist Kay Johansson said, “He overcame the disability of colour blindness by learning to mix paint mechanically by measured amounts, carefully noting the names of the colours on the tubes in case of error.” According to Kay, his favourite haunts included his studio in Bedford Street and Bob Piper’s picture framing and artists shop in Water Street.

My thanks go to Bill Ellis, Peter Hollis and Lynda Waggett for other information in this and the previous post about Bob.
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THE CROSS POLICEMAN

Here’s a nice postcard from Ann Hayes: this one shows The Cross (High Street at the junctions of Wellington Road and Russell Road). Ann says, “I love this card as it’s the Rhyl I remember as a child. I well recall seeing the policeman directing traffic in the middle of the road. He'd soon be run down nowadays.”

I like this card too, but it’s not easy to date. Must be older than 1950s otherwise the shop name Talbots would be on the blinds to the right of the picture (instead of 'music' and 'sports' as above). Doesn’t look old enough to be pre-World War Two, so let’s say 1940s.
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Saturday, 15 August 2009

ON THE BUSES

Improvement works at Rhyl bus station started just after Christmas/ New Year 2008. The entire scheme was expected to take up to 9 months and the cost was said to be £3 million pounds - most of which came from Welsh Assembly Government. Whether the job shall be finished on time and within budget is hard to predict.

Meanwhile the scene is looking gradually less like a building site and more like a bus station. Blog reader Han in the Netherlands has shown much interest in progress and was kind enough to let me know that our mutual bus company Arriva was fined for using unsafe buses in the city of Den Bosch. Thank you for that information, Han - as a frequent user of buses I’ll always be thinking of it.

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SUN 17th JAN 2010 UPDATE
: There has been no official announcement to the effect that the new bus station is open
although the work appeared to be over some time ago. The end
result seems disappointing bearing in mind the cost. Oh well,
now we can get back to grumbling about how unfit for purpose
the bus station is.
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Friday, 14 August 2009

BODRHYDDAN HALL

Rhyl is a young town whose history does not stretch back very far. Only a few miles away is Bodrhyddan Hall on the A5151between Rhuddlan and Dyserth. This is a 17th century house with later additions; it’s a Grade 1 listed building with wonderful pictures and period furniture to see and lovely gardens to walk around. For opening times, admission prices and other details please click on the following link: http://www.bodrhyddan.co.uk/
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Thursday, 13 August 2009

SWAN UP

Recent mention of The Swan Inn, Russell Road, triggered a fast response from regular contributor George Owen who supplied the picture above.

George says, “Here is a nice shot of the pub taken in the 1920s and showing a garden in front; it was taken before the bay windows were put in. The big 1920s Swan over the door is different from the smaller one in your previous picture, and recently the barmaid told me that the Swan over the doorway was once nicked and had to be replaced.” (What? In Rhyl? Surely not! – Ed.)

George continues, “Incidentally The Swan was, until recently at least, the only Rhyl pub in Rhyl to be featured in the UK Good Pub Guide.
In 2007 the publicans Noel and Amanda and staff won the Thwaites Brewery Best Staff Award. This year Noel and Amanda bought the tenancy from the Brewery.”

As an implacable enemy of the alcohol industry, I have to admit that The Swan building looks jolly nice. In terms of appearance it is a credit to the town centre – and there are pictures of old Rhyl inside.
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THINKING BIGGER

Enterprise Europe Network Wales offers support for local businesses that may wish to expand into new markets in other EU countries.

This is not a grant-giving body but could advise on European funding that might be available for your small or medium-size enterprise or new business idea, and it has a lot of expertise in finding business partners. (For instance, you may be looking for a company to handle your goods and/or services in France or Poland or wherever.)

The nearest regional office is: Enterprise Europe Network, WEIC Ltd, Flintshire County Library, County Hall, Mold, CH7 6NW , tel (01352) 704748, fax 01352 753662.
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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

QUIZ QUESTION # 14

This photograph was taken a few weeks ago in Rhyl by Yours Truly. The shapes and textures caught my eye as I turned a corner from a town centre street on to a main road. The scene is north of the railway line, so where is it?

The answer will appear on this blog a week today, i.e. Wednesday 19th August 2009.
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QUIZ ANSWER # 13

Last Wednesday I posted the photograph of upper storeys of a town centre shop and asked what is the shop and where is it and what kind of business operated in the building half a century ago.

The answers: Classic Colour Centre (paints and wallpapers) at 17 Wellington Road. Half a century ago, as the old advert shows, the building was the home of the Holborn Restaurant which could seat up to 500 and may have been the largest Rhyl restaurant of its time.

First to tell me the answers was regular contributor Gaynor Williams who promises to let me borrow more old Rhyl pictures from her collection in due course.
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Tuesday, 11 August 2009

EDWARD HENRY STREET

Here are pictures taken from the elbow of Edward Henry Street looking towards the sea, about 100 years apart. The old picture is from the collection of Ann Hayes; it shows guest houses like the one that the painter L. S. Lowry (‘matchstick men’) used to stay in with
his mum in 1920s and ‘30s. Lowry sketched and painted Edward Henry Street – and Foryd Harbour.

The photo appears to have been taken from the middle of the road – far too precarious an angle these days!

The colour picture was taken today by Yours Truly standing safely
on the pavement outside what used to be No.14 which has been demolished to make a car park for the refurbished Nos. 16-18 (front left of photo); these comprise starter business units and a community facility. Nearly all the other buildings in the street belong to Clwyd Alyn Housing Association.

Over the years I’ve heard two differing versions of why the street is named after someone called Edward Henry. The truth is out there somewhere . . .
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Sunday, 9 August 2009

ELWY HALL SCHOOL

Here is another postcard from Ann Hayes of Ruthin – an interesting glimpse of Elwy Hall, Grange Road, Rhyl, in days gone by when it was a school. There are two boys (front centre) otherwise all the figures are female. A girls’ school then, I suppose. Does anyone have further information? Please send email to: rhyl.colin.jones@live.co.uk

At present Elwy Hall is a function and banqueting venue with masonic connections, hosting large and small corporate and private events, weddings, conferences and parties, tel (01745) 334008.

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SUN 28th FEB UPDATE: Christine Whaite has been in touch to say that one of her distant relatives, Lily Florence Whaite, was a pupil and boarder at Elwy Hall School. Lily was the daughter of artist Henry Clarence Whaite who was born in Manchester and later lived in the Conwy valley.
Christine says, ‘I believe you are right about the school being for girls. The boys on the 1891 census are listed as servants.’
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