Last Wednesday I asked: where in Rhyl is the weathervane (or wind vane, if you prefer) shown in the smaller photograph above? The answer is Vale Road, opposite St Margaret’s Drive. George Owen was the first with the right answer and he put it another way:
“The weathervane is on top of a stench pipe from the town drains at the corner of Madryn Avenue and Vale Road by the Shell Garage. A year or two back there was a plan to put a whopping great mobile phone mast right on that corner but residents aided by Chris Ruane MP successfully opposed what would have been a blot on landscape and a possible health risk.”
TUE 6th OCT 2009 UPDATE: I have been informed by a reliable source that this is not a weather vane (or wind vane); the arrow is in a fixed position. I have no intention of shinning up a stench pipe to see if the arrow swivels so I’ll take your word for it, Gareth!
I have a note from South West Rhyl Communities First saying that they will be launching "Fill Your Tum" take-away at the John Davies Building, 82 Marsh Road, Rhyl, opposite the Good News Mission, starting on Monday 5th October 2009, 9am - 12.45pm.
"Fill Your Tum" entrance is at the back of the building and will be open every Monday and Tuesday at the above times. Phone orders will be taken from 8.45-10am for a wide variety of baps, sandwiches, toasts, and hot and cold drinks, at affordable prices. The number to call is 07805 264 319.
THURSDAYS: Restarting on Thursday Feb 4th 2010, 10-2pm at same venue there will be a weekly Intergenerational Club Day where older and young people get together to enjoy various activities including bingo and a table top sale, and there is an Intergen Lunch 12.15-1.30pm. These activities are organised by Kids Fun Club, 07943 611 262.
On the 2nd Thursday of each month at the same venue there will be an Arts & Crafts Fayre. For more information about this please contact Lisa, tel (01745) 332528.
Recently this postcard came my way. It is an unposted, undated card published by J. T. Burrows of Prestatyn and labelled ‘A bit of old Prestatyn’. Oddly perhaps, it was printed in Berlin – an early example of globalism.
The picture itself serves as a reminder that Prestatyn is much older than Rhyl. There was a time when the area on which Rhyl was eventually built was described as marshy land in the Prestatyn Hundreds (i.e.in the hundreds of acres around Prestatyn).
Unlike Prestatyn, Rhyl does not go back to Roman times and beyond, although in the last century some Neolithic artefacts (fishermen’s tools probably) were found on Rhyl beach, including three axes which are now in the National Museum of Wales, Aberystwyth.
Martin Gane says, “This picture was taken in 1965-66 at Emmanuel School, We got to the final of Shield Trophy that season.”
In the back row (left to right): Mr Evans, Mr Williams, and Ivor Roberts the Headmaster.
Back row of boys (l to r): Roddy Witherspoon, Karl Lewis, Dave Roberts, Richard Jones, Mike Ingram, Duncan Siddall and Pete Bailey.
Front row (l to r): Dave Hughes, Andy Parr, Dave Adamson, Stephen Thomas, Martin is the lad with the ball on his knees, James Smith, Larry Roberts and Glyn West.
Right, dear reader, please send your Rhyl pictures of sports teams, winners or losers, footy, rugby, swimming, hockey, golf, whatever, by email to: email@example.com
THU 16th SEP 2010 UPDATE: Sandra Dutton of Canada (was Sandra Lloyd) writes: "The young man at the end of the row is actually my younger brother Glyn Lloyd (not West). Stephen Thomas and I went to school together. Our whole family went through Emmanuel, eldest to youngest – David, Rosemary, Christine, Sandra & Glyn."
Cyril Henley, originator of Rhyl’s promenade skating rink, and his son Terry are deceased. This week on Thursday I had the pleasure of visiting Cyril’s other son, Mr Robert (Bobby) Henley at his home in the west end of Rhyl. On the eve of his 74th birthday he looked extremely fit due to daily exercising and swimming. Bob became a roller skater of International class. After the promenade rink closed he taught skating in Rhyl High School's gymnasium for a few years.
"On the prom in the 1950s and ‘60s we were skating from 10am to 9pm," says Bob. "We had a lot of teams and put on shows and special events that drew big crowds; on some days we had as many as 1600 people there – more than at the shows in the Pavilion and the Open Air Bathing Pool. Skating was hugely popular.”
The pictures above are from Bob’s collection. At the top are ‘The Shirley Five’. Left to right: Ann Elliott (now Taylor), the late Audrey Davies, the late Shirley Jones (leader), Muriel Mee (now Jones) and Gaynor Jones (now Williams).
The other picture was taken on a Rhyl team visit to Herne Bay circa 1951. Back row, left to right: Gaynor Williams (later Bellis), Eileen Garnett, Gillian Parry, Muriel Mee (now Jones) and Gaynor Jones (now Williams). Front, left to right: the late Audrey Davies, the late Shirley Jones (leader), Pat Barclay (now Wilkinson) and Ann Elliott (now Taylor).
Roller skating in Rhyl goes back at least as far the 1880s when it was one of many features at the ill-fated Winter Gardens in Wellington Road. An indoor rink was created on what was left of the Queen’s Palace ballroom, West Parade, after the building was destroyed by fire in 1907; this mutated into the Queens’ Ballroom eventually (now Queens Market).
There was a large skating rink on a corner of Wellington Road and Westbourne Avenue (opposite the entrance to Marine Lake) before World War Two; this one seems poorly documented – I’ve never seen a picture of it. The rink that is best remembered is the one on the prom in Pavilion Gardens opposite Water Street.
The rink on the prom was created in 1947-48 by Cyril Henley who is on the left in the picture above; he was running a rink for Herne Bay council in Kent and came here at the request of Rhyl council to establish one – and stayed to operate it. Cyril is pictured with his son Terry next to him, and his other son Bobby. Both boys looked after the place at various times. Terry was manager when the rink closed to make way for new developments in 1991.
To complete the current crop of old pics from Bob Henley, here's a 1952 shot, left to right: Barbara Taylor, Gaynor Williams (later Bellis) who was Skating Queen that year, and the late Audrey Davies.
The tradition of having an annual Skating Queen fell by the wayside long before the rink closed. Skating remained popular though, and Bob Henley is still in love with it: “I’ve asked my wife Myra to make sure that when the time comes the coffin is 6 inches longer than the usual measurement so I can wear my skates when I go.”
My thanks go to Bob for all that. I would like to make contact with Rhyl roller skater Carmelle Rainford who is believed to be living in Rhuddlan. If anyone knows her whereabouts, please let me know: firstname.lastname@example.org
In North Wales we have children as young as 10 carrying guns and knives, smoking cannabis and committing sexual assaults. These are the children of a generation that allowed itself to become besotted with alcohol and illegal drugs; a number of the parents would be too dysfunctional to provide any guidance.
The fashion for substance abuse, which dates back to the 1960s, probably contributes to a steady rise in the number of dementia (particularly Alzheimer’s) patients, which is growing anyway because we are living longer. It is predicted that in less than 20 years there could be a million people in the UK suffering dementia.
The cost of caring for these people is a time bomb for taxpayers of the future. Tough strategies against the alcohol industry and illegal drugs trade now might help to ease the situation in the future. It would be a disgrace if the main political parties continued into the next general election with no credible policies on these issues.
This week on Tuesday evening I attended a rehearsal by Rhyl Liberty Players at Soar Chapel where Stroma Williams was directing ‘Cut And Run’ by Peter Horsler. The play is about the ideological struggle between the National Health Service and private health care – with a touch of ‘Carry On Doctor/Nurse’ thrown in. It looks hilarious.
A typical rehearsal,’ says Stroma ‘is one where someone fails to turn up’. Sure enough, someone failed to turn up. The picture above was taken by Yours Truly and shows Alan Benbow (left), Olga Mendel and George Kelly. Also in the cast are Liz Hughes, Phil Williams, Norma Leicester, Anita Swinburne- Smith and Glyn Burrows.
If YOU are over 18 years of age and would like to try your hand at acting, operating lighting and/or sound equipment, designing and constructing sets, seeing to props and costumes, doing publicity work and so on, please contact the Libs’ secretary Karen Lees, tel (01745) 889565.
Ex-Rhylite Pauline Hammans (was Jones) now resides in Australia. She was in the front row of a picture that I posted just over a week ago of Rhyl Rollers roller skating team about 1970. See small picture above. Now, was she cute or was she cute?
Pauline has sent this photo of Rhyl Seagulls roller skating hockey team circa 1950. In back row, left to right are: Wilf Littleton (Pip), Cyril Henley, Mr Taylor (father of Ross, below) and Harry Bennett. In the front row, left to right: Fred Arnold, Ross Taylor, Arthur Roberts and Pauline’s father Daniel Jones who was the goalkeeper.
‘Denbighshire Care & Repair’ could save an elderly person a lot of money. It is not a grant-giving body; it provides advice and assistance with arranging repairs and adaptations to the home. The idea is to enable the over-60s to live independently in safety, comfort, warmth and security.
‘Denbighshire Care & Repair’ can advise about improvements to the home and whether relevant grants would be available, has a list of approved contractors and helps to organise the work to ensure that it is carried out properly. This is a free service.
Denbighshire Care & Repair’ can be contacted via the Tai Clwyd office at 56 Vale Street, Denbigh, tel (01745) 814484.
This 1926-27 photograph of a class at Christchurch School, Vaughan Street, came from Peter Trehearn of Savoy Enterprises, 7-13 West Parade (the block which includes Vern’s Amusements).
The picture was given by Mr Trevor Hinder who is in the back row, second from left, to Peter’s father the late Vernon Trehearn (Vern!) who is in the front row, second from right.
In the back row, second from right, is the late J. H. (Jack) Griffiths who, like Vernon, became a Rhyl councillor. Jack was the author of the book ‘Parish Of Rhyl: a brief history of the parish and the parish church’ which was published in 1999.
Peter and I are not sure why there are only boys in the picture. Was there a time when Christchurch was for boys only, or were boys and girls segregated, or what?
Recent acquisitions here at Jones Towers include these unused and undated postcards. At the top we have a view of the skating rink on the prom, between Queen Street and Water Street. The site was on the east side of the original Rhyl Pavilion and bore the name Pavilion Gardens. The picture looks to be from the late 1970s/early ‘80s, by which time the Pavilion was gone.
It is a pity that there is no roller skating in Rhyl these days. Some people point to skateboarding as being its successor, but they can’t be looking closely or they would see that there are hardly any girls on skateboards. Girls like roller skating and tend to approach it as another way of dancing.
The other card shows part of Ocean Beach Fun Fair in 1960s. The Playland Arcade and Ritz Ballroom are just about visible; they were destroyed by fire in 1968. The ride that looks like a rollercoaster is the legendary Mad Mouse which was owned by John Butterworth. The Mad Mouse was a high-speed gravity ride with sharp cornering; it ricked the necks of an entire generation.
This week our local papers carried the story of parents, pupils, teachers, councillors and other politicians rallying to the call of Father Charles Ramsay to save Blessed Edward Jones Catholic High School (shown above).
A few months ago it was announced that the sixth forms of Blessed Edward and Rhyl High School were to be combined on a new site at Llandrillo College, Cefndy Road. The idea was not universally welcomed but is going ahead anyway.
More recently came news of a plan to build a new secondary school on the site of Rhyl High to replace Rhyl High (without sixth form) and Blessed Edward (without sixth form). This would mean the end of Blessed Edward altogether.
Doing away with Catholic faith-based secondary education and replacing the popular Blessed Edward with a much bigger and more impersonal new school is an unpopular plan which has very little public support.
This evening the RhylCreate design/craft consortium held an official opening event at ‘Gallery 36’, 36 Kinmel Street. In attendance were Chris Ruane MP as a speaker, RhylCreate’s Lynda Waggett as a speaker, Ann Jones AM, the Mayor of Rhyl (Glyn Pickering) and other councillors, plus artists and craftspeople – and Yours Truly.
Pictured above are two of RhylCreate’s founder members. The upper picture is of Anne Morris, of Rhyl, showing some of the parchment work that she does with watercolour pencils; Anne produces wall hangings and hand-made cards. The lower picture is of Clare Steel, of Rhyl, whose speciality is hand-made cards marketed under the brand name Twinkle Toes Cards.
The gallery has been funded by various public bodies for the first 12 months and is doing well so far. The consortium hopes to acquire additional funding in the next year or two to set up studios for arts and crafts and help unemployed young people to learn the necessary skills. This would go some way towards offsetting the bad image that the area has gained in recent times.
I discovered the press cutting above on the Internet quite by chance. It is from Portsmouth Dockyard’s web site.
Regarding the names carved inside the ship’s bell, Ms Helen Windus of Rhyl town council staff has examined the bell and reports that there are 15 names engraved inside. They appear to be as follows:
17.6.72 - Duncan Simon Williams 17.6.72 - Mark Shaun Herbert 17.6.72 - Sarah Kifton 17.6.72 - Steven John McManus 17.6.72 - Fiona Cooper 17.6.72 - Sandra Diane Cantrill 5.11.72 - Ian John Milton 12.11.72 - Sheraton Melissa Melanie Tait 5.6.76 - Patrick William Henry Brice 25.8.76 - Delwyn Barker 16.12.76 - Joy Claire Boyall 9.7.78 - Kristien John Watts no year - Thomas Matthew Bradby 21 or 27.3.81 - Adam James Gold 20.4.86 - Gemma Louise Williams
On behalf of the sons and daughters of sea dogs, thank you Helen!
Last Wednesday I posted a picture of the structure above (TOP) and asked where in Rhyl you would find it. George Owen was quick off the mark with the right answer. He says:
"This is the Entrance to Rhyl Church Cemetery on Dyserth Road. I am particularly familiar with this as my family had the gates refurbished in 2001 in memory of my late parents George and Elizabeth Owen, who ran the Little Pantry Grocers Shop, 128 Vale Road, in the 1960s and 70s. There is a memorial plaque on the inside of the gateway.
"Rhyl Church Cemetery is on the north side of the road (on the left as you leave Rhyl). The cemetery belongs to and is maintained by the Parish of Rhyl; I think it is full and burials take place only in existing family graves. The cemetery on the other side of the road, named Mynwent Maeshyfryd (trans: Beautiful Churchyard), is looked after by Denbighshire County Council."
Recently on this blog there was mention of a resident circus from 1949 to 1961 at Rhyl Pavilion; the advert above is dated 1953. The circus promoter, Captain Albert Prince-Cox, also ran aqua shows at the Open Air Bathing Pool on the prom. The publicity photograph of the company was an annual event.
Lined up above are clowns, acrobats, jugglers; the gentlemen with dinner jackets and bow ties were members of the orchestra. At the circus you would have seen performing dogs, lions and leopards, monkeys, horses and ponies, an elephant perhaps. Lots of info and pictures from the Pavilion’s circus can be found in book ‘The Spirit Of Rhyl’ by Bill Ellis.
As members of an audience we saw nothing wrong about keeping animals in captivity for our entertainment, but then we saw nothing wrong in blacked-up minstrel shows and women’s beauty contests either. Times change, society develops, we move on. Campaigning continuously against the abuse of animals is Wales Against Animal Cruelty (WAAC) whose new website is: http://walesagainstanimalcruelty.org.uk/
In May this year I posted the picture above (TOP) showing a scale model of HMS Rhyl and wondered about the fish-shaped artefact on the floor underneath the table. Mr Douglas Brown has been in touch with an explanation. He says,
It was nice to see the model of HMS Rhyl on which I served from 1972-75. I believe the item under the table is a support for hanging the ship’s bell. A few people have asked me what became of the bell. It was used to baptize crew members’ children; I’m sure the names were engraved inside.
And some time ago this message came: My name is Kris Watts, and my father served on HMS Rhyl back in the 1970's. I myself was christened on the ship in 1977 and I've always been told my name was engraved on the ship’s bell. Do you know its whereabouts?
Yes, the scale model of HMS Rhyl, the bell holder and bell are all on display at Rhyl town council offices in Wellington Road; they are in the chamber where council meetings take place. To make an appointment to see them please phone (01745) 331114.
Mr Douglas Brown concludes, It’s nice to see mementos of our ship are still around. I think the ship’s charity was Toc H in Rhyl. I felt sad when I saw pictures of HMS Rhyl being used for target practice. Ships now have the numbers painted out to avoid them being recognised by ex-crew members.
From Gaynor Williams comes this photograph which shows her late son Gareth Williams standing at the back, second from right. His sister Elizabeth is in the third row from the front, fourth from right. The picture was taken about 1970 on the car park at Marine Lake just before the float carrying ‘Rhyl Rollers’ roller skating club members moved off to join the May Day parade.
THU 4th FEB 2010 UPDATE: Thanks to Ceri Ann Swinney for sending the following identifications: “On the float, in the front row are, left to right: Ceri Ann Jones (me), Jane Evans, Pauline Jones, Don’t know, Joy Jones. Second row, left to right: Melita Miles, Julie Henley, Joanne Henley, Helen Taylor. Standing furthest left is Sue Roberts who was later a town and county councillor.”
This is Martin Jones, painter and photographer, who participated in Helfa Gelf (Art Trail) for the first time in 2009. Helfa Gelf is an annual event in which artists and craftspeople in North Wales open their studios to the public.
Martin was born in Rhyl, has served in the RAF, and is an ex-landscape gardener (his father’s trade). He is passionate about nature and wildlife, and his pictures of wild birds from the locality have been exhibited at Rhyl Library. He can be contacted at 20 Palace Avenue, Rhyl, tel (01745) 354368.
Judith Samuel was another participant in Helfa Gelf 2009. Judith says, “I generally like to paint birds, sand and sea, or views of ‘Old Rhyl’ in oils or acrylics. I also make and sell greetings cards, mosaics and various craft items.”
Judith is well-rooted in the town. Her grandmother used to run a boarding house in Brighton Road, and now Judith lives in her gran’s house at 6 Seabank Road, tel: (01745) 334765, mobile 07931 177 479, email: email@example.com
Next to Judith Samuel lives Roy Barry the photographer. Roy is from Conwy and has been in Rhyl about five years. He is an ex-pro sports photographer now specialising in landscapes, seascapes, water, shadows and selective colouring.
Roy sells mainly on Internet sites such as RedBubble, Saatchi Online and the ph.art photo gallery on GO2WEB20. He is at 8 Seabank Road, mobile 07725 242 152, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
In June 1953 the present Queen Elizabeth II had her coronation. The following month she was here in Rhyl visiting Brookes’ field (between Rhyl and Rhuddlan) to see advance preparations for the National Eisteddfod’s visit in August.
Mrs Joyce Simcock (was Taylor) of Rhyl says, “This is a picture of Ysgol Emmanuel Choir who were Eisteddfod winners that year. I am in the middle row, sixth from the left, and the gentleman in the front row looking pleased is Mr T. A. Williams the music teacher.”
Thank you, Joyce. In the enlarged detail, she is top left and Mr Williams bottom right. Not many boys in the choir, I see – shirking as usual! In 2010 the Eisteddfod will be held on the old steel site in Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, and in 2011 it’s in Wrexham.
Gareth Morris, who is a dab hand at the quiz, kindly loaned the larger photograph above. It is one of his black-and-white and colour shots of the demolition of Rhyl Pavilion in 1974. He was working in Rhyl at the time and took the pictures himself.
Rhyl Pavilion had opened in 1908 on the promenade more or less opposite Edward Henry Street, in vicinity of the present Skytower. The Pavilion was built by the county council (Flintshire at the time) and managed by Rhyl Urban District Council. It was the town’s principal theatre; some of the biggest star performers appeared there.
In early 1930s the building underwent internal alterations to become a theatre with ballroom and cabaret. In the evenings the big white dome used to light up and change colours; during World War Two it was camouflaged as an air-raid safety precaution. After the war, big shows continued but public tastes were changing, visitor numbers falling and maintenance costs rising.
The Pavilion was rumoured to be unsafe from the start, probably because it was built quickly; one commentator said that it had been “. . . thrown up in barely 10 weeks”. There were no major safety problems, but in summer seasons from 1949 to 1961 there was a resident circus at the Pavilion and this is said to have caused a lot of wear and tear around the stage area.
Inspections towards the end of the 1960s, when the building was well over half a century old, indicated that a massive amount of money would be needed to bring the place up to standard. The money wasn’t there; the National Lottery heritage fund did not exist in those days. From a county council point of view, demolition was unavoidable.
The council insisted that the Pavilion was unsafe. Rhyl people were unconvinced, especially during demolition when they saw the big dome hit the ground in one piece. Thirty-five years later, the matter still rankles among the oldest generation of townspeople. The picture is once again from Gareth Morris. Thank you, Gareth.
In these recessionary times, more and more people are finding it hard to manage financially. In the year 2008-09, staff at The Benefit Advice Shop in Rhyl have received more than 15,000 enquiries from residents not only of Denbighshire but also of Conwy and Flintshire. They have helped clients to obtain a total of more than £2 million, most of which would be spent locally.
The Benefit Advice Shop is operated by a mix of paid and unpaid workers and, within what appears to be an ever-tightening budget, they operate to a high standard. They are up to here in customers, but if you need the service you would not be turned away. The address is 19 Bedford Street, the opening hours are Mon/Wed/Fri, 9.30am-2pm. The phone number is (01745) 345145.
Ex-Rhylite Mr A. Davies, who retired to a village near Torquay, likes old advertisements which pop up here occasionally.
He says of the adverts for Marine Hydro (28 July) and Holborn Restaurant (12 Aug), “. . . they carry the full stamp of their times”.
I know what you mean, Mr Davies. Here’s another from the early 1950s, this time for the Rendezvous in West Parade. In the last few years the Rendezvous has been swept away; the building has become part of a block of flats.
From Moira Evans comes this 1967 photo of her class at the Welsh language primary school Ysgol Dewi Sant which was then in Morfa Hall off Church Street. There are two rows of girls; Moira is standing in the back one and is third from the right. Now she is known mainly as a performer, acts and sings in Welsh and English and has appeared several times as a film extra.
Standing in the same row, second from left is Michelle Williams who became a senior police officer (now retired). The boy in the front row, second from right is now Dr Gareth Roberts a distinguished specialist in Alzheimer’s Disease based in Florida. The adult standing far right is class teacher Mr Pritchard. Thanks for the pic, Moira. Break a leg!
Recent acquisitions here at Jones Towers include these two unused postcards from 1920s showing the ‘Canadian Water Chute’ on the right. It was the first fun fair ride to be built at Marine Lake (1908).
In his book ‘Rhyl At The Fun Fair’ Eric Hughes says, "The operator could not pay the suppliers of the chute nor keep up the agreed payments to Rhyl Urban District Council. In its third year the chute was forfeited to the council who got in touch with Samuel Butler’s of Leeds. This was the company that built the device. Samuel Butler’s sent one of their young engineers Albert Barnes to look after the chute and develop the fairground."
Albert made a good fist of it and built the Figure Eight Rollercoaster alongside the chute, scores of other rides and games, and trains for the miniature railway round the lake. He ought to be commemorated officially in some way.