This is one of many shots of Ocean Beach Fun Fair added by Gordon Langley to Facebook's ‘Petition to bring back Rhyl fun fair’ which has more than 100 members. The petition is for sending to Denbighshire County Council, but the council has no control in this matter.
Ocean Beach Fun Fair – like many of Rhyl’s old attractions – was created by private enterprise. Rhyl Amusements Ltd, comprising the Robinson brothers and Dave Skelly, owned the fair and the land beneath and took the decision to sell.
The fair was removed but the buying company, Modus, failed to go ahead with its proposed Ocean Plaza (housing/retail) development. Yesterday in the Daily Post, a story by reporter Martin Williams indicated that an un-named buyer has expressed an interest in acquiring the land for unknown purposes. No contracts have been signed yet.
MESSAGE TO MR TONY MARSHALL, NSW, AUSTRALIA: I received your email asking about Rhyl lifeboat Anthony Robert Marshall but my reply bounced back undelivered.
I can tell you it was bought with a legacy left by a Mr Anthony Robert Marshall of Liverpool about whom I have no information. He may have left the money to RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) generally rather than to Rhyl station specifically. Whichever the case, it was a useful gesture. The lifeboat served us from 1949 to 1968. It was called out 102 times and saved 51 lives.
Here are more photos of Rhyl pier, originally named the Victoria Pier. It was fashionable to name things after Victoria (Queen from 1837 to 1901), especially piers as she expressed a liking for them. Other piers have the same name including the one at Colwyn Bay.
The photos are dated 1890 but may have been taken a year or two earlier. The structure halfway along is a small theatre originally called Bijou Pavilion. At the time, the pier was under private ownership and there was an admission charge; the nearest picture shows pay booths at the entrance.
In the last few weeks I’ve received messages asking where it was located, so let me repeat here that the pier was opposite Church Street. If it were there today, it would be behind the Seaquarium.
THU 19th AUG 2010 UPDATE: In response to query from reader Michael White, I can confirm that there was an admission charge on the pier until after World War 2. The pier was made toll-free in time for the 1947 summer season.
This photograph is from the collection of Roy Turner. It was taken in April 1959 at Portsmouth and shows the launching of HMS Rhyl. The ship was named by Lady Dorothy Macmillan who was the wife of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan. Roy on behalf of Rhyl Urban District Council was a guest of honour.
Last Wednesday I posted the photographs above and said, these two streets are cul-de-sacs and they are consecutive turnings off a well known road in Rhyl. What are the names of the streets?
Answers: at the top is Gwenarth Drive and the other is Dorchester Close, and they are consecutive turnings off Bryn Cwnin Road.
First with a correct reply was Mike Demack who is involved with Rhuddlan Local History Society which was formed two years ago. The Society is looking at ways of creating a web site, and that would certainly interest me. I grew up in Rhuddlan. Yes, beneath the urban sophistication beats the heart of a village boy . . .
I’ve been saving this for Christmas week. It’s a photograph of a Rhyl Liberty Players’ Christmas Party c.1957, sent in by Geoff Banks.
Gaynor Williams, Diana Jones, John Williams and Frank Rowley have helped sort the who’s who, and thanks to Mr Rowley we know the photo was taken at the Phillips family residence in East Parade, Rhyl.
Front row (left to right): Don’t know, Molly Nash, Veronica Dyson, Ann Lodwick, Pat Mumford, Gillian Phillips, Iona Banks (Geoff’s mother), Cyril Jones as a gaucho.
Sitting behind (l to r): Moira Macbeth in conical hat, Mrs Cooper (Molly Nash’s mother), Barbara Davies, Walter Phillips (yes it is a man), Helen Rawling in dark top, Miss Phillips (Walter’s sister), Edna Philips as a nurse, Mr Shaw (Helen Rawling's father), Hulena Jones in white top (Geoff’s auntie), Don’t know lady on the end.
Standing (not including the three at the back): Don’t know. Don’t know policeman, Arfon Rawling (Helen's husband), Mr Mumford (?), Les Hayes, Maureen Wyatt, David Wyatt, Myfanwy Higgins (was Wyatt), Reg Phillips in dark jacket and tie, Ron Davies as a cricketer, Geoffrey Banks (Geoff’s father).
The three at the back: Phil Nash, Alan Eryri Jones as cowboy (Geoff’s uncle), Don’t know.
Readers with an interest in local amateur dramatics have asked me to convey their thanks to Geoff for the theatre items he has sent. Yes indeed, and thanks to all my contributors for a wonderful crop of pictures and information.
The McCartney & Samples advert above (TOP) is from a Rhyl Grammar School publication dated 1935. (The school was Rhyl County School then; the change of name seems to have taken place shortly after World War Two.) The shop address is given as 13 Water Street which is now Studio 13, formerly Orama Radio, previously F. Matthews, but townspeople say that’s not where McCartney & Samples was. Has the street been renumbered since 1935?
The B&G Stores advert is from a Rhyl Grammar School publication dated 1965. B&G's Queen Street address is given as No.35 which is now Dixie Dean’s gift shop on a corner of Sussex Street. David and Christine at Dixie’s have no knowledge of B&G Stores ever having been there. They remember it being lower down Queen Street: the left-hand section of the furniture and beds shop in the photograph. Has the street been renumbered since 1965?
TUE 12th JAN 2010 UPDATE: A reader has queried Fairholme, the school at the foot of the list in the B&G advert. I can advise that Fairholme was and still is an independent primary/prep school at The Mount, Mount Road, St Asaph. The Mount was the former home of a member of the Pilkington glass-making family; Fairholme moved there in 1964 (a year before the advert) having been in the town of Denbigh since 1900.
Research is continuing about Rhyl’s Rose Day, an annual event which seemed to fall out of fashion in the early 1950s. Meanwhile, here is a Rose Day photo from early 1940s. Rose Queen Nancy with her tiara would be wearing a pink dress. The picture is from Mrs Gaynor Williams (was Jones) who is sitting in the front row on the left.
At that difficult time of world war, extreme austerity and shortages, continuing with events such as Rose Day and of course May Day, was a way of clinging to normality and community routine in a defiant sort of way, as if to say ‘We are not going to be put off by danger and hardship; we are going about our business as usual’.
This photograph shows the scene outside my door this morning. On days like this the prospect of snuggling down in a cosy pub may seem attractive. Alcohol is an insidious drug, an enemy posing as a friend.
Last week in Daily Post, Martin Williams reported that North Wales is the third worst place in the whole of UK for heavy drinking. In Wales as a whole, nearly 13,000 people a year turn up in hospital for alcohol-related reasons, and booze kills a thousand a year. The damage done to individuals and communities is serious and the cost to social services, police and health services, is enormous.
Dr Tony Jewell the Chief Medical Officer for Wales calls for more education about the harm that alcohol can do, and he would like to see a minimum price per unit. He calls for stricter rules against promoting alcohol, and higher tax on booze.
In the same week, a Conservative Party booklet was delivered to households in Rhyl district, clearly promoting alcohol and calling for lower tax on booze. At the heart of the Tories' concern is decline in the number of pubs. The Party need not worry. There is an old saying, ‘Nothing good ever came out of a pub’. It was true then and it’s still true.
FRI 15th JAN 2010 UPDATE: So far this month, ministers at Welsh Assembly Government and the new-ish Chief Constable of North Wales have expressed support for the idea of having a fixed minimum price per unit of alcohol.
Rhyl pier has been the subject of previous posts on this blog. It was a fine pier and originally 10 yards longer than Llandudno’s, but material had to be taken from the end to do repairs after several damaging incidents – and so it grew shorter.
Structural problems persisted; by the 1960s it was a hundred years old and no longer fit for purpose. The aerial shot above was sent by George Owen who describes it as a picture of “the rump that was once our 2,355 ft long pier not long before it was demolished in 1973”.
A reader has enquired about Clarendon School. This wasn’t in Rhyl town; it was at Kinmel Hall in St George near Abergele. The card above (TOP) was presumably printed before all had been agreed because Clarendon was a private boarding school for girls.
Clarendon had started in 1898 in Worcestershire. Twenty Pickfords vans moved the school to Kinmel Hall in April 1948 and there it stayed until 1975 when a fire forced another move. Eventually, Clarendon ended up merged with the co-educational Monkton Combe School in Bath.
The full colour picture of Kinmel Hall is dated 2000. The copyright belongs to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) and their web site is a must-see: http://www.rcahmw.gov.uk/.
MON 21st DEC 2009 UPDATE: Mrs Jean Bray (was Ross) has lived in Bodelwyddan for 82 years and comes to Rhyl shopping a couple of times a week. Mrs Bray says Clarendon was a Quaker girls' school and before that, Kinmel Hall was a convalescent home for soldiers (higher ranks) during World War Two.
Before the war it had been a boys' school, which makes sense of the old postcard shown above. Mrs Bray couldn’t remember the name of the boys’ school as we stood there freezing in Rhyl bus station, but she has promised to let me know when she remembers.
Every Christmas young animals are bought and sold as gifts to satisfy the whims of children. Many of these animals are abandoned when the novelty wears off. Please don’t give pets as presents.
The RSPCA is on the corner of Vaughan Street and Bedford Street and does a good job in town centre and west end where residents have pets but don’t have much money. From Monday 11th Jan 2010 a couple of times a week there'll be a surgery on the premises doing neutering and dental work on pets at affordable prices. Please phone for an appointment (01745) 355798.
American showman Buffalo Bill whose real name was William Frederick Cody (b.1846, d.1917) brought his Wild West Show to Britain and visited a great many towns including 21 in Wales. The show revolved around the concept of native American Indians being ‘bad guys’ attacking brave white folks’ wagons. Hmmmm.
The show travelled by train, and on Wednesday 27th May 1903 played in Rhyl (for two performances) on a carelessly-described patch of land that I imagine to be the area that eventually became Ocean Beach car park, opposite Marine Lake. Mr Cody’s publicity machine was well-oiled and large crowds gathered wherever he went.
Rhyl’s intrepid film maker Arthur Cheetham was on hand to capture a fleeting glimpse (just a few seconds) of Mr Cody in High Street on his way to or from a Masonic meeting upstairs at The Lorne pub. (I wonder if DJ Pete McGuinness knows that Buffalo Bill went there). I’ve seen the film; it’s quite good but not worth staying up late for.
Last Wednesday I posted the photograph above (TOP) and the questions were: Where was I standing when I took the photo, and what’s the scaffolding for?
The answers are: I was standing in the alley at the foot of Princes Street, and the scaffolding is for the construction of an integrated health centre which sticks out like a sore thumb on a corner of West Kinmel Street and Elwy Street.
First with correct answers was Gareth Morris who won Quiz 14, 17 and 22 as well. He must be following me around. Gareth says, “You will recall that this land was formerly occupied by railway engine sheds and turntables until 1960s, and there was a platform bay for ‘Welsh Dragon’ steam train service. The area occupied by the new care centre building was used in mid ‘90s for outdoor market and car boot sales.”
Thank you, Gareth. My pal Jill thinks it was called ‘The Bell Market’. Can anyone confirm this and perhaps explain the name? Please send email to: email@example.com
Commentators who take the view that Rhyl is the worst place on earth may be surprised to learn that the resort has dedicated fans.
Lloyd Adams and Kerry, for instance, live in Cannock (Staffordshire) and say, “We come to Rhyl every couple of weeks winter and summer because we love the place so much. If everyone just came a little more often then Rhyl would rise again. Believe it or not we'll be down on Christmas Eve to do some last minute shopping.”
That’s what I like to hear – enthusiasm for the town! I’ve selected the picture above as a little gift for Lloyd and Kerry with best wishes for Christmas and New Year. I took this a few months ago, looking westwards from Splash Point.
The black-and-white pictures shown above were sent by George Owen. At the top is a postcard marked ‘High Street Rhyl, Coronation Day’, referring to the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary on Thursday 22nd June 1911. On the corner of Kinmel Street is the Alexandra Hotel & Motor Garage.
The hotel was demolished in early 1960s and replaced by the building in the middle photo – a more modest piece of architecture: The Alexandra Public House (usually called ‘The Alex’). The colour picture was taken last week by Yours Truly from a similar angle to the first, while standing on the Vale Road Bridge – whose original name was the Alexandra Bridge.
Mrs Maureen Davies (was Hughes) has been in touch to ask for more pictures of the Floral Hall. Mrs Davies was a frequent visitor there in 1960s when she was growing up in Rhyl and later in Meliden.
The Floral Hall was created by Flintshire County Council and opened by Roy Turner who was Chairman of Rhyl Urban District Council in 1957-58. (Roy also had the melancholy duty of opening the Queens Ballroom as a market). Roy’s dates in office cast doubt on the widely-held belief that the Floral Hall opened in 1959.
What is certain is that on Wednesday 8th June 1960 the Floral Hall was reopened by the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and renamed the Royal Floral Hall. At the time Rhyl council’s parks and gardens superintendant was Mr John McCartan.
Rhyl Computer Club was launched last week. The originator uses the name 'peej’ and says, “There must be people out there that have more than just a passing interest in computers. There is more to life than Word documents and Spread sheets. Let's perhaps explore Linux, PHP, MySQL, Python, html, RSS feeds, Hosting game servers, printers, routers, hubs and all sorts of stuff.”
The club is a web site and anyone can join. Members can post comments and view the group members list. To visit the site please click on the following link: http://RhylComputerClub.org.uk
Last Thursday while strolling across Gladstone Bridge – a more pleasant experience now that the drinkers have been thrown out of Morley Road Gardens – this house in Brighton Road caught my eye. Actually it is two houses knocked into one.
The photograph at the top (left) shows a side of the main entrance and to the right is a detail of a banister inside.
The premises are ‘Bron Haul’, 41-43 Brighton Road, a private care home for the elderly. My thanks go to manager Debbie Williams for allowing me to look around, and my best wishes go to the staff and residents for Christmas and New Year.
In recent years, being a jazz fan in Rhyl can feel a bit like being the only gay in the village. This hasn’t always been the case. The first time I heard a live jazz band was in late '50s in Rhyl as a schoolboy standing outside the Bee Hotel, Bodfor Street. It was Merseysippi Jazz Band and you can guess where they were from.
Weekly sessions at the Bee were promoted by licensee Roy Muller and estate agent Stan Elson. The musicians were usually semi-pros from North West England and North Wales. Bigger names tended to turn up at Queens Ballroom, West Parade; there were one-nighters by Alex Welsh, Sid Phillips and Freddie Randall, and three extended visits by world-class modernist Tubby Hayes (pictured above).
In 1958 the Silver Slipper Ballroom, a converted ex-Robins Cafe on the northeast side of Queen Street (now boarded up) tried its hand at being Mardi Gras Jazz Club for a summer season and the promoter was once again Stan Elson.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting Roy and June Turner who must be one of Rhyl’s most high-profile couples.
Roy moved from Stoke-on-Trent to Rhyl in 1938 at the age of ten, and his father became an upholsterer at the furniture shop Rhydwen Jones & Davies in Queen Street. Later on Roy served in the Royal Navy, then he and his father started a business of their own doing upholstery, lino and carpet fitting.
June (maiden name Houghton) was an evacuee from Liverpool during World War Two. She and Roy met in 1948 at the Queens Ballroom, West Parade, and they married in 1952. June became a primary school teacher and helped with Roy’s businesses which included running holiday flats in Butterton Road.
The photo above is from the collection of Roy and June Turner. It shows them in 1958 in Rhyl & District Operatic Society’s production of Pink Champagne , a show based on ‘Die Fledermaus’ with music by Johann Strauss II. June was a soprano but says that her strength was in acting rather than singing, and she says Roy was a fine tenor.
Roy became Chairman of the Operatic Society and served in that capacity for 18 years and 25 shows. He also served as a Rhyl Urban District Councillor (Independent) for 21 years and a Flintshire County Councillor (Conservative) for 6 years. Roy and June have lots of memories to share; more of their pictures will be featured on this blog soon.
The picture above (TOP) is from Gaynor Williams and is probably from 1950s. It shows the shop F. Matthews, jeweller, silversmith and clock/watch repairer at 13 Water Street. (These days the building on the right is where you would find Citizens Advice Bureau.) The shop’s main claim to fame according to Bill Ellis is that in 1967 it sold him a wedding ring – he still has the receipt.
I wonder who the chaps in enlarged detail are. Does anyone know? Please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
In more recent times the shop was Orama Radio/TV sales & repairs operated by Mr and Mrs Sumner who retired a couple of years ago. Presently it is Studio 13 operated by Chris Parkhouse, photographer and photographic printer. He can print his or your photos on canvas, tee shirts, posters, mouse mats and key rings. See website: http://www.picture2canvas.co.uk/ Chris also runs a full-colour photocopying service.
Here is a 1960 picture of staff at the Tudor Cafe, 39 High Street, Rhyl. The cafe was where ‘phones4u’ is now, next to W H Smith. As a schoolboy in early 1960s I went there quite often for frothy coffee,
a sticky bun and a few goes on the jukebox. Half a century ago that seemed a reasonably cool way of spending a Saturday afternoon.
In the picture, left to right, are: Dorothy Williams (was Beech), Don’t know, Vera Hughes and May Griffiths.
Residents and visitors used to haunt the Tudor Cafe, Evans’ Cafe, Russell Cafe, Roma ‘Espresso’ Coffee Bar and others, and in1960s the teenagers headed for a tiny place called Le Nautique in Glanglasfor. All those meeting places have gone. It seems that only Jay’s Cafe in Market Street and Sidoli’s Ice Cream Parlour in Wellington Road have survived.