Wednesday, 31 March 2010


I took this photograph a couple of weeks ago in Rhyl. The building getting a facelift is house number 17. The question is:
What is the name of the street?

Please send your answer by email to:

Correct answers received before midday on Tuesday 6th April 2010 go in a hat and then I'll ask somebody to draw one at random. The result will be published next day.

If you don’t do the quiz and you’d like draw the winner from hat on Tue afternoon please let me know.



Water StreetLast Wednesday I posted a larger version of the photo at the top and said that it showed part of the front of a building in an area of town bounded by Abbey Street, Bath Street, Wellington Road, and West Parade.
The question: Which of those four streets is the nearest to it?

The answer: West Parade.
The building is the rear end of Les Harker’s Monte Carlo amusement arcade.

This week’s winner is The Great Gareth. The winner was drawn from hat in the ceremony shown above, by Helen (left) and Gloria who are residents of John Street.



This is a photograph of former guest house ‘Normaz’, 19 Aquarium Street. Residents in the vicinity are expressing concern about the alleged involvement of Pennaf/Clwyd Alyn Housing Association in the recent purchase of this and other properties. Their fears are understandable, given the association’s record of housing people with behavioural problems in the town centre and west end.

[As an occupier of a Clwyd Alyn property for the elderly I am aware that not everything the association does is bad.]

Behind the association’s current wave of buying is a massive amount of money from Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) for regenerating Rhyl. Denbighshire County Council is involved, and this is another unhelpful factor in public relations. Residents feel that many times in the past they have been lied to, ripped off, sold down the river and stabbed in the back by Clwyd Alyn or Denbighshire or both.

The WAG officer in charge of the scheme has explained to me that Clwyd Alyn is purchasing and managing the properties but shall not be given complete control. He says that, after public consultation about housing issues, the new acquisitions are to be refurbished, or remodelled (e.g. from flatlets and bedsits into bigger units) or in some cases demolished.


Tuesday, 30 March 2010


High Street
Above (TOP) is White Rose Centre, High Street, Rhyl. There, as the financial year draws to an end, the unit formerly occupied by Dr. China is closed and a new clothes/shoes shop named ‘Designer Outlet’ has opened where Contessa used to be. Clarks Shoes has moved from one unit to another and is now in a more prominent position. Mothercare has gone. The unit formerly occupied by Bay is closed. Boots the Opticians (not the chemist) has moved to 27 High Street where once was Dolland & Aitchison.

Compared with the main shopping precinct in other towns, the situation at White Rose Centre is not bad. Further down High Street, between Marks & Spencer and Bodycare there is a new bookshop ‘Bargain Book Time’.

The final photo above shows part of the unlovely medical centre being built on a corner of Elwy Street and West Kinmel Street. Oh well, at least they didn’t put it on the prom.


Monday, 29 March 2010


rounders1971These photos were sent by Alan Evans who was at Ysgol Llywelyn 1959 to 1966 and Rhyl Grammar / High School 1966 to 1973.

The photos above show Ysgol Llywelyn Rounders Team 1966 and a group of boys from an enormous High School photo 1971.

Thanks, Alan.



degradationDenbighshire County Council has an ambivalent attitude towards alcohol. The council tut-tuts at all the harm and havoc caused by the stuff but last Christmas helped to organise a pub crawl round villages, and recently postponed a ban on pubs which had been caught selling alcohol to children, and now has become involved in giving awards to licensed premises.

I hope that some time in the future Denbighshire (or its successor authority) would be brave enough to consider acquiring the public support and the powers to turn Rhyl into the first dry (no alcohol on sale) resort in the UK. Then it would become the safest place to live in or visit. Civilized families would flock in from far and wide and the basket cases and bingers would flock out.

Photo: Daily Mail.


Saturday, 27 March 2010


Mr. Dafydd Timothy the proprietor of Siop y Morfa, 109 High Street, Rhyl, has announced that his shop closes down at the end of next week. Dafydd has been selling books and music in Welsh language, local history books, and clothes/fancy goods associated with Wales for 29 years (25 of them at the present address).

Out-of-town shopping, internet shopping and the ongoing Anglicising of Rhyl have all been a strain on Siop y Morfa; the recent economic crisis and bank squeeze have pushed the business over the edge. A lot could be said about local factors but readers of this blog know all about them.

As a third generation Rhylite from a non-Welsh speaking family, I shall miss the shop as a symbol of roots and counter-culture. Dafydd is keeping his business contacts and will continue trading on Internet sites.



Previously on this blog there have been references to the minstrel pitch. It was an area of the sands cleared for use by street entertainers (possibly to stop them wandering the streets). In early days it was a tradition for performers of this kind to be ‘blacked-up’ (as above) and sometimes the public referred to them cheerfully as ‘the niggers’. They performed several shows a day, with the accent on comedy and music, while some members of the troupe or helpers moved among the audience collecting money.

This photograph of Tom Wood’s Merry Men is from the collection of Gaynor Williams. Their instrumentation seems odd: close inspection of the photo reveals a cornet and flute; a harp and double bass are clearly visible and – according to Bill Ellis – there was a harmonium in the band. In the background is the ill-fated Grand Pavilion, a concert hall built of wood at the shore end of the pier. The Grand Pavilion opened in 1891 and was destroyed by fire in 1901.

Comfortably, we could declare the photo to date from c.1895.



Tom Wood died in 1898 and the pitch was taken the following year by E.H. Williams who kept the name Merry Men but changed it to Merrie, and he created a bigger troupe and achieved wider renown. In this photograph, which is also from Gaynor, a member of E.H. Williams’ Merrie Men appears to be semi-supervising a children’s dance (audience participation was a large part of the fun). In the background the Grand Pavilion has gone so this photo would be later than 1901 but before Gilbert Rogers’ Jovial Jesters took the pitch in 1907.

Let's say the photo is c. 1904.


Wednesday, 24 March 2010


The photo above was taken last week in Rhyl and shows part of a building in an area bounded by (in alphabetical order) Abbey Street, Bath Street, Wellington Road, and West Parade.

The question is:
Which of those four streets is the nearest to it?

Please send your answer by email to:

Correct answers received before midday on Tuesday 30th March 2010 go in a hat and then I'll ask somebody to draw one at random. The result will be published next day.



Last Wednesday I posted the photograph above (top) and asked: What monarch is commemorated in the name given to this place?

Answer: King George V.
The picture was taken near the Vale Road entrance to the playing field that is now generally known as Coronation Gardens plural.

This week’s winner is Jane Shuttle, and it’s Jane’s third win.

The winner was drawn from hat by George Owen who has contributed many pictures to this site and is an occasional quiz entrant. George used to be a Rhyl Journal print worker and is presently a tenor singer in the chorus at Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. He is President of Rhyl South West Central Residents’ Association based at Botanical Gardens, Grange Road.


At present the Rhyl Life quiz championship table is as follows:
The Great Gareth is leading the field with 6 wins; The Legendary Lloyd & Kerry are hot on his heels with 5; and Gaynor Williams and Jane Shuttle share third position with 3 each. George Owen and Ceri Swinney have 2 each, and seven readers have 1 each: Phil Hughes, Mike Demack, Moira Evans, Diana & Berwyn Jones, Pauline Hammans, Lynn Roberts and Jacqui Bell.


Tuesday, 23 March 2010


building constructing At the top is a pic provided by George Owen showing Rhyl Pavilion being built in 1907 (it opened on Thursday 30th July 1908). Most sources say the building was constructed in only a short time, which might account for why it was rumoured to be unsafe from the start. It proved safe enough to stand foursquare until it was demolished with some difficulty in 1974.

Flintshire County Council created the Pavilion and destroyed it; Rhyl Urban District Council was unable to save it. A few weeks later both authorities went out of existence because of changes in local government. The postcards above are from my own collection; they seem to be pre-World War 2 photos coloured artificially.



Last Saturday evening there was a buffet party at St. Mary’s Church, Wellington Road. The event was organised by Mrs. Geraldine Griffiths of John Street to honour the work of volunteers in the community; it was prompted by news that the Abbey Street Centre (above) is to close at the end of this month.

The centre at 17a Abbey Street has been operated by the not-for-profit West Rhyl Community Company Ltd for quite a few years. It has been one of the few neighbourhood advice, help and activity centres in Rhyl West which, by some measurements, is the most deprived ward in Wales. The project's local funding has been withdrawn.

Wales is a poor nation indeed if we can’t afford places like this.


Sunday, 21 March 2010


RhylLast month the posts about Morgan and Shirley Borthwick included a snapshot showing Colin Smith (double bass and bass guitar).

Shortly after came news that Colin had passed away in Ysbyty Glan Clwyd at age of 90. His friend, the drummer Roy Holliday found the picture on the net and got in touch with me.

Roy Holliday has sent the photograph above. It was taken in 1949 in the ballroom of Rhyl Pavilion. The trio was billed as ‘Eric Easton and his Organites’ and they are (left to right): Paul Burnett, piano; Roy at the drums; and Eric Easton whose real name was Huden, organ.

In addition to this resident engagement at the Pavilion, Roy was doing drum tuition at his home in Rhyl, and among his students was young Harry Lightfoot.



Rhyl, North WalesHarry Lightfoot was born in Chester in 1928, moved to Rhyl in 1949. He heard Roy Holliday playing at the Pavilion and went for lessons at Roy’s home in Millbank Road, Rhyl, at "five bob an hour".

Harry had some limited experience as a drummer in a church band and a liking for American big band drummers of the day such as Mel Lewis (with the Stan Kenton Orchestra) and Louie Bellson who recorded ‘Skin Deep’ with Duke Ellington's Orchestra.

The black-and-white portrait above shows Harry Lightfoot in 1955. A vehicle and plant mechanic by trade, Harry became very active as a dance band player throughout the 1950s and early 1960s all along the North Wales coast.



Kinmel Park Camp, BodelwyddanGlyn Lewis bass, Harry Lightfoot drums These photographs are from the collection of Harry Lightfoot.

The black-and-white photo of the Ken Quiggan band at Kinmel Park Camp near Bodelwyddan during the days of National Service in early 1950s shows (left to right): Harry at the drums, Unknown soldier, Ken Portlock, tenor sax, Ken Quiggan, alto sax, Frank Rigby, bass; Les Frimstone, piano.

Harry also played for bandleaders Alf Cowan and Jimmy Clarke, and with Johnny Kenneally who was the last resident leader at Queens Ballroom, West Parade. When the Queens closed in late 1950s Harry went to Winter Gardens, Llandudno, and he continued to play one-off engagements everywhere.

The colour snapshot shows (left to right): Colin Higginson, tenor sax; Glyn Lewis, bass; and Harry at the drums.

Among the many Rhyl venues at which Harry played were Bee Hotel in Bodfor Street, Regent Ballroom in High Street, Ritz Ballroom at Ocean Beach Fun Fair, Sun Inn in Wellington Road, and nearby holiday camps such as Sunnyvale (Kinmel Bay) and the North Wales Holiday Camp in Pensarn near Abergele.


Thursday, 18 March 2010


Above are images of Queen’s Palace, West Parade. The first was sent by Diana & Berwyn Jones; the other is a dramatic drawing from Rhyl History Club Community Archive and shows the dome falling the wrong way.

The following pic is from my own collection, a card postmarked 1907. This shows the damage to the Queens Arcade (to your left of Queen's Palace) after the dome fell on it.

Queen’s Palace opened on August 1st 1902 and operated only during summer seasons. The ballroom on the ground floor was said to be big enough for 2,000 couples; the theatre upstairs was luxurious.

There were fun fair-style rides and sideshows in the basement and roof gardens where you might have seen Wild Man from Borneo or Saccho the Fasting Man. The latter was summonsed for not paying for meals supplied to him by a local caterer during a 'forty days fast'.

The business lasted only five years before being terminated by a fire but the building itself was not destroyed beyond repair. Eventually the ground floor and first floor came back into use under new management.

SUN 5th MAR 2017 UPDATE: Recently the following pictures came to hand showing the destruction of the Queens Arcade.



This item was sent by Sandra Williams who says, “The photo was taken in late 1930s and shows a shop on corner of Victoria Road and Ernest Street, Rhyl. The proprietor was Thomas Roberts who lived in Victoria Terrace and had a smallholding down Cefndy Road.

“Thomas had the shop for 18 years and we’re not sure who the two people in the photo are. Thomas’ daughter Dilys worked in the shop; his daughter May later May Williams, my husband Keith's mother, sometimes delivered the milk.

"There was another daughter Cissie (Elizabeth) who worked in the small-holding. His son Glyn H. Roberts (a Rhyl builder) built the house next door to the shop, in Victoria Road, and lived there. Thomas died in 1945.”


Wednesday, 17 March 2010


I took this photograph a couple of months ago in Rhyl, and the question is:
What monarch is commemorated in the name given to this place?

Please send your answer by email to:

Correct answers received before midday on Tuesday 23rd March 2010 go in a hat and then I'll ask somebody to draw one at random. The result will be published next day.



Last Wednesday I posted larger versions of the photographs at the top and asked, Where was I standing when I took the photos?

The answers: (a) Donald Avenue looking across Rhuddlan Road towards Holland Park Drive; and (b) Oxford Grove looking towards Kings Avenue.

If you got one answer right you went in the hat; if you got both right you went in the hat twice! You readers frighten me sometimes: six of you got both right.

This week’s winner is Ceri Swinney. That’s two in a row for Ceri.

My pal Jill held the hat and the winner was drawn by Haydn Greenow who is minister/pastor at Oasis Christian Centre (formerly Apostolic Church) in Sisson Street. He was born in Herefordshire and lived in Suffolk before moving his family to Rhyl in 2006.

Haydn produces photographs and greetings cards from which a percentage of the proceeds go to caring and support of orphanages in Latvia and Romania. They are on sale at RhylCreate’s Gallery 36 at 36 Kinmel Street, Rhyl and via the following web site:



Jesuit Spirituality Centre, Rhuallt, Tremeirchion, St. Asaph I’ve had some difficult picture restorations in my time but this faded postcard of St. Beuno’s College took the biscuit. You are looking at the improved version!

St. Beuno’s is a Jesuit Spirituality Centre located between Rhuallt and Tremeirchion near St. Asaph and is a well known place of retreat – and I’m on the verge of needing one.

The card is undated but could be up to 100 years old. Just inside the gates and on the left is a cross on a plinth at the top of a short flight of steps. This is the Tremeirchion Rood of Grace; it stood there from 1862 to 2002 and then was returned to Tremeirchion graveyard whence it came.

The information comes from the St. Beuno web site:


THU 18th JUN 2015 UPDATE: Just arrived at Jones Towers is this image of St. Beuno’s in snow. It is a card postmarked 1919:

Jesuit Spirituality Centre, Rhuallt, Tremeirchion, St. Asaph


Tuesday, 16 March 2010


Multiview postcards such as these are popular with collectors of old adverts, and for the same reason: they are ‘period pieces’ that carry a strong flavour of the times in which they were published. Although edited to give the best impression, they offer an insight into architectural fashions and flavours of the day.

The cards are postmarked 1960, 1983 and 2001 respectively. In the 2001 item, the picture centre right is of the Land Train which was based in the Children's Village; it shuttled back and forth on the prom.


Monday, 15 March 2010


Above is a photo of Mark Polin the new-ish Chief Constable of Heddlu Gogledd Cymru / North Wales Police.

Last week the Daily Post reported that the number of well-known criminals being monitored by North Wales Police had dropped from 247 in 2005/6 to currently 156 according to Home Office figures. That doesn’t mean the number of offenders has dropped, just the number being monitored.

It seems as if the whole of Wales has become a dumping ground for people with behavioural problems such as persistent offending, and in Rhyl we have projects using money from the public purse to settle criminals in our midst – with the knowledge our elected representatives.

Offenders can get housing priority and special services that are unavailable to other people. In these ways bad behaviour is rewarded.

SAT 16th SEP 2017 UPDATE: The watchdog outfit HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services has discovered that North Wales Police records only 88.3% of crimes. That means the force fails to record more than 5,000 crimes a year, including nearly one in five violent crimes. Well, that's one way of making North Wales look safer.



This photograph was sent by Diana & Berwyn Jones. Diana says, “It was taken in late 1920s and shows my great-grandfather W.H. Roberts at his butcher’s stall in the market hall at back of Rhyl Town Hall.

“The family had traded there since the town hall and market hall opened in 1876, so it must have been quite a blow in December 1939 when Rhyl Urban District Council issued notice to quit. World War 2 had begun and the council needed space for a British Restaurant.”

Interesting picture, thanks Diana. British Restaurants were community canteens set up by the Government’s Ministry of Food to provide basic affordable nourishment for people whose rationing coupons had run out. They were operated on a non-profit making basis by local volunteers.



The photograph of Kings Avenue at the top was sent by George Owen and must be over 100 years old; it was taken at the far end looking towards Wellington Road. The corresponding colour picture underneath, taken by Yours Truly, shows that the houses on the right haven’t changed much. The big difference is the prevalence of cars.

The Wellington Road end of Kings Avenue, opposite Kings Surgery (Dr. Landon) is a notorious pavement parking spot. Pedestrians with a lot of shopping, mums with prams or pushchairs, and wheelchair users from the old folks’ flats round the corner, get forced off the pavement onto the road because of this kind of parking.

I’ve been complaining about this hazardous situation for 8 years. If residents in this part of town were comparatively wealthy instead of comparatively poor an answer to the problem might have been found long ago.


WED 30th JUN 2010 UPDATE: Early yesterday morning, a police officer took action against pavement parking (see photo below). Now we need a permanent barrier so that pedestrians in Kings Avenue can be as safe as in other streets.


Sunday, 14 March 2010


World War 1, World War One, First World War, The Great WarPhotographs from World War 1 period submitted to this site by Gaynor Williams have won admirers.

Here at the top we have a group of Gaynor’s family members. The lady in the striped top is Gaynor’s great grandmother known as ‘Annie Victoria’ because her father Robert Evans was landlord of the Victoria Inn, Vale Road (Greenfield Place). The little boy sitting in front of her is Gaynor’s father Alec. The photo was taken somewhere near Bee Hotel in Bodfor Street; in background is the Singer Sewing Machines shop which is now round the corner at 12 Kinmel Street.

The other item is an unused postcard titled ‘Field Marshall Lord French visit to Kinmel Park . . . 1916’. Kinmel Park Camp is near Bodelwyddan. The tempestuous Lord French, also known as Viscount French, was a veteran of the Boer War and other conflicts. In the earlier part of World War 1 he had been the First Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force in the trenches but at the time of the photo he was busy suppressing the Irish rebellion.