Wednesday, 30 June 2010


RhylRhylRhylRhylLast week I had the pleasure of visiting Ray and June Barton at their home in Rhyl. Ray Barton was, in the opinion of colleagues and audiences, the best of the local accordion players and his wife June was a popular singer.

Ray was born in 1928 in Victoria Road, Rhyl. He attended Ysgol Emmanuel and Clwyd Street School. He started studying accordion while still in school and is to a large extent self-taught. Nevertheless he was doing radio and TV broadcasts from 1958 onwards. His sister was a music tutor and taught piano.

June was born near Wrexham and had an aunt in Rhyl with a boarding house in River Street. June took singing lessons with Tom Bradburn at his school in Chester and sang with Ray’s trio. In 1959, Ray and June appeared with other musicians and singers representing Rhyl in a BBCTV ‘Top Town’ programme in which towns competed by presenting a mini-variety show judged by a panel.

The black-and-white pictures above are from that period. The next picture (colour) was taken later, in the 1960s, at RAFA Club, Windsor Street, Rhyl. That’s Colin Smith on bass guitar; sometimes Ray’s bass player was Cliff Pennington and his drummer was usually Dougie Webb. Other Rhyl venues were Conservative Club in Market Street and Robin Hood camp - also the Kinmel Bay camps Sunnyvale and Golden Sands.

Ray played in all styles and appeared at various times with saxists Albert Williams, Clem Maiden and jazzman Colin Higginson. Ray retained amateur/semi-pro status and continued working as an administrator for Rhyl Urban District Council and later Rhuddlan Borough Council. June kept busy with the trio and sang in concerts at Rhyl Pavilion, Town Hall Warrington and in Spain and Malta.