Monday, 30 March 2015

COLUMN SPACE


Here are some old newspaper adverts: three from the collection of the late Glyn Rees, three from Diana Hannam and one from Yours Truly. This one for Parry and Stevens Soda Water Works is dated 1857:


Click on any advert to read the small print.

The following business, Dinorben Arms Hotel, must have been a forerunner of the Alexandra pub which was later renamed several times including as Off The Rails, Bar Blu, and now The Front Room:



Dinorben Arms Hotel would have been named after Lord Dinorben of Kinmel Hall near Abergele. He may have been owner of the premises and/or the land beneath - that may be how Kinmel Street got its name.

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Below: Brickworks advert from 1902 for wire-cut (i.e. traditionally made) bricks, and Aston's Furniture advert from 1911 that includes reference to Painted Deal which was an cheap form of pine wood:



The following undated advert for concrete products is the first mention of Skeffington family on this blog. Come on you Skeffies, I know you are out there. You must have interesting items for us to see.


Here is evidence of girls from the Convent school fundraising in 1923 for War Memorial Hospital, Grange Road:

War Memorial Hospital

Finally, below is a reminder of the fundraising that helped to establish The Little Theatre's current premises in Vale Road. The advert is dated 1961; the theatre opened in 1963.

Children's theatre
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Sunday, 29 March 2015

QUIZ QUESTION # 85


This Rhyl scene was photographed in March 2015 by Yours Truly.

The question: What is the name of the turning in which I was standing?

That’ll keep you quiet.

You have until the end of Saturday 4th April 2015 to send your entry.
The result will be published on Sunday 5th April 2015 around Midday.


Colin Jones / email: rhyl.colin.jones@live.co.uk

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QUIZ ANSWER # 84


Last Sunday I posted this photo and said it was taken six or seven years ago of a Rhyl street. [It is a snapshot by the late Glyn Rees.]


The question was: If the street were NOT a cul-de-sac, to what other street would it lead?
The answer is: Fairfield Avenue (The cul-de-sac is Morlan Park off Bath Street.)
Fairfield Avenue is in the county council wards of Rhyl East and Rhyl West; the border is up the middle of the street.

Secondly I posted the following card of a photo from Daily Dispatch news-paper showing some of the Pals Battalion:

World War 1, World War One, First World War, The Great War

The question: Is the card postmarked 1914, 1927 or 1939?
The answer: 1914.

This week's scores are two wins for Jane Shuttle, Sue Handley, The Great Gareth and Richard & Ceri Swinney.

Richard & Ceri add that The Pals - such as these attached to the Royal Welsh Fusiliers - were locally raised units, following an idea by Lord Kitchener to increase the strength of the army needed in World War 1.

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WENDY & CO.

Rhyl Life notes with sadness the death a few days ago of Wendy McDaid, a community development worker based for a long time at the offices of Rhyl Community Agency. Wendy left there several years ago and operated as a market trader for a while before moving back to her home city of Derby.

At the end of this month Rhyl Community Agency, whose offices are in the bus station, closes down. The Agency has been giving professional advice and practical assistance to over 200 charitable and voluntary groups and small starter businesses. No funding was available to continue this project.

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Thursday, 26 March 2015

LINE UP!


School time again! Firstly, here is a cricket team from Epworth College, Rhuddlan Road (now Ysgol Dewi Sant) in 1905 with a jolly nice mascot!

Ysgol Dewi Sant

Next is Colet House, East Parade (now St. David’s Residential Home) in 1914. I wonder whether the young women were teachers or servants:


Click on any picture to see a bigger version.

Finally, girls of St. Mary's Convent School, Russell Road, circa 1955. Some are holding sports trophies bearing the name HMS Capetown; the reason for this maritime connection is lost in the sea of time:


Left to right:
Back row: Marion Jenkins; Dilys Nelson; Sylvia Parr; Judy Cocks; Antoinette Heysham; Margaret Thomas; Valentine Newton.

Middle Row: Don’t know; Don’t know; Anna Kavanagh; Cynthia Evans; Pamela Threlfall; Eileen Roberts; Joan Barnard; Valerie Hobson; Pat Walker; Jean Hands.

Front Row: Diana Nicholas; Mary Higgs; Don’t know; Pat Jones; Nora Watts; Angela Cummings; Bernadette Howarth, Valerie Burrow.

Thanks to Diana Nicholas, now Diana Davies of Canada, for some IDs. (Cute shoes, Diana!)

The photo belongs to Valerie Burrow, now Valerie Lovibond of Abergele.
I was delighted to meet with her and her husband this week. Val has loaned me a little album of her previous school, Arcville College, Rhyl. Images from therein will appear on blog in due course.

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Rhyl Life was closed from September 2010 to February 2015. Even so the site has clocked up well over a quarter of a million page views (260,233 when I last looked). 

Its sister site RhylTime is less well known. RhylTime is a YouTube channel created by Yours Truly. So far it features 44 videos and photo slideshows of Rhyl past and present. You can see RhylTime's Top Ten here:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7BKgZiQNRSaVpnyTl8PgEpPusmd3dl_z

YouTube can be a bit of a jumble, so I always feel it necessary to point out that only the items labelled RhylTime are mine.


Colin Jones / email: rhyl.colin.jones@live.co.uk

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Monday, 23 March 2015

MR. RUIN

Vale of Clwyd

In May we shall have the opportunity to choose our Member of Parliament.

Chris Ruane (Labour) was elected as MP in 1997 and has served 18 years – too long perhaps. I have never been able to warm to Mr. Ruin; he does not seem able to grasp the fact that Rhyl is a purpose-built resort and has no other reason to be here. If he has ever done anything significant to boost our income from tourism I am not aware of it.

Tourism is good at creating opportunities for self-employment, and creating temporary jobs for students on holiday, and creating unskilled jobs for inexperienced workers – of which we have many in the old holiday district of Rhyl West where the unemployment rate is sky high.

Mr. Ruin has presided over the biggest downturn in the town’s fortunes in the entire history of Rhyl. He may feel no personal responsibility for our loss of status as a holiday resort (as typified by loss of Ocean Beach Fun Fair) or our loss of status as a regional shopping centre (loss of Marks & Spencer) but he cannot dodge some responsibility.

He has supported and/or been complicit in housing policies that have allowed Rhyl to become stuffed with people from other places, who have no income other than rock-bottom state pensions or benefits, no spending power and no apparent aspirations for themselves or for the town.

Social housing is a good thing - I say this as somebody brought up on a local council estate and currently living in Pennaf/Clwyd Alyn Housing Association development for elderly people – but the activities of Clwyd Alyn have gone too far, especially in Rhyl West. They are eating the ward.

Mr. Ruin could have called for a curb on the company’s activities – but he didn’t.

During his entire period in office, resettlement agencies have been dumping alcoholics, drug addicts, offenders of all kinds, and other problematic people into the old holiday district of Rhyl West, helping to give the whole town a bad name.

Mr. Ruin could have called for an end to those agencies’ activities – but he didn’t.

No doubt he would counter all the points I have made here in his usual brusque manner. He has a smart-alec answer for everything. “Get yer facts right!” he snarls whenever he or his precious Labour Party come under criticism.

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Vale of Clwyd

Chris Ruane MP seems, above all else, a Party man - only too willing to dance to the tune of Labour Whips who tell him how to vote and how to behave in the House of Commons, and only too willing to embrace the workplace culture: he has been criticised on more than occasion for the size of his expenses claims.

His Vale of Clwyd constituency includes wards where seriously deprived people live. These people, if they voted at all, would probably have assisted him by voting Labour – and he has made himself comparatively wealthy off their backs.

According to Wikipedia, he derives income from owning and renting out property in London while living at some other address at the public expense. He gets an easy ride from our chicken-hearted local paper The Journal whose offices nestle next door to Rhyl Labour Party’s offices. They never ask him any awkward questions.

For decades the Labour Party has been dominant within Rhyl and – apart from two or three decent ward councillors – our elected representatives are not fit for purpose because they don’t give enough thought to how pubic money is created in the first place – they just concentrate on how it should be spent.

On Mr. Ruin’s watch, Rhyl has been a leper squatting with a begging bowl for more and more grant aid from above. It's time to have some blue sky thinking and vote for Conservative candidate Dr. James Davies who is a local man, a GP in Prestatyn and a member of both Prestatyn and Denbighshire councils.

His knowledge of Rhyl is sound (not long ago I had a walk around the west end with him to satisfy myself on this point). James wants to make more of Rhyl’s potential and understands the town’s problems. His enthusiasm for Rhyl, combined with a doctor’s natural compassion, makes him in my opinion the better local candidate.

For me, politics is a local matter. Despite reservations about some of his Conservative Party’s national policies, I will be voting for James in May.

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Sunday, 22 March 2015

QUIZ QUESTION # 84


The above picture was taken in 2008 showing a Rhyl street; I don’t want the name of it.
The question: If the street were NOT a cul-de-sac, to what other street would it lead?

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Have a look at the following card. 
The question: Is the card postmarked 1914, 1927 or 1939?


Take a guess! There is a one-in-three chance you may be right!

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You have until the end of Saturday 28th March 2015 to send your entry.
Get one answer right for one win; get both answers right for two wins.
Second tries not accepted!
The result will be published on Sunday 29th March 2015 around Midday.


Colin Jones / email: rhyl.colin.jones@live.co.uk

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QUIZ ANSWER # 83


Last Sunday I posted a larger version of the following:


The question was: To what building did the sign belong?
The answer is: Downtown Club.
The club was close to Ocean Beach Fun Fair in West Parade.


These are snapshots circa 2008 by the late Glyn Rees.

Chalking up wins are Sue Handley, Dilys Bagnall, Moira Evans, The Great Gareth and Jane Shuttle. [Jane adds that the fancy initials BW above each word would stand for the proprietor Billy Williams.]

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  • Last Thursday’s by-election in Rhyl South West resulted in a predictable win for Labour; the large council and housing association estates make the ward safe territory for them. Well done to the four losers for trying to overcome the apathy. The turnout was 20 per cent - 8 out of every 10 eligible residents did not bother to vote.
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Friday, 20 March 2015

THE LOVELIES


This cartoon appeared in 1948 in Rhyl Leader newspaper.

Some readers may find the concept of female glamour and beauty contests offensive but it is part of the social history of seaside resorts such as Rhyl and many other towns, and we can’t ignore it.

The late Glyn Rees left a few files on the subject of Miss Rhyl and similar events. Dipping into them at random, I found the following which shows Miss Rhyl 1934 (Edna Howard) with her clothes on:


Here from 1936 is a typical parade at Open-Air Bathing Pool ('The Baths') on the promenade:

Open Air Bathing Pool

Click on any picture to see a bigger version.

The following is circa 1942, during World War 2. I bet it boosted the morale of the forces:

Open Air Bathing Pool, World War 2, Second World War
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Eventually the whole bathing beauty idea became more commercialised. Some entrants were semi-professional photographic/fashion models.

They travelled from town to town picking up contest prize money which at times could be substantial. Their life was not all fun. Look out for the film ‘The Beauty Jungle’ (1964) starring Janette Scott and Ian Hendry, directed by Val Guest.

By contrast, the following is definitely fun. It is an undated photo showing a retro parade of early swimsuit styles:

Open Air Bathing Pool

Here is a 1979 newspaper cutting about Debbie Dean, Miss Chamber of Trade, who won several beauty titles and married the footballer Mike Thomas. I don’t think we have a Chamber of Trade these days, do we? Further info on this point, and on Debbie and Mike, would be welcome:


And for good measure, here is Miss Rhyl 1980 (Anita Campini):


Perhaps we should have a Miss Rhyl Life competition. As an elderly gentleman – 70 next year – I had better restrict it to a small number of ladies of a certain age. Wouldn’t do to get over-excited.

All illustrations in this post are from the collection of the late Glyn Rees.


Colin Jones / email: rhyl.colin.jones@live.co.uk

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Wednesday, 18 March 2015

GREEN SHOOTS



These photographs were taken yesterday near the top of John Street by Yours Truly.

As first mentioned on this blog six years ago, residents of Rhyl West expressed enthusiasm for the idea of clearing spaces. One of the problems in the west end was that it felt like an inner city area, and the biggest patches of green were the vicars' gardens!

The present, unfinished environmental improvement scheme affecting Abbey Street to John Street tries to address that problem and to reduce the over-supply of rented flatlets and bedsits in the old holiday district.

Rhyl Life applauds this scheme. It is a pity that the pot of money for it is not big enough for a larger version. If the new green space is properly managed and maintained it would be a handsome addition to the neighbourhood.

A nagging doubt lingers over the creation of new accommodation by Pennaf/Clwyd Alyn Housing Association. What kind will it be?

There would be no point in creating general purpose flats for unemployed people of working age in a ward where the unemployment rate is four times higher than the UK national average. That kind of accommodation should be built in other towns where there are more work opportunities.

The townscaping has involved demolition and raised a lot of dust. Some householders nearby have been offered the opportunity of having their properties washed down. I hope they remember to close their windows.

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SEA MIST

By all accounts the musician Mike Peters is a nice guy and has done some good in Rhyl. I wouldn’t want to knock the man even though his music sounds perfectly horrid to me.

There was some genuine surprise when he was chosen as one of three heroes of whom statues were made for Pont y Ddraig, the new pedestrian/ cyclist bridge at Foryd Harbour. I received emails about this.

Some people of the past who made massive contributions to development of Rhyl, such as Townshend Mainwaring in the 19th century and Albert Barnes in the 20th century, to name but two, are still un-commemorated. So why did Mike Peters get chosen?

Mr. Peters is a cancer survivor and a campaigner for better cancer care. Was that generally known by the public when he was chosen as one of Rhyl's three all-time heroes?

In any case, did the public do the choosing? Was there a public ballot? Was it a choice by unelected council officers? Did local politicians have influence in the matter? I have no idea.

Contacts tell me this week's Journal carries an advert on behalf of Chris Ruane MP’s candidature for The Labour Party in the forthcoming General Election. The advert's text includes statements of support for Mr. Ruin from - among others - Mr. Peters. 

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RHYL 2008-2010 SNAPSHOTS


Unveiled today on this blog's sister site, the YouTube channel RhylTime,
is a slideshow of 2008-2010 snapshots from the collection of GLYN REES (1934-2015) R.I.P.
Please click on the following link to see it:
http://youtu.be/_5js_TG5mFA

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Click here to see ALL my videos:
http://www.youtube.com/user/RhylTime
There are hundreds of Rhyl videos on YouTube. Only the ones labelled RhylTime are mine - don't blame me for the others!

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Sunday, 15 March 2015

LITTLE VENICE # 2


Above: a pre-planned piece of performance art by German artist Hans Winkler (born 1955).

This post is further to one a couple of weeks ago about Rhyl’s ‘Little Venice’ which, because of a video on Facebook, has managed to achieve near-legendary status.

A perusal of files belonging to the late Glyn Rees has confirmed my suspicions about this matter. Our ‘Little Venice’ was no big deal; it was a poor man’s I mean miniature version of the spectacular Venice In London exhibition in 1891-92 at London Olympia.

‘Little Venice’ was not as big a spread as some people would like to think; it did not even take up the whole of the Queen’s Palace basement – there were stalls and sideshows of various kinds down there as well.

At Queen’s Palace many different attractions came and went in summer months and the venue was closed in winter. In 1905 the complex reopened with a new look and – hey presto – ‘Little Venice' had gone, as the following press cutting from Glyn’s collection shows:

 

So 'Little Venice' was there only for two or three seasons. It had gone two years before the fire that put an end to the whole Queen’s Palace venture. 

There are indications that the owning company may have been struggling financially in the run-up to the disaster. The Secretary told shareholders the cash book and ledger were destroyed in the fire, and the company seems to have wound up without an insurance payout on the Queen's Palace. 

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THU 16th APR 2015 UPDATE: The press cutting is from Rhyl Journal dated 22nd April 1905.

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QUIZ QUESTION # 83


Just one question this week - while we wait for more readers to latch on and join in.

The photograph above was taken six or seven years ago and shows part of a discarded sign.

The question: To what building did the sign belong?

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You have until the end of Saturday 21st March 2015 to send your entry. Second tries not accepted!
The result will be published on Sunday 22nd March 2015 around Midday.


Colin Jones / email: rhyl.colin.jones@live.co.uk

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QUIZ ANSWER # 82


Last Sunday’s quiz was easy peasy. I posted photos taken in February 2015 in Rhyl town centre; the first was a larger version of the following:


It is a detail from this:

The question: What building was behind me when I took the photo?

The answer: Imperial Hotel
Just for the record, its address is 34 Bodfor Street. Here is a snapshot of The Imp from the collection of the late Glyn Rees:


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The second was a larger version of the following image. I said that the building shown is not very well known but the one on your left of it is!


The image is a detail from the following, which reveals Water Street post office on your left:


The question: Where was I standing when I took the photo?

The answer: Town Hall Square or the back of the Town Hall or any similar answer sufficed.

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That's two wins for Jane Shuttle, Richard & Ceri Swinney, The Great Gareth and Sue Handley. 

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[These names of businesses are added here for indexing purposes: Premier Stores, Tattoo parlour, Seashells property letting agency, Morris Flats, Swinton Insurance, Kurdistan Kebab.]

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Saturday, 14 March 2015

THE POST OFFICE

Wellington Road

This unlovely building in Water Street has been Rhyl’s main post office for decades. Now it on the verge of closing and a new post office counter being created in a derelict High Street shop as part of a private retail business. This is a cost-cutting measure by The Post Office Ltd.

When I was a mini-person the main post office was in High Street in a building that no longer exists, opposite Boots chemist. The move to Water Street was met with scorn. “Bah! How ridiculous,” said Rhylites, “The Post Office belongs in High Street!”

Now comes the turnaround, and last year the counter staff were upset about the prospect of changing location and status. They are an efficient, friendly team so I was happy to sign their petition and go to their meeting at the Town Hall.

The meeting was not well attended by customers. There were quite a few Labour Party hangers-on and apparatchiks from Kinmel Street Kremlin and, inevitably, Chris Ruane MP.

Mr. Ruin shared the platform with the staff’s trade union representative. As an ex-trade union officer myself I recognised his type as unhelpful.
The union man referred to a privately-run post office being boycotted somewhere and implied the same could be done here.

Mr. Ruin and his Labour comrade Andrew Whatsisname, The Mayor of Rhyl, failed to pick up this point and challenge it. Did they really believe Rhyl people would boycott a Rhyl business?

Anyway, the move is to go ahead in June this year. (There's a consultation period beforehand in which you could have your say – not that it would make the slightest difference.)

The new location is a former sport retailer’s shop opposite White Rose Centre. The owners of White Rose Centre must be rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of a post office on their doorstep; it means a shot in the arm for their outdated half-empty precinct.

I would have rounded off this blog post with a picture of the forthcoming post office premises but one of the striped tents described as market stalls was in the way.

Soon the stalls are being moved to an other location, I am pleased to say. Putting them in front of High Street shops was always a crass idea.

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Friday, 13 March 2015

RHYL MAN IN PRESTATYN

River Island, Poundland

In 2013 our Marks & Spencer store closed down and the company moved to a new home in Prestatyn. It was at least six months before I got round to paying a visit. There seemed to be something daft about going from Rhyl (population about 25,000) to Prestatyn (population only around 16,000) for shopping, but eventually curiosity took me along.


Now I go occasionally for a change of scenery more than anything, and nearly always run into other Rhylites and we all say, “What are YOU doing here?!”

Looking at the new Marks, there would have been nowhere big enough for that in Rhyl town centre (except possibly as a fresh build on the Queens Market site). Looking at Parc Prestatyn development as a whole, including Tesco – and more stores to come – Rhyl would have needed an out of town development to accommodate everything.

Prestatyn is an older place. It was an established market and shopping town before there was much in Rhyl except sandbanks, mud, marsh land and wooden shacks. (I hope history isn’t going to repeat itself, ha ha.) Seriously, Prestatyn is panning out as the most important retail centre between Chester and Llandudno.

But where does that leave Rhyl?

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[These names are added here for indexing purposes: River Island Prestatyn, Poundland Prestatyn, New Look shop Prestatyn, Next shop Prestatyn, Boots shop Prestatyn.]

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Wednesday, 11 March 2015

COSTIGAN’S



The above are snapshots taken circa 2008 of Costigan's pub, 40 Bodfor Street, Rhyl, by the late Glyn Rees.

Costigan’s was in existence before the railway arrived in 1848. It was the home of Mr. James Costigan, an Irish teetotaller who acquired a licence to sell alcohol. The premises became ‘Railway Refreshment Rooms’ where the first Catholic Masses were held before Rhyl had a Catholic church.

Many decades later, in 1951 it became ‘The Mermaid’ pub. Later still - after reverting to the name Costigan’s - it was the home of Rhyl Folk Club for a while until the business closed down. In 2009 a fire broke out in the derelict building and damaged the roof:

Denbighshire County Council took over and repaired the damage. The interior was stripped out but not refurbished (which makes the place suitable for a wide range of future uses). For quite a while the building
has been up for sale or rent. Seems in a good position being so close
to railway and bus stations, but there are no takers so far.

Photo below taken today by Yours Truly:



Colin Jones / email: rhyl.colin.jones@live.co.uk

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ARE Y' ORIGHT?


Care homes, residential homes, nursing homes - whatever you like to call them - are part of the fabric of Rhyl whether run by council, charities or private companies. They provide accommodation for people who are not able to live independently, and they create jobs.

Horror stories emerge from such places from time to time, but I believe here in Rhyl our care homes on average deliver a high standard of care.
St. David's Residential Home in East Parade, for instance, did a good job of looking after my father in the last few years of his life. 

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In Victorian and Edward times, William & John Jones were Wrexham brothers who were successful in business and made charitable donations and bequests including the founding of a convalescent home in 1913 in Rhyl, which operated until 1970:

Claremont Hydro

Bill Ellis and Shirley Quinn report that William & John Jones Convalescent Home (formerly Claremont Hydro, Brighton Road) later became Y Gorlan care home which was eventually demolished to make way for the present housing estate Y Gorlan.

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The Men’s Convalescent Home was in Bedford Street. The building is still there in other uses. The exterior has not changed much since this old photo was taken:

Bedford Street

Here are some likely lads under the beady eye of the matron:

Bedford Street

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The Women's Convalescent Home was in Morfa Hall (and presumably in the smaller Morfa Lodge to your right in the picture below). The home was run mainly by voluntary subscriptions and donations; the residents/patients paid a small weekly amount:

Morfa Hall
Morfa Hall

Morfa Hall and Lodge still exist in other uses, at the rear of the present Rhyl Library.

They were originally private residences and then became the Parade Hotel for a while. Nothing stood between there and the sea until Westminster Hotel was built in between and spoiled the view.

Eventually they became the convalescent home, and in more recent times the first location of Ysgol Dewi Sant, the Welsh primary school now in Rhuddlan Road.

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WED 15th APR 2015 UPDATE: A note from the files of the late Glyn Rees indicates that in 1872 there was a Women’s Convalescent Home and Cottage Hospital located at 2, Elwy Street, Rhyl.

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SAT 7th JAN 2017 UPDATE: Rather belatedly comes the undated image below showing Claremont Hydro after it had become William & John Jones Convalescent Home.
Click on it to see a bigger version.

Claremont Hydro

In the caption, HARDING, RHYL refers to photographer J.A. Harding who - for a while at least - was based at Magnet Studio which was in High Street just to your left of Boots Chemist.

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