Friday, 20 March 2015


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

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: