Friday, 31 March 2017


Photo by Chris Pedota / The Record

I was pleased to see US President Donald Trump defeated in his bid to replace President Obama’s Affordable Care Act with some half-baked scheme of his own. Millions more Americans would have been denied proper health care if he had succeeded.

Mr. Trump has not managed to get his travel ban through either – and I hope in due course the authorities will tell him where he can shove his idea for a proposed wall across the Mexican border.

There is growing support for the idea that Michelle Obama should stand against him at the next Presidential Election in 2020.



Picture from The Guardian newspaper

On Wednesday this week Prime Minister Theresa May gave the European Union formal notice of the not-very-United Kingdom's decision to leave.

According to United Nations statistics published in December 2016, the EU as a whole is the largest economy in the world. If it is damaged by UK withdrawal, the principal beneficiary would be the second largest economy in the world 
– the US  with whom we have a 'special relationship'.

Oh, I see.




Recently Rhyl Life's pageviews have been averaging about 10,000 per month, and nearly 60 per cent of readers are overseas. During the course of this month twelve old posts were updated:

Abergele villages -

Baptist Church -

Circus elephant -

David Archer (criminal) -

Early Lifeboat houses -

'Hate' newspapers -

High Street (The Cross) -

Junior Tradesmen’s Regiment, Kinmel Camp -

Promenade illuminations -

Queen's Palace fire -

Rhyl VAD Red Cross Nurses -

Waterpark (The cost of) -

New readers please note that this blog has been selected for preservation by National Library of Wales for use by researchers in the future, so do get in touch if you can offer photos or info relating to Rhyl. The material does not have to be old to be interesting.

Colin Jones / email:


Friday, 24 March 2017


Rhyl Life will not be covering in depth the council elections that take place soon, but here are a few tips:

1. This time round, voting Conservative would not be a good idea. It might encourage Tory Brextremists in Westminster who would drag us out of the EU at any cost regardless of damage to Wales.

2. On a local level, beware of Rhyl Labour Party's poor record in keeping the town up to standard and their tendency to claim credit for big schemes that are little or nothing to do with them.

3. Consider voting for Plaid Cymru - The Party of Wales - even if you have never done so before. Plaid is the ONLY political party based entirely in Wales and it works on behalf of everybody who lives here.

4. In the absence of Plaid see if you can find a Lib Dem or Independent candidate worthy of your support.




Photo of Nicola Sturgeon © Reuters

Watching TV coverage of Scottish National Party's Spring Conference 2017, I was moved by the passion and positivism of speeches by Nicola Sturgeon (leader) and others.
Good luck to the Scottish National Party in their bid to gain a second referendum on independence; they should keep at it until they get the result they want.
Plaid Cymru's leader Leanne Wood has a vision of Britain becoming four independent countries in loose alliance instead of the present UK in which England can and does force its will on the rest of us.

SUN 7th OCT 2018 UPDATE: This month, tens of thousands of people marched in Edinburgh in support of Scottish independence. There is much enthusiasm for the idea  especially if the United Kingdom goes ahead and leaves the European Union.

Scottish independence rally, October 2018 ©

If I had three wishes, the first would be for a united Ireland. It seems crazy to have the island of Ireland divided into two countries by an imaginary border.
My second wish would be for an independent Scotland with its own seat in the EU, and my third wish would be for Wales to break its allegiance to England and form an alliance with Scotland.



Ten days ago I posted a couple of photos taken this year.

Question 1) Where in Rhyl would you find the above scene?
Answer: Under the H-Bridge.
Behind Rhyl Tyre & Battery Centre, 117 Marsh Road. Photo by Dave Williams. Thanks, Dave!


Question 2) Re: the photo below, where was the photographer standing?
Answer: On the H-Bridge.
Looking over the wall and across Arriva Bus Depot towards a row of derelict business units at rear of Terence Avenue.

The photographer was Yours Truly standing on tiptoe.

Colin Jones / email:

SUN 2nd JUL 2017 UPDATE: Sometimes I get asked, "How old is the H-Bridge" so here are official opening dates of the four existing vehicle bridges in Rhyl.
1855 - Vale Road Bridge aka Alexandra Bridge
1882 - Grange Road Bridge aka Gladstone Bridge
1889 - H-Bridge
1932 - Foryd Bridge



This being Red Nose Day, let’s salute early Rhyl entertainers in whose acts comedy played a big part. These images are all new to this blog:

Tom Wood Rhyl

The above is from the 1880s. Tom Wood's Merry Men was the first troupe at our council-owned 'minstrel pitch' on the sands. Minstrel shows were a combination of music & comedy. Tom Wood was a professional comedian who died aged 27.

Merry had given way to Merrie by the time E.H. Williams & his Merrie Men took over from Tom Wood at the pitch. Mr. Williams was a canny self-publicist well known in Rhyl.

A few routines by E.H. & his M.M. who are shown above on the minstrel pitch, were captured by Rhyl film maker Arthur Cheetham. These included the 1899 knockabout sketch illustrated below. The still is from the book 'Wales And Cinema' by David Berry:

Click on any picture to see a bigger version.

Arthur Sutcliffe, Bert Erroll

Above is a card postmarked 1907 - Adeler & Sutton's Pierrots at a kiosk on the pier. Halfway up the ladder is Arthur Sutcliffe. The lady at the foot of the ladder is no lady, it's female impersonator Bert Erroll.

Below is a 1907 photo of Adeler & Sutton's Gay River Company posing opposite East Parade near sandhills. Front centre is Frank Dunlop who has been described by Bill Ellis as the company's leading man, and on your right of him is - yes - Bert Erroll again.

Finally an item from Easter 1912 or '13: Jolly Boys visiting the ornamental fountain opposite West Parade to render the song 'By The Fountain' which was generally popular at the time.
Later the name Jolly Boys was used in 1920s by Billy Churchill's resident troupe at the Coliseum on the prom. Perhaps it was a generic term for this kind of daftness.

[Incidentally, the song 'By The Fountain' had words by F.E. Weatherly and music by Stephen Adams who was a Liverpool-born composer of mainly religious songs. Stephen Adams and his brother James have both been suspected of being Jack the Ripper - and that's no joke.]

FRI 21st APR 2017 UPDATE: Speaking of Jolly Boys, what do you make of this Jolly Boys Football Club card postmarked 1911?

Names of the personnel illustrated, who appear to be younger than the entertainers of same name, are listed here for indexing purposes:
B, Craighill, J. Lamb, T. Burns, C. Manley, R. Jones, W. Jones, W. Davies, H. Lloyd, T.A. Williams (Captain), H. Jones (Chairman), G. Simcock, J.E. Pritchard (Vice Captain), T. Roberts.


Thursday, 16 March 2017


If scaffolding is your delight, take a trip to Queen Street, Rhyl, where the northeast side between The George Hotel and the former Savoy building is being renovated. The project is being carried out by Denbighshire council with funding supplied by Welsh Government (WG had owned most of the properties for years and done nothing useful with them).

The proposed new use is mainly retail and partly residential.

Denbighshire is in bed with Neptune Developments who are partners in the schemes involving our former Sun Centre and forthcoming Waterpark. In the council’s own words:
“Denbighshire has recently signed Heads of Terms with Neptune Developments for a comprehensive redevelopment of the Rhyl Waterfront area for which the Queens Market site (including the Queen Street premises) is included within the “extended project area”. The Council is being actively encouraged to acquire freehold properties within this extended project area to both control and influence regeneration.”

So the authorities have their beady eye on the Queen Street to High Street block, north of Sussex Street. Pity they did not act soon enough to acquire Queens Market for demolition and redevelopment as a department store. We might have been able to offer Marks and Sparks new accommodation instead of having to let them go to Prestatyn.

Oh well, never mind. Regeneration is the name of the game, not Regret. The scheme in progress is good news for Queen Street and a step forward for the town centre.

Photo taken today by Yours Truly.
Colin Jones / email:


Tuesday, 14 March 2017


Rhyl in the 1930s played host to many stars but few as internationally famous as American bass baritone singer Paul Robeson whose one-off performance at the Pavilion in 1934 was a very big event.

The late Jack Griffiths, ex-councillor and author of a history of the Parish of Rhyl and the Parish Church, was a boy usher at the theatre that night. Jack told me, "It was sensational. I've never seen so many people on Rhyl promenade. Huge crowds waited just to catch sight of him."

After his appearance in Rhyl, Paul Robeson made the films 'Sanders Of The River' (1935) and 'Showboat' (1936). Hear him sing his famous song Ol' Man River from 'Showboat' on YouTube:

He returned to Wales to make the 'The Proud Valley' (1940) in which he played a coal miner – his favourite film:

film movie

The late Paul Robeson is held in esteem and affection in Wales to this day. Read about his achievements and his political activism in Wikipedia:

The following references are added here for indexing purposes:
Harold Holt agent promoter, Lawrence Brown piano, Julian Shelley Trio.

Paul Robeson's performance in Rhyl was planned to coincide with the town's hosting of Co-operative Congress, the annual meeting of the UK Co-operative movement which takes place at a differing location each year. The organisation has links with The Labour Party and is still operating.



Attention all quizzers, quizettes and quizlings! Here are a couple of teasers. Both photos were taken this year.

Question 1) Where in Rhyl would you find the above scene?

Question 2) Re: the photo below, where was the photographer standing?

No need to send me an email - just check your answer against mine on Friday 24th March 2017 after 12 noon.



Last week I spent a pleasant afternoon in Caernarfon – my first visit in half a century – and walked round the town centre and castle and visited the offices of Gwynedd County Council. During all that time I heard only Welsh spoken except in response to my questions.

Afterwards in a cosy café I reflected on what Y Rhyl might be like today if the railway had never arrived and how – this month – Rhyl councillors saw fit to mark St. David's Day by standing outside the railway station singing songs in English.

There are enough incongruities and things wrong in Rhyl to fill a book. Still and all, this is not the worst town in the world nor, as recent publicity announced, the worst place to live in Wales. People who think it is should take a trip to scruffbag Bangor.


Tuesday, 7 March 2017


Above is a typical Victorian cabinet card produced in this case by the photographer J. Brown of 3 Kinmel Street, Rhyl.

The card is signed by the subject, J. Rhydwen Jones. The name is remembered as part of Rhydwen Jones and Davies, a furniture shop in Queen Street – and we have Rhydwen Drive and Rhydwen Close in Rhyl.

J. Rhydwen Jones was one of the Rhyl Improvement Commissioners (forerunners of Rhyl Urban District Council) and was Chairman of the Commissioners for the two year period ending May 5th 1879.

He had been the contractor for the present Rhyl Town Hall which opened in 1876. [The word ‘contractor’ may not have meant exactly the same in that context as it does now.]

If he were around today I would ask J.R.J. why the front tower is leaning.

SAT 26th MAY 2018 UPDATE: On the subject of early photography in Rhyl, J.W. Jones' book 'Rhyl And Roundabout' refers to an 1866 trade directory which lists only one photographer.
J.W. says, "The photographer was Signor L. Volpé of Shipley Street (now part of Kinmel Street). I have never come across any of his work; there must be some his Cartes-de-Visites still around somewhere."

What an interesting quote! The photographer's name looks like a mix of French and Italian and may be a Eurofake. Shipley Street we think of as an old name for part of Brighton Road and not Kinmel Street. Any road up, a Volpé card has turned up here at Jones Towers:

Click on the image to see fine details.
I would like to know more about this photographer. If a genuine foreigner, he would have stood out a mile in Rhyl of the 1860s. The logo below is on back of the card and gives his first name as Louis and family name as Volpe without accent over the é.


THU 18th OCT 2018 UPDATE: The railway photo below carries no information about date or place. It gives the signor's name as (not Louis but) Luigi Volpé'.

railway construction

The following is a detail from above:

railway construction

Colin Jones / email:



When people talk in terms of making a country great again, I am never sure to what historical period they are referring.

In the case of US President Donald Trump does he mean the period when North American whites were killing Indians and stealing their land, or killing Mexicans and stealing their land, or using captive Africans as slave labour, or what?

What is greatness?

There are disturbing parallels between the rise of Donald Trump in the 21st century and the rise of Adolf Hitler in the 20th. They both used populist rabble-rousing speeches to get into power; both used unpopular religions as scapegoats (Jews in the case of Hitler, Moslems in the case of Trump) and both attacked the freedom of the press.

They both thought that the path to glory lay in building up a huge arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. In Hitler’s case the idea backfired and destroyed him and - temporarily - his country. In Trump’s case we have to wait and see.

It is good for British people to be on friendly terms with American people but the thought of a 'special relationship' between the UK Government and this particular President makes my blood run cold.



"Mighty oaks from little acorns grow." - Proverb

Recently when passing Lyons Robin Hood Camp I mean Holiday Park on Rhyl Coast Road I was reminded of what a big spread it has become.

Click on any image to see a bigger version.

The pix below from earlier eras capture a couple of stages in development.

1930s - Lyons Camp
1950s - Lyons Camp

For present day details of this and other Lyons Holiday Parks (including Winkups in Towyn near Abergele, and Lido Beach Prestatyn) see web:

MON 19th JUN 2017 UPDATE: These two cards of Lyons Holiday Camp were published by Raphael Tuck and are dated 1935. Already, comparatively cheap camping holidays were the seeds of destruction of Rhyl's boarding houses!

TUE 22nd AUG 2017 UPDATE: An image of Winkup's on a card postmarked 1937.

TUE 10th JUL 2018 UPDATE: In early July it was revealed that Lyons Holiday Park Limited, Denbighshire LL18, was one of many companies that failed a check on whether the law on minimum wage was being complied with. Lyons owed a total of £7,321.01 to 12 workers.
See WalesOnline: