A few years ago the Rhyl History Club invited Roy Turner to reflect on Rhyl – the town and family resort. It was an excellent choice for the audience was enthralled with his story – so much as an insider – having served as chairman on so many committees eg. Rhyl Urban Council – specialising on developing Rhyl as a resort, Rhyl Operatic Society and he became the U.K’s longest serving governor serving Christ Church School for 60 years, over 50 as chairman. In recognition of this he was invited to 10, Downing Street, to meet the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
He died whilst on holiday in Spain in March 2017 and on August 5th, on what would have been his 90th birthday, there was a celebration of his life fittingly in the Town Hall, Rhyl. It was full to capacity when family and his numerous friends remembered with great affection, Roy Turner, “Mr Rhyl”, the first Freeman of the town.
Many thanks to our programme secretary and former chairman Mr Rufus Adams for writing this tribute.
Rhyl History Club has had many and various Summer outings over the years – and almost without exception they have been hugely enjoyable. This year’s trip to Caernarfon yesterday was a great success, a good time was had by all. In the morning some of our group visited the castle, including the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, others visited Segontium. An excellent lunch was taken at the famous historic inn – The Black Boy. However, the highlight of the day was our afternoon “Town Tour – a guided walk through the streets of the Medieval town of Caernarfon” with our informative and entertaining guide Emrys Llewelyn.
Emrys is passionate about his town and is exceedingly knowledgeable about its history. He has a wonderfully humorous style, weaving anecdotes and funny stories into the wealth of history that he presents. Thoroughly recommended!! See Trip Advisor for more reviews
Many thanks to Rufus Adams and Maggi Blythin for their organisation.
Our programme for 2017-18 will be available shortly – check this website for updates. Our year consists of monthly lectures/talks, a Christmas lunch and a Summer outing – we look forward to seeing members old and new in September.
Two years ago we published an article about a village called Marly in Moselle, France where five British airmen lie buried after being shot down during the second world war, in February 1944. One of them was a Rhyl man – Tony Turner.
A Marly historian, Stéphane Cottel, is searching for more information, and especially a photograph of Sgt. Patrick Anthony “Tony” Turner. Tony was born on October 14th, 1922 at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Rhyl. His parents were Thomas Turner and Norah Sheila Turner nee Phillips of the Foryd Harbour Hotel. This is what we know about Tony:
Unfortunately we received no leads or more information after publishing the article. However, recently we have discovered more information which may help. The Turner family were originally from the Manchester area. Tony was an only son. His mother, Norah Sheila Turner died in tragic circumstances on July 19th, 1938. She was discovered dead on the floor of the washhouse of her home in Crugan Avenue, Kinmel Bay by her niece, the cause of death was electrocution due to faulty/incorrectly installed wiring. Mrs Turner was about 50 and Tony was 15.
We also now know where Tony worked before joining up, and some other details. This is from the Rhyl Journal, July 6th, 1944:
The village of Marly never forgets.
On a recent walk along the promenade, the sea on one side and the golf links and dunes on the other, a skylark rose from the ground and treated us to its song and wonderful aerial display, which is the essence of Spring. This brought to mind the poem “The Sea and the Skylark” which was written by the famous Victorian poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins in 1877. Hopkins spent three years at St. Beuno’s College, Tremeirchion and whilst there he was sent to Rhyl for five days for “the good of his health”. In the book “Gerard Manley Hopkins in Wales” Norman White writes: “It was not the ideal place for Hopkins to relax in, and with nothing to do but twiddle his thumbs he – not surprisingly – produced yet another poem contrasting the permanent grandeur and fresh beauty of nature’s phenomena with the sordidness of man – ” The Sea and the Skylark”. White goes on: “Unfortunately, walking on Rhyl sands, without means of escape from the petty architecture and shrill tourist vulgarities, Hopkins’s disgust was evoked” ( So, Rhyl had its detractors in the 19th Century! The poem below contains the line “How these two shame this shallow and frail town”)
The Sea and the Skylark
On ear and ear two noises too old to end
Trench – right, the tide that ramps against the shore;
With a flood or a fall, low lull-off or all roar,
Frequenting there while moon shall wear and wend.
Left hand, off land, I hear the lark ascend,
His rash-fresh re-winded new-skeined score
In crisps of curl off wild winch whirl, and pour
And pelt music, till none’s to spill nor spend.
How these two shame this shallow and frail town!
How ring right out our sordid turbid time,
Being pure! We, life’s pride and cared-for crown,
Have lost that cheer and charm of earth’s past prime:
Our make and making break, are breaking, down
To man’s last dust, drain fast towards man’s first slime.
To read more about the poem see the Guardian’s Poem of the Week
In 1929 Rhyl held a Carnival which turned out to be one of the biggest events ever to be held in the town. Ten of thousands of people flocked into Rhyl by road and rail for the three day Carnival which began on Thursday, June 27th. The advertisement on the left is typical and was from the Yorkshire Evening Post.
In his book “Rhyl, the town and its people” J.W. Jones wrote that it was the idea of Arnold Heckle, the popular Publicity Manager at the time. A Carnival King and Queen were appointed. The “King” was Bertram Jones, proprietor and editor of the Rhyl Leader and the “Queen” was Billie Manders. To get a flavour of the wonderful carnival of 1929, watch the British Pathé footage
The sun shone on the Carnival’s opening day, the highlight of which was the arrival of the famous aviator Sir Alan Cobham, but more of that later. Also on the Thursday was a Gilbert and Sullivan garden fete in the Vicarage Grounds and a torchlight procession and tattoo in the Marine Gardens (beside the pavilion).
Friday and Saturday saw a speed boat rally, motor cycle reliability trials, sports, a Children’s Beauty competition, roller skating races, dances, a Grand Procession, community singing and fireworks
But back to the opening day and the hugely anticipated arrival of Sir Alan Cobham in his de Havilland Giant Moth which he christened “Youth of Britain”. The Rhyl Journal reported that he was expected to arrive at Aberkinsey Farm (between Rhyl and Dyserth) at 11a.m and a big crowd had gathered to welcome him. Unfortunately he experienced mechanical problems as he left Crewe which meant it was after 12 noon that he was first sighted over the farm. He made a “beautiful” landing amidst great cheering and was immediately “mobbed” by the crowd. Sir Alan then proceeded to take members and officials of Rhyl council for a flight over the town. Then a second party boarded the plane but as it took off the propeller caught a tree and sustained damage which caused abandonment of the flight. Fortunately no-one suffered any injuries. A photograph of the “crash” can be seen below.
photograph reproduced with kind permission of Pete Robinson at dyserth.com
The Rhyl Journal published a list of children chosen to take a flight that day, representing various schools in Rhyl. It added that their flight would be postponed until the following day because of the accident. It was not clear in the paper as to whether the children ever took their flight – risk assessment was probably quite different in 1929!
In the Rhyl Journal the following week, under the headline “Aerodrome for Rhyl” Sir Alan assured those gathered at a reception that there would have been no such trouble if there had been a proper aerodrome. Sir Alan said “they had to make use of improvised fields as they proceded from town to town and the field selected at Aberkinsey Farm was the only one suitable for the purpose of such a demonstration from Anglesey to Rhyl. There was a great opportunity before Rhyl, so far as aviation in North Wales was concerned, and he hoped they were that day seeing the beginning of the laying of the foundations of a local aerodrome.”