A previous post described the removal of the horse trough, presented to Rhyl by Thomas Winston and which stood for so long in Queen Street. It seems that Mr Winston was a remarkable man who deserves greater recognition in the history of Rhyl.
His obituary (Rhyl Record and Advertiser, July 6th 1889) goes some way to explaining why so little is known about him.
“A quiet and unassuming man, he abhorred all pompous vanity and shunned every public office unless he was sure that by accepting it he would be of real service to someone”
Contrast this with our era of celebrity and self promotion.
He was born in Surrey in 1815, his paternal ancestors being Welsh. He arrived in Rhyl on May 1st, 1848 as the town’s first station master.
The obituary goes on to explain:
“It was on this day that the railway here first opened and of all the factors which have contributed to the prosperity of Rhyl, unquestionably the greatest was the opening of the Chester and Holyhead Railway” and “It may be interesting to note that it was Mr Winston who booked the first passenger from Rhyl, and the remembrance of this fact always gave him a peculiar satisfaction. Indeed, he was for a long time in the habit of attending the booking office on the 1st of May each year, and booking a passenger in commemoration of this incident.”
The North Wales Chronicle of February 25rd 1853 describes the “Presentation of Plate and Dinner to Thomas Winston Esq.” , at a public dinner at The Royal Hotel Rhyl on February 17th of that year, by his friends and well wishers. “The numerous friends and admirers of the above gentleman, whose sterling qualities of heart and head have justly endeared him to all who have the happiness of his friendship”
In 1859 he retired to Bodanerch, Russell Road. His retirement from the post of Station Master was received by the employees under him, and the public alike, with great regret and on his departure he was made the recipient of a testimonial from men employed at the station. He was presented with an inscribed silver cup and the obituary says “of all the many marks of kindness Mr Winston received from his brother townsmen and others, he looked back upon none with greater pleasure than he did upon the small token he received at the hands of the men who had been fellow labourers with him”
“He devoted his time entirely and absolutely to the furtherance of the prosperity of Rhyl” He was actively associated with the raising of the necessary funds for the building of St. Thomas’s Church, a Director of Rhyl Promenade Pier Co., shareholder and Director of the Gas Co. and Rhyl Cocoa House Co., a Rhyl Commissioner from 1868-71 and was accorded a seat for 18 years on the St. Asaph Board of Guardians. Again, from his obituary:
“As a guardian, he was a “guardian of the poor” in truth; and where there was a real case of distress, and the red tapeism for which the Board of Governors are proverbial, would not permit relief being given, he would himself administer it.” “His unostentatious liberality was princely, and his gifts were invariably accompanied with either words of encouragement or expressions of sympathy”
“As to his charities, they were unlimited. Religious organisations in the town ever found him a ready and generous contributor. He drew no distinction between church and chapels, nor between any one of the dissenting bodies. All were recipients of his liberality, without reference to denominations of any kind. The deserving poor in Rhyl always occupied a warm part of his heart, and his beneficent gifts towards their relief and amelioration are too well known to need any comment. He gave to everything.. even the dumb animal will miss Thomas Winston and the drinking fountain in Queen Street is an instance of his care for the equine and canine tribes, as well as the human species.”
The cutting below is from the Rhyl Record and Advertiser, June 29th 1889 which was also the day he died.
The paper of the following week states “his demise has cast a gloom on the whole town, but his many acts of philanthropy, his unswerving rectitude, kindly disposition and urbanity of manner will ever remain green in the memories of the people of Rhyl and warm in their affections”
The paper of July 13th describes a meeting which took place to consider the best memorial to Mr Winston and the photographs show the Window and Monumental Brass , which was decided upon, in St. Thomas’s Church.