The White Lion

The White Lion stood in High Street where the Jobcentre stands today.  It was demolished in 1931 and this is the report from the Rhyl Journal of September 5th of that year.

Rhyl is shortly to lose an old landmark, for the White Lion Hotel in High Street is to be pulled down by the owners, Crosville Motor Services Ltd., to make way for an extension to the Bus Station at the back.  The hotel is steeped in history, having been standing nearly 300 years, and evidence of its immense age are still to be found in the building.  Low ceilings, 6 foot thick walls and massive doors are features in this ancient inn.
Mr. F. D. Wright who is now relinquishing the licence, has many interesting stories to recount of the history of the house.  It was in the White Lion that the famous Colonel Cody, better known perhaps as Buffalo Bill, was initiated as a  “Buff” and thus comes the title of the Colonel Cody Lodge, which has its headquarters in the hotel.
For many years a large white model of a lion was to be seen above the porch, and this was believed by many to be made of solid stone.  When Mr. Lloyd George was speaking at Rhyl a few years ago, at the very minute he started his speech the lion fell from its perch to the ground and was smashed to pieces.  It was then found to be made of wood, which had crumbled with age, and those who rushed for a souvenir of the white lion found nothing but rotten wood.
This lion was the subject of a piece of vandalism which scandalised some of the people of Rhyl.  At one time, the Denbighshire Yeomanry used to be frequently billeted at the inn, and the townspeople woke up one morning to find that the white lion had changed its colour, for it was a red one, and the soldiers were responsible for the transformation.  The hotel was used for many years as a posting station, and was a recognosed stopping place for mail coaches.  It is probably one of the oldest buildings in Rhyl, and now it is to be pulled down in the march of progress.

The White Lion certainly hadn’t stood in High Street for 300 years as supposed by the Rhyl Journal.  The town didn’t exist in 1631!  In 1794 a bill was passed enabling the authorities to bank the coast, thus enclosing the marsh.  Previous to this Rhyl consisted of a few fishermen’s cottages, some farms and one big house – Ty’n Rhyl.  Rhyl started to grow as a seaside resort in the 1820’s.  I don’t know when the White Lion was built, or much about its history, but perhaps someone out there does?



Filed under Buildings/Location

3 responses to “The White Lion

  1. Alun Rhys Jones

    Interesting to think that, while in the UK we were passing laws to bank the coast and enclose the marshland, the French were busy chopping heads off all and sundry with any kind of title, wealth or position.
    So, at last we now know that the year 1794 must’ve been the very start for Rhyl, I’m trying to picture good old “Ty’n Rhyl” standing there even then, no doubt looking much as it does today (bar the posh conservatory, of course) surrounded by uninhabited and unmanageable marshy lands…. Hmmm…

  2. The Chester Courant, February 1825, mentions the “newly erected house called The White Lion” at Rhyl.

  3. Brent Davies

    Where you say the White Lion Pub was, was in fact called the Old Town Hall Vaults. Before that, it was the local lock-up with a cell in the rear. The reason I know this is because of my parents (Edna and Haydn Davies were the licensees there when I was born in 1953.
    Haydn and Edna Davies nee Howard. Dad passed on 07/08/1989 (69) in Abergele Sanitarium and Mum passed in a home for the EMI in Wakefield, West Yorkshire on the 13/01/1996 (77).
    Dad was from Mountain Ash, in the Rhonda, but his family moved to Pensarn when he was a boy. Mum was born in Oldham and moved to Rhyl when she was a girl.
    Dad joined the army in WWII Reg’t RASC , he was with the BEF and was evacuated in the Dunkirk evacuation in May 1940, and was taken a POW in 1941 in the Battle of Greece, he was in German camps for 4 years and was even kicked whilst on a camp hospital bed with malaria when by Himmler when he was inspecting the camp that dad was in.
    Mum was Miss Rhyl in 1936 then worked in the Odeon.
    They became publicans after the war and first had The Old Town Hall Vaults (now a butchers on the High Street) living in Bodfor street behind the pub. Then to the White Hart Inn (which is mentioned in the Doomsday book) in Ashby-de-la-Zouch in Leicestershire, coming back to Rhyl to take the Albert Hotel (on the corner of Water and Sussex Streets). We were in The Albert, which was in Flintshire when dad was involved in the Sunday licensing laws to have pubs open on Sundays. They took the fight to straight to the House of Commons and their bar! As history shows, dad and co won!
    We then moved to The Clwyd Hotel (now the Harbour Hotel) which was then in Denbighshire and was dry on Sundays. We lived there from 1960 to 66. He started the first Hotel to have live cabaret on the North Wales coast with acts such as Yana and Jonny Dallas etc.
    We then moved to Manchester where dad sang in the clubs as “The Voice of Wales”, plus worked on TV as an extra and he became Chairman of the Manchester Branch of Equity (the actors union).
    Dad worked as a Chef around the country until he retired and settled in Pensarn until his death. Mum contracted Alzheimers, she had to go into a home for 24/7 care until her death.
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