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?