“Taking in visitors” and other memories.

Readers of a certain age will remember “taking in visitors”.  The following memories of are of a Rhyl man from when he was a boy in the 1930’s.

Most families in Rhyl at that time “took in visitors”.  It was an essential part of most families’ annual income.  Families from Lancashire, the Midlands, Yorkshire, and beyond would stay with Rhyl families for their holidays.  Bedrooms were rented out whilst the residents all slept on “put me ups” in one room, downstairs or even in the shed!  One year I was sent to stay with family on Anglesey to allow more visitors in the house.  The usual arrangement was for “Full board” or “Apartments”.  Full board is fairly self explanatory, “apartments” meant that the visitors brought in their own food on a daily basis and the host (usually the lady of the house) would cook it for them.   It was quite common for visitors to go up and down the street knocking on doors looking for accommodation.  I can remember one occasion when the sheer number of visitors in the town meant that someone, presumably from the Council, drove around the streets with a public address system appealing for accommodation on behalf of visitors.  More often than not visitors would be repeat custom, or recommendationsIf one family was booked up they would pass the letter of enquiry to their friend or neighbour, and so it went on.  People who came year after year became friends, I remember being taken out as a boy, by the visitors, as company for their own children.  It was fun, we met people from all over the country and a lot of friendships were forged. 

Another strong memory I have is of people waiting to get onto trains at the railway station.  There was a queuing system outside the station where people were “penned in” in their hundreds just waiting for room to get onto the platform.  Trains were in and out all the time.  My wife’s memory is of seeing crowds and crowds of people on a Saturday evening filling the length and breadth of Wellington Road as they walked towards town for their trains home.

The promenade would be “buzzing” , activities included tennis, bowls, swimming, there was a putting green, Billy Manders and The Quaintesques at the Amphitheatre, Uncle Billy at the Coliseum and the one legged diver who used to dive off the end of the pier!  One of the most popular attractions was Tomes’s Fishing Pond, everyone loved it.  It consisted of a circular reservoir of blue opaque water which slowly turned, around which you tried to catch your fish.  You were given a small rod, well a stick really, and a line with a hook with three prongs and it was the first to catch three of the tin fish in the water.  The highlight of the game was the running commentary given by Mr Tomes as to how events were unfolding, in a similar way to a racing commentary and at a similar speed.  His catch phrase was “three have two each” which he used regularly to heighten the tension and excitement.  People loved it!  Prizes included packets of fags and boxes of chocolates, this was not a game for children!  It was under cover but open on three sides and was situated beside the old paddling pool.  Jack Picton was Mr Tomes’s assistant.  Some time later another one appeared, McManus’s Fishing Pond, which was on the promenade opposite Church Street.  The promenade would be packed with people in the evening, one of our favourite pastimes was looking for cigarette cards in the empty packets that had been discarded, football, cricket and bird collections and inside “Churchman’s” cigarettes you’d get schoolboy howlers.

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4 Comments

Filed under Memories

4 responses to ““Taking in visitors” and other memories.

  1. I ‘m of ‘a certain age’ ! We took visitors through the 50s and 60s. As we only had a 3 bedroomed semi I had to share a bedroom with my Nainie who lived with us whilst Mum and Dad slept on the studio coach downstairs. The visitors had their meals in the front room and we all shared the bathroom and toilet. I have to say I hated it ! The only bit I liked was when some of them gave me a 10 bob note when they were going home !

  2. Bob

    Even in the 50’s there was an ‘army’ of youths ‘casing’ outside Rhyl Statation. Some had good jobs – 1/2 cases to Bath Street. some had jobs that took most of the morning taking a huge pile of cases for an extended family to Robin Hood or Sandy Cove Camps. The latter inevitably got the worst reward as ‘Fares’ were left to their discretion at journey’s end!

    I well remember the need to stay open until maybe 7pm to cater for the hoards of day-trippers who had to take back a plant for whoever was looking after the dog, who was waiting for its ‘treat’ as a reward for being abandond all day. They were trudging back down the High Street and over the bridge to Greenfield Place Coach Park (Vickers). That was before the traffic lights at the bottom of Vale Road Bridge, many a very near miss and not uncommon accident there.

  3. Pat

    A very nice article. What memories for all of us born and brought up in Rhyl. My mother took in visitors in a two bedroomed bungalow in the ’40s. Nobody seemed to mind sharing one bathroom, all eating on little tables in the front room and even sunbathing in the back garden!(There was sun then!) Many would ask us to go to the beach with them and show them round. All sorts of pleasures to see on a very busy promenade and beach. Many kept in touch for years after. Later on in the ’60s I myself used to have people knocking on the door, especially during July and August, begging for a place to stay because everywhere in town was full!! Some just wanting one or two nights and offering to sleep on chairs if necessary – trying to wash and air sheets with no mod cons and only half the house furnished was a nightmare but people were just so grateful and loved having my young child helping out with clearing the breakfast tables (a little pocket money was earned I remember).My family would all be in the back bedroom whilst I let out the other two. Up early was the word if you wanted to get into the bathroom!! Now, even with en suites and mod cons there are places galore with vacancies and it is just very bleak. People’s needs now are so different and climate change and air travel have taken their toll. However it is lovely to read that people remember those good but hard times with affection. Most Rhyl people will remember summer holiday jobs
    with long hours to earn enough to help out family finances Many a tale to tell there I think. Look forward to some of those!

  4. Gareth Brooks

    My mum ran a boarding house in Bath Street Rhyl for many years, and i was a “caser” with my home built casing truck working the Railway station, Greenfield place, Crescent road coach station and first thing,(07.00), saturday morning picking up from John street, River street, Butterton road and one of the nices streets in Rhyl at that time was Princes’s street. The smell of bacon/eggs being cooked and the visitors sat out-side the boarding houses reading there papers and having a fag. If we got a visitor wanting to go to Sunny Vale, or further, Happy Days holiday camps we would pass them on to the new boys as we could do 2 or 3 runs near home whilst they trudged with a full load of cases for a couple of miles.
    They always paid you well when they first arrived, half-a-crown/4 or 5 shillings maybe, but in a lot of cases when they were going home it would be “sorry son thats all i’ve got left”–2 bob or a shilling. The visitors would even book you for their return journey when you dropped them off at the begining of their holiday.
    There would be a lull in the casing business between 11-00 and 13-00 as the trains that were going East would be slowly out numbered by the ones coming West packed with visitors. Very happy days and good money being made, but the Taxis drivers did’nt agree, with many an argument breaking out because we were “taking our business”.

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