If memory serves me correctly I think that in the 1960’s/70’s Rhyl “Toc H” was on Vale Road. Was it the building which became the Operatic Centre? Readers will confirm which building. The name Toc H meant nothing to me at the time, but the story of Toc H is fascinating, poignant, sad and life affirming all at the same time.
Toc H is an abbreviation of “Talbot House”, Toc signifying the letter T in British Army signallers’ code. Talbot House is located in Poperinge, (or “Pops” as the first world war soldiers called it ), Belgium, a few miles from Ypres. It was a busy transfer station where troops, on their way to and from the battlefields of Flanders, were billeted.
In 1915, an army chaplain called Reverend Phillip Byard (Tubby) Clayton was instructed by his senior chaplain, Neville Talbot, to set up some sort of rest house for the troops. A suitable property was found which was named Talbot House in memory of Neville Talbot’s brother Lieutenant Gilbert W L Talbot who was killed on the Ypres Salient in 1915.
Here is a quote from the Toc H website:
“For most of the Great War Talbot House offered an oasis of sanity to the men passing through Poperinge. Not only could they socialise but Tubby also organised debates and concerts. Men could post messages for their missing comrades and hope they too might stop at Talbot House and see them. What was clear though was that the Talbot House promoted a special feeling of fellowship with those who rested there awhile.”
Talbot House was a soldiers’ club for all, regardless of rank. A notice was hung by the front door which read “All rank abandon, ye who enter here”. Talbot house had lovely gardens, there was a chapel and a library. Eventually a neighbouring storehouse was also used, which became known as “The Concert Hall” where concerts, movies, debates and lectures were held.
In 1920, Clayton founded a Christian youth centre in London, also called Toc H, which developed into an interdenominational association for Christian social service. Toc H members seek to ease the burden of others through acts of service.
Rhyl Toc H (1936/7)
(precise date of photograph not known.)
The following quote is from the Great War 1914-1918 website:
“The World Chain of Light”
“Every year on Tubby Clayton’s birthday the Lamp of Maintenance is lit in the Upper Room at Talbot House in Poperinge for 24 hours. It is lit from 9pm on the night of 11th December until 9pm on 12th December. The lighting at Toc H Poperinge is the start of a series of lamp lightings in all the Toc H branches around the world.”
For details of those remembered on the War Memorial in the Garden of Remembrance in Rhyl: