Toc H and World War 1

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.

English: A postcard of troops arriving in Pope...

English: A postcard of troops arriving in Poperinge at the start of World War I (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

English: Talbot House in the town of Poperinge

English: Talbot House in the town of Poperinge (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Philip 'Tubby' Clayton founder of Tal...

English: Philip ‘Tubby’ Clayton founder of Talbot House at Poperinge. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.”

More information:

For details of those remembered on the War Memorial in the Garden of Remembrance in Rhyl:



Filed under Church/Chapel/Religion, Military

6 responses to “Toc H and World War 1

  1. george turpin

    I have a memory of the meeting room to be in Marsh road

  2. Tony Lever

    In the early 60’s Toc H held some of their meetings at the back of 78 Wellington Road. There is a small cottage between Wellington Rd and Crescent Road. My father had the hairdressers on Wellington Road and he allowed the Toc H people to use this as a meeting place.

  3. karen

    I was project a project leader at toch ryhl well in to the late 90 s doing many project with young people on rest bite weeks of fun .i come from winsford cheshire .

  4. Glenys E. Brown

    My great uncle John Robert Brookes Davies b 1880s was a member of Toc H in Southampton after WW1. He had been brought up in Rose Hill Terrace, Millbank Lane. Rhyl then 48 Ernest street, Rhyl. Incidentally does anyone know where Rose Hill terrace was as it is no longer there?

  5. John Barton

    Back in the 1960’s I knew Mr Bert Craddock (named in this article) and his wife (Hetty?) who lived in 19 Victoria Road. He used to work in the railway and I understood that the Toc-H place in Marsh Road was opposite the old “Derbyshire Miners” holiday camp / Stamp Factory (by “Williams & Watson” builders yard. I remember being told they did use the operatic hall. Mr & Mrs Craddock were also involved with a “Friendship Club” upstairs at the top of Sussex Street and Sundays they attended services at the “PSA” (Pleasant Sunday Afernoon) in Albert Street opposite the Jehovah Witness building.

    Does anyone have photographs of the original Morfa Bach chapel by Rifkins / Dairy or the replacement built at Kingsley Avenue?

  6. Ronald Brian Williams

    The Toc H is just left opposite the Stamp Factory, built mid or late 60s.
    Dave and I built the Office and Workshop on our Builders yard( Williams and Watson)

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