It is said that walls have ears, but if only they could talk. Research into the history of the Dudley Arms Hotel has uncovered some fascinating stories and, as always, raised more questions than answers.
This interesting photograph shows the Dudley Arms Hotel, the date is unknown. We now know the photograph is actually of the Dudley Arms in Dudley, thanks to information passed to us in the comments below from Trevor. It illustrates how easy it is to misunderstand information/images received in good faith. The contradictions as to the site of the old hotel remain. All the written information below is about the Dudley Arms in Rhyl and has been referenced. These references to the Dudley Arms date from as early as 1854. A building is present on a map of 1852, although it is not actually marked as The Dudley Arms. In his book “Rhyl – The town and its people” (1970), J.W. Jones states: “Rhyl’s first railway station was at the back of the Dudley Hotel, but the Dudley Hotel at that time stood where the approach to the station from High Street now exists. The present Dudley Hotel was built by the Great Western Railway Co. to replace the one pulled down.” However, a map of 1854 clearly shows the Dudley and the Station in their present positions, although the Vale Road Bridge (or Alexandra Bridge as it was originally known) does not exist.
Below is an advertisement from “Baner Cymru”, Medi 14th, September 14th, 1859 which shows the estate called The Storehouse (other references refer to it as Storehouse Farm) including The Dudley Arms for sale by auction.
Image © The British Library Board. All rights Reserved. Image reproduced with kind permission of The British Newspaper Archive (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
Is the Dudley Arms Hotel in the photograph today’s Cob and Pen? Does anyone have any knowledge of a different building? Research is ongoing, any updates will be added to this post. (Update 03.12.13 thanks to Trevor we now seem to have the answer. The above photograph does not appear to be today’s Cob and Pen, see the link in comments).
The Dudley Arms Hotel is mentioned in the Trade Directories of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries from 1868 to 1936. In 1932 there was a larger than average entry which describes the hotel as Fully Licenced, Family and Commercial, Free House, Tel. Rhyl 141 and with a bowling green!
In 1881 the census shows 13 people at the Dudley: Robert Jones b.1823, his wife Elizabeth, 5 daughters, 2 sons, 1 visitor and 3 servants (a barmaid, a cook and a waitress)
In the nineteenth century Coroner’s inquests were held at the Dudley Arms Hotel. In 1858 the inquest into the accidental drowning whilst bathing of a Mr Heatley was held there. In 1874 an inquest was held there regarding the body of a new born child, found in the sands. An enquiry was formally opened at the Dudley Arms Hotel before the coroner and a jury, subsequently making a post mortem examination. The inquest was adjourned to give the police “an opportunity of unveiling the mystery”. In 1875 five schoolboys were drowned in the sea between Rhyl and Prestatyn, the bodies were brought to the Dudley Arms to await an inquest.
In 1893 there were unpleasant murky events associated with the Dudley Arms. In June of that year an old Rhyl celebrity known as “Ally Sloper”, but whose real name was William E. Jones of Morfa Bach,was found dead in the stable yard at the Dudley. The North Wales Express described how Inspector Williams discovered two parallel furrows which seemed to come from the door of a workshop close by. The deceased’s boots were also rubbed and in his opinion the body had been dragged from the workshop along the ground and left there. However, the jury gave a verdict of “found dead”. In October of that year a young lady named Edith Hill, a former barmaid at the Dudley, was brought in front of a full bench of magistrates at the Town Hall, which was crowded out. She was charged with attempting to commit suicide. The Manchester Guardian ran the story under the headline “Alleged attempted suicide at Rhyl. A pitiful love story”.
On a lighter note, in 1898 the Rhyl Record and Advertiser described a Smoking Concert held at The Dudley in December by members of the Rhyl United Football Club, when a very enjoyable evening was spent. Smoking concerts were very popular during the Victorian era, at these functions men (only) would smoke and speak of politics whist listening to live music.
In May 1906 the A.G.M of the Rhyl Victoria Football Club was held at the Dudley and in June the Rhyl Record and Advertiser reported that “members of the Rhyl Victoria F.C. sat down together to supper in commemoration of their success in the second division of the North Wales Coast League.” The team can be seen in the photograph above.
So there is 160 years of history associated with the Dudley Arms, latterly The Load of Mischief and now of course the popular Cob and Pen. https://www.facebook.com/pages/COB-PEN/535880579772727?fref=ts
How wonderful it would be if walls could talk. If anyone has any other history snippets to share regarding the Dudley Arms please leave a comment. Many more recent memories of the Dudley Arms that have been shared include its dubious reputation. Does anyone remember Sullivan’s Boxing booths which were at the back of the Dudley? (see also http://www.boxinghistory.org.uk/boxingbooths.html)
Lastly, from the old to the new – Happy 1st Birthday to The Cob and Pen, and congratulations to Amanda and the team for their success in bringing an old Rhyl pub back to life.