Pat Brooks, who has previously written about Rhyl Jazz Club and Knowles’s Tobacconist’s shop on this blog, has shared her memories of Grange Road with us.
“With so many changes to Rhyl over the last decade I am tired of reading all the dismal and downright depressing things about what is, to many, a place of great fondness, familiarity, family and friendships.
Born in Rhyl, I left Rhyl for some years and then moved back to Rhyl, my fondest of memories are of a little part of Rhyl, one of the true arteries into the town – Grange Road.
I was born near to Grange Road and from being a little girl can vividly remember shopping with my mum at Parry’s Corner, as it was known, where Mr. and Mrs Parry had the little Chemist shop, which was just on the corner into Pendyffryn Road. It was full of all shapes and sizes of medicine bottles, creams and tablets and a place where I knew that something which tasted horrible would be handed over, I was told it would make me feel better and it usually did!
Then the food shop further along into Grange Road and the Post Office, which always had a queue but nobody seemed to mind, people would happily chat until their time came to be served. I used to want to work there when I grew up. All that counting money, and stamping things vigorously, and weighing and handing back Post Office Savings Books. To me it looked a very important job and I fancied it, thinking it probably paid a lot of money to do it. (How wrong can a child be!) and Trevor the Butcher who would amaze and sometimes frighten me when he was sawing away at great lumps of meat with hands like shovels – I expected him to lose a finger at anytime! Or him weighing out small chunks of meat whilst chatting away and having a little moan about the world but always happy to sort out something suitable for mum’s meagre housekeeping.
Then we would cross the road to the newsagent and sweetshop on the opposite side of the road where papers, comics, sweets and cigarettes were filling the shelves and a lovely lady, who I now know to have been Mrs Topalian, always gave me a sweet or an old comic while Mum paid the paper bill. Once outside I remember the red telephone box and people often standing outside waiting to use it – not many phones around then. Memory evades me about the shop next to it but I think it was a bakers and general grocers, but of that I am uncertain. That was just the corner I remember, other mature readers may remember things differently and with more accuracy. We each choose to remember the things which make us happy.
When a little older I was allowed to go with my group of friends to the Botanical Gardens. So different then. The playground was on the right hand side as you went in through the big gates (I think it is now used by the Council for other things) and was always full of little groups of children daring to hang upside down on the double bars or sliding down the very high slide. The less daring would go on the swings or the see saw, others would be climbing the big trees surrounding the play ground. All of these things stood on concrete, I don’t think health and safety came into it then. There were a few bumped heads and bruises but it was a good place to go just the same.
The bowling greens and the tennis courts were more or less as they are now but there was a small golf course and putting green. Also beautiful gardens with a figure of eight pond at the top end, reached by walking through the rose covered archway, it was a welcome oasis among all the houses and buildings.
There was an opening to get into what is now the Coronation Gardens, which was just a big field then and which led through to Vale Road. There was a very large gentleman who lived in the house at the entrance to the Botanical Gardens and no police were needed when he was around. He only had to catch one of us climbing where we should not, or dipping a toe in the pond, or even picking a flower and his voice would boom out or collars were felt and out you went. Parents did not seem to be around all the time and yet we felt safe. The café was open all summer and ice creams sold through a small hatch and that has not really changed much.
Opposite the Botanical Gardens a little further towards town was the Rhyl County School which stood proudly in lovely grounds. I did not know then that I would actually ever get into it as a pupil, but I was lucky enough to do just that when it later became Rhyl Grammar School. Made my mother very proud – made me have to work extremely hard to keep up. Not the brightest of pupils.
Coming along from the Botanical Gardens was Rhyl Football Club where I could usually find my Dad, either helping out on the pitch, or behind the bar of the club, or drinking there!
This photograph shows a group at Rhyl Football Club in the early 60’s.
L-R: Eric Davies, n/k, Ronnie Davies (rear), George Jones, Pat’s father (front), Edwin Pedley, Jackie Weale,, Johny Jones, Frank Beech and Arthur Forber
It played a big part in his life and he used to take me to see various events that were held there. I can remember vividly gymkhanas and a Military Tattoo with lots of noise and fireworks. There was a hut there where teas and bites were sold, I cannot imagine that being of any interest to today’s football supporters!
Then just past the Football Club and Ground was the Grange Laundry which to me was a beautiful looking building with a very stylish frontage.
Opposite was the Prince Edward War Memorial Hospital which was another grand building on which my father had worked as a stone mason and had done some repair work to the frontage. Many people were looked after there and it served the community well until pulled down to make way for what is now Hafan Deg, sheltered accommodation.
Further along, after the entrance to Prince Edward Avenue, Mount Road was where Madame Jones held her dance classes which I went to, along with practices for the May Day, in her hall which was down in the corner of the cul de sac. There was then a terrace of houses, which are still there – I remember that the end one had a metal staircase outside which I assumed to be a fire escape. In fact, I believe it was two flats in which the local district nurses lived. I remember Nurse Asquith who was a tall slim lady, she was the nurse who attended my mother and delivered my brother and also me apparently. I remember her bringing my brother into the world but not me!!
Just further along the road was Conway’s Fish and Chip Shop which sold the best ever fish and chips which were the perfect end to a night out at the pictures.
Then we came to the Millbank Inn, I used to think what a beautiful building it was and did not know much about the inside although I think my father may have done! It was always well looked after and stood quite grandly. The original Mill Bank had been the large house next door, I believe. Then we came to Grange Road Bridge (Gladstone Bridge) taking us over into Rhyl Town Centre, which really was worth going into then.
At the top of Elwy Drive, under the first part of the bridge, was a shop that sold Fortes ice creams, ice lollies and sweets. It was a favourite stopping point for picking up an ice lolly on the way to Sunday School. Our little gang would have their subs for the collection and spend half on the ice lolly.
Opposite the Millbank Inn was a little row of shops, a greengrocer’s shop and then Howells the chemist which had rows of large jars, and a long narrow wooden counter. They sold Horlicks tablets which for some reason were quite a favourite! Ugh. I remember the two steps up into the shop which were worn down in the middle, it made me wonder how many sick people had gone in and out of that shop. Next was another newsagent’s and then a butcher’s and yet another grocer’s. If I have missed anything out that is due to memory loss – it was a long time ago
Elwy Hall (the Masonic Hall) came next, they used to hold many functions and I can remember my mother there working on silver service whilst my Dad helped his mate in the kitchen. On the corner of Clifton Park Road there was a house which was Doctor Lakey’s surgery and I recall that prescriptions were dealt with at the back of the premises. He was the tallest man I had ever seen, probably about 6′ 6” but to me , a gentle giant. On the opposite corner was a Dentist’s Surgery with Mr Griffiths. I went there once and never again, I swear his drill was worked from a bicycle chain and pedal. After passing the hospital again came a few houses, the Tuck Shop and then the impressive Rhyl County School and playing field behind, which I have referred to earlier on. All the houses around and about the Grange Road area were pristine as they were all built in 1939 and my memories are of a time not long after that.
I speak of this fondly because, as mentioned previously, I went to Rhyl Grammar School, and then when I left (with a few O levels thankfully) I got a job in an office in Rhyl and had to walk to and fro over the Grange Road Bridge. I have certainly left my footprint over that bridge after many years of walking over it.
When I got married and started my family we decided that Grange Road had the sort of house we needed and so good old Grange Road provided that. Family were close by but not too close, also friends, and work was easily accessible as indeed were all the conveniences for bringing up two small children. Why would I not like Grange Road?
During the 70’s I needed to leave my lovely Grange Road, with all its familiar surroundings and memories of bringing up two children, to go to work away in a new business. My husband and I decided we needed to go for financial reasons but we did not entirely let go, because somebody came to live in our house as we did not want to sell it. We had accommodation with our business and I always felt Grange Road was there and it was my safe haven.
After a good few years we decided to come back, having had a new baby, and thought it would be better all round for the family to live back in our seaside surroundings. I will never forget that time when I walked along Grange Road again and into Rhyl town centre with its familiar shops, people who smiled and said hi and stopped for a chat and to see the new baby, and seeing our other children back in local schools, and most of all the smell of the fresh air and the sea. Inland, where we had been working, it was just not the same. Although I do not swim I missed the sea and the sand and the smell of the fresh air. Grange Road was back in my life, although inevitably there had been many changes. No matter what though Grange Road is my memory lane, I have had children there, I have lost some of my lovely family and friends from there, but nobody can remove my memories whether they are happy or sad. I was Rhyl born and bred and will stay that way but can still shed a tear when I see and hear such bad things about it and also the changes I’ve seen, some not for the better. It has been such a big part of my lifetime that whatever they do, or say, about Rhyl – to me it is where my heart is because it has given me a really good sense of belonging and a happy home and surroundings which is the most important thing as we get older. Grange Road security blanket. Sad but true.
My children all live away now and have their own memories of Grange Road and Rhyl, which are obviously very different from mine but hopefully they are happy ones – just different. They are living the lifestyle of now but wherever they live I hope that a little part of their memory lane will include Grange Road.”
To view Pat’s previous posts click on the links: