It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

The Christmas lights are up and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…


but before the tradition of lights, how was the town decorated for Christmas?  The shops took great pride in the displays in their shops and shop windows, as was reported in The Rhyl Advertiser of December 1881.

“The Christmas Show” was the headline of the article which went on to describe in great detail how almost all of the shops and businesses decorated their premises for Christmas.  The Butchers’ shops were the main event, and just like today when increasingly we like to know that our meat has been responsibly sourced, so it was in 1881 when the farmer concerned was always mentioned.  The reporter for the Advertiser went walkabout in Rhyl for his article and here are some of his descriptions, starting at the Market Hall:

“Entering from Queen Street we first came to Esther Roberts’ stall, on which we saw two bullocks, capitally fed by J.R. Heaton Esq., Plas Heaton, three prime porkers fed by Major C. S. Mainwaring, Galltfaenan, 14 fine Welsh wethers, and six Shropshire do., fed by Messrs. H. and R. Roberts, Trefnant.
Susannah Williams showed a prime ox, fed by J. G. Gratton, Esq., Voryd Fawr; and another fed by Mr. Joseph Lloyd, St. Asaph, Shropshire down and Welsh wethers from Voryd Fawr, and Welsh wethers also from Mr. Davies, Bryncwnin, and Mrs. Hughes, Marsh Inn, Rhuddlan, a prime porker from Plas Llewelyn, and another fed by Mrs. Williams herself.
Thomas Jones (Bryngwyn Farm) had a good supply of beef, mutton, &c., including a good ox, fed by Mr. Thomas Gee, Eglwys Wen, Denbigh, also one fed by Mr. Wynne, Bachymbyd; a quantity of Welsh wethers, lambs, and porkers, all fed by Mr. Jones himself, together with a sucking pig, fed at Tan y Bryn Farm.”
The fare at the very many other butcher’s shops in town were similarly described. Edward Owens’ shop in Water Street also had “a young fawn fed on the deer park of the Right Hon. Lord Mostyn.”

The poultry dealers, fishmongers and greengrocers were all well stocked with geese, turkeys, ducks, chickens, partridges, hares and rabbits.  At Eliza Jones, fishmonger in the Market Hall, there was cod, brill, turbot, soles, oysters, plaice, haddock (fresh and cured), whitings, lemon soles etc.  “James Clift had a tastefully decorated stall, on which were laid a magnificent stock of fruit and vegetables, the grapes especially appearing very fine.”

Under the heading “Grocers, Italian Warehousemen and Confectioners”, Littler and Williams’ shop in Queen Street was described as being very tastefully dressed, “one window being devoted to all kinds of preserved and candied fruits and groceries” and  “the great attraction at this establishment was ‘y dorth fawr’ (the big loaf).”
Mrs Williams, Bodfor Street, displayed seed cakes, brides and other cakes which were presented in “a very striking style, the whole making a very nice little show”.

The many drapers in town were reported on – “taken altogether we think that the drapers of the town have kept up, if not surpassed, their former reputation by their very attractive decorations this week.”

“Stationers and Fancy Dealers” also put on fine displays. “D. Trehearn, Stationers’ Hall in Wellington Road, was the centre of attraction for Xmas cards, albums, and other things in the fancy and general stationery business, and the place was rendered doubly pleasing by the very good taste displayed in showing the goods off to the best advantage.”

This is quite a romantic look at Christmases past – for a more down to earth report, which reminds us to consider the needs of those less fortunate at Christmastime click here.






Filed under Community, Work/Business

4 responses to “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

  1. ola66

    Wonderful peice thank you. The display from the fish stall particulary interested me……….can you think of anywhere in North Wales where you would see that variety of fresh fish and shellfish in one place. Of course we have to remember that this was before the time of fridges……the fish and meat would have been kept cool with ice (supplied as big blocks from the iceplant – I wonder where that was?) and the vendor preumably expected to sell out his perishable goods within a day………….how different today.
    Merry Christmas to the Rhyl History Club!

    Peter Finnigan

    • Very interesting that consumers expected to see where their meat came from. I guess this was a time when vegetarians were restricted to… Well, vegetables…! Wonder what my Christmas dinner would have looked like?!?
      Dymuniadau gorau i bawb, am Nadolig Llawen a hefyd Blwyddyn Newydd Dda. Diolch o’r galon i’r Clwb Hanes y Rhyl, ‘am gymaint o erthyglau diddorol iawn yn ystod y flwyddyn. Cofion, Alun

  2. Thank you Peter, and a Happy Christmas to you from Rhyl History Club. (Re. the ice – more research! Will report back if there’s an answer)

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