Category Archives: Community

Rhyl Urban District Council

Rhyl Urban District Council came into being in 1894/5 and lasted for eighty years until 1974.  A Commemorative Dinner was held at the Westminster Hotel on Saturday, March 30th, 1974, to mark its dissolution.  The menu at the dinner consisted of chilled melon boats, cream of chicken soup, goujons of plaice, contrefilet of Scotch Beef Beaujolais and peach melba – the wines served were Sauternes and Burgundy.

Included in the programme was a selection of landmarks in Rhyl’s Civic History:

also a list of its “Chairmen” from 1895-1974











click on images to enlarge

Prior to the formation of RUDC in 1894, the town was cared for by the commissioners.  In her book “The Commissioners of Rhyl – the men who built the town”, Marjorie Howe says “The result of a ‘Local Government Act of 1852’ was the formation of a Board of Commissioners which should be responsible for the maintenance and improvement of Rhyl, and the well-being of its citizens”.  Also,   “In November 1894, the Improvement Commissioner’s Board held its last meeting, and when the local authority met for their monthly meeting in December, it was under the new name of ‘Rhyl Urban District Council’.

1974 saw the formation of Rhyl Town Council – click here for their website

There is a huge scarcity of women in the lists and photograph in the programme – thankfully women have come a long way in the last 40-50 years.


Leave a comment

Filed under Community

Rhyl’s Carnival 1929

Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

In 1929 Rhyl held a Carnival which turned out to be one of the biggest events ever to be held in the town.  Ten of thousands of people flocked into Rhyl by road and rail for the three day Carnival which began on Thursday, June 27th.  The advertisement on the left is typical and was from the Yorkshire Evening Post.
In his book “Rhyl, the town and its people” J.W. Jones wrote that it was the idea of Arnold Heckle, the popular Publicity Manager at the time.  A Carnival King and Queen were appointed.  The “King” was Bertram Jones, proprietor and editor of the Rhyl Leader and the “Queen” was Billie Manders.  To get a flavour of the wonderful carnival of 1929, watch the British Pathé footage


The sun shone on the Carnival’s opening day, the highlight of which was the arrival of the famous aviator Sir Alan Cobham, but more of that later.  Also on the Thursday was a Gilbert and Sullivan garden fete in the Vicarage Grounds and a torchlight procession and tattoo in the Marine Gardens (beside the pavilion).
Friday and Saturday saw a speed boat rally, motor cycle reliability trials, sports, a Children’s Beauty competition, roller skating races, dances, a Grand Procession, community singing and fireworks

Prize winners at the 1929 Rhyl Carnival

But back to the opening day and the hugely anticipated arrival of Sir Alan Cobham in his de Havilland Giant Moth which he christened “Youth of Britain”.  The Rhyl Journal reported that he was expected to arrive at Aberkinsey Farm (between Rhyl and Dyserth) at 11a.m and a big crowd had gathered to welcome him.  Unfortunately he experienced mechanical problems as he left Crewe which meant it was after 12 noon that he was first sighted over the farm.  He made a “beautiful” landing amidst great cheering and was immediately “mobbed” by the crowd.  Sir Alan then proceeded to take members and officials of Rhyl council for a flight over the town.  Then a second party boarded the plane but as it took off the propeller caught a tree and sustained damage which caused abandonment of the flight.  Fortunately no-one suffered any injuries.  A photograph of the “crash” can be seen below.

photograph reproduced with kind permission of Pete Robinson at

The Rhyl Journal published a list of children chosen to take a flight that day, representing various schools in Rhyl.  It added that their flight would be postponed until the following day because of the accident.  It was not clear in the paper as to whether the children ever took their flight – risk assessment was probably quite different in 1929!

In the Rhyl Journal the following week, under the headline “Aerodrome for Rhyl” Sir Alan assured those gathered at a reception that there would have been no such trouble if there had been a proper aerodrome.  Sir Alan said “they had to make use of improvised fields as they proceded from town to town and the field selected at Aberkinsey Farm was the only one suitable for the purpose of such a demonstration from Anglesey to Rhyl.  There was a great opportunity before Rhyl, so far as aviation in North Wales was concerned, and he hoped they were that day seeing the beginning of the laying of the foundations of a local aerodrome.”










Filed under Community, Entertainment, Tourism

The Carnegie Free Library

Before its current home in Church Street our library was within the Town Hall.  Readers of a certain age will have memories of the lovely old library there. carnegie-free-libray-2 It was built with £3,000 donated by Andrew Carnegie.  Carnegie, 1835-1919, was a Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist and one of the richest Americans ever.  During the last 18 years of his life he gave away 90% of his fortune – about $350 million (in 2015 share of GDP, $78.6 billion) to charities, foundations and universities.  2,509 Carnegie libraries were built around the world with his money, 660 of which were built in the U.K. and one of which was here in Rhyl.


Andrew Carnegie. Photocredit : wikipedia

As long ago as the 1890s there were calls for a free library in Rhyl, as evidenced by letters to the local newspapers.  In 1902 it was heard that Mr Carnegie was giving money away for thousands of libraries.  In March 1905 the Rhyl Journal printed a letter from New York which confirmed that Rhyl would receive a sum of up to £3,000 to complete the library  building.  The newspaper also commented “The thanks of the town for the successful issue of the protracted and delicate negotiations with Mr Carnegie is largely due to Mr Rowlands* who has conducted the correspondence on the Council’s side with great skill”.  Not everyone was pleased though, as the £3,000 came with certain conditions resulting in a small rise in the rates -“some agreed and some did not like to face the trifling penny rate”.  There was organised opposition but the ratepayers eventually decided to accept the offer by a majority of 245.


Laying the Foundation Stones of Rhyl’s Carnegie Free Library

The library was built as an extension to the Town Hall.  On a windy January afternoon in 1906 the foundation stones were laid by the High Sherriff of Flintshire, Mr W.J.P Storey, J.P. and Councillor J.W Jones J.P. (Chairman R.U.D.C.). both of whom received  a solid silver trowel and mallet.

The Library was opened in April, 1907.  At the opening ceremony Mr J. Herbert Lewis M.P. said” Henceforth every man and woman in the town of Rhyl, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, will own a library if not in their own houses, at least near their own doors”
Situated on the site of the old Police station and adjoining the Town Hall, the work was entirely in character – Penmaenmawr stone facing with Cefn stone quoins, heads, sills and strings. The library occupied the ground floor and comprised of a reading room, reference room, lending library, store room and Librarian’s room.  The first floor consisted of a stage, dressing rooms and conveniences.  The whole  of the new building was  heated with low pressure hot water apparatus and radiators and lit throughout by electricity.

*Mr Arthur Rowlands was the Town Clerk of Rhyl.


Filed under Buildings/Location, Community, People

Remembrance through Music.

This year we have a departure from our usual research/photographs/memories concerning Rhyl and the way that the wars affected the town and its people.  We are sharing links that commemorate the casualties of war through music, more especially music from Rhyl Folk Club.  The history of Rhyl Folk club has been explored on these pages before, to read this click here .  

In the clip below Rhyl musician, and Rhyl Folk Club member, Brian Bull sings one of the most poignant songs written about the First World War:  “And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda”.  It was written in 1971 by Scottish born Australian singer-songwriter Eric Bogle and describes war as futile and gruesome, while criticising those who seek to glorify it.


The next song was written and is sung by well known local musician and Rhyl Folk Club member,  Alun Rhys Jones.  Alun says “I wrote this song in utter awe and respect for those countless young men who marched off to war, often giving their lives for the benefit of us all. Complete and utter madness…! But at the time, who felt they had a choice…? I wrote the song in 1987 inspired by work of writers such as Eric Bogle and Dominic Williams. Fortunately “Lest We Forget” won the Hindley (Lancs) Folk-Club Song-Writing Competition that same year and was broadcast by BBC Radio Manchester. I’m very proud of this song and it can still move me to tears when I sing it now…. I feel it’s even more moving when sung unaccompanied, in the folk tradition, which is how I present the song from time to time”.

In the next clip Alun sings a Dominic Williams song “Tommy’s Lot”:

For more information about Rhyl Folk Club click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Community, Military

Coronation Day 1911

The Coronation of King George V took place on June 22nd, 1911.  Depending upon which report you read in the local paper, the celebrations that took place in Rhyl were either successful or disastrous.

The Rhyl Record and Advertiser described the day in detail:  the morning procession, the afternoon procession, the illuminations, the elaborately decorated streets, fireworks on the pier, the bonfire on the sandhills opposite Chester Street, a tea for the school children and the sports on the promenade – see photograph below.

However on a different page in the paper was this report:
“We shall have something to say on this subject in our next issue.  Meantime we can only say that they were of the most unsatisfactory and slipshod nature, and reflect anything but credit on those responsible for them.”  Oh dear.

The following week there were indeed more column inches devoted to this, the report was entitled “The Coronation Muddle at Rhyl”. The report was damning, ending with the paragraph “We seldom remember anything more unsatisfactory in the history of Rhyl, and if only that we may long be spared the humiliation of such another day, we heartily pray Long Live King George V.”

The main complaints were to Rhyl Council, who were accused of dealing with the Coronation celebrations in a “perfunctory manner” and limiting the expenditure to £150.  The council had not held proper meetings, but had given carte blanche instructions to the General Purposes Committee, which the report said “they have done in characteristically blundering fashion”.  Whilst householders did their best to decorate their premises, the Town Hall and other public buildings were almost bare of “flagtorial embellishment”.  The processions were not well organised, “a poor and feeble effort”.  Regarding the illuminations: “when darkness set in the town, instead of being ablaze with illuminations, was as forbiddingly dark and sombre as on a dreary wintery Sunday night”  Oh dear.

So much history is viewed through rose tinted spectacles it is refreshing to be reminded that events could be disappointing and disagreeable in “the good old days”.

Full-length portrait in oils of George V. Coronation portrait by Sir Luke Fildes, 1911 Photo credit: Wikipedia

George V reigned until his death in 1936.  He was the second son of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales – later King Edward v11, and the grandson of Queen Victoria.


Leave a comment

Filed under Community

The Foryd Harbour tour.

This weekend has seen the ever popular annual Prestatyn and Clwydian Range Walking Festival which is now in its 12th year.  There were 26 walks in all, one of which was “Harbours and the History of Rhyl”.  Rhyl History Club member Bob Gurney was the walk leader for the group of 51 people, and what an informative and enjoyable walk it turned out to be.

foryd 2Bob led the walk around the harbour, explaining about its history.  Judith Samuels, author of “The City of Ottawa: the story of a Sailing Ship”, also told us about the wreck which can still be seen in the mud at low tide. We then then crossed the Foryd Bridge to the Marine Lakeforyd 4where people were enjoying rides on the Rhyl Miniature Railway and visiting their museum. foryd 5foryd 7The remains of the perimeter walls of the ill fated Winter Gardens were pointed out on our way back to the promenade, where Bob talked about the Hovercraft, Resurgam, Ruth Ellis and more.  We returned to the harbour hub via the new walking and cycling bridge “Pont y Ddraig“. foryd 3 Many thanks to Bob Gurney and the organisers of the Prestatyn and Clwydian Range Walking Festival


Leave a comment

Filed under Community