Category Archives: General

Dark History Tour

Cllr Alan James begins unravelling some of Rhyl’s old mysteries

Rhyl Town Council’s Dark History Tour was launched at Halloween with three mini films providing a snapshot of key stories in the town’s history.

Kinmel Street’s Mummy in the Cupboard, the story of one of the last men in Britain to be hanged and the secret of the ghost of Bodfor Street are being told as part of a permanent, virtual history tour.

The films can be viewed on a smartphone in the streets where these stories originally unfolded and are the first in a series to be unveiled with other trails set to focus on Rhyl’s famous faces and sporting history.
Rhyl History Club opened its archives to help the project with a team from Barnardo’s working with TAPE Community Music & Film to shape the content and story-boards.
Rhyl Mayor Cllr Alan James said: “Rhyl is rich in history – from murder mysteries, strange happenings to a host of famous faces, there are stories to tell at every turn. These are woven into the fabric of Rhyl life and, bit by bit, we’ll be telling them in a new way, using the latest technology.

“The Dark History tour has been a cross-Rhyl project, bringing in the history club, and working with young people through Barnardos’ providing opportunities to learn about research, film making and development. This has been as much about supporting local groups and providing an educational resource as it has about preserving local history.  Dark History is something new to discover this Halloween but the films will live on for all time.”  People will be able to unlock the films by picking up a leaflet from Rhyl Tourist Information Centre, following the map and scanning QR codes.

The films will also eventually be available in full on the town council and history club’s website.  For a preview of the films click here
Ruth Pritchard of Rhyl History Club said: “Rhyl is full of legendary stories, such as Hanratty’s murder trial which has been the subject of much
discussion, debate and legal challenges and the ghost of Bodfor Street which is believed to have been sighted many times over the years.”

“By turning these stories into film, history is being made accessible and interesting, keeping myths, legends and questions of justice alive.”

In the case of the Mummy in the Cupboard, the remains of Frances Alice Knight were discovered locked away in a Kinmel Street house,
instantly turning a 65-year-old landlady into a murder suspect. The Dark History film covers the grim discovery and what happened next in a story which generated headlines around the world.

Neil Dunsire of TAPE Community Music & Film said: “Some of these stories go back decades but, by using new technology, we are retelling
them and making them accessible to current and future generations. Working with Barnardo’s in Rhyl gave us an opportunity to provide training
for the town’s youngsters too, making this new, if not slightly gruesome, project one that that the wider local community has been able to benefit from.”

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The Cynefin Project

Have you ever wondered about the land on which your house stands?  Who used to own it? What was the land used for?  Did the field have a name?  To what farm did it belong?  Thanks to the Cynefin project all this can now be explored from the comfort of your own home.  The project, which is now complete, has repaired and digitised around 1,200 tithe maps and they now form a wonderful online resource for the all those interested in local history and family history.  (To learn more about tithe maps click here.)

 

Click on Places of Wales (part of the National Library of Wales website) to start your search.  I typed “Rhuddlan” into “Find a place” then moved the map to the area I was interested in.  The numbers indicate where there is more than one result and by zooming in these separate out. I looked at the area on which Morrison’s now stands on Marsh Road in Rhyl, and discovered that the field on which it stands was called Cae Morfa and it belonged to a farm called Penyddan Glawdd.  Peter Parry farmed the arable land there, which was owned by The Right Honourable Lord Dinorbin – I was also able to view the map and apportionment.

In another example I looked at land adjacent to the Community Fire Station on the Coast Road, where Rhyl History Club meets once a month.  The field name was Ffridd Fawr, part of Ty Newydd Farm, which was occupied by Hugh Hughes.  The land was used for pasture.  The landowner was Mrs Penelope Warren.

There is an excellent help page on the website.  Maps can be viewed as “modern”, “satellite”, “historic NLS  (1888-1913)” and “tithe map overlay”.  Have a go –  find out about the history of the land where you live.  This is a fantastic, free, new resource that will have you spellbound!

 

 

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Our new programme 2017-18

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August 10, 2017 · 7:57 pm

Our Summer Trip 2017.

Rhyl History Club has had many and various Summer outings over the years – and almost without exception they have been hugely enjoyable.  This year’s trip to Caernarfon yesterday was a great success, a good time was had by all.  In the morning some of our group visited the castle, including the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, others visited Segontium.  An excellent lunch was taken at the famous historic inn – The Black Boy.  However, the highlight of the day was our afternoon “Town Tour – a guided walk through the streets of the Medieval town of Caernarfon” with our informative and entertaining guide Emrys Llewelyn.

Emrys is passionate about his town and is exceedingly knowledgeable about its history.  He has a wonderfully humorous style, weaving anecdotes and funny stories into the wealth of history that he presents.  Thoroughly recommended!!  See Trip Advisor for more reviews

Many thanks to Rufus Adams and Maggi Blythin for their organisation.

Our programme for 2017-18 will be available shortly – check this website for updates.  Our year consists of monthly lectures/talks, a Christmas lunch and a Summer outing – we look forward to seeing members old and new in September.

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The Sea and the Skylark

Gerard Manley Hopkins Photocredit: Wikipedia

On a recent walk along the promenade, the sea on one side and the golf links and dunes on the other, a skylark rose from the ground and treated us to its song and wonderful aerial display, which is the essence of Spring. This brought to mind the poem “The Sea and the Skylark” which was written by the famous Victorian poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins in 1877.  Hopkins spent three years at St. Beuno’s College, Tremeirchion and whilst there he was sent to Rhyl for five days for “the good of his health”.  In the book “Gerard Manley Hopkins in Wales” Norman White writes: “It was not the ideal place for Hopkins to relax in, and with nothing to do but twiddle his thumbs he – not surprisingly – produced yet another poem contrasting the permanent grandeur and fresh beauty of nature’s phenomena with the sordidness of man – ” The Sea and the Skylark”.   White goes on: “Unfortunately, walking on Rhyl sands, without means of escape from the petty architecture and shrill tourist vulgarities, Hopkins’s disgust was evoked”    ( So, Rhyl had its detractors in the 19th Century!  The poem below contains the line “How these two shame this shallow and frail town”)

The Sea and the Skylark

On ear and ear two noises too old to end
Trench – right, the tide that ramps against the shore;
With a flood or a fall, low lull-off or all roar,
Frequenting there while moon shall wear and wend.

Left hand, off land, I hear the lark ascend,
His rash-fresh re-winded new-skeined score
In crisps of curl off wild winch whirl, and pour
And pelt music, till none’s to spill nor spend.

How these two shame this shallow and frail town!
How ring right out our sordid turbid time,
Being pure! We, life’s pride and cared-for crown,

Have lost that cheer and charm of earth’s past prime:
Our make and making break, are breaking, down
To man’s last dust, drain fast towards man’s first slime.

To read more about the poem see the Guardian’s Poem of the Week

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The “Infamous” Rhyl Station Bracket Box

Spotted by a Rhylite recently in an article in the Saturday Guardian was a reference to “The Infamous Rhyl Station Bracket Box”.  Obviously this required further investigation!  Rhyl Station’s bracket box, which stood on the main platform behind the main entrance buildings, is in The Isle of Wight Postal Museum along with over 200 others.  The owner, collector Arthur Reeder, is also a member of the Letter Box Study Group and it was via this group that a fellow member, Elaine Warner, told him about the Rhyl box.  rhyl-station-bracket-post-box006Here’s what Arthur had to say:

“She had reported it’s poor state and so whilst on a holiday in Porthmadog I made the trip to see what was becoming an increasingly rare form of postbox. The only one left of this type now still in use can be found at Llandrindod Wells Station.

The ‘infamous’ Rhyl bracket box was actually a locally made version in pine of what was a standard issue oak wooden box supplied by The Ministry of Works carpenters.
The physical construction of these boxes is quite a work of art and the round tops are made with strips of wood joined together to form the arch. Unlike the ‘standard oak’ versions, this box had additional wooden beads around the front and sides‎ and a smaller aperture which is somewhat at odds with the standard boxes. I would describe the Rhyl box as slightly more ornate!
Also, unlike the standard boxes, this one was not fitted with a nickel plate surrounding the posting aperture engraved with a crown and VR, but it had been hand painted instead.
Getting this part reproduced is probably what gave me the greatest satisfaction as although I had copied what I found under all the layers of paint, I was sceptical that it could ever have been hand painted due to the intricate works?
But a local guy in Harrow Middlesex, where I lived at the time, showed me just how good some of these signwriters actually are at their trade.
Wishing to reproduce the original enamel plate, I contacted another local company called Messers. Garnier of NW London, and they not only said making a plate wasn’t a problem, but that they had actually had the Royal Mail contract for such things since 1904! So due to this little wooden box, I had also bumped into yet another contact that stood me in good stead with replacement vitreous enamel signs for those damaged and missing on subsequent postboxes.
At the time of my visit, the station was being prepared for closure of most of the station buildings…I think to convert it to a supermarket?
All I saw was the painted outline of where it had been for 100 years on the wall behind some barriers. Having travelled all that way to see it, I wasn’t very pleased! I asked around and no-one could remember it going but it was a now a building site. I was eventually directed to where the station master could be found and he told me that it had been there up to a week or so before. He also told me it had been out of use for ages and had been boarded over for a good year due to a fire and heavy vandalism. He had asked for it to be removed by Royal Mail but hadn’t heard anything more. He presumed Royal Mail had come to collect it? So that would have been that apart from a cleaner disagreeing and saying she had seen it outside in the skip!!!
A trip round the hoardings to the skip in front of the station buildings revealed the box dumped inside. I dragged it back out to take a couple of photos and had to push the front back into place where it had been kicked in. The top circular beads were also in the skip so we knocked them back on but there was no sign of the door. I asked what was to become of it and the obvious answer was..it was going to be dumped.

So the next question was…can I have it then? I spent the remainder of my holiday in North Wales and the following week in Chester with this lump of old burnt smelly timber‎ in the back of my vehicle. But as it had survived all that time I thought it would be quite possible to give it back some semblance of self respect.

The “infamous Rhyl Bracket Box” (right). They are termed ‘bracket boxes’ as they resembled the old style of bracket clocks

This postbox is what gave me the bug to start collecting and here we are in 2017 with a museum and 235 postboxes on the Isle of Wight.
There will always be a special place and affection for postbox number 1 in my collection.”
Click here to see the bracket box in various stages of restoration.

 

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