Category Archives: Memories

My Search for the Flying Fox

Readers of this blog may remember a post written a few years ago about the fascinating story of Flying Fox which is proudly displayed above the Royal Alexandra Hospital. to read this article again click here.

Mr Rodney McCully has kindly shared with us an interesting piece that he has written about this famous racehorse, its importance in the history of the hospital and his trip to France.

“The Principal tutor, Mr Ron Girling, first brought attention to this legendary horse the “Flying Fox” as we settled into start our nurse training, a group of 12 young women and men. It was 1969. The Rhyl School of Nursing had been established in 1963 and had adopted the Flying Fox as an emblem on the hospital badge that nurses would wear after successfully passing their final examination.

The history of the horse went back 70 years when the 1st Duke of Westminster, Hugh Lupus Grosvenor, whose love of racehorses led him to purchase the Flying Fox – the foal of Orme (dam) and Vampire (sire) – which reputedly became the Duke’s most successful racehorse. The Duke was a generous benefactor to the Royal Alexandra Hospital, previously known as the Children’s Convalescent Home, which had adopted the title in 1882 after Princess Alexandra, wife of Edward V11, had become patron. Prior to the horse competing in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park in 1899, the Duke made a promise to the matron; if the Flying Fox was to win he would donate £10,000 to the hospital fund. Flying Fox obliged and the money was a welcome amount towards the £40,000 building cost of the first central section of the hospital. Months after this profitable win, the Duke fell ill and died at the age of 75. Flying Fox was sold for a record 37,500 guineas, the highest price ever paid for a horse at auction. The buyer, Edmund Blanc, stabled Flying Fox at his stud farm Haras de Jardy in France, west of Paris. There he sired other classic winners such as Ajax, Flying Star, Gouvernment and Adam, with his progeny earning £203,400 in prize money. Flying Fox died in France in 1911 but his skeleton was preserved.

“Flying Fox 1896 – 1911″ photo credit wikipedia 

In the mid-1990’s I was in conversation at Glan Clwyd Hospital with a gentleman, Mr James, whom I had known for some years. I was wearing my uniform, proudly displaying as always my hospital badge, when Mr James remarked, “Isn’t that the Flying Fox”? After a positive reply and to my great surprise, Mr James told me that he and his wife had seen the Flying Fox displayed in an equine museum in the town of Saumur in the Loire Valley, France. From that moment, it was to be my goal to see this magnificent horse for myself but only on my third attempt would I accomplish this mission. Early in 2012, I made contact with Mme Nathalie Gadbin, Assistant Curator of the Chateau Musee de Saumur. Mme Gadbin was most helpful in my quest to visit and see the Flying fox and a date in September that year was agreed. Hotels and ferry crossings were pre-booked. However, one week before the journey I was informed by the ferry company that the return ferry crossing had been cancelled. No alternative plans could be made in time, so the visit was postponed.

In September 2017 my second journey was thrown into jeopardy when, following a detour to visit a friend in Switzerland, my car unfortunately broke down and the journey was finalised by a flight home from Geneva. The visit was now planned for May 2018 – which finally proved sucessful.

In 2017 I had the good fortune to have contact with, and be assisted by, Mrs Louise Benson, archivist at the Eaton Estate, Chester. Mrs Benson was of outstanding help in identifying the memorial to the Flying Fox at Eaton Hall and also gathered together other artefacts and information valuable in complementing the story. After each race had been won, a shoe would be taken from the horse and mounted on a plinth recording the event. Mrs Benson assembled together these mementoes adding spice to a rich history. One other connection could be noted between the Eaton Hall of late 19th century and the Royal Alexandra Hospital, Alfred Waterhouse being the architect responsible for the design of both buildings.

On Tuesday 15th May 2018 accompanied by my good friend Selwyn Jones, we left North Wales at lunchtime and travelled to Portsmouth for the overnight ferry to France. Our appointment with Mme Gadbin was at 11 am Thursday 17th May. Our hotel, on the banks of the Loire, was overlooked high above us by the impressive Chateau de Saumur. On a beautiful Thursday morning we walked to the Chateau to be warmly greeted by Mme Gadbin and Ms Janis Upsher, who was to act as our interpreter. Our reception overwhelmed us as we toured the Chateau and were guided to this exceptional horse. As the Chateau was approaching the end of a three year refurbishment the Flying Fox was standing gracefully in a third storey room, flanked by the displayed skeletons of a prehistoric horse and a an Arabian stallion.

Prior to actually seeing the Flying Fox, with the help of the interpreter, I gave an account of the history associated with the Royal Alexandra Hospital. There was mutual interest because the museum hadn’t realised the connection the Flying Fox had with the hospital and what an enormous part it had played in the funding of its building and of the place it had in the hearts of so many. I had amassed a dossier of information that I was able to systemically present to, and leave with them. Selwyn gave a comprehensive account of the building, history and infrastructure of the town of Rhyl.

Entering the room and seeing the Flying Fox for myself I could feel the warmth of a tear in my eye. It had been almost fifty years since my first encounter with this horse and over twenty years since I had made the promise that one day I would see for myself this legendary animal. My journey had reached a fitting finale.

Our departure was mixed with joy and sadness. On leaving, Mme Gadbin presented me with the most splendid wall chart titled “Tableau Indicatif des Maladies du Cheval et des Remedes”. It stays with me as a constant reminder of a horse forgotten, yet remembered by many whose lives were influenced by this great stallion.”

For more articles about the Royal Alexandra Hospital:

A seaside nursery for the little ones of our land.

Gertrude Ffoulkes

Edith Vizard

More on Edith Vizard


Filed under Buildings/Location, Memories

The Rhyl Journal, a printer remembers

RHYL JOURNAL 150th Anniversary plus –

1866 – 2018

A Printer Remembers

By George Owen, employed as a compositor at the Rhyl Journal 1956-1969

In the early 1900s the seaside resort of Rhyl was expanding rapidly and Edward Pearce and Lewis Jones, the proprietors of the Rhyl Journal, saw the opportunity to expand the newspaper and together they invested in building impressive new premises on the site of some old cottages on Russell Road next to The Swan. From 1905 over the next 60 years this site was to become a bustling purpose-built newspaper and commercial printing hub right in the centre of Rhyl.

Edwrad Pearce

Lewis Jones 1880










Lewis Jones’ part in this story had started in the 1870s when Lewis began work as a compositor at the Rhyl Journal under John Morris, then proprietor and editor. Lewis Jones was evidently an enterprising fellow as he later became a reporter, a partner and finally the proprietor.

Until 1905 printing and publishing had been located at 30 High Street on the site currently occupied by Costa Coffee. Photos show the new site on Russell Road in 1905 where an old cottage had just been demolished in preparation for the brand new building. Other archive photos show a bearded Lewis Jones and his printing staff.


Site of Rhyl Journal Office

Rhyl Journal Works 1903-1969

Lewis Jones and staff 1870’s

Edward Pearce died in 1891, aged 35, and Lewis Jones then became the sole proprietor until after 50 years he finally retired in 1921. The newspaper was then taken over by Pugh and Rowlands who also owned the rival Rhyl Advertiser and the paper’s title became The Rhyl Journal and Advertiser. They also printed and published the Prestatyn Weekly and the Denbighshire Free Press.

Lewis Jones

Rhyl Journal Outing to Barmouth 1948

Lewis Jones’ passing in 1932 generated much newsprint in praise of his proprietorship of the Journal which had a reputation for being the best local paper on the North Wales Coast. The phrase “Sunny Rhyl” had been coined by Lewis Jones’ wife Jennie and the phrase was regularly propagated in the pages of the Journal. Lewis Jones was a man of vision and the Journal was not only the pre-eminent newspaper in the area but it also flourished doing general printing for all manner of people, businesses and enterprises, as well as supplying stationary and book binding. Many leaflets and publications of the time are marked ‘Printed at the Journal Works Rhyl.

Until the 1950s the newspapers had been printed on two large Wharfedale quad-demy hand-fed presses powered by gas engines. A large single sheet of paper four times the size of one page was fed by hand into the press and then the process was repeated to print the other side. These large sheets then had to be cut in half on a guillotine and folded and collated by hand – a slow, laborious and time-consuming process.

Post WW2 expansion and a new law in Britain which said that everyone must have one week’s annual paid holiday meant people flocked to resorts such as Rhyl and production improvements were necessary to meet increasing demand for the newspapers. A modern reel-fed Cossar Press was installed at the Journal which could automatically print on both sides and produce the complete 12-page folded edition in one process. In the 1951 photo company director Mrs Gladys Pugh can be seen with a celebratory bouquet of flowers and all the staff  gathered around her to mark the installation of the new press.

Cossar Press installed at Rhyl Journal Works 1951

c. 1960 Phil holds training session on Cossar press at Rhyl Journal while Jack poses for camera!

The Cossar, which soon proved to be a good investment, was a mighty beast weighing 10 tons and when the press rolled it made a rumbling noise that could be heard throughout the building and even outside on the footpath. A few years later the two old redundant Wharfedales were sold off for scrap but the removal men who dismantled them and took the old presses away on a large lorry managed to disappear without paying a sausage and were never seen again!

In 1969 Pugh and Rowlands, the owners of the North Wales Press Co Ltd as the company was known, sold the business to the rival North Wales Newspapers and the printing of the three papers was moved to their works in Oswestry and later Deeside. Until then for over 60 years the Rhyl Journal, along with the Prestatyn Weekly and the Denbighshire Free Press, had been printed locally at the Russell Road works in Rhyl.

George Owen typesetting

The printing works covered two large floors 60 feet by 30 feet to the rear of the building: the printing press room was on the ground floor and the composing room with eight linotype hot-metal type casting machines was on the first floor. Office and editorial staff were located in offices at the front of the building. The number of staff employed, including printers, editorial and office staff, numbered around thirty-five people. I was employed in the composing room from the late-1950s until the closure in 1969. There were also offices on Vale Street, Denbigh and Kings Avenue, Prestatyn, which in pre-email days sent news articles and adverts daily by Crosville bus to the Rhyl HQ. The news articles were then edited by the journalists and given to the composing room to be type set and assembled by the compositors into the pages.

The reels of paper for the Cossar Press were supplied by Bowaters Paper Mill, Ellesmere Port. Every few weeks a big flat-back lorry would arrive loaded with about 30 reels of paper stacked two high. These reels were approximately 36 inches long and 30 inches high and were very heavy needing careful manoeuvring to unload them from the lorry and roll them into the press room and stack them up again. The lorry would be parked in the alley alongside the print works and the apprentices would carry out the unloading. I remember one occasion when a reel was being rolled down the two thick planks at the rear of the lorry and it escaped from our grasp and hurtled down the alley into Russell Road and across into Clwyd Street before we managed to stop it. At that time road traffic in Russell Road was two-way and it was a miracle that the heavy reel didn’t collide with a car.

Wednesday was Press Day and sometimes the composing room staff worked until midnight on Tuesday to ensure that all the pages were ready for the large Cossar printing press to roll early on Wednesday morning. In order to keep our morale up on these late Tuesday night sessions the editor Haydn Williams, would sometimes take the compositors for a late break in The Swan which was conveniently located next door or order tea and ham sandwiches from the Russell Café opposite (now the Hair Studio).

1961 and six Journal compositors take their ease in The Swan

Printing delays on Press Day had to be avoided at all costs as they would hold up deliveries of the newspaper on Crosville buses to the surrounding outlying area and risk the ire of the Rhyl newsagents who collected outside around lunchtime on Russell Road to collect their copies of the paper. The process was repeated on Thursday with the Denbighshire Free Press and on Friday with the Prestatyn Weekly.

For 150 years production of the paper has never failed to appear except once in the summer of 1959 when the National Graphical Association and the Newspaper Society failed to agree new pay and conditions and printers across the UK came out on a strike which lasted six weeks from early July to mid-August. The strike coincided with an unusually hot summer and some of the Rhyl Journal’s striking printers found summer jobs selling ice cream or worked on the fairground while the journalists went away on trips on full pay. Printers are normally a pale-faced bunch due to being indoors most of the time but that year they returned work with a good sun tan. The five Journal apprentices, although they were union members, didn’t have a vote and so they carried on working on full pay but, as it turned out, had little to do but play cards or read novels.

The Journal management had made plans to produce an emergency edition of the Journal using the five apprentices. However at the last minute they discovered to their frustration that the Factories Act prevented the apprentices from using the printing machinery without supervision by the printers and so the paper ceased production for the duration of the strike which continued for six weeks. As a result the apprentices had a pretty easy time and were slightly sorry when it was all over although as a result of the strike printers were the first workers in the UK to achieve a 40-hour working week.

The Christmas period was sometimes an issue that would affect production depending on which day of the week Christmas Day fell, especially if it was on a Wednesday. A bonus was that the printers often worked at double time rates on Boxing Day or weekends to ensure the papers appeared.

Journal staff “do” 1968

Over the years until 1969 as well as the Derbyshire Miners Club, Marsh Road, The Plough, St Asaph and the Morville Hotel, Rhyl Promenade, the Swan Pub next door was one of the venues where the annual Journal staff parties were held with a three course dinner, band and dancing.


The last staff “do” The Plough, March 1969

In more recent years printing, editorial and office staff from those days have attended several reunions at The Swan and, as the photos show, along with many former printing colleagues such as Frank Garrett, Gwilym Roberts, Delwyn Owens, Len Crossley, Allan Christley, Marcus Owen, Eric Davies, Tony Hanmer and Ian Griffiths, we welcomed former reporters such as Denise Hodgkinson, BME (St Asaph Councillor, journalist and editor of the City Times, Elwyn Edwards, Journal deputy editor, Chris Segar (the Ferret on TV), John Euryn and Phil Hawkins.

The Swan reunion 2009

Angela, May, Marcus, Phil, Bern, Elwyn, Frank, Gwilym, – -, Annabel


May 2010, Rhyl


May 20110, Rhyl

At the closure in 1969 printer Phil Hawkins, who operated the Cossar Press, was the last Father of the Chapel (union shop steward) but in 1941, aged 14, he had started work at the Journal as an apprentice, or “printer’s devil” as they used to be known. A year or two later during WW2 he was delivering parcels of the newspaper on a handcart to Crosville Bus Station, then located on the High Street, when he was suddenly involved in an air raid! Fortunately this turned out to be a mock air raid carried out by the police who had suddenly appeared and exploded tear gas canisters on the High Street as a way of preparing the Rhyl townsfolk for the possibility of an actual raid – Liverpool docks was being heavily bombed nightly by the Nazi Luftwaffe.

Despite this painful shock Phil, with eyes streaming, showed true grit by continuing to the bus station thereby ensuring that the parcels of the Rhyl Journal got through to their various destinations. Phil later saw service in the RAF until the end of the war when he was demobbed and he returned to work at the Journal. In 1947 he was a founder member of the RAFA Club and in 2018 the former “printer’s devil” remains a very active 93 who on fine days regularly cycles along Rhyl Promenade from Splash Point to the Foryd Harbour Hub Cafe and back!

In 1969 with the closure of the printing works the redundant printing staff went their different ways. Some transferred to the Western Mail, Cardiff, some to Oswestry and thus the busy printing works on Russell Road fell silent forever and the building became a branch of the Halifax Building Society. All the printing machinery and equipment was auctioned off by local estate agents Jones and Beardmore and the mighty 1951 Cossar Press was bought by a firm in Dublin which hired Phil Hawkins for a few weeks to go to Dublin to show them how it was operated.

The closure signalled the end of an era of printing in the town. Hot metal printing was becoming old hat and the new IT technology soon took over. The editorial and office staff continued their local presence at offices in Kinmel Street but the journalists have now been transferred to the North Wales Newspaper Llandudno HQ.

Despite other contenders which have come and gone over the years, the Rhyl Journal has seen off the competition including the digital media revolution and continues, as it has for just over 150 years, to be the pre-eminent local weekly newspaper on the North Wales coast.


George Owen MBE
Copyright George Owen. Sources: Early archive photos and information on founders was provided by Michael Lewis Jones, Mostyn (great-grandson of Lewis Jones) and Phil Hawkins. Other photos George Owen.

Many thanks to George for submitting this interesting article and for sharing these splendid photographs with us.


Filed under Memories, Work/Business

My personal memories of Rhyl.

Mr Fred Davies, born in Rhyl in 1925, has been in touch with us to share his memories of Rhyl

My Rhyl History.

During the last eighty years the world has changed dramatically – and Rhyl is no exception.

I can go back almost ninety years, yet although I have not been personally attached to it during the past fifty years, I am well aware of many of Rhyl’s changes.

When I was born at Tynewydd Farm in 1925, which is now not there, it was then in Rhuddlan. I believe the Rhyl boundary was then set at Pendyffryn Road. For several years Rhyl had been part of Rhuddlan Parish and did not become a separate Parish until 1844. However, when on my grandfather’s death in 1929 we moved from the farm to a house in Dyserth Road, some quarter of a mile from the farm, both were then in Rhyl. Unfortunately I contacted diphtheria and spent six weeks in what was then an isolation hospital in Towyn. That too is no longer there for that purpose. Fortunately youngsters don’t seem to suffer that disease these days. We had to move because my father was a grocer and had no knowledge of, or interest in farming.

 I very well remember my grandmother informing me that when she was younger they would often stand on the promenade watching well to do families who would come and stay in the town for several weeks. She also stated that there were notices to be seen in various parts of the town offering the sale of hot water for a halfpenny a jug. Day trippers would bring their own snacks and loose tea but would need boiling water which local residents offered to sell them to make a brew.

In those days there were numerous grocery shops in Rhyl.  My father was manager of E. B. Jones which had no fewer than four shops in the town. They were in High Street: a double one in Water Street: one in Abbey Street and one in Wellington Road. That firm had an string of such shops throughout North Wales. My father managed the one in High Street. Eventually that firm was taken over by a group. george-masonThere were also many other such branch shops among which were Maypole, Melias and Irwin’s. Additionally there were also many privately owned grocers such as Turners, Breretons, Parry’s Esmore, and Harry Evans.

My education commenced in Clwyd Street Primary School. It was followed by Rhyl County School as it was called in those days, having since been renamed a couple of times, firstly as Rhyl Grammar School and then Rhyl High School.

st-annesThings have certainly changed.  In those days I was a choirboy in St. Anne’s Church.  St. Anne’s Church was built through the generosity of Mrs Ann Nicholson. She had originally considered providing a lifeboat until she had been persuaded that the south side of the town was in need of a church to serve the people there. It was consecrated in 1896 – some what before my time – but I well remember the extension in 1931. It added almost a third to its size. Mrs. Nicholson’s generosity was continued by her niece, Miss Henrietta Roberts who lived at ‘Nithsdale’, St. Asaph Street and willed a sizeable sum to the church on her death. I knew Miss Roberts very well, as her housekeeper Mrs Kate Ball, was my Godmother.  It is not surprising that the church was referred to as the ‘Railwayman’s Church’ for there were at least six railwaymen in the choir at the time that I was a choirboy.  Often when in the choir during the summer at Evensong several of us would eagerly await our Recessional Hymn in order to get out.

 pavilionThere was that superb Rhyl Pavilion in those days which unfortunately was deliberately destroyed. The present day Pavilion is nowhere as near attractive. Some of us choirboys when proceeding up the aisle singing the Recessional Hymn would be unbuttoning our cassocks ready to quickly take them off and shoot off to the Pavilion where each Sunday night in the summer there would be a renowned dance band such as Geraldo, Henry Hall, Ambrose, Joe Loss and many others and we’d hope to be let in without paying which sometimes happened – otherwise we’d miss the band’s performance. The Pavilion also housed numerous first class shows during the summer months which attracted so many people.

Above image from 1936 (photo credit: The Marks & Spencer Company Archive)

In Rhyl County School I was struggling to remain in the A stream and in 1939 I left and took up employment as a Boy Messenger in Rhyl Post Office. It guaranteed a life’s employment with a pension at the end of it which was somewhat unusual in those days. I had to ride a heavy red bicycle to deliver telegrams – that was a most important and the quickest source of communication in those days which has totally disappeared due to present technology. That was the year that Marks and Spencer came to Rhyl and improved the town with its big store.  (RHC has Marks&Spencer arriving in Rhyl in 1932 – click here for more information -Ed) Regrettably, like so many previously established shops it no longer resides in Rhyl. My initial wage was eleven shillings a week. (In today’s money that would be about fifty five pence) out of that I had to pay four pence stamp and give my mother ten shillings that left me with eight pence a week pocket money – about three and a half pence in today’s money – yet I was content. We were forbidden to receive tips but strangely we often forgot that regulation when tips were offered!

Post Office employees in those days, having completed forty years service were entitled to retire on pension but many, particularly postmen, remained employed for a further five years in order to eventually increase their pension. They were also in need of continuing their weekly wage during those years. That was a period in my life which carries many memories- especially one. It was my turn for Sunday duty on 3rd September 1939. That duty normally ran from 9.00am until 10.30am. but not on that day. Along with the limited staff on duty I stood in the telegraph room at 11.00am listening nervously, by ‘phone, as Neville Chamberlain broadcast the news that we had declared war on Germany and things changed dramatically. Telegrams came flooding in by telephone and teleprinters were screaming away madly; staff had to be increased to cope with it all and I finished work not at 10.30am as scheduled but 10.00pm and was completely shattered.

post-officeThe Rhyl Post Office was then housed in High Street about two thirds of the way up on the left hand side. Later it was moved to Water Street and I now believe it has been closed down completely. What a shame. As a Boy Messenger I had the most distressing situation anyone could possibly have. In 1940 I had to deliver a telegram which informed the family that their son of 18 or 19 years had been drowned along with almost all the rest of the crew. I did know the person well by sight and that made it even more distressing. From a Boy Messenger I became an S.C.and T (Sorter, Counter Clerk and Telegraphist), which necessitated my working in the telegraph office, on the counter and also in the sorting office, depending on the details of the respective duties.

Times certainly have changed drastically.

In 1944 I was enlisted in the Royal Air Force as a trainee Flight Engineer. However I was never operational, as peace was declared just as I qualified. Having then become redundant I re-mustered in Pay Accounts and spent 1946 in Kenya. It was while I was out in Africa that my father and mother along with my discharged elder brother opened the grocery. shop in Vale Road – on the corner of Millbank Road – which became C.W.Davies and Sons. Having received the news when I was in Nairobi I was naturally interested and eager to see it all but it was not until Christmas Eve 1946 that I achieved that objective, having docked in Southampton in the early hours of that day. I was totally impressed with the findings and when in May 1947 I was discharged from the R.A.F. I had quite an extensive leave which I spent in assisting in the shop despite my lack of knowledge regarding it. Then a mere week before I was due to return to the Post Office, I resigned my pensionable job and joined the family business.

It was truly hard going at times.

Rationing was of course operational at that time and on Monday and Tuesday mornings I would go to certain registered customers’ houses to collect their orders. I would then go back to the shop; see that they were put up and deliver them on a carrier bike the same afternoon regardless of the weather. All without extra charge. In between times I would have to go to wholesalers to obtain goods, serve in the shop, tidy the shelves and do as many routine jobs as was necessary. It was unlike today when customers have to collect their own goods and pay for them at the time. We mainly had to write down their orders put them up and deliver them. Frequently such goods were not paid for at the time and we had to trust our customers that we would get the money the following week. It eventually got to a state that we desperately needed a van but unfortunately due to manufacturers having had to concentrate on wartime requirements and there being a tremendous demand for such vehicles after peace had been declared they were not readily  obtainable and it took us a full twelve months to be able to obtain the necessary van.

As time went on I got married and after eighteen years in the family business when we had three children we had  eleven mouths to feed out of one business. Things were changing drastically. Supermarkets were appearing and our trade was being exploited by them. One had to give serious thought to the future and with three youngsters to consider that was quite a serious concern. After much thought and discussion with my wife I eventually stopped working in the shop and sought other work. Without going into details the first two were not satisfactory so additionally I applied for and became a night switchboard operator in the Telephone Exchange down Wellington Road while still working for my day time occupation.

On duty one night there I was surprised to be notified that there was a personal call for me. On taking it, I found it was from my Superior in my other job who slated me for working there. He told me that my full obligation was to his company and I had no right to be working for anyone else. Fortunately at that time there had been a notice in the Post Office circular stating that anyone who had served three years could apply for a post similar to my former position as S.C. and T. I had been employed at the Exchange for but a few months but claimed that my previous service should count. I applied locally at Rhyl Head Office and was interviewed by a former colleague whom I knew well. He unhesitatingly turned me down on the grounds that the former three years I had stipulated did not count and it meant current three years. I disagreed and stated I would go over his head and approach Cardiff for a decision. Cardiff instantly confirmed that I was eligible and I was offered an appointment in Chester which I accepted.

That was my farewell to Rhyl as a resident and have also left Chester and now live in South Cumbria.

Nevertheless, I have never totally disassociated myself with Rhyl and I doubt if I ever will. I am fortunate in having friends there whom I used to visit periodically despite the fact that so many have unfortunately passed on.

 Rhyl, like so many other places has changed dramatically which is a pity, as it was a great town years ago.

 Unfortunately it nowhere resembles what it was more than seventy years ago. Regardless though I still hold many memories of how it used to be.

 There was the Amphitheatre which housed the Billy Manders show which we always found enjoyable. Behind that building was the entrance to the Pier.

 Will Parkin’s open air theatre was another well established site. I used to stand behind the barrier until a member of the cast came around with a tin expecting money and like many other youngsters we would walk away and return when he had gone. Still the shows were quite entertaining. Years later when I got to know Will Parkin I related to him my sneakiness at watching his show and he was amused.

swimming poolThere were the Pavilion Gardens, the children’s paddling pond, the delightful open air baths, Sussex Street baths, the Queen’s Theatre where I remember seeing Morecambe and Wise way down on the list of artists long before they became famous.

The Queen’s Dance Hall was very popular for many years. On special occasions such as Bank Holidays there could be three dances on the same day i.e. eleven am; three pm. and seven thirty pm. All were extremely enjoyable and well patronised.

There were several well known Banks. On the corner of Bodfor Street and Wellington Road was the Midland Bank which was eventually taken over by H.S.B.C.. Another that was taken over was Martin’s Bank. It was absorbed into Barclays. National Westminister Bank was on the corner of Queen Street and Market Street.

 There were many other renowned shops in Rhyl too. In High Street there was Talbots who sold ladies clothes and materials. Another was Evans Clwydian Cafe. Waterworths, Wellington Road. Wellington Road housed Waterworths. That was a double shop. On the left was an open fronted fish merchants and adjoining it a Greengrocers. That road also contained Garnet Wilson’s gents suits and clothing and Mival’s Florists. Queen Street had Robins Cafe and Maltby’s Butchers.

The number of arcades were somewhat restricted – not like those flooding the Promenade as they are now. The Marine Lake was in full flow and very popular too. There was also the outstanding landmark of the two Water Towers at the top of the hill on Rhuddlan Road. Anyone travelling that way couldn’t possibly miss them.watertowers

People witnessed so many former green fields along the  Grange Road, Dyserth Road and Rhuddlan Road areas which were later transformed into houses, indicating quite clearly how Rhyl has grown.

This contribution is but a small reflection on what Rhyl was like. They were all great days and my memory of them will never fade.

Many thanks from Rhyl History Club for sharing your wonderful memories with us, Fred.


Filed under Memories

Honeymoon in Rhyl

donna-and-allenCanadians Donna and Allen (pictured left) visited Rhyl last week to see where their parents honeymooned 70 years ago.  The lovely photograph below shows newlyweds Kathleen, from Manchester, and Canadian Melvin Lambert on the pier at Rhyl during their honeymoon.  Paratrooper Melvin set up his camera on a post, timed it, and ran back to hold his new wife’s hand! They arrived here on January 31st 1946 and stayed in a “bed and breakfast”.  Donna’s Mum Kathleen, who is now 90, remembers that they only walked a little way onto the pier as it was very rickety and unstable.  Another memory that Kathleen has is of going swimming to an indoor pool “not far from the pier”.  Melvin passed away in 1983 but Kathleen has always kept this favourite photograph close by.

Kathleen and Melvin Lambert on Rhyl Pier 1946

The Lamberts only stayed in Rhyl for a few days as Melvin had to return from leave, and although it was wintertime there was plenty to do in Rhyl whilst they were here.  Films were showing in the Regal, the Odeon, the Plaza and the Queen’s including “A Thousand and One Nights”, “Burma Victory” and “Men in her Diary”.
There was dancing every evening at the Queen’s Ballroom to Tom Arnold and his Orchestra with Al Stevenson – “Britain’s Ace Crooner”.

Melvin and Kathleen probably travelled by train.  In the Rhyl Journal of January 31st 1946 there was an advertisement entitled

If your train is late or crowded

It is probably due to
SHORTAGE OF TRAINED STAFF – nearly 100,000 skilled railwaymen, a sixth of the whole staff, have still to be demobilised.
INFERIOR COAL – like the housewife the railways are obliged to use coal of inferior quality during the national fuel shortage.
SHORTAGE OF CARRIAGES – 3,500 carriages with their 180,00 seats are away every day for repair.
SHORTAGE OF LOCOMOTIVES – over 3,000 locomotives, overworked during six years of war service are awaiting or undergoing repair every day.

GWR     LMS     LNER     SR

Many thanks to Donna and Allen and we send our very best wishes to Kathleen from us all here in Sunny Rhyl.



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Filed under Memories, People

Farewell Old School – Welcome to the New

Pat Brooks has written many popular pieces for this blog.  Her memories of Knowles’s Newsagent, Tobacconist and Confectioner have proved to be one of our most popular posts.  Pat has also written about her memories of the Jazz Club at the Bee Hotel, and also Grange Road.  In this latest post Pat evokes memories of Rhyl Grammar School and Rhyl High School.

“I recently decided to sort out a case of old photos and some things which my mother had kept for many years.  One was a photo taken in Rhyl Grammar School on the grass area beside the School Assembly Hall, dated 1953/54, which was of a French Folk Dance.  The dance was included as part of a day when we had to speak French to the best of our ability, generally use the language and show how much we had learnt from our teacher, who was I believe Mr. Worthy (crouched in the top right corner probably cringing!).

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It evoked so many memories of my time there – not all good, not all bad, just memories which are a big part of my life,  – the things I  learned there and some not so much!  I was never the brightest button in the box.  Its strange how some people seem to have stayed in my memory more than others.
Maybe many other people will remember Mr. Messham, Mr O’Hare. Mrs Tudor Owen, Miss Homer Beckett (my favorite), Miss Watson, Miss Davies, Miss Godfrey, Mr Savage and many others who I can remember but cannot bring their names into my head ( an age thing!)  Also, because I live nearby I am watching those memories come and now go, and have to say that I will miss the school buildings as I have seen it from being Rhyl County School to Rhyl Grammar School to Rhyl High School. I was surprised that I could remember most of the children in the photograph, some  are no longer with us which is very sad.  I  smiled when I saw the various dresses we had on as we appear to have all swapped clothes and the fashion – well it just was not there. Imagine 13/14 year old girls now in clothes like that, I think not!
At the bottom of the case my mother had kept the majority of my old school work books and reports. Oddly enough on the day I found
all these I had been to look around the new Rhyl High School and was in wonderment at all the facilities and the beautiful styling,
outside and in, which are available to today’s pupils.

Rhyl High School

I hope that they will take full advantage of all that is offered there and remember that all these things are part of their future , so treasure them. It seems to be a wondrous place to me – I have such memories of the old Rhyl Grammar School and how I was overawed in the same way when I first went there after Primary School.  Now of course I watch its demise – it has had many changes since both me and my children were there and I seem to have feelings of sadness saying goodbye to a part of my history and hello to the new part in the history of today’s children.

As I write this they are way ahead now in the flattening of the old buildings, it is an enormous job which has to be done.  I
know that things are progressing in Rhyl, which is a good thing.  I hope, like me, that many people will have many happy or maybe not so happy memories of this old school landmark, and how many people it has helped to inform and form them into who they are today.

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So I say a fond goodbye to the old and good luck to the new in the hope that today’s children will go on to bright futures and that Rhyl High School will stay in their memories too.hs 3

Thanks to Rhyl’s School Teachers past and present who are and always have been the true heart of all of our schools. It must be a
wonderful feeling to know you have been a big part of so many children’s lives.”



Filed under Memories

A Sea-Side Frolic.

What we wouldn’t give to have a photograph with which to illustrate this little article.  Having said that, the author, William Davis, gives us such a wonderfully descriptive account that we hardly need one.
The extract is from a book that Wm. Davis wrote in 1852 called “A Guide to Rhyl and the Surrounding Country.  What to do and where to go; with Excursions suitable for the Pedestrian, Equestrian, or Locomotive Tourist”.

A Sea-Side Frolic

“Notwithstanding the excellency of the sands for sea bathing, danger attends foolhardiness.  During the summer of 1849, a somewhat laughable circumstance occurred at Rhyl.  A party of young clergymen arrived one morning to enjoy the benefit of the sea-breeze; after partaking pretty freely of the good things of this life, it was proposed to take a drive on the beach; and mine host was ordered to ballast the carriage with a quantum suff. of brandy, soda water and cigars.  With a full cargo they proceeded on their drive, amusing themselves amazingly on their passage by shooting the promenaders with the corks from the soda-water bottles.  At length it was suggested by one of the party, that a wash in the salt water, as the tide was turning, would be an excellent thing for the feet of the young carriage horses.  No sooner proposed than acceded to, and the coachman was ordered at once to proceed into the ocean.  The order was obeyed, and the horses for a time proceeded very quietly; but, suddenly, the carriage wheels sunk up to the axles, probably borne down by the extraordinary weight of theological knowledge the carriage contained.  All the efforts of coachman and horses to extricate the carriage were without avail; and the latter, possibly not liking their bath, began to plunge fearfully, and at length walked off with the pole of the carriage only.  This was not much annoyance to the black-coated gentlemen, as they thought the tide was turning, and the carriage would soon be left high and dry: consequently, the brandy, soda water, and cigars, were called into requisition, to while away the time.  In the midst of their mirth at the odd circumstance that had happened, they were struck with astonishment by shouts from the shore, and at finding themselves floating in the carriage out to sea.  The tide certainly was turning; but it was, to their no small surprise, returning.  Napoleon’s cry was the immediate order of the moment, each one precipitating himself into the water just in time to be able to walk on shore up to the neck, amid the loud laughter of the spectators onshore.”

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Filed under Church/Chapel/Religion, Memories