Category Archives: Our top 5 most popular posts

Golden Sands

Golden Sands are celebrating their 80th Anniversary this year.  They describe themselves as “Right on the Beach at Kinmel Bay, Rhyl in sunny North Wales.”   The following excerpts are from their 75th Anniversary brochure:

In the beginning 1933 to the 1940’s

“In 1933 the founder of the business, Arthur Jones, purchased the land upon which Golden Sands now stands.  Soon bell frame tents, timber chalets and a large hall (the Pavilion) were erected.  After long and difficult negotiations with the authorities, services such as sewers and gas were installed.  A less determined man would have probably given up, but having spent his early life at sea, fought in the war with the Royal Naval Air Service, and then ran his own timber and building business, Arthur was not a man to give up easily and he persevered despite warnings from his accountant and wife!  That he persued his dream in the era of the Great Depression with more than 3 million unemployed is even more remarkable”

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In 1946..

“Golden Sands was flooded to a depth of several feet, but with his knowledge of the sea and the weather, Arthur had anticipated such a disaster and built accordingly.  In addition he built stone groynes and sea defences the expenditure consuming almost every penny the camp made.  Eventually in the 1950’s the sea wall was built.  during the decades and even during the Towyn floods of 1989, Golden Sands suffered very little losses when land and camps around the area were flooded for several miles.  This is a supreme testimony and tacit reminder that everyone connected with Golden Sands has cause to be grateful to his memory”

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1950’s to 1960’s

“After the war, a new era of camping began.  A new type of accommodation: the caravan became established in the early 50’s with such household names as Willerby and Bluebird leading the way in manufacturing 20′ long models.  However luxurie such as running water and electricity were still a long way off”

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1970’s to 1980’s

With customer demanding higher standards and foreign holidays taking a strong foothold, competition abroad and at home was intense.  To compete, the old “Hi De Hi” image was no longer good enough and a huge programme of redevelopment of the camp was undertaken with the installation of all “mod-cons” – individual services to every caravan and concrete bases.  In addition caravans were growing in size and were now up to 28′ long by 10′ wide costing some £700 and had even built-in showers!  In 1967 the Sandpiper Club opened for the over 18’s only and was the first licenced premises on Golden Sands.  Arthur Jones had been strictly against alcohol but the business had to move with the times”

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1980’s – 2008

“The 80’s saw a very busy time with the continued development of the park to meet customer demands and the increased size of caravans.  Elsewhere on the park, the chalets were upgraded, the Co-op camp next door was purchases and redeveloped, the Pavilion became licenced and in 1983 we achieved a milestone of 50 years.  In 1996 we installed the indoor pool and in 2005 we finally said goodbye to the wooden chalets which had served us well.”

Golden Sands is still run by the third generation of the same family.  The brochure goes on to say “That we have achieved this further wonderful milestone is also a fitting testimony to Arthur Jones, a remarkable man who had the vision and the determination to start Golden Sands in 1933.”

click on images to enlarge

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Filed under Our top 5 most popular posts, Tourism, Work/Business

The Submerged Forest.

As children we were often told about the remains of a prehistoric forest under the sands at Rhyl.  The tree stumps can sometimes be seen today, depending upon the tides.  These are recent photographs taken near Splash Point.  The tree stumps are rooted in peat levels lying below the marine sand and have been preserved by continuous waterlogged conditions. 

Prehistoric man was also here.  This extract is from “Maritime History of Rhyl and Rhuddlan” by D.W. Harris (1991):

Confirmation of the existence of prehistoric man in this area was made by an exciting discovery on 28th March, 1926 of a Stone Age axe.  The finder was Mr. T. A. Glenn of Abergele and he came across the axe on the sea shore near a tree stump of the ancient forest bed, a short distance east of Splash Point.  The axe was of Graig Lwyd rock from Penmaenmawr measuring 8.5ins long and 3.125ins wide. 

This axe, together with a second axe which Mr Glenn found three weeks later, is now at the National Museum of Wales.  The second axe was found landward of a strip of blue estuary clay, below high water mark, near Splash Point.  It was slightly smaller than the first one and was again made from Graig Lwyd rock.

In 1893, hundreds of people visited the beach to witness the remains of the submerged forest after it had been revealed by the tide.  This account is from the North Wales Chronicle, February 11th, 1893:

The action of the tide at Rhyl within the last few days has disclosed the singular sight of an ancient forest, which, for a period of eighty years has been completely covered by the sea.  The scoured portion of the beach where the remarkable sight is presented is situated opposite the Marine Drive, about a mile east of the pier.  The town surveyor Mr. R. Hughes has made an accurate plan of the place, which shows about thirty trees rooted as they grew, whilst there are a number of horizontal trunks which appear to rest as they fell.  Several of the trees have been proved to be of oak and elm, and the remainder appeared to be birch, alder and hazel.  The stumps vary in diameter from 12 to 24 inches, and are situated about 100 yards from the edge of the sandhills and are covered during high spring tides by about 10 feet of water.  The scoured portion in the sands, which exposes these old roots, extends for about 550 yards in length and varies in width from 7 to 35 yards.  Folk lore asserts that this is part of an old forest, the portion in question being known as “Coed Mawr y Rhyl”.

This is what William Ashton wrote in “The evolution of a coastline, Barrow to Aberystwyth” (1920):

The submarine forest comes well into view on the shore at the east end of the Rhyl promenade.  In August 1918 the writer counted 100 stumps rooted in clay.  In October 1912 Mr Glenn counted 200 between Rhyl pier and about half way from the east end of Rhyl to the centre of Prestatyn.  The belt exposed was 60-70 yards wide.  This belt was also exposed in February 1893 and consists of birch and Scotch fir chiefly, and oak, hazel, elm and alder.

postscript

Mr Paul Brooks has sent an interesting account of finding an antler on the beach (see comments).  Photograph below:

see also http://historypoints.org/index.php?page=remnants-of-prehistoric-forest-rhyl

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Knowles’s Newsagent, Tobacconist and Confectioner. Est. 1919

Pat Brooks, who has previously written about the Jazz Club, has kindly contributed this article celebrating Knowles’s Shop in Bodfor Street, which was established in 1919, almost 100 years ago!

“Amongst all the changes and decline of  Rhyl town centre one shop has stood tall and unblemished.  It is a credit to the owner who has carried on undaunted and has kept things going as they have been for many years, determined not to be beaten by the pressures which have hit so many in the town, and  by staying true to its history and sticking to what it does best by simply being  Knowles’ Newsagent, Tobacconist and Confectioner in Bodfor Street.

Calling into the shop recently it was like going back in time for it was if time had stood still.  The windows were dressed as they had always been and I think there was a new canopy outside but no papers on stands outside now.

I worked there during 1955/56 during evenings, weekends and holidays just before leaving Rhyl Grammar School . When I was there the layout of the shop was exactly the same and I felt that I could have just walked behind the counter and carry on working just as I had done all those years ago without having to look around for things.

Just entering the shop through the double doors there were papers clipped onto hanging racks and outside under each window were benches also with papers and journals held on with springs and people would pick one up and come into the shop to pay for it. No CCTV then!  There were also postcards and novelty items on stands just inside the entrance.  The canopy was always at the ready for sunny days or rainy days and had a life of its own when trying to close it up. In fact I never had the strength, or know how, to work it.

On the left as you went in was the counter for purchasing papers, tobacco, cigarettes, lighters and pipes.  The smell of the many different tobaccos which were sold out of jars and tins when pipe smoking gentlemen would call in for their particular brand and it was weighed accurately on little scales. The smell would permeate around the shop and each brand had a distinctive aroma – some sweeter than others.  The counter would be covered with an assortment of daily papers and the shelves behind were stacked high with every manner of cigarette in the most colourful array – not  considered then to be a bad thing but obviously all changed now!  There were the popular ones (my Dad called them working men’s cigarettes, but I believe there were a few daring youngsters too) and then the slightly dearer ones and also ones which were considered to be ladies’ cigarettes with all manner of fancy names. There was a drawer in which  to put the money paid for any items, but not a till, and I remember having to add things up in my head as I went along – not done so much now I would think?

Straight ahead there was a counter, behind which were shelves with displays of pipes and lighters.  Further along, huge boxes of chocolates with beautiful pictures and bows on many and were obviously bought as presents for the lucky romantics of the time.  Then moving along that counter were trays of Anglesey fudge, we put gloves on to cut it up and placed it into little cardboard boxes. They were all different flavours which  melted in your mouth. I think I did sneak a taste from time to time.  There were also containers of chocolate brazils and almonds,  Suchard and Lindt chocolates were also sold – new to me then and  too expensive!  On the corner of this counter, and the next one which took you back to the entrance of the shop, there was a set of white weighing scales with a silver dish to weigh loose sweets which were shelved behind the counter right up to the ceiling.  To reach these was a small wooden step ladder.  I loved weighing a quarter of this, or 2 ounces of that.  Small paper bags were used to tip the sweets into and much care taken not to spill any.  There were row upon row of all manner of sweets and chocolate covered nuts, raisins and toffees and however you tried to put the most popular ones at a lower level you could always bet someone would come in who wanted ones from the top shelf.   An art in itself to balance a heavy jar in one hand whilst holding onto the ladder with the other and descending safely.

Regulars were always ready for a friendly chat and would be off to work, or off to the pictures, or just coming in for a browse and a little company. Val, who is still running the shop, worked tirelessly then, together with her father and mother, and still runs it to-day. I would not presume to give her age away!
I am sure that many staff have stood behind these counters over the years and may have different memories to me. I do remember Emily, who is a local lady that I still see about town, who worked there on a regular basis and was extremely efficient and helped us part timers to do things in a correct way.

Bodfor Street had so many locally owned shops then and it had a real community spirit about it.  I hope other people will write about their memories of other shops and places which were once along there and unfortunately are no longer still going.  My personal remembrances were of Hadley’s, Kerfoot Hughes’s, Staffordshire Building Society, a Café which I believe was Cryers, the Labour Club, the Grosvenor Motor Car Showrooms, and many more which I cannot bring to mind at this moment but hopefully others will be able to remember them and fill in a few other places.

Knowles’s shop keeps me in touch with a happy time in my life and brings back memories of friends and parents and a time when people went into Rhyl town to shop and to have a chat with friendly, helpful shopkeepers and their staff.  A time when anything could be bought because there were shoe shops, clothes shops, grocery shops, butchers, bakers, greengrocers, cake shops, flower shops, furniture shops, cafes and coffee shops as well as Woolworths, Boots and M&S and just about everything we needed could be bought in Rhyl town centre without having to travel outside the town.  Buses were central to the town and the pubs and clubs were thriving.  Young mums would go into town to shop and meet up in the café with their babies and, heavens above, they were able to leave the prams just outside the windows or just inside the shops and cafes without fear of harm.  These were not push chairs but big bouncy prams with children on show for all to admire. But I digress.

I think that Val and her family have done Rhyl proud and she is still flying the flag of yesterday, today.
Please don’t change things Val.  The shop is a little oasis in the ever changing centre of Rhyl.”

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Filed under Community, Memories, Our top 5 most popular posts, Work/Business

Recent history – the changing face of Rhyl

These are the most recent photographs added to the site, dating from the late 70’s/early 80’s

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Filed under Buildings/Location, Our top 5 most popular posts

Rhyl in the 60’s

Four photographs showing life in Rhyl in the 60’s.  Please leave a comment if you shopped for your veg. in Waterworth’s, bought your vests in Hubbard’s, hung out at the Tudor or were at the cutting edge and shopped at the Tesco supermarket

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Filed under 1960's, Community, Memories, Our top 5 most popular posts, People