From time to time Rhyl History Club receives enquires, often they are to do with family history. However, below are two recent and more unusual enquires, on which you may be able to shed some light. The first is from Mr Paul Bebbington:
“I own an unusual instrument, made in Rhyl. My father was a bit of an antique squirrel, and loved searching through ‘bric-a-brac’ for a bargain. He particularly liked old instruments ( clocks, microscopes, barometers etc). He sadly died in 2003, but one object he bought and passes on to me, was an ‘Ohms-meter’ in a wooden box. It has a bone plate on it, which states the manufacturer was D. T. Jones Ltd., Engineers, of Russell Building in Rhyl. It was made ~ 1900, I believe. Do you know anything about this company?”
Click on photographs to enlarge.
“From an initial search on the Internet, I have found that the instrument was designed by ‘Evershed – Vignoles’ around 1900. There name is mentioned in the lid of the device, where a patent number is quoted . Perhaps D.T Jones were just purchasers of this meter, and put their badge on it for safe keeping?”
Rhyl History Club: A search of the “North Wales Directories” CD has been made and an entry in 1913 reads “Jones, D.T. & Co. Electricians, Russell Buildings, Russell Road. Has anyone got any information which might be of interest to Mr Bebbington?
The second enquiry comes from Mr Mike Ballinger :
“I am doing some research into my local tramway system, that of Walsall in the West Midlands. It was actually one of the first English systems to be operated using the overhead electric wire system commonly used now and one of the persons involved in this project was the general manager, Alfred Dickinson. Following this he became consultant and was involved in many tramways systems throughout the world. Once these had been built he became involved in many hydroelectric systems worldwide.
In 1915 he purchased a bungalow in Rhyl called Salem, where he lived until his death in 1941. The bungalow seems to have fallen into the sea just after.
It seems that he had a daughter who lived in Rhyl. From information taken from your pages, it seems that he also had a granddaughter, Dilys Firth Mellor.
I write to see if you have any information on this gentleman. He seems to be someone missed from history and I am trying to find out as much as possible as I can about him and if there are any descendents alive at all. Noticing your website i thought it might be worth trying to contact you.”
R.H.C: As children when we played in the ruins of the old Salem bungalow on the beach, it seemed impossible to believe that someone had ever lived there as the sea covered it at high tide. The following extract is from a website called www.golfatlas.com and the quote is from a Mark Rowlinson:
“Then came the Second World War and with it further loss of land. First the sea eroded parts of the coastline and in the process destroyed Salem Bungalow through the grounds of which golfers had passed to get from one part of the course to the next. The sea had moved inland some 550 yards between 1911 and the end of the war so a new sea defence system with promenade was built ensuring survival of the golf course but eating into it a little more. As if that were not enough, blown sand obliterated several holes at the Prestatyn end. When thought was given to restoring the golf course in peacetime there was no longer sufficient ground to accommodate a full 18 holes.” The Rhyl Journal, January 1941 gives a report of Alfred Dickinson’s death:
Prominent Engineer’s Death
Mr Alfred Dickinson, Salem Bungalow.
The death occurred on Tuesday of Mr Alfred Dickinson J.P. M. Inst. C.E., M.I.M.E. etc., Salem Bungalow, Coast Road, Rhyl, a former well known engineer whose work took him all over the globe. Mr Dickinson, who was eighty five years of age, was a native of New England, near Peterborough, but at the age of eight was taken by his family to America where they trekked across the country in a “Prairie Schooner” for four months to reach their destination “The Golden West”. The journey was undertaken at the close of the war between the North and the South States and proved to be most hazardous and crammed full of adventure. Mr Dickinson’s parents returned sometime afterwards however, owing to the mother’s illness. Mr Dickinson was apprenticed to the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, being in the Engineers’ Office in London Road, Manchester. In 1892 he started in business on his own account as Consultant Engineer with offices in Central House, New Street, Birmingham and at Gresham house, Old Broad Street, London. His work carried him to almost every country in the world and he was responsible for the building and equipping of tramways at Barcelona, Madrid, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Singapore and Dublin, among other projects. He made numerous voyages and among countries he visited were Japan, China, India, South Africa and America. He had many patents registered in connection with various electrical undertakings and formed a company under the title “Dickinson Patents Ltd”. At one time the general manager of the South Staffordshire Tramways, he was also engaged at one period as consulting engineer to the Birmingham Corporation Tramways. He was a prominent Freemason and was a Justice of the Peace for Staffordshire. The following is culled from “Notable Londoners”: Mr Dickinson was the first engineer to consrtuct overhead electric tramways in Great Britain. He claimed the distinction of having acted – among the many important works he had undertaken – as sole engineer to the Tatan Hydro-electric Undertaking in India, the largest enterprise of its kind ever carried out by an English engineer. Mr Dickinson was consulting engineer to the Tasmanian Government Hydro-electric Schemes and was well known as a Parliamentary and expert witness in matters appertaining to electrical undertakings. The funeral takes place on Saturday at Handsworth Old Church, Birmingham. Interment to be made in that city”. However, in the Rhyl Journal the following week appeared: “Interment – Mr A. Dickinson, Rhyl. The funeral of Mr Alfred Dickinson, Salem Bungalow, Rhyl (whose death was reported in last week’s issue) took place on Saturday. Owing to unfortunate circumstances the burial could not take place at Handsworth Old Church Cemetery, Birmingham, as previously arranged, interment being made in the Rhyl Town Cemetery. A service was conducted at Salem Bungalow by Canon R.H. Roberts, M.A. Vicar and at St. Thomas’s Church and at the graveside”. A trip to the beach today left some confusion, it looked a lot less like a bungalow than when we played there, ahem, fifty years ago. The remains seem to be in two distinct parts, were there two properties there? Outbuildings? or has the tide just spread it all out? All comments that might be of help or interest to Mr Bebbington and/or Mr Ballinger most welcome.