Category Archives: Sport

A Christmas Day Hockey Match at Rhyl

BFI Player introduces this wonderful film of a hockey match played on Christmas Day at Rhyl  in 1920 with: “Happy Festive Hockey” and the players do seem to be having lots of fun.

Click on the link to watch the film: “Christmas Sports at Rhyl, 1920

The site goes on to explain:

“The weather seems good, with no-one shivering in their kit – though the women do wear hats. There is no Christmassy setting of snow or any other seasonal prop in evidence at this hockey match for ‘mixed ladies and gentlemen’, where banter and banjo-mimicking seems to engage both sides’ participants as much as bully-off and dab-hand dribbling. Meeting, not beating, seems to be the point here.
This match took place on the site of the former Claremont Hydro hotel, along Brighton Road, Rhyl – a hydropathic hotel which had an indoor baths for relaxation and health treatment. The Claremont Hydro later became a men’s convalescent/retirement home called Y Gorlan, and the building was demolished in the early 1980s.”

The local paper reported that a hockey match was played on Grange Road between Rhyl Mixed (five ladies and six men) and Grosvenor Ladies (assisted by four men) on Christmas Day, the score was 1-1.  Presumably this is the same match – take a look at the film, the Claremont Hydro (Y Gorlan) can be clearly seen and is that St. Winifred’s with the tower?  Is that the railway running between the pitch and the Claremont? So is this Grange Road, where Elwy Drive is today?

When did hockey begin in Rhyl?  This quote is from Hockey Wales : “The modern forms of Hockey that we know and love today really only began to grow from the English public school system of the 19th Century. The first recognised Hockey Club began in 1849 in London and it was only a matter of time until Wales became involved, with hockey introduced around the 1890s.”
Indeed, the first mention of hockey in Rhyl appears to be in The Rhyl Record and Advertiser on November 1st 1890:


“The practises of the Rhyl Hockey Club have so far been very encouraging, and it is hoped ere long to arrange a match with a Liverpool team. It is a game full of interest, and anyone can soon learn it which is certainly an advantage. I hope the tradesmen will support it, for I believe it has been formed principally to afford them recreation, and the half holiday can be pleasantly spent at the game.  I invite those gentlemen interested in the game of Hockey to send in a few notes on the game each week, but they must be strictly local.”

How nice to have local sporting fixtures arranged on Christmas Day.  A time when such simple things  didn’t have to compete with everything that is on offer today.

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Sussex Street Baths

The baths in Sussex Street opened in 1905, they were situated where the old market used to be – where Peacock’s is today.  They closed in 1939 in order for the building to be used as a supply depot during WW2.  We don’t think it opened again after the war but if you know differently please comment below.
The wonderful Rhyl Outdoors Baths  opened in 1930 but of course these were closed in the Winter.

The Sussex Street Baths were the enterprise of a gentleman from Walsall – Mr Huxley.  Whilst the building itself was not exceptional, there was praise for the facilities within.  The swimming bath was described in the Rhyl Journal as being “of full racing size”.  It was 75′ long and 30′ wide (23mx9m).  The depth was 6’6″ (2m)at the plunge end and 3’3″ (1m) at the other.  It was fitted up with apparatus for polo, chute, trapeze, diving stage and climbing ropes for developing the muscles.

A balcony for spectators ran all the way around. The pool was constantly supplied with water direct from the sea, “powerful machinery being employed for that purpose”.  The water was heated and kept at around 75° F (24°C) by a huge boiler.  The Journal reported that there were also private baths including “electric baths, vapour baths, Russian Baths and ordinary hot and cold sea baths”.  There was also full hydropathic treatment available.

A Rhyl resident who used to attend the baths in the 1930’s shares his memories: “We had great fun there as children.  The water was always warm so even in the Summer, if the weather was unseasonably chilly, we preferred it to braving the cool temperature of the outdoor baths.  I can remember going regularly – the price was not prohibitive, we didn’t have to save or take bottles back to the shop to afford the admission.  Men and boys used the cubicles on the poolside and ladies used the ones on the balcony.  We could use the hanging ropes to swing across the pool and then drop into the water.  A few of the more adventurous types would grab a rope from the balcony and drop in from a height, although this was strictly against the rules!  From the balcony we could also reach a door that led into the rear of the café.  We could knock on the door to buy buttered crusts for a halfpenny or a penny, I can’t quite remember.  Jam would be a halfpenny or a penny more.”

The formal opening of the baths took place on Friday, June 16th 1905, and the great and the good of Rhyl were in attendance.  Mr J.W. Jones, Chairman of the Council opened the door with a silver key and then addressed the assembled guests from the balcony overlooking the baths.  In concluding his address he wished the undertaking every success and added “as a result of the facilities there afforded they would have in Rhyl a community not only of proficient swimmers, but of youth and manhood made physically and morally strong”.
The High Sheriff of Flintshire then spoke, followed by Dr. A. Eyton Lloyd (Medical Officer of Health) who extolled the virtues of swimming for health and fitness.  It would be nearly 50 years before Sir Richard Doll discovered the link between smoking and lung cancer, but Dr. Eyton Lloyd said those who smoked “were diminishing their physical reserve” and appealed to young people to “do themselves justice and smoke less and swim more”.


After the speeches refreshments were handed around, there was music from Herr Groop’s band and an exhibition of fancy swimming given by Miss Pauline Brown of Birmingham, which concluded with the “Monte Cristo Sack Trick”.  This looks very scary, to view click here





Filed under Buildings/Location, Sport, Tourism

The lights go on at Belle Vue

click on image to enlarge

9,000 spectators poured into Belle Vue for its first floodlit match on the very chilly evening of Monday, October 31st, 1955.

The crowd was entertained prior to the 6pm kick off by Rhyl Silver Band, conducted by Reg Little, and accompanied community singing.

The floodlighting of Belle Vue was the brainchild of a former manager of Rhyl F.C., Mr Ernie Jones, and Chairman of the Club Mr Arthur Barritt.  The cost was a very reasonable £500, the amount having been kept down by the contribution of much voluntary work.  In the souvenir programme Ernie Jones offered thanks to the following :  Mr Roy Stubbs, Mr George Ricketts, Mr Spencer Evans, Mr George Jones, Mr Tom Roberts, Mr Eric Davies, Mr Brian Baxter, Mr Gwynne Jones and Mr Dewi Wynne.  Mr Jones added “without their advice and assistance the scheme would never have come into being”.

This blog has previously looked into floodlighting at Rhyl football matches, “Football by the Electric Light” to read again, click here

click on image to enlarge

It was quite a line up for this inaugural floodlit match.  The game was between Rhyl and Bolton Wanderers. Among the Bolton players were the England internationals Nat Lofthouse and Malcolm Barrass.  Rhyl’s eleven included guest players Jack Kelsey (Wales and Arsenal), Ray Lambert (Wales and Liverpool), John Charles (Wales and Leeds Utd.), Trevor Ford (Wales and Cardiff City) and Billy Liddell (Scotland and Liverpool).  The programme indicated that Tom Finney (England and Preston N.E.) and Billy Wright (England and Wolves) would also appear for Rhyl.  Unfortunately this was not be, as they were both in the England team due to play Ireland at Wembley two days later.  However, this gave Mr Brian Gough Roberts and Ireland international Billy Hughes the opportunity to play.

click on image to enlarge


The Rhyl Journal reported the match with the headlines “The lights go up on ‘Wembley of the Coast'”, “Full house for first floodlit match at Belle Vue” and “Bolton and guest internationals provide soccer feast”.  The score was not actually recorded in the report, as such, but this non footballing blogger thinks it ended 3-1 to Bolton.  Lofthouse scored two and Barrass scored a penalty in the first half, in the second half John Charles replied for Rhyl scoring “a beautiful goal”.

The Bolton team and several of the visiting players were guests of Rhyl F.C. at the Marine Hydro on Monday night.

Many thanks to Jane Barrett for sending us the souvenir programme, which belonged to her late great uncle Mr George Jones of Meliden.

click on image to enlarge

click on image to enlarge





Filed under 1950's, Sport

Anyone for tennis?

Wimbledon starts on Monday, so to get you in the mood how about updating your tennis gear?  Head for W.S. Williams, Central Buildings, Market Street for the latest in fine twill flannel tennis frocks.

Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world dating back to 1877.

Click on the image to enlarge and to enable you to select the correct dress.

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From Paris to Rhyl.

Try to imagine the surprise of local people when, on a summer’s morning in July 1914, a hot air balloon descended from the sky and landed near Foryd Station, Rhyl.  The balloon, “Belgica”, had been taking part in the 10th annual contest of L’ Aero-Club de France and had two Belgians on board.
The Belgians made a very good landing in a field near Gaini (sic.) Farm  (? Gainc Farm), Foryd Station. The Rhyl Police arrived on the scene to ascertain whether the visitors were foreign spies.  The two Belgians gave their names as Albert Vleminekx and Ernest A. Demuyter.

An example of a balloon pilot’s licence issued by L’ Aero Club de France.

M. Demuyter could speak English fairly well, and explained that he and his companion were two of twenty four competitors taking part in the longest distance balloon race from Paris.  They had been in the air for over 12 hours.  On reaching the Welsh Coast they found that all their ballast was gone and it was impossible to continue their journey to Ireland.

The chances of their balloon landing near someone who could speak French were highly unlikely, but that is exactly what happened. The balloon landed near Miller’s Cottage, Towyn, the home of Louis Henri Junod, a Swiss who was a teacher of French and German.  M. Junod invited the Belgians in for breakfast and conversed with them in French.  The men then hired a trap, were conveyed to Abergele where they caught the fast train to London for the first stage of their homeward journey.

Other newspapers reported that a violent storm had occurred not long after the competitors had left Paris and that 11 of the balloons had landed in various parts of England and Wales.

Pilot Ernest A. Demuyter was 21 when he landed near Rhyl.  Born in Brussels in 1893 he was a prolific sports balloonist.  In WW2 he joined the anti-nazi underground fighters, was captured by the Germans and sentenced to death.  He escaped from prison.  He died in Brussels in 1963.




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Rhyl County School Cricket XI, 1941.


Mr. Grattan Endicott OBE has been in touch with us and has kindly shared this wonderful photograph of the Rhyl County School Cricket XI, 1941.  With helpful foresight the names were written on the back of the photograph – so many such photos don’t, and the information is lost forever.

L-R, top row:
H.E. Evans, Tom Ellis, H.L. Looker, Mark Sorsky

L-R, bottom row:
R.A. Pettigrew, M.Hardman, G.Rynn, Glyn Jones (Captain), G.Endicott, T.K.Walker, Sid Lall.

Mr. Endicott writes:

“Gordon Rynn was killed as an RAF pilot in the Far East during the Second World War, as also was a boy named Flynn.  Glyn Jones was the son of Mr. Clwyd Jones, the senior geography teacher.  Mark Sorsky and Richard Pettigrew were pupils who had been transferred from Liverpool and (Pettigrew) from further north in Lancashire by their parents to escape the bombs.”

Mr. Endicott’s son has also featured in these pages in a piece about the Rhyl Grammar School Magazine, 1963 – “Tarian”


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