Category Archives: Work/Business

Flights from the beach

It’s that time of year again – the very popular Rhyl Air Show is now in its eighth year and is taking place this weekend, August 27th and 28th.

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It has brought to mind a favourite photograph from our archive of an aeroplane at Kinmel Bay.  (pictured right).  In the mid 1930’s Kinmel Bay Air Services sold flights from the beach.  A local man who remembers the flights says they cost “about 2 bob or half a crown” (approx. £8 in today’s money).


The following information is taken from a book called “A Flying Life: An Enthusiasts’s Photographic Record of British Aviation in the 1930’s”


photo credit: with kind permission of Fonthill Media Limited.

The AVRO 504K (left) began life as E9353 with the RAF, and received its first C of A (Certificate of Airworthiness) and registration G-ABWK in June 1932. It was operated for a while by the Essex flying Club at Abridge before it passed to Kinmel Bay Air Services.  For a while it flew holiday makers from the beach at Rhyl.  The picture shows it returning from such a flight on September 1st, 1934.  In 1935 it was sold abroad.


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photo credit: with kind permission of Fonthill Media Limited

The AVRO 504K G-EBYW, right, is pictured on the same day in Rhyl/Kinmel Bay.  It was initially registered to Surrey Flying Service in September 1928 and based at Croydon.  After service with Kinmel Bay Air Services the aircraft passed to local man Edward Clerk in 1934, but was not flown after its C of A expired in June of the following year.


If anyone has any information about “Kinmel Bay Air Services” or any memories of flights from the beach, we’d love to hear from you.




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Time, gentlemen please.

There was no shortage of pubs, taverns, inns, wine merchants, beer retailers, etc in 1883, when Rhyl had a population of approximately 7,000 people.
Rhyl’s population is now around 25,000 but it is doubtful that there is as many pubs today, perhaps you can count up?

According to the British Pub Association, up to 29 British pubs are closing every week.  Closures are blamed on factors such as the high taxes on beer, competition from supermarkets and changing demographics.


An advertisement for The Dudley Arms in 1883. It is now the popular “Cob and Pen”

Slater’s Directory of 1883 lists under Inns and Hotels:

The Alexandra, The Bee, The Belvoir and Pier, The Dinorben Arms, The Dudley, The George, The Mona, The Mostyn Arms, The Queen’s, The Royal, The Westminster and The Wynnstay.

Taverns and Public Houses:

The Albert, The Albion, The Birmingham Arms, The Britannia, The Castle, The Crescent, The Ferry House, The Liverpool Arms, The Lorne, The Manchester Arms, The New Inn, The North Wales, The Northampton, The Snowdon, The Station, The Sun, The Swan, The Victoria, The White Lion, The Windsor.

Retailers of Beer:

Elizabeth Davies, Vale Road.  Peter Edwards, Abbey Street.  Joseph Jones, Vale Road.  Richard Owens, Wellington Road.  Hammond Roberts, Bedford Street.  George White, Wellington Road.  Mary Williams, Mill Bank.

Wine and Spirit Merchants:

John H. Ellis, Water Street.  Foulkes and Co., High Street.  William Hackforth, High Street.  William Jones, Sussex Street. Spinks and Sons, High Street.  Harry A. Steer, High Street.


An advertisement for “The Old George” in 1883. Note the slight difference in name from “The George” we know today.




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It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

The Christmas lights are up and it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…


but before the tradition of lights, how was the town decorated for Christmas?  The shops took great pride in the displays in their shops and shop windows, as was reported in The Rhyl Advertiser of December 1881.

“The Christmas Show” was the headline of the article which went on to describe in great detail how almost all of the shops and businesses decorated their premises for Christmas.  The Butchers’ shops were the main event, and just like today when increasingly we like to know that our meat has been responsibly sourced, so it was in 1881 when the farmer concerned was always mentioned.  The reporter for the Advertiser went walkabout in Rhyl for his article and here are some of his descriptions, starting at the Market Hall:

“Entering from Queen Street we first came to Esther Roberts’ stall, on which we saw two bullocks, capitally fed by J.R. Heaton Esq., Plas Heaton, three prime porkers fed by Major C. S. Mainwaring, Galltfaenan, 14 fine Welsh wethers, and six Shropshire do., fed by Messrs. H. and R. Roberts, Trefnant.
Susannah Williams showed a prime ox, fed by J. G. Gratton, Esq., Voryd Fawr; and another fed by Mr. Joseph Lloyd, St. Asaph, Shropshire down and Welsh wethers from Voryd Fawr, and Welsh wethers also from Mr. Davies, Bryncwnin, and Mrs. Hughes, Marsh Inn, Rhuddlan, a prime porker from Plas Llewelyn, and another fed by Mrs. Williams herself.
Thomas Jones (Bryngwyn Farm) had a good supply of beef, mutton, &c., including a good ox, fed by Mr. Thomas Gee, Eglwys Wen, Denbigh, also one fed by Mr. Wynne, Bachymbyd; a quantity of Welsh wethers, lambs, and porkers, all fed by Mr. Jones himself, together with a sucking pig, fed at Tan y Bryn Farm.”
The fare at the very many other butcher’s shops in town were similarly described. Edward Owens’ shop in Water Street also had “a young fawn fed on the deer park of the Right Hon. Lord Mostyn.”

The poultry dealers, fishmongers and greengrocers were all well stocked with geese, turkeys, ducks, chickens, partridges, hares and rabbits.  At Eliza Jones, fishmonger in the Market Hall, there was cod, brill, turbot, soles, oysters, plaice, haddock (fresh and cured), whitings, lemon soles etc.  “James Clift had a tastefully decorated stall, on which were laid a magnificent stock of fruit and vegetables, the grapes especially appearing very fine.”

Under the heading “Grocers, Italian Warehousemen and Confectioners”, Littler and Williams’ shop in Queen Street was described as being very tastefully dressed, “one window being devoted to all kinds of preserved and candied fruits and groceries” and  “the great attraction at this establishment was ‘y dorth fawr’ (the big loaf).”
Mrs Williams, Bodfor Street, displayed seed cakes, brides and other cakes which were presented in “a very striking style, the whole making a very nice little show”.

The many drapers in town were reported on – “taken altogether we think that the drapers of the town have kept up, if not surpassed, their former reputation by their very attractive decorations this week.”

“Stationers and Fancy Dealers” also put on fine displays. “D. Trehearn, Stationers’ Hall in Wellington Road, was the centre of attraction for Xmas cards, albums, and other things in the fancy and general stationery business, and the place was rendered doubly pleasing by the very good taste displayed in showing the goods off to the best advantage.”

This is quite a romantic look at Christmases past – for a more down to earth report, which reminds us to consider the needs of those less fortunate at Christmastime click here.





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Taking a trip to Llanfairtalhaiarn…

This favourite photograph shows a group aboard the Heathcote’s coach, “Defiance”.  They look ready for the off!  Destinations are inscribed on the coach – the two we can see are Llanfairtalhaiarn and Bryn y Pin Pass, but we’re not sure where this particular group were going.

The date of the photo is also unknown although we know it was before 1909 because it was in that year that bankruptcy proceedings were filed against coach and carriage proprietors Messrs. John and Francis Heathcote.

click on the photograph to enlarge

In 1909 the local press reported on the auction of coaches, char-a-bancs and vehicles of all descriptions, harness, saddlery and clothing used in conjunction with the business carried out by J. and F. Heathcote for many years at Victoria Mews, Rhyl.  (Does anyone know where Victoria Mews were?)  Among the prices realised were: “Enterprise Coach” £94-10s., “Defiance Coach” (pictured above) 52 guineas, “Tally Ho” Coach 56 guineas, “Tourist Coach” 42 guineas, and the Station Bus £81-18s.

34 horses realised the sum of £1,095-13s-6d.

The auction was described thus:

“the large gathering entering into the spirit of the fray with such zest which recalled the good old times previous to the advent of the now popular motor car.”

The trip to Llanfairtalhaiarn from Rhyl is wonderfully described by a correspondent to the Rhyl Journal on June 11th 1898 (although the correspondent travelled on a coach owned by Mr Peter Edge).  No apologies are made for reproducing this wonderful, evocative article in its entirety…

“I wonder if a tenth of those who visit Rhyl year after year have any idea of the really magnificent drives there are within a short radius of the town or, indeed, if the great bulk of the residents have.
For many years char-a-banc and brake journeys were confined to the regular runs to the Marble Church, St Asaph, Cefn Caves, Dyserth Waterfalls, and so on and beautiful drives they are. But a few seasons ago carriage proprietors seemed to have been seized by greater enterprise. Coaches were added to the stage conveyances previously in use, and the scope of operation considerably widened.
This week I was enabled to enjoy one of these extended tours on a coach. I selected the coach of Mr Peter Edge, the one with piebald leaders (and a rattling team it is), and our destination was Llanfairtalhaiarn-that lovely spot in the Vale of Elwy. To adequately describe the charms of the country through which we passed is beyond me. We had a glorious day, and a prompt start was made. Voryd (sic) bridge was soon cleared, and to our left a fine vista of the Vale of Clwyd presented itself, embracing views of Rhuddlan Castle, St Asaph Cathedral, the Marble Church, Kinmel Park and Mansion, and almost in front we could see the castellated residence of the Countess of Dundonald nestling in the woody slopes of the Gwrych domains.
After a short breathing time and a drink (for the horses, of course) at Abergele, we were off again, up the hills this time. Higher and higher we got at a fair pace through pastoral scenes of absolute sublimity. Tyddyn Isaf loomed on our left, and to the right stretched a landscape of surpassing loveliness. About three miles out of Abergele the highest point in the climb is reached, and then we go downhill for about a mile and a half to Llanfair, the valley of Elwy spreading out in charming panorama in front, and the bubbling stream from which the vale takes its name wandering along its winding course through luxuriant meadows. What a glorious prospect, what diversity of scenery laid before us. Well, it must be seen to be appreciated.
It is needless to say that all the party enjoyed the tea served out at the Black Lion Hotel, that little hostelry so beloved of anglers, those selfish beings who would if they could keep out all intruders (as they are pleased to call all who are votaries of the gentle art). Of course there are other places of entertainment for man and beast in the place, (there is the Swan for instance), so no visitor need fear being “crowded out,” as I am afraid this scribble will be unless it is cut short right here.
I will only add that the drive home was quite as enjoyable as the outward journey, and all were landed in Rhyl just in time to put in the rest of the evening in the company of Mr Tom Wood and his Merrie Men.”

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The Stamp Factory

This handsome building on Marsh Road, which is now occupied by Morfa Clwyd Business Centre and The Register Office, was designed by architect William John Bowen for Mr Thomas Cliffe (“the stamp man”).

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Mr Cliffe started his business in 1920 and by the 1930’s his name was associated with Colwyn Bay by up to 5 million stamp collectors across Britain.  From his office on Princes Drive, Colwyn Bay, stamps were packed and sold through many and various outlets including Woolworths.  The stamp packets were also placed in some cigarette packets.  With business thriving, he had about fifty employees, Cliffe asked Mr Bowen to design for him a purpose built factory.  After problems acquiring planning permission in Colwyn Bay, Cliffe looked further afield and he bought the land on Marsh Road, Rhyl.  Building began in 1937.  Mr Bowen designed a central block for the hub of the work and two smaller dormitory buildings at each end to house the workers.

stamp 1

As it turned out, most of the ladies preferred to travel daily and the dormitory building on the right became a canteen and caretaker’s home – it is now the Register Office.  Thomas Cliffe was very loyal to, and appreciative of, his Colwyn Bay workforce and provided a bus in which to transport his workers backwards and forwards to Rhyl, free of charge.


Thomas Cliffe Staff Coach.

The work included handling and selling stamps by the ton, making stamp albums, stamp hinges and philatelic accessories.

Postal services have been issuing stamps from around the world since 1840 and by the 1860’s thousands of stamp collectors and stamp dealers were appearing as this new interest and hobby spread worldwide.


The “Stamp Finder” booklet pictured above contains not only a stamp collectors’ index but also features such as “Know the World through your Stamp Collection”, “How to start a Stamp Collection” and “How to organise a Stamp Club”.

see the report on History Points


Colwyn Bay Civic Society

“Rhyl and Rhuddlan Days of the Past”, Harry Thomas, 1985.

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Inspection of Water Works (with Lunch in the Marquee).

Rhyl Urban District Council carried out its 17th Annual Inspection of Water Works on 17th June, 1910.


This is how the proceedings were reported in the Rhyl Journal 25th. June 1910:

“On Friday last the members of the Rhyl Urban District Council paid their annual visit to the reservoirs. The party numbered 25, consisting of 19 councillors and officials, five guests and the local chief of police.  A start was made from Paradise Street at 10 a.m.  The first visit of inspection was at the service reservoir and filter at Glascoed, which were found to be in beautiful order, the bailiff having a capital show of flowers in the grounds.  Proceeding by was of Pont Ddol and Llanefydd village, the Dolwen and Plas Uchaf reservoirs were next visited, and found to be both nearly full, so that there is no fear of any shoratage of water this year. The business part of the day being completed, the party sat down to lunch in a field adjoining the reservoir, and full justice was done to a very admirable menu provided by Mr Philip Thomas.

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click on image to enlarge


A number of toasts were subsequently honoured, the principal one being ‘success to the water undertaking’ proposed by the Chairman of the Council in a brilliant oratorical effort, and responded to by the Chairman of the Water Committee.  The return journey was made by way of Bryn-y-Pin pass arriving back at Rhyl at 6-30. The weather was glorious and all had an enjoyable and instructive day. General satisfaction was expressed at the admirable order in which the ratepayers’ estate was found.”

Thanks to Maggi Blythin for contributing this week’s post, the details of which dare I say, sound rather like a “jolly”.


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