Category Archives: Work/Business

Walking Pictures

I’m sure many people will have “walking pictures” in their family album – walking picture cameramen were busy in Rhyl from the 1930’s to the 1960’s.
 “Go Home on a Postcard – The Story of Walking Pictures” is a wonderful website with lots of information and examples from across the U.K.  Simon, its creator, has kindly contributed this interesting article:
“I always wondered who in the family used to run ahead of us in the street to take our photograph!”  So wrote one lady after finding a website called Go Home On A Postcard, devoted to the forgotten art of the Walking Picture.  The answer was simple, none of them did.  Instead commercial photographers lurked on street corners from Edinburgh to Eastbourne, snapping people walking towards them, and then showing them a kiosk where they could buy a souvenir print later in the day to take home, or post back to a friend.
And it was a booming trade, especially in the 1930s and again after WW2, only fading away as shops began to offer fast turn around on customers own films in the 1960s, and people began to holiday more abroad.

Rhyl, being a popular resort town, drew many people on day trips and short holidays, so was always going to attract walking picture cameramen. The earliest examples I have seen are from 1930 on Wellington Road (above), and 1933, of a father and daughter emerging onto on West Parade from John Street (below). The camera operators are not identified but while many street photographers remain anonymous, others have come to light.

Fiona’s mother (born 1923) and grandfather, circa 1933, probably Rhyl. Several blocks on sea front West Parade match style, but one block has been pulled down on corner of John Street.

EMPIRE FILMS were one of the bigger firms in the trade, and operated via a franchise system, supplying out of the box kits to get started in the business. They were at work in Edinburgh in the mid-1920s and were certainly taking walking pictures in Rhyl during the 1930s. Empire worked with old movie cameras, which turned out three frames printed onto a souvenir postcard. So for 1/6d you could be a film star. Most people cut these up to send to friends, so the strips are hard to find today, but most do have the Empire logo on the back.
The walking picture trade largely ceased during WW2 as materials were hard to come by but it was a popular low-cost occupation for ex-servicemen to get into when they came back home after 1945. This great example shows four friends in Rhyl on VJ Day, August 15th 1945.
It may have been taken by James Hobson, who having worked for EMPIRE FILMS before the war set up MOVIE SNAPS in 1945, based at 45 West Parade in Rhyl (and also at Aberystwyth Pier). He used a newer type of cine camera and sold the prints as strips. James was quite an entrepreneur and is said to have employed players from Rhyl football team during the week to take the photographs. Certainly it was a trade where many firms provided casual work for local people or students when it got really busy, taking pictures, working in the darkroom or a kiosk.
This example shows two frames still together, and dates from 1947. It’s possible MOVIE SNAPS kept going into the 1960s as cine strips of children on beach donkeys and on the prom in Rhyl have been seen.

David Gumbley, age 6, with parents Lewis and Winifred on holiday. Rhyl 1947.

The walking picture below from 1960 shows (l-r) Sheila Warburton, Mrs. Joan Peacock (a neighbour and godmother) and mum Gladys Warburton on holiday.
RHYL HOLIDAY SNAPS took walking pictures at the pier entrance, but little is known about them. Some pictures of Rhyl pier do show a walking pictures kiosk not far from the entrance, so maybe this is where they sold their prints (if anybody has an original of this postcard Simon would love a decent scan).
HANDS BROTHERS were based at Westbourne Avenue in the 1940s and pictures of soldiers walking down streets in Rhyl taken by them have been seen.
Other photographers worked in bigger towns and cities year round but decamped to places like Rhyl for the summer season to take walking pictures. SILVERTS for example had a studio in Manchester but took walking pictures in Rhyl in the summer in the early 1960s.
It is unusual for families not to have a few walkies in their old albums and hopefully this has helped explain what these souvenir pictures are all about. Some photographers would take hundreds in a day, thousands in a season, so there are likely to be many more around!
You can read more about the trade on Simon’s website and find out how to submit examples for this growing archive (and a forthcoming book). And do let us know if any members of your family worked in the trade or have any more examples.


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Celebrated cigarettes – made in Rhyl.

Tobacco has been around in the U.K since the sixteenth century.  Cigars were the most popular method of smoking in the 1700’s and this evolved into the cigarette by the early/mid 1800’s. Sir Richard Doll made history in the 1950’s by establishing beyond doubt that smoking caused lung cancer.  However, health risks were known long before this – the Children’s Act of 1908 banned the sale of cigarettes to children under 16 and the following article is from the Rhyl Record and Advertiser of 1909:

“Cigarette smoking is injurious in many ways.  In the first place the smoke breathed into the lungs forms a fine coating over their delicate surfaces and prevents not only the intake of oxygen but the escape of the body’s poisonous gases.  This means retention of these poisons and that is the most common cause of disease.  Retained poison in the blood means that the brain and nerves are starved and poisoned and this condition is, of course an absolute bar to clear and consecutive thinking.  The will power suffers most of all.”

Unfortunately, progress was halted when cigarettes were included in army rations during World War One which hooked a generation of men.  By 1949 81% of men and 39% of women in the U.K were smokers.  The Office for National Statistics UK reports that in 2016 15.8% of the U.K.’s population smoked (17.7% of men and 14.1% of women).
Rhyl History Club member Maggi Blythin has found this fascinating advertisement and local information:

“In the late 1800’s smoking wasn’t seen as a health hazard and around this time automated cigarette making machines came into being. Simon Eisiski lived in Rhyl during the later part of the 1800s and early 1900s. He was a Russian Jew born in 1868. He married a Jewish girl, Bertha Goldstein from Manchester in 1898, and by 1901 they were living at 76 Wellington Road with a 1 year old daughter. Simon s occupation was given as Tobacconist and, as shown above, he advertised ‘Celebrated Cigarettes’.
Eisiski became a naturalised British subject in 1904. He died in 1908
The photograph below shows Queen Street at around the time that Simon Eisiski had his shop at 30a.”
To read more about Queen Street at the end on the nineteenth century, click on “Spotlight on Queen Street”

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E.B. Jones

Rhyl History Club member Maggi Blythin has shared photographs and information about E.B. Jones’s with us – do you remember any of the shops?

E B Jones were a chain of grocery shops in North Wales.They had branches in many towns and the Head Office was in Water Street in Rhyl. This is taken from a letterhead from 1921.


These are some of the oldest photos showing the shops in Rhyl, Ruthin and Colwyn Bay.

























This shows the RhylHigh Street branch, above which was  the Arundale Café  which was also owned by EBs:


These are some of the staff who worked in the Head Office in the late 40s and early 50s.



When the bigger supermarkets started to take over E B Jones started to close their shops and finally the Head Office in the 60s.
One shop in Deiniolen retained it s name and is now a coffee shop







Thank you Maggi.


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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.


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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.

plane 3

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.


plane 2

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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