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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Christmas at the North Wales Hospital

Local history of interest to us all. What charming and uplifting recollections, which will bring a lump to your throat and reminds us of what Christmas should be about.

Denbighshire Archives

From the onset in 1848, the festive season was duly celebrated by both patients and staff at the North Wales Hospital. The senior staff decided to organise a dance during the first festive season, as detailed in the first annual report:-

“At the commencement of this year, we indulged the patients with a dance – seventy of the patients, males and females, assembled, about six o’clock in the evening, in the corridor on the female side of the house, which was decorated for the occasion with evergreens, &c. A piano forte was procured, and dancing was commenced with great spirit and was kept up till nine o’clock. During the evening the males were supplied with a moderate allowance of good ale, and the females with tea and a little negus. It was truly gratifying and affecting to witness the decorum as well as the joyous delight of these poor…

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Rhyl Urban District Council

Rhyl Urban District Council came into being in 1894/5 and lasted for eighty years until 1974.  A Commemorative Dinner was held at the Westminster Hotel on Saturday, March 30th, 1974, to mark its dissolution.  The menu at the dinner consisted of chilled melon boats, cream of chicken soup, goujons of plaice, contrefilet of Scotch Beef Beaujolais and peach melba – the wines served were Sauternes and Burgundy.

Included in the programme was a selection of landmarks in Rhyl’s Civic History:

also a list of its “Chairmen” from 1895-1974











click on images to enlarge

Prior to the formation of RUDC in 1894, the town was cared for by the commissioners.  In her book “The Commissioners of Rhyl – the men who built the town”, Marjorie Howe says “The result of a ‘Local Government Act of 1852’ was the formation of a Board of Commissioners which should be responsible for the maintenance and improvement of Rhyl, and the well-being of its citizens”.  Also,   “In November 1894, the Improvement Commissioner’s Board held its last meeting, and when the local authority met for their monthly meeting in December, it was under the new name of ‘Rhyl Urban District Council’.

1974 saw the formation of Rhyl Town Council – click here for their website

There is a huge scarcity of women in the lists and photograph in the programme – thankfully women have come a long way in the last 40-50 years.

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Shirley Williams – the first honorary freewoman of Rhyl

Rhyl History Club are proud to report that one of our long term members, Shirley Williams, has recently been made an Honorary  Freewoman of the town.  Shirley is only the third person to receive the prestigious award, and is the first woman.  The award has previously been given to the late Roy Turner and Peter Robinson

Shirley has a very impressive list of community activities over the years, including involvement with Rhyl Youth Club, Rhyl and District Rounders League, Rhyl and District Operatic Society and the Nancy Clarke School of Dance. Shirley has fulfilled many and various volunteer roles, too many to mention, including thirty years for the Glan Clwyd Branch of the British Heart Foundation (she is now their Vice Chair) and “front of house” at Rhyl Pavilion Theatre. She was a founder member of Clwyd Coast Credit Union.  In 2017 Shirley attended HM the Queen’s Garden Party after being nominated for her long standing charitable work by Rhyl County Court, where she still works as a Court Usher.

Rhyl History Club sends Shirley many congratulations on this thoroughly deserved award.


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Our new season

It’s that time of year again – our new season starts this coming Monday, September 10th.  We meet at Rhyl Community Fire Station on the Coast Road. The programme, which has been amended slightly since its first publication, is shown below. All welcome, for further details see our “About us” page.


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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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