Saturday, 28 February 2009

FLASHBACK #9

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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This is a follow-up to photographs of Robins Corner Café, 14-15 West Parade (on a corner of Queen Street) recently posted in this blog. Here on your right in the above photo is the scene before the corner cafe was built.

Judging by styles of dress, the picture appears to be from the 1920s. Previous occupier of the Robins site is revealed to have been a coach office: Rhyl & Potteries Motors.

On the opposite corner was and still is Savoy Enterprises, 7-13 West Parade, owned by the Trehearn family. Their Savoy corner reached a pinnacle of fame in the 1990s as the Bistro night club. My thanks to Peter Trehearn for the picture.

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Friday, 27 February 2009

LITTLE TRAINS

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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Not many activities in Rhyl have drawn as much interest, or brought the town as much credit internationally, as our miniature railway at Marine Lake. The photographs above are from 1920s/early '30s.

The railway dates all the way back to 1911 when Miniature Railways Ltd laid a track fifteen inches wide and ran scale-model steam locomotives round the lake. Shortly afterwards Rhyl Amusements Ltd under Albert Barnes took over the track and trains.

Eventually Mr. Barnes ran bigger locomotives built at his Albion Works in Ffynnongroew Road.

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SUN 3rd MAY 2015 UPDATE: Just arrived here at Jones Towers is this splendid image of the first train:


Above: Note the flag on the station - a bit like a Japanese flag. This was replaced by the one shown below bearing the initials R.M.R. (Rhyl Miniature Railway):


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OUT OF TIME

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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According to today’s Daily Post, Johnny Gizzi (John Damon Gizzi, shown above) could be out of prison next week. Mr. Gizzi, described gleefully by local papers as a gangster, was a household name as a criminal in Rhyl for years before North Wales Police could be persuaded to take a close interest in his activities.

He pleaded guilty to three charges of serious assault, two of grievous bodily harm and one of actual bodily harm. Two of his homeless victims ended up in hospital after they were beaten with wooden staves and kicked and punched. He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to sell counterfeit cigarettes, and 22 charges of mortgage fraud totalling £1.4m were taken into consideration.

If he is released next week, Mr. Gizzi will have been in prison for little more than three years - a remarkably short time - but he should find that Rhyl has been going through changes. Much of the atmosphere of dereliction and depression in which he thrived is becoming a thing of the past.

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ROBINS CORNER CAFE #1

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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Renovation work has nearly finished on the former Robins Corner Café at the junction of Queen Street and West Parade.

The photo above (TOP) shows the cafe when it first opened in 1934. The picture has been provided by Mr. Anthony J. Robins who says, “I am the last surviving member of my generation of the Robins' family that built
the Corner Cafe in 1933/4 (from the houses at 14 and 15 West Parade). I worked there in my holidays from school and university with my father and uncle until about 1959 when they decided to retire and sold the property to Mr. P.T. Trehearn of the Savoy, having previously sold the other family business properties (cafe, bakery and shops) lower down Queen Street in the mid-1950s.”

The other photo has been provided by Rhyl’s town clerk Mr. Gareth Nickels. This was taken early in 2008 and provides a stark contrast. It’s a sobering reminder of how dilapidated West Parade had become and the extent to which current improvements are transfiguring the seafront.

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Thursday, 26 February 2009

FORYD HARBOUR

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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The photo above dates from 1912 or thereabouts – not long before World War 1. It shows a three-masted schooner being towed at Foryd Harbour, which was then a busy place of commerce. (Marine Lake was the preferred destination for those interested in boating for leisure purposes.)

Today I tiptoed over the border into the Foryd ward to see if the harbour was still there. I can report that it is. Nearly £2 million poundsworth of improvements have been carried out, and Denbighshire County Council has bid for money to create office space and work units at the harbour – plus a new bridge for pedestrians and cyclists.

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Tuesday, 24 February 2009

A STONE CIRCLE

Royal Alexandra HospitalTHIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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Recent mention of Royal Alexandra Hospital, Marine Drive, on this blog brought a reminder of the picture postcard above; this shows the hospital (background, right) a year or two after it officially opened.

In the foreground is a Gorsedd stone circle laid in 1903 in advance of the arrival of National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1904. The Proclamation Ceremony and other Bardic ceremonies were held inside the circle which remained there until the late 1940s.

The National Eisteddfod has been here four times: in 1892, 1904, 1953 and 1985.

An A5-size booklet titled ‘Rhyl’s National Eisteddfods – A Valuable Heritage’ by Harry Thomas was published by Countryside Publications just before the 1985 visit. This 36-page illustrated booklet is bilingual; the Welsh translation is by Dafydd Timothy of Siop y Morfa.

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SUN 3rd APR 2015 UPDATE: Here is a postcard of the Gorsedd circle, not included in Harry’s book. This would relate to the 1903 visit (picture colourised at a later date). Look how undeveloped East Parade is!

sandhills

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TUE 24th JAN 2017 UPDATE: A battered but rare item has come to hand.
Click on the image to see a bigger version.


" Presenting the Arch Druid with the Horn of Plenty at the Stones Rhyl Sept 1904."

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Monday, 23 February 2009

QUEEN'S PALACE


THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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In the images above, the glass-domed building was named Queen’s Palace. It opened in 1902 and was closed down five years later after a big fire.

Queen’s Palace was a privately-owned four storey entertainment complex comprising a theatre, ballroom, fairground sideshows, zoo with a monkey house, and many other features.

You can see that the top of the dome had a tower from which sea and surroundings could be observed even as far as Snowdon and Isle of Man on a very clear day. To your left of the building was a shopping arcade.

After the fire, Queen’s Palace was replaced by the Grand Theatre (later Futurist Cinema) upstairs and there was an indoor roller skating rink on the ground floor.

In the 1920s this complex was redeveloped as Queens Theatre & Ballroom, and from 1960 onwards it has been Queens Market.

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Saturday, 21 February 2009

COLET HOUSE

St. David's Residential HomeTHIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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This is Colet House, 36 East Parade, which is opposite the crown green bowling and Lifeboat station. Colet House has the year 1903 inscribed over its front entrance. It was a 'prep school' preparing children up to the age of 11 or 13 for the fee-paying institutions that we British describe perversely as public schools.

The photograph is undated and you would be brave to hazard an exact guess because the building’s appearance has not changed much in more than a century; I would say that the picture is pre-1945.

These days Colet House is St. David’s Residential Home for the Elderly and it's worth a second glance as you stroll along.

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TUE 17th AUG 2010 UPDATE: The postcard below shows another use of Colet House, as South Yorkshire Miners' Convalescent Home. The card was posted in 1956 by a chap named Billy to his parents in Rossington near Doncaster:

Colet House
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MON 5th DEC 2016 UPDATE: This undated photo of Colet House is new to this blog.


What an interesting flag! Does anybody know its story?


Colin Jones / email: rhyl.colin.jones@live.co.uk

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THE REAL PRICE

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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Yesterday the Daily Post front page story was about a Rhyl teenager who was the victim of a ‘glassing’ incident last year in the ZuBar night club, West Parade. The young man has had six operations and may not recover sight completely; his attacker admitted to being very drunk at the time. In the same newspaper: a middle-aged disabled man who was more than twice the drink-drive limit crashed into the back of a parked car, and his mother who was his passenger died of her injuries.

Drinking alcohol can increase your aggression and/or decrease your powers of concentration. To the NHS, police and social services, the cost of dealing with problems caused by alcohol is said to be in excess of £20 billion a year in UK. The money is taken out of the pockets of taxpayers (and we are all taxpayers of one kind or another). I believe that it ought to be taken out of the profits of the alcohol industry instead. The cost would be passed on to drinkers of course, and they for the first time in history would pay the real price.

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Thursday, 19 February 2009

THE ALEX

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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The black-and-white image above is a postcard issued to commemorate the opening of Ysbyty Frenhinol Alexandra / Royal Alexandra Hospital. You may have noticed that the year 1900 is inscribed above the building's main entrance, but the official opening was in 1902.

The hospital had a pre-history as a children’s convalescent home at more than one seafront address. The Alex, as it is affectionately known today, was named after its patron Princess Alexandra of Wales who laid the foundation stone.

The hospital is pictured without its east wing (on the side nearest to Prestatyn); this was added in 1908. The setting looks almost rural; the present coast road between Rhyl and Prestatyn was not created until about 20 years later. Today the hospital is still one of our most handsome buildings despite many alterations.

The colour snap is my attempt at capturing an image of the Alex’s ‘Flying Fox’ weather vane. The story is that the Duke of Westminster was a big contributor to the building fund, and in 1899 he promised that if his horse Flying Fox won its next race on July 14th at Sandown Park he would send a further £10,000. The horse duly obliged and the Duke – being a gentleman – sent the money. The weather vane commemorates the gesture.

The following is a cutting from a national newspaper published in 1902:

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MON 20th JUL 2015 UPDATE: Just arrived here at Jones Towers, an early (undated) image of the rear of Royal Alexandra Hospital with garden instead of a car park:


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Wednesday, 18 February 2009

NANCY CLARKE

dance, dancingTHIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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The photo above of Nancy Clarke was taken in the late 1950s or early 1960s when she was becoming a household name in Rhyl as a dancer and dance teacher. Nancy originated from Manchester and came to the Rhyl area when husband Clarence (Clarrie) was posted to Kinmel Park Camp near Bodelwyddan during World War 2; they were both championship class dancers.

After the war Clarrie managed the Queens Ballroom (now Queens Market) and he did some exhibition dancing and private tuition; Clarrie died in 1973. Nancy had her own studio which moved here and there and is best remembered as being upstairs at the back of the Alexandra pub in High Street (now Bar Blu).

As a teacher, Nancy was world class. She was one of the first judges on the TV programme ‘Come Dancing’. Later she was the first lady president of the International Dance Teachers’ Association and held the post for several years. Nancy's presence in Rhyl raised the town's profile considerably; she passed away on February 13th, 2008.

My thanks go to a lady universally known as Dutchy for the picture and information. Dutchy was a close friend of Nancy for more than half a century and fondly remembers her broad Lancashire humour and absolute professionalism.

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Tuesday, 17 February 2009

MR. COX

beachTHIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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In Rhyl the number of visitors increased dramatically when the Chester to Holyhead railway arrived in the 1840s. Somewhere in the new crowds was artist David Cox who painted the picture above on Rhyl Sands in 1854. In the background you can see a steam ship known as a 'packet' and some bathing machines which were changing-rooms on wheels - they could be towed to the edge of the water by horses for convenience and privacy of bathers.

Mr. Cox painted more scenes on our beach and helped Rhyl to become more widely known in London where he exhibited regularly. He was an English landscape watercolourist of some renown. You can read about him on Wikipedia:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Cox_(artist)

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Saturday, 14 February 2009

QUEEN AND WATER

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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Above (TOP) is a card postmarked 1908. In view is Queen Street as seen when looking towards the prom from near Market Street. Foreground (left) is the People’s Boot Company on the corner where today we would find Lloyds TSB. Foreground (right) is what could be a very early motor scooter or – according to one of my neighbours – a large insect.

(BELOW) is a Raphael Tuck & Sons postcard from a later period. It shows Water Street as seen from what some people call the ‘Clwyd Alyn corner’ of Crescent Road, looking towards Wellington Road. The first door in the picture would be 57 Water Street. The long row of front garden walls no longer exists.

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Friday, 13 February 2009

CONFIRMATION


THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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Further to a comment in the post below about basket chairs, this postcard shows even more clearly that sunbathers on Rhyl sands remained fully dressed. The picture was taken about a hundred years ago opposite the Queens Hotel in West Parade, and colourised later.

To your left of the Queens is a single-storey building next to High Street, which today is an arcade named The Bright Spot. When Yours Truly was a bright spot it seemed to be named the UCANKUMINANAVSUMFUN.

The picture shows the low sea wall with lots of people sitting on it, mums and nannies enjoying a stroll, and cherubs digging intently. The sand may have been deeper then. Sand to the west – near Foryd Harbour – is said to have dropped 15 feet just in the last fifty years.

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THU 9th APR 2015 UPDATE: Here is another beach scene viewed from a very similar position to the one above. Perhaps just a few years earlier, turn of the century:


This card may have been one that changes in some way when tilted. The inscription top left reads: From the day to the night - how sudden and strange. Hold up to the light - what an exquisite change!

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SUN 14th FEB 2016 UPDATE: Just arrived here at Jones Towers is this undated image of Rhyl sunbathers fully dressed:

ponies

The grey shed in the background offers 'Select saddle horses and ponies for hire' and goes on to mention 'Riding lessons'.

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Thursday, 12 February 2009

BASKET CHAIRS

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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Shown above are basket chairs that first appeared on Rhyl sands in the 1910s. They were heavy, high-seated, hoodbacked chairs which offered shelter on three sides. You could face away from the wind and stand a chance of reading your newspaper without the pages blowing away and eat a sandwich without getting it covered with sand.

You will see that the figures in the picture are fully dressed; it was regarded as most improper for adults or children to disrobe in public in those days. Not so forty years later when Yours Truly as a small boy dragged the chairs around and tried to topple them over. A favourite trick was to put two basket chairs face-to-face and sit inside as if hiding in a shell.

The chairs were carted away by council workers at the end of the day and were back early next morning as if brought by the tooth fairy.

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Wednesday, 11 February 2009

FLASHBACK #8

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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This early 1950s shot of an open-topped double decker bus was taken at a stop in High Street. The destination board says: LOCAL SERVICE TO AND FROM PROMENADE & BOTANICAL GARDENS VIA HIGH STREET & GRANGE ROAD.

We are looking at a stretch of High Street which today would be between the Oxfam shop and the Co-op. The chap with the rolled-up newspaper would be outside the Co-op but in those days the Regal Cinema was there.

The Botanical Gardens was one of the town’s principal attractions. A trip to Rhyl would have been incomplete without a visit to the gardens.

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THU 17th SEP 2015 UPDATE: This 1970s advert shows that two decades later the initial departure point of the bus was still on promenade opposite Queens Hotel.
Click on it for a clearer view.

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Monday, 9 February 2009

FOR HEAVENS SAKE!

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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The photo above was taken on November 10th 2008 of the Baptist Church, Sussex Street. At the front of the building are 3 large metal attachments to each of the pillars, and cables are wrapped round the pillars, and 2 rusty- looking loudspeakers sit high above the main entrance.

The overall appearance is tatty and there are weeds in evidence. I set out to discover whether council permissions had been given for the external alterations; three months later still no reply. Is there a conspiracy of silence about the disgraceful state of this Grade II Listed Building?

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SUN 17th JAN 2016 UPDATE: Just arrived here at Jones Towers is this old stereoview or stereoscopic card of the building. Through a special viewer you would have seen a single image which would be very lifelike.
Click on it to see a bigger version.


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SUN 5th MAR 2017 UPDATE: Originally the building was known as the English Baptist Church. It opened in 1863 and operated only in summer seasons to cater mainly for holidaymakers.
[The Welsh Baptist Chapel was in Water Street, the building now named the Islamic Culture or Cultural Centre.]
By the way, the Baptist Church, Sussex Street, is still Baptist but currently uses the name Sussex Street Christian Centre.
All clear?
Good.

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Saturday, 7 February 2009

INTO THE BEE #2


THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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Here are two shots from the great Bee expedition of February 6th, 2009. The Bee Hotel in Bodfor Street dates back well into Victorian times, but inside the building there was surprisingly little period detail. Fixtures and fittings were comparatively modern and nearly all were wrecked. The tiling in the lobby (shown above) was particularly interesting.

Our shepherd for the occasion was Gary Richards of Denbighshire county council’s Design and Development department. Thanks to Gary and his colleague Paul Smith for making special arrangements.

Fred Burns of Phoenix Studio, 44 Bedford Street, Rhyl, tel (01745) 356900, took more than 80 shots which have been put on disc for Natalia in New Zealand. With her permission the pictures are available for council and community use. You can see the disc at Rhyl Library.

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Friday, 6 February 2009

INTO THE BEE #1


THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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I took the pictures above with my mobile phone today at the derelict Bee Hotel, Bodfor Street. They show the front door open, and then the stairs between the 1st and 2nd floors.

A professional photographer was doing a photoshoot at the time and his pictures should be available soon.

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Thursday, 5 February 2009

THE CROSS


Click on a picture to see a bigger version.

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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Where High Street, Wellington Road and Russell Road meet used to be known as The Cross. The two photographs above were taken from there.

The first is an Edwardian-looking scene with boys wearing knickerbockers, baggy knee trousers popular in the early 20th century. We are looking from High Street down Wellington Road. There are trees outside the Town Hall! The picture was supplied to me by Coun Michael Espley of Foryd ward (thanks, Mike) and in 2008 it was touched up and restored by photographer Geoff Abbott.

The other photo was taken a quarter of a century later I would guess, looking up High Street towards the sea. In the foreground left, above the Wellington Road sign is an advert on the side of M. Evans’ Clwydian Restaurant which was in business a long time. I can remember climbing the stairs to Evans’ Cafe (as we called it) decades later and the lovely smell of bread and cakes baked on the premises.

Opposite is Maypole dairy and grocer's shop, and passing by is what looks to be a White Rose open-topped charabanc. The White Rose Garage was in East Parade, just round the corner from High Street; the present day White Rose Centre carries its name.

Facing the top of High Street in a position where today we would expect to see the clock tower, is a drinking fountain on the promenade.

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SAT 18th MAR 2017 UPDATE: The following picture was taken from The Cross in between the images above; it is card postmarked 1914. The delivery boy's bike advertises M. Evans, confectioner. That refers to bakers' confectionery, i.e. sweet pastries and cakes not candies and sweets.
Threading his way through the shoppers on your left  is a man wearing a sandwich board advertising boys' jerseys.


At the time of writing, shops at two of the four corners of The Cross are unoccupied.

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Wednesday, 4 February 2009

OOPS!

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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Some months ago in the Bodfor ward I rounded a street corner and had a near-collision with an oncoming cyclist on the pavement. He had a cigarette in his mouth and was speaking into a mobile phone while holding the handlebars with one hand. On seeing me, he wobbled, then stopped and glared as if I were causing an obstruction.

Last year some residents who raised concerns about the growing incidence of cycling on the pavement, were told at a community police meeting that it was not an offence (unless the bicycle was being ridden dangerously). Nevertheless a recent enquiry from town council elicited an official police response to the effect that:

Yes, it is an offence to ride a pedal cycle on a footway. Police constables and police support officers can issue riders aged 16 and over with a fixed penalty of £30.

To raise public awareness of this, I've suggested that perhaps there ought to be a local poster campaign. The chances of police being able to make a sustained attack against cyclists on the pavement are remote. I can just hear cheeky and cheerful enforcers of the law saying, “What do you want us to do, Councillor? Chase after bikes or catch criminals?’

To which I would reply, 'Both, dammit!'

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Tuesday, 3 February 2009

BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD #2


THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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Pictured above is the Vickers Armstrong VA-3-001 the world’s first hovercoach which arrived in Rhyl in July 1962, just a few days after the Beatles first played in the town. The hovercoach was based here for trials between July and September and had great novelty appeal; the hovering was due to downward-pointing fans which held the craft aloft over land and sea.

The hovercoach - usually referred to as the hovercraft - proved capable of ferrying passengers and mail from Rhyl to Wallasey in 32 minutes, but fate decreed that 40 of the scheduled operating days would be too windy, and on one occasion it blew off its moorings and had to be rescued by Rhyl Lifeboat.

A few years later, the luckless VA-3-001 was reported to be lying at the bottom of the sea near Southampton having been badly damaged by optimists trying to find out whether it could withstand the impact of exploding mines.

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TUE 14th FEB 2017 UPDATE: This card from 1962 shows that Rhyl took full advantage of publicity surrounding the hovercraft during the short time it was here.


Recently on sale on Internet was the hovercraft schedule/timetable.
Click on it to see a bigger version.


Note the use of the term The Plastirion Slipway.

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Sunday, 1 February 2009

PLAN BEE

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
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The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
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The photos above were taken this chilly morning; they show the derelict building known as the Bee Hotel in Bodfor Street.

On a previous occasion, I posted a street scene which included the Bee and this prompted a personal message from a lady named Natalia in New Zealand. Her grandfather was born in Rhyl, and his grandfather had been born inside the Bee as the youngest son of the then-owner R.D. Roberts.

The colourful Mr. Roberts was sometimes referred to as ‘Mwrog’ which was was a bardic name; he was a poet as well as a publican and local politician. Natalia is putting together the story of Mwrog and wants pictures of the Bee interior.

Not knowing of any in circulation, I have hatched a plan with county council staff and a local photographer to go inside the building for a photo- shoot. Natalia will be covering the cost and is happy for council and community to make use of the resulting pictures.

So it’s into the Bee and click click within the next week or so. For a report on the expedition, keep watching this blog.

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