Monday, 30 March 2009

MORTICIA RULES

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


Having taken half the seats out of Rhyl's High Street and removed the canopies that we shoppers found so useful, Denbighshire County Council now delivers a masterstroke: the remaining seats are being painted a wonderfully unseasidey black. At least fans of The Addams Family should like it; I expect to hear them giving their customary double-click of the fingers in appreciation as they pass by.

H.R. Owens the decorators would have been only following orders.

--

Friday, 27 March 2009

FLASHBACK #12


THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


Here is an early image of the top end of High Street as seen from the junction with Wellington Road. The picture is undated but the scene looks Edwardian i.e. during the reign of the avuncular, bearded King Edward VII (1901-1910). Motor cars were manufactured in Britain from the 1890s onwards; only one is in sight here and it’s not moving fast enough to scatter the shoppers!

--

SAT 4th JUL 2015 UPDATE: From generally the same time in history, here is a picture taken from opposite side of the road, the junction with Russell Road. In the centre of this one you can see the dark green wall sign of the Lorne Hotel, later renamed simply as The Lorne:


--
This reference is added here for indexing purposes: Worthington brewery.

--

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

THE GREAT NAVAJO

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


Prompted by an enquiry from Nick Bourne of BBC North East Wales, here is a picture of Marine Lake Fun Fair’s self-styled Great Navajo whose name was Parney Warner. He wore a feathered head-dress and full Red Indian regalia and told fortunes. Parney was from Coventry and was half-German. He retired in 1939 and sold his fortune telling rights to a "Spaniard" by the name of Jack Crisp.

The picture is from Rhyl Library and the information is from the book ‘Rhyl At The Fun Fair’ by Eric Hughes (now out of print).

There's a lot of discussion about the town’s past and present on BBC North East Wales web site: www.bbc.co.uk/wales/northeast

--

Monday, 23 March 2009

SPITFIRE

World War 2, World War Two, Second World WarTHIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


This unusual photograph was provided by Mrs. Gaynor Williams of the shop ‘Aquarius’ in Market Street for inclusion in my book ‘Rhyl In The Second World War’ (now out of print). The picture may have been taken during fundraising events for the Spitfire Fund in 1940. Rhyl was part of Flintshire then, and the county raised enough money to donate two Spitfire fighter aircraft to the war effort.

The photographer was standing on the prom near the top of High Street looking westwards. The crowd seems to having a jolly good time, war or no war. Top left is the Queens Theatre/Ballroom entrance. Opposite, in Queens Gardens - where there was usually cycling - a Spitfire is on display. In the far distance is the familiar dome of the original Pavilion.

--

Saturday, 21 March 2009

LIFEBOAT DAY

promenade, drinking fountainTHIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


The photograph above shows Rhyl lifeboat Caroline Richardson II being towed into position by the Clayton tractor for a fundraising day on the prom, near the Conway drinking fountain which was opposite High Street.

Caroline Richardson II served from 1897 to 1939. Judging by styles of dress I would date the picture as being before the 1920s. A version of it appears in the book: ‘Rhyl Lifeboats 1852-2002: 150 years of gallantry’ by Jeff Morris, published in 2002.

The book may be on sale at the RNLI shop at the Lifeboat House near the Crown Green Bowling Centre on the eastern promenade. If planning a special journey there please phone to check the shop’s opening hours (01745) 350956.

--
WED 15th APR 2015 UPDATE: A note from the files of the late Glyn Rees indicates that the Conway drinking fountain was erected in 1862 to commemorate the coming of age of one of Rowley-Conwy family of Bodrhyddan Hall near Rhuddlan. The fountain fell into disrepair and was removed not long after WW2.

--
THU 11th MAY 2017 UPDATE: Just arrived here at Jones Towers is this rare pic of the banana-shaped Caroline Richardson II in Edwardian times on the sands at Rhyl.


--

Thursday, 19 March 2009

THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


The postcard above is postmarked 1905 and shows part of the promenade walkway as it would have looked if you had been standing with your back to High Street. The crowd is watching a performance by the Merrie Men on an open stage known as the minstrel pitch (centre left) which had artistes’ changing rooms behind.

One of the three buildings on the right may have been a donkey shed. Nearby and not in the picture were a camera obscura (inside which there was a projected mirror image of the scenery outside) and a rifle range. The white building on the pier was a small theatre originally named Bijou Pavilion, and near the end of the pier was a bandstand.

--

SAT 11th APR 2015 UPDATE: Another card from the same period:


--

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

DECORUM

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


I like this Edwardian photo of paddlers in Rhyl: the ladies in long dresses and wearing little hats, and the gentlemen in suits and trilbies. Ah yes, they knew how to dress in those days – even when standing in the sea!

--

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

CHEETHAM'S GHOST


THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


Previous mention of pioneer film maker Arthur Cheetham on this blog brought a ripple of enquiries. The world’s first-ever film show was presented by the Lumière brothers in Paris at the end of 1895. Mr. Cheetham, an entrepreneur who lived in Rhyl, made his first film as early as January 1898; it showed children playing on our sands (see above).

Mr. Cheetham travelled round North Wales making films and exhibiting them in various places including Rhyl Town Hall where there is a plaque in his honour.

In 1906 he established a permanent cinema for his 'Silvograph Pictures' at Central Hall in Market Street, an upstairs venue that had previously been known as Lyric Hall. The following photo is from the book 'Wales And Cinema' by David Berry:

Central Hall, Lyric Hall

Central Hall, Lyric Hall

This colour picture shows the building as it looks today standing between The Lorne pub and Wilkinsons store. The side of the building that faces Wilkinsons was re-surfaced a few years ago, and for a while the name Silvograph was uncovered writ large, and then as work progressed it disappeared again – Cheetham’s ghost, I called it.

Cheetham's cinema did not survive the advent of talking pictures. In the 1930s the premises became a labour exchange, an early version of The Jobcentre.

--
[These names of businesses are added here for indexing purposes: Gold Charm jewellery, Focus In opticians, RKM Wools, Rowlands greengrocer.]

--

Sunday, 15 March 2009

KINDLY LEAVE THE STAGE



THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


In the 1890s on a cleared area of beach near High Street, a minstrel pitch was built with open stage and dressing rooms. Troupes of comedy & music entertainers rented it from the authorities for any number of seasons.

Shown above (TOP) are Gilbert Rogers’ Jovial Jesters. The Jovial Jesters took over the minstrel pitch in 1907 and were still there during First World War 1914-18 and in Rhyl at least until 1920.

The other troupe, E. H. Williams’ Merrie Men, are pictured about 1905. The boy seated in the middle of the front row is thought to be Jack Hylton (pictured below) who grew up to be a famous dance band leader in the 1920s and ‘30s:


--
WED 26th AUG 2015 UPDATE: Here is a 1934 advert for Gunners shoe shop, 10 Wellington Road, where the florist Flower Tops is now, and a Sunday concert at Rhyl Pavilion by Jack Hylton fronting a downsized version of his orchestra:

Gunners shoe shop Rhyl

Mr. Hylton had quite a career in music and later in TV. You can read more about him in Wikipedia:

--

Saturday, 14 March 2009

SIXTH FORMS

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


Teachers at Rhyl High comprehensive school in Grange Road went on strike recently in protest against a plan under which the school would lose its sixth form. A proposal dating back a couple of years would put the sixth form of Rhyl High and the sixth form of Catholic school Blessed Edward Jones' together on a new site linked to Llandrillo College.

Implementing the proposal would mean that both schools would lose status and some teachers would lose jobs. The change has the support of the Welsh Assembly Government’s education minister and the county council. Rhyl Town Council has no direct involvement in the matter, and I can offer blog readers no view of my own other than a slight worry about Llandrillo College’s expansionist tendencies.

Llandrillo College, like Clwyd Alyn Housing Association, appears to have access to vast amounts of grant aid and may become similarly bloated and over-extended. Llandrillo College is already involved in nearly 200 learning venues across Denbighshire and Conwy and seems likely to take over Coleg Meirion Dwyfor which operates as far away as Glynllifon (near Caernarfon), Pwllheli and Dolgellau.

--

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

FANCY A DIP?

Open Air Bathing Pool

Open Air Bathing Pool
THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


Above are typical old images of Rhyl’s Open-Air Bathing Pool. The one at the top is postmarked 1931 (only one year after the pool opened), the other is undated. The pool was on the promenade to the east of the pier, so it was opposite Bath Street and fairly close to where the Events Arena is now.

Open Air Bathing Pool

The pool was council-owned and cost £23,000 to build, which was serious money in those days. It was 110 yards long and 30 yards wide and held three quarters of a million gallons of clean water. There were 380 changing cubicles, and sunbathing areas and a cafe. The amenity was floodlit and could seat up to 2,500 spectators.

In addition to swimming sessions for which professional tuition was available, there were aqua shows, bathing beauty competitions and exhibition diving. The Open-Air Bathing Pool was an outstanding success and stayed in service for nearly half a century.

--

TRADITION

religionTHIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


Town councillors are involved in many kinds of committee meetings, whereas meetings of full council take place only once a month and they are chaired by the Mayor. Full council meetings begin with a prayer from the Mayor’s Chaplain and this is a routine act of tradition which is not underpinned by any requirement of law.

The connection between a mayor of Rhyl and the Almighty would be hard to trace; the tradition is as dusty and quaint as some other civic procedures. Like the vast majority of my residents I do not have any religious beliefs but I’m perfectly happy to stand quietly during the prayer; it’s a harmless exercise.

The prayer reminds me of morning assembly at primary school. Thankfully, it is not followed by town councillors singing a chorus of ‘All Things Bright And Beautiful’ and then playing a game of running, jumping and standing still.

Out in the real world the demand for non-religious marriages and funerals continues to grow and the need to modernise public institutions becomes ever more apparent.

--

Monday, 9 March 2009

MUSIC IN RHYL

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


East of the old Pavilion was Pavilion Gardens, Promenade Gardens or Marine Gardens (all the same place).

The picture above (TOP) is a postcard of the bandstand there. Postmark seems to say 1916, in the middle of World War 1. Given that the Pavilion was more or less opposite Edward Henry Street, the bandstand must have been opposite Water Street. The junction is just about visible when the picture is enlarged.

Music in that context would have been ‘light music’, Palm Court stuff perhaps, and patriotic tunes. The musicians may have been from the resident orchestra at the Pavilion. Live music was usual outdoors and in theatres, ballrooms and dance halls, at cinema shows, in the larger restaurants and hotels. Quite a few residents became part-time musicians to earn ‘a few bob’ on the side.

The lower picture, a sepia card postmarked 1924, shows the layout of the bandstand area as seen when looking eastwards from the balcony of the Pavilion. Eventually the area became a roller skating rink.

--

Sunday, 8 March 2009

DAYS OF SAIL

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


An old picture of Foryd Harbour posted on 26 February brought calls for more of the same showing sailing ships – so here are three.

The harbour played a crucial part in the development of Rhyl as a resort; visitors were landing there in early 1800s. By then sailing ships were starting to be replaced by faster steam ships known as packets. The journey time from Liverpool to Rhyl by packet, calling in at Mostyn, was only about 3 hours.

At the Foryd there were landing stages on both sides of the river, so the estuary must have been a lot wider than it is today. Around the harbour area were two bridges, Lifeboat station, a couple of hotels, a ship building/repairing yard, a cluster of fishermen’s cottages and a lot of marsh land. The long road from harbour to town was called originally Quay Street and later renamed as Wellington Road.

A book to look out for: ‘Maritime History Of Rhyl And Rhuddlan’ by D.W. Harris, published 1991.

--

Friday, 6 March 2009

FLASHBACK #11

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


From Peter Trehearn comes this portrait of his paternal grandfather P. T. Trehearn who was in the removals business, wearing a fetching straw hat and accompanied by some of his employees. Peter says that the photo was taken between 1910 and 1914 in West Kinmel Street.

Horse-drawn vehicles such as this were commonplace at the time and gradually faded away over the decades. I could testify that there were still a few around in the 1950s, and one or two made it as far as the 1960s.

--
SUN 7th FEB 2016 UPDATE: Apropos of the above post, just arrived here at Jones Towers is this advertisement labelled 'circa 1920'.
Click on it to read the small print.

--

CRIMESTOPPERS

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


As forecast on this blog on 27 February, Johnny Gizzi (John Damon Gizzi) has been released from jail. Described as a violent fraudster by Wales Online and a bully and a thug by North Wales Police, Mr. Gizzi seemed to have megalomaniacal tendencies: he believed that he ‘ran Rhyl’. His various criminal activities brought nothing but discredit to the town.

Now that Mr. Gizzi is free, it’s time for him to think about whether his talents and what’s left of his wealth could be utilised for benefit of the community as a way of making amends. Meanwhile in reply to enquiries received here, I can confirm that the charges against him did not include anything about supplying illegal drugs.

If you suspect anybody anywhere of being involved directly or indirectly in supplying illegal drugs, you should tell Crimestoppers; they would not ask you to identify yourself. It's a national scheme, so you might have to explain that you are calling from North Wales and spell the name of the town (and any other awkward names).

The telephone number is: 0800 555111.

--

Thursday, 5 March 2009

THE MONORAIL

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


This is the Monorail that appeared in August 1980 about 15 feet in the air on specially constructed pillars along 600 yards of central promenade. It was the middle section of a proposed longer line. The doomed Monorail’s 40-seater trains ran for only six or seven weeks. The owners were forced into liquidation with debts of more than £650,000. (The early 1980s, like now, was a period of economic recession.)

In the lower picture the clock tower, which now faces the top of High Street, is shown in its original position a few yards to the northeast and on the promenade walkway – with Punch and Judy standing by.

--
SUN 21st FEB 2016 UPDATE: A recent arrival here at Jones Towers is this shot of the Monorail:


--

BIRDS IN HAND

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


The picture above shows one of my ward residents known as John the Pigeon Man a couple of years ago in Town Hall Square.

Pigeons and seagulls were on the town council agenda in September last year following a complaint from the manager of White Rose Centre about the cost of keeping his car park clean. The Mayor called for the humane culling of gulls and a bylaw prohibiting people from feeding birds.

[To many people culling means killing. The suggestion brought an angry response from the public.]

Yesterday evening at a committee meeting the matter came up again and there were sharp exchanges across the floor. Most speakers felt that the presence of a large number of seagulls in the town centre was a problem caused by people eating in the streets and failing to dispose of food waste sensibly.

I could find no public enthusiasm for the idea of a bylaw against feeding birds. It seemed mean-spirited to bring in a bylaw prohibiting an act of kindness. If there had been enough time I would have added that people who feed birds are not curable anyway. It is a form of compulsive behaviour; they couldn’t stop even if they wanted to.

One day when walking past John who was sitting contently surrounded by pigeons, I said, ‘Are you feeding those birds?’ He said, ‘No.’ I said, ‘Yes, you are!’

He replied, ‘No I’m not! There’s some seed in my pocket and they come and take it. I ain’t feeding ‘em, it’s self service!’

--

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

THE HUB


THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


Building work at Rhyl Youth Action Group (RYAG) has advanced to the stage where much of the interior is already in use. RYAG’s address is 1 Elwy Street and 69-75 Wellington Road, and the premises are destined to become known as The Hub.

The picture at the top is a sample of the dereliction that has been swept away to make space for new RYAG-owned offices and IT suites (rooms containing a lots of computers) and for the retail training facility (mock-up of a shop) shown in the other picture.

In addition to help with training and employment RYAG intends to provide access to a wide range of advice and social activities for young people. RYAG will be expected to repay its starting loans and generate income by renting out space to various other agencies.

In Wellington Road the flats above The Hub will be rented by NACRO for housing young offenders – an idea that will dishearten many residents. This is not the fault of RYAG, the blame lies with the funding bodies.

Welsh Assembly and Denbighshire Community Safety Partnership and others create gravy trains of funding that encourage NACRO, SOVA and similar organisations to dump people with behavioural problems into areas where we already have too many, thereby perpetuating the social problems that the funders purport to be trying to solve.

--

THE DRAMA

World War 2, World War Two, Second World WarTHIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


This unusual shot of the original Rhyl Pavilion is from the collection of Bill Ellis; he kindly provided it for inclusion in my book ‘Rhyl In The Second World War’ which was published in February 2003 and is now out of print.

The photo was taken during the war, from the Coliseum Theatre on the opposite side of the paddling pool, when the central and corner domes of the Pavilion were camouflaged as shown in the picture (normally they were white). The banner on the side of the theatre advertises the Manchester Repertory, a drama company which was evacuated to Rhyl.

The Manchester Rep was handy for entertaining the many civil servants and military personnel billeted in the Rhyl district. The Rep's members included Joe Holroyd who began a Saturday morning drama group for children during that period at the Pavilion. Later the club moved to Abbey Street before getting its own purpose-built premises, the present The Little Theatre in Vale Road.

--

Monday, 2 March 2009

ROBINS CORNER CAFE #2

THIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


Here are two more photos from Mr. Anthony J. Robins relating to Robins Corner Café at the junction of Queen Street and West Parade. This time we see building work in progress; the contractor was Alfred G. Jones whose telephone number was Rhyl 339. The interior of the restaurant was very 1930s, very stylish and elegant. What wonderful pictures!

Mr. Robins adds more information. He says that the previous occupier of the site, Rhyl & Potteries Motors, was also a Robins family business and members of the family lived upstairs; the buses and routes were sold eventually to Brookes Brothers' White Rose Motors.

--

Sunday, 1 March 2009

FLASHBACK #10

Futurist CinemaTHIS IS THE BLOG OF COLIN JONES, RHYL TOWN COUNCILLOR: BODFOR WARD
l
The opinions expressed in this blog are entirely my own and not the views of the town council.
l


The picture postcard above would have been produced in the 1910s or early ‘20s. On the promenade to your right is the original Rhyl Pavilion theatre which opened in 1908 opposite Edward Henry Street – roughly where the Skytower is now.

In West Parade to the left is the Futurist Cinema at what had been the Queen's Palace. The first purpose built-cinema in Rhyl was the Cinema Royal which opened in 1920 on what we call the Woolworths corner: Cinema Royal upstairs, Cafe Royal downstairs.

According to my Auntie Pat Jones of St. Asaph the best of all Rhyl cinemas was the Plaza, which opened in 1931 on the corner of High Street and Sussex Street, a site currently occupied by The Piazza restaurant. Why – because the Plaza was luxurious, atmospheric and cosy? Well yes all that, but more importantly it had the best ice cream.

--