The Rhyl Derbyshire Miners Holiday Camp

 

There was a long history of both whole counties and certain industries taking holidays en masse in Rhyl, as in other northern seaside resorts such as Blackpool and Skegness. Wakes weeks, when whole towns shut down their major industry, coach and train excursions, and most importantly, the entitlement to two weeks paid holiday a year opened up the seaside holiday trade and it enjoyed a golden fifty years until economic prosperity allowing for foreign travel, car ownership, and a change in the pattern of industries significantly reduced it by the late seventies and early eighties.

In Rhyl, if they were not accommodated by local guest houses, or bunked up in houses on the Reso, Derbyshire Miners could spend their holiday at the Miners’ Camp on Marsh Road where a whole range of entertainments were thrown in, including a swimming pool and night time cabarets. The camp backed onto the Reso and it only required a quick hop over the wooden sleepered railway bridge, where I did a lot of train spotting, to be at the Funfair and up onto the West End Promenade.

A Crosville double decker bus was also available to take the holiday makers over the H Bridge and into town – this was no mean feat given how narrow the top of the H Bridge was!

This video certainly brought back some bittersweet memories! Some of my friends had parents that worked in the camp and that got them, and their mates, a free pass into the pool. Others worked there for the summer season, waiting on, changing beds or helping with the entertainment and they were a tight knit crew by all accounts. I was never so lucky, but when the wind was blowing from the sea, the sound of fun and games wafted over the Reso and I was acutely aware that I was missing out on a great time.

The camp is now no more, replaced by housing that obliterated its footprint. The miners have long gone, victim of Thatcher’s policy to eradicate the industry. But when the North wind blows you can still hear the laughter and splashing in the air.

Thank you Graham Pritchard for recording such wonderful memories.

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6 thoughts on “The Rhyl Derbyshire Miners Holiday Camp

  1. David Frank Cannon says:

    Although I am 76 years old my memories of the DMW holiday camp in Rhyl are still quite clear. My father’s family lived around Clay Cross area in North Derbyshire and following demob from WW2 we lived in a council prefab in Grassmoor and then a council house in New Tupton; my father was an administrator at Grassmoor, Williamthorpe and Holmewood collieries. From my early childhood, until around 1958, we had our one week annual holiday at the camp. We were at the camp in 1957 when Asian flu struck and many, including us, were transported back to North Derbyshire in a fleet of ambulances! All of my friends also had their holiday at the camp and, until I was about 10 years old (1954), I had the impression that Rhyl was the only place that people went to for a holiday!

    Early on a Saturday morning our holiday began by walking, with suitcases, to the end of our road to wait, with many others (the pit was closed for the week!), for one of a fleet of coaches that took many folk from our village to the holiday camp. We would arrive around mid-afternoon and by tea time our social groups largely re-established themselves in Rhyl! In many way, especially for the kids, this was great! The accommodation was, by today’s standards very basic, the chalets then were little more than large wooden garden sheds and washing etc was mainly done at the “amenity block”, but there was an entertainment centre of sorts! As kids we often made our own entertainment and many adventures were undertaken, perhaps, at times, to the annoyance of the folk who lived in nearby houses (Weston Road?). Sadly, I have a recollection of hearing reports that one adventure went wrong when one child drowned having been trapped in mud by the edge of the River Clwyd.

    We moved from North Derbyshire to North Wales in 2017 and my wife and I have visited the Marsh Road area of Rhyl a couple of times; of course the DMW holiday camp has been completely obliterated, but the childhood memories, supported by a handful of my father’s photographs, linger on – I’m pleased to say! (David Cannon)

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    • educationalist04 says:

      Dear David Frank Cannon,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to contact me regarding the Derbyshire Miners Camp. I’ve heard many a tale from people who lived near the camp, or who wangled their way in because they had family or friends who worked there.

      I’ve never heard the point of view of one of the visitors from Derbyshire!

      I lived on the street that backed on to the camp and could indeed by taunted by the sound of all the fun and games coming from the camp. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any relatives wo get me in.

      You may remember that if you turned left out of the camp you would walk a few hundred metres and then cross the railway line and be yards away from the Marine Lake with the miniature steam train going the one mile around the lake.. we may have passed one another in the fun and excitement of that fair and the Ocean Beach which was further up the road towards the promenade.

      My uncle used to drive the Crosville double decker bus from the camp which would drop campers along the promenade in the height of the season.

      Ironically, as you moved towards my home town I’ve ended up living in Southwell in Nottinghamshire.

      Thank you again for sharing your memories – I would bet that there would be quite a book of reminiscences from the lads and lasses of Derbyshire about the camp – I’d pay good money to read it!

      Best wishes ,

      David (Ambrose Conway)

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      • Dave and Jill Cannon says:

        Hi David!

        Thanks for posting my comment and adding your response! I’ve attached some examples of the camp “paperwork” and three photos.

        The booking form and travel voucher of 1954 show that each “chalet” only accommodated 2 people comfortably (?) and that on this occasion my parents occupied one and that my friend, Keith, and I had the one next door. When there was just me and my parents we squeezed into one chalet! The reservation confirmation and receipt show that the one week holiday (which included transport and meals) cost £17.75; I think that would have been about 2 week’s pay and I would guess that today that would be around £800-£1000. The Bus ticket document of 1952 shows that we had to congregate at New Street in Grassmoor at 7.30am and had seats in bus 8! The Ration Book receipt is a reminder of how long rationing went on for after WW2 and I can remember the black market trading between kids of sweet coupons that parents found had mysteriously disappeared – despite their efforts to hide them!

        The photo of the wheelbarrow race (my mother is the one wearing the headscarf and my father is the “wheelbarrow”) was taken in May 1951 and clearly shows the garden shed style of chalet of those days and the houses in, I think, Weston Road.

        The photo of the “rag and bone men” is of me and my friend – it wasn’t that difficult to appear as rag and bone men and the wheelbarrow and other odd items were “borrowed” from, how shall I say, around and about! The fancy dress competition was held in the “ballroom” that had a superbly polished wooden floor and I recall that we got into awful trouble when we appeared pushing, with some difficulty, the heavy steel wheelbarrow!

        The photo of the recorder player is me on Great Orme. The recorder, and a music tutor, had been bought for me to make up for some very wet and miserable days and I remember that whilst on Great Orme I played my first recognisable tune, that happened to be Ar Hyd Y Nos. This musical development turned out to be a major turning point in my life…….but that’s another story that began at the Derbyshire Miners Welfare Holiday Camp, Rhyl!

        I hope that some of the above is of interest!

        Best wishes,

        David Cannon

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  2. educationalist04 says:

    David,

    Your memories are gold dust to my ears. What a fabuulous time you had. If, like me, you were into trainspotting you would have had a field day spotting from the bridge at the end of Marsh Road or forking out 1d for a platform ticket for a day’s spotting!

    An interesting debut piece with the recorder … do tell the story of what followed from that?

    We are currently working up the Reso into a radio play.

    David (Ambrose Conway)

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  3. David Cannon says:

    Hi David! The images I sent seemed to have got lost! Any chance of adding them? David Cannon

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