Tag Archives: Funfair

Easter Monday at Rhyl Fair!

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Easter Monday was our traditional family visit to the fairs in Rhyl.

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My dad didn’t hold with it as he reckoned the ride owners were testing their rides after the winter break and that they were looking for, and I quote, “local tatty heads to act as ballast on rides that were in the process of being serviced.” I didn’t listen to my dad on this occasion as the visit, led by my indomitable Nain was a family tradition. Nain had led the family to the fair every Easter Monday that I could remember. We went in all weathers with in-dampened enthusiasm, rain showers, high winds, even snow in the Easter of 1963, it didn’t matter.

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The tradition was that we all had half a crown from Nain, which meant we could go on five rides. I tended to be averse to anything that went up high as I had a morbid fear of heights. I always made out that I was saving my money for an extra turn on the dodgems when the others, including my younger cousins went on the Roller Coaster, Mad Mouse and the Rotor.

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Everyone went on the little train around the lake and the sulphuric smell of the well lubricated engines stays with me now as does the impression of the wooden slatted seats in the blue coaches as we wend our way around the Lake, being covered in smuts.

I remember the best Easter was probably the last. Fifty years ago today. My cousins and I gathered in the morning in the clinic field as it was a windy day and we wanted to fly our kites – the craze of 1968 as I remember it.

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Everyone gathered at Auntie Doris’ in Clwyd Ave by lunch-hour and the adults seemed keen to spoil the fun by sitting in the garden chatting endlessly. This state of affairs was only broken when my mum, managed to fall through a deck chair. My first thought was horror. Firstly  that she might be badly hurt as I knew the agony those deckchairs could inflict when I caught my hand in the scissor action of one as it collapsed on itself, as they seemed inclined to do. Secondly I was worried that she would do what she did when she fell over in Vale Road carrying the shopping home from Kwik Save in Queen Street. On that occasion, despite me carrying six bags of shopping  she jumped up and slapped me on the legs saying “Why didn’t you stop me falling!” It was the only time she had hit me and I understood that it was more about embarrassment than anger. Luckily she was unhurt and everyone burst out into a fit of the giggles as the children urged the adults towards the gate and away to the fair.

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Eventually we were there, revelling in the fresh breeze off the sea and the golden sunshine – Sunny Rhyl indeed.

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The rides and stalls transported us in all directions, spinning and whirring us at impossible angles and promising us magnificent prizes in exchange for our expertise with darts, ping pong balls, hoops and air rifles.

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It was all over too soon and we were corralled around the prams of the younger cousins and made our way down the Walk back to O’Hara’s for shared bags of chips. Along Wellington Road we ambled, past the Gas Works where my Taid had worked, past St John’s Church where we had attended the Good Friday service, past the Army Cadet base which seemed so enticing. We passed the new telephone exchange which seemed a picture of the future- all glass and clean lines, and arrived at the old stalwart… Sidolis.

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As every year, we pretended to lick the massive ice cream near the entrance and took possession of a large table  in the corner whilst Mrs Sidoli carefully went through the ritual of making the frothy coffee for the adults whilst the youngsters drooled waiting for their heavenly vanilla ice cream and a part share of two packs of Cadbury’s fingers.

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After half an hour we retraced our steps and made our way over the H bridge to our house in Gwynfryn Avenue. We children played out in the garden with water pistols and tennis balls while the aunties and Nain made the first salad of the year… and bugger the expense. Ham, tomato and cheese  sandwiches never tasted so good.

 

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A Sunday School trip to Rhyl in 1949

Rhyl was a Mecca for the day trip from clubs and works, schools and Sunday schools and the second half of this film shows a Sunday School trip by coach to Rhyl Funfair in 1949… innocent days!

Brynsiencyn (Anglesey) Trip to Rhyl Funfair in 1949

The BFI caption reads:

Members of the Women’s Institute [‘Sefydliad y Merched’] enjoy a fun-day in the village of Brynsiencyn, Anglesey, which includes a drama in fancy dress (including a striking sheep costume), a game with umbrellas and balls, a treasure hunt and refreshments. A local GP records this event – which takes place in a fellow GP’s garden at ‘Llwyn Idris’ – and also the chapel trip to Rhyl to sample the delights of the Marine Lake fairground.

‘Llwyn Idris’ was the home of The Reverend John Williams and his wife and also provided a separate home for his daughter, her husband (GP Dr Alun Griffiths) and their 3 sons. The Women’s Institute fun-day in the garden may have been an annual event. It was some years later that a Welsh-language alternative to the WI was established, after the WI decreed in 1967 that English was its official language. Welsh had traditionally been used in a number of branches in Wales so a break-away movement was formed that would operate in Welsh only as ‘Merched y Wawr’ (Women of the Dawn). Both the WI and MW are still going strong. Many members of the Brynsiencyn WI are seen on the trip to Rhyl, a popular venue for such excursions.

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Rhyl Funfairs 1959

This video encapsulates the Fairs as I remember them from family outings.

Look out for the Gaff… the walkway up between the two fairs where Les Williams had his stall and budgies – I managed to work a week there before succumbing to the flu!

The Satellite, the fast moving rocket ships, was a particular favourite. The Mad Mouse was a particularly vicious ride – see how the riders are jerked around the corners…

Thanks to Michael Theaker who produced this little gem…

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Simpler days: Rhyl Promenade and funfair in 1977…

 

A smashing video from the North Wales Nostalgia group outlining a day out in Rhyl in 1977!

 

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The wooden roller coaster at the Marine Lake – my nemesis!

Being a seaside resort, Rhyl had two funfairs up until the late sixties. The were both places of miracles and wonder.

The upper one was called Ocean Beach and, facing the sea, was a boisterous, windy and breathtaking affair!

The lower one was centred on the  Marine Lake and featured the RMR miniature railway powered by four small gauge steam engines. There were stalls and merry-go-rounds; small cars driven on a wooden rack; a carousel; an electric car racing track; a Tunnel of Love; a Hall of Mirrors; an indoor horse riding track and a rickety wooden Roller Coaster which is shown in this film.

When all my family, aunties, uncles and cousins, presided over by my Nain Conway went to the fairs on our traditional Easter Monday visit, we were given two shillings and sixpence each for rides.

Suffering terribly from vertigo, I had the indignity to pretend that I was saving my money for the dodgems, whilst everyone else went on the wooden roller coaster. I never heard of an accident there but the structure never gave me any confidence as the cars shuddered around it as what, to me, seemed like amazing speed. One year I was coaxed on to it, against my better judgment, by shouts of “chicken” from my younger cousins.

The terror of that ride is etched in my memory … the ratcheting up of the flimsy wooden car up the ridiculously angled incline, the dilapidated state of the track and safety fencing with its rot and flaking paint! The brief hiatus as the car was released from the metal cable and all went silent and then the rumble of the wheels as gravity took over to propel us around  initial corner and launch us into a headlong rush around a mad series of dives and turns. The whole ride shaking and vibrating with our impetus. My cousins, hands in the air screaming and  me hanging on with white knuckles to the gaudily coloured safety rail.

Despite the horrendous speed, it took an eternity for the ride to eventually come to a stop and for us to be ejected from the car by the next load of thrill seekers.  I was still shaking when we went to Sidolis for our customary ice cream a couple of hours later!

If you think I an over egging this story, the log flume which can be seen in the background in this short film was taken down after a fatal accident early in the twentieth century.

My dad always held the view that you shouldn’t go to the fair on the first day of the new season as they were using the customers to test the rides!

Rhyl Marine Lake Roller Coaster

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