Tag Archives: Musical

Variety Troupes in Rhyl 2! The 1920 Rhyl promenade

I wasn’t sure whether to use this film to highlight the 1920s Rhyl Promenade or another of  the Variety Troups who were a regular feature of Rhyl’s seaside entertainment from Victorian times until the 1950s.

Some great shots of the promenade and the extent of the sand hills in the East End at this date. The BFI caption has a mention of friend of the site Colin Jones, who runs a great Rhyl blog, reads:

“After you have seen this Picture, you will want to visit this Popular Health Resort’ declares the title-frame – and the two (male) Jovial Jesters company members certainly put life and soul into playing the eponymous ‘Mr and Mrs Jones’ having a high old time of it, larking about and viewing the delights of Rhyl vertiginously from atop their charabanc as it trundles along the seafront.

According to Colin Jones’s ‘Rhyl Life’ online blog, Gilbert Rogers’s Jovial Jesters appeared in Rhyl during summer seasons from 1907 until the 1920s, occupying the minstrel pitch on the sands opposite High Street. In this film made by the Shannon Film Company for Rhyl Advertising Association, the parts of Mr and Mrs Jones are played by Hardy Palm and Harry Fife, clad in jesters’ attire and (Mrs Jones) Welsh shawl and tall hat. Other Jovial Jesters appear too – acting drunk on the charabanc and performing on a beachfront stage – the whole spectacle attracting quite a crowd of spectators.”

Jovial Jesters on Rhyl Promenade

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The Merrie Men: Variety Troupes in Rhyl

There was a long tradition of seaside variety troupes of entertainers who performed comedy, dance a musical numbers and sketches.

May troupes spent the whole summer season in a single resort a in Rhyl the Coliseum a Gaiety Theatre would often  house them.

Probably the most famous Rhyl company was that run by Billie Manders, but amongst the earliest was the Merrie Men. This short film dates from 1899!

The Merrie Men in Concert in 1899



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Pierrot troops in Rhyl

There was a long tradition of Pierrot Troops appearing in summer seasons in Rhyl. They were in effect a complete variety team, focussing in particular on song and dance routines and comedy sketches. Although they appeared elsewhere, the Coliseum Theatre, for most of its life alfresco, and latterly covered, was the theatre most associated with this form of entertainment.

As well as E.H. Williams, the other group most associated with Rhyl was Billie Manders and his Quaintesques who performed in the town for over twenty years. The troop had several female impersonators, of whom Billie was the foremost, although Harry Tracy from the Channel Islands was also prominent.

This amazing video from the BFI archive goes back to an earlier time in the Pierrot history in 1901, The reason we have this footage is due to the activity of Arthur Cheetham, the cinema pioneer who was based in Rhyl, set up a very early cinema here.   …

E.H. Williams Pierrot troop


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Rhyl Reflections Trailer

I’ve been involved over the last year in a social history project based on the Rhyl of the fifties and Sixties.

Working with TAPE Community Film and Music we’ve put together a short film about the town in those days which interweaves reminiscences with films and images…

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Rhyl: The Musical

Using funding obtained from a US based philanthropist, Tape Community Music and Films have begun development work on a new community based project called Rhyl: The Musical.

The idea is to weave together images and recollections of the town from the 1950s to the present day with modern singing and dancing.

Neil from TAPE and I have had a couple of conversations about the project and initially I will be giving him access to the RESO manuscript to help him ground the project. More news to follow…


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