Tag Archives: Rhyl Promenade

The aftermath of the Hovercraft rescue….

Linked to the earlier post about the Hovercraft in Rhyl in 1962, this short film footage shows the repair efforts the day after the Hovercraft slipped her moorings in high seas and was rescued by the Rhyl lifeboat. Thanks to Graeme Rich for posting this…

Click here

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The end of the Rhyl hovercraft… RNLI rescue

The world’s first hovercraft service came to an ignominious end on the 17th September 1962. The hovercraft had completed its summer schedule and was tied up near the harbour, awaiting a tow back to its base in Liverpool for repairs and servicing.

She became adrift in high seas and the Rhyl Lifeboat was launched to rescue her. My cousin Gerald was involved in the rescue that night, helping to secure the hovercraft.

See more from the RNLI archive here


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The world’s first hovercraft service Rhyl to Wallesey!

Thanks to Rhyl historian Stuart Jones for bringing this little gem to my attention…

Among Rhyl’s many claims to fame is the fact that it is the site of the world’s first commercial hovercraft operation – Rhyl to Wallasey which was started in 1962.

The operation caused quite a stir, not least for the noise and sand kicked up by its operation! The service fell foul of the fact that not that many people wanted to travel between Rhyl and Wallasey so it became a novelty service rather than a valued transport connection.

The service was also plagued by technical problems with regular unservicability.

Although the service would probably have folded before too long, high seas and an adverse wind meant that the hovercraft drifted out to sea in a storm and had to be rescued by the Rhyl Lifeboat. Among the crew was my cousin, Gerald Hughes, read more about him in an earlier post.  The hovercraft was damaged beyond economic repair and thus ended the world’s first commercial hovercraft service.

See the video here

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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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Rhyl Promenade in 1963: Flint Fire Service on exercise

Some great views of Rhyl Promenade and related structures in this film of Flint Fire Service on a training exercise in 1963:


Plenty of Bedford Green Goddesses in action here!

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