Tag Archives: Rhyl Railway Station

The Reso: A place in time

 

capture

Copyright: Rhyl Town Council

 

It started as a homage to childhood really, my childhood, growing up on the Reso council estate in the seaside town of Rhyl in the nineteen sixties.

It was a time when my most serious concerns were, in seasonal order, would it snow when forty of my family made their way to the Fun Fair on Easter Monday, would the temperature in Rhyl outdoor baths ever top 55F, would I be picked for the annual Gwynfryn Avenue 150 a side football match against Rhydwen Drive and where was I going to find the two shillings a day needed to feed my autumnal firework habit.

 

63709_707008312657800_232735135_n

It quickly turned into something else.

In a feat of memory that seems to rival the Rain Man, I seem to have stored forensic detail of my childhood which others have forgotten……

… the starched feel of the antimacassars in our Welsh chapel-going neighbours’ front room where I sat playing with the snow dome bought on a Sunday school visit to Llandudno

… the metallic clunk of the stamping machine in the railway station on which you could print out rude messages of sixteen letter lengths, on which, I, at the age of eight, managed “Bum. titty bum bu” because I miscalculated the spaces and the punctuation

316484_10150368037268138_156640342_n
Not my copyright – Unknown Photo

…the intensely warm glow of a family Christmas tea at my Nain’s when twenty of my cousins would gather around the extended table to savour meats and pickles of cosmic variety and Corona lime and dandelion and burdock pop which was as flat as a witches’ tit, all the time sweating from the ship’s boiler room fire that my Nain had stoked up in the grate, inches behind me. 

…the wisdom of my mother, who reassured me that the reason we didn’t have chocolate biscuits in our house was because “I’d only eat them…”  an explanation that kept me happy until I was thirteen, and began wondering what else you’d do with biscuits!

…the twenty minute rule of my dad, which he reassured us, was more than enough time to have the immersion heater on for our weekly bath (whether we needed it or not!) in advance of watching the Beatles appearing on Sunday Night at the London Palladium

It seemed that my childhood was in fact everyone else’s childhood. Deeply rooted in that sixties decade when, despite the threat of world mutually assured destruction and random violence from the likes of Steve Caroli on the estate, everything seemed possible.

Many lived the same dream, and many today wished they had.

Standard

Advertisements
Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Essence of a sixties August family outing to Rhyl…

oioioi

Compared to today, when everyone has a camera on their phone,  one of my abiding  sadnesses is that so many of my childhood memories were so poorly documented on film.

Imagine my joy then when I found this little gem filmed in the early sixties . . it shows a group from the Rugeley Progressive Working Mens Club (no doubt CIU affiliated) on their annual pilgrimage to Rhyl.  Not only a camera, but a cine camera no less. The  stuttering graininess of the film merely adds to it’s charm.

I may have been on platform two at Rhyl Station that day with my tartan duffle bag, filled with a packet of crisps, some Tuc biscuits, some cheap orange squash and if I was particularly lucky, a Blue Riband bar.

The train would inevitably have been pulled by a Black Five loco, unkempt, wheezing and magnificent. Before I was enveloped by steam from leaking glands, I would make a note of the shed plate on the front of the engine. If it was a Birmingham shedded engine, it might be a cop – one I hadn’t seen before and I would write it in my little notebook to copy into my Ian Allan Combined Volume.

byvb

bbb

If I was feeling particularly adventurous I would approach the driver and ask if I could ‘cab’ him – climb up on the footplate for a few seconds. If the signal at the end of the platform was still down I might be lucky. If it was up, the driver and fireman would be busy for a sharp start to make up time on the route to Llandudno, which would be the destination of this excursion service.  On such occasions, no amount of please and thank you would elicit an invite.

Meanwhile the train would be disgorging trippers from every carriage door, all racing for the footbridge and all the kids rattling the chain along the top of the bridge in their rush to make the most of their short time in the town. Mums and dads, like our own, would be dressed in their Sunday best for a sit on the beach – suits and floral dresses abounded. Pacamacs available for the first sight of inclement weather!

This was Rugeley’s finest on parade. What happy days!

Watch the full glorious video here…    1961 Visit to Rhyl from Rugeley

 

Tagged , , , ,

Colin Jones’ Blog Spot on Rhyl

 

jklmlPhoto from Colin’s blog of a pre war Birmingham family enjoying themselves on Rhyl Beach

 

I’m not the first to have a lasting affection for my home town that has turned online.

One of my inspirations has been Colin Jones’ blog, which has been a constant source of amusement, memories and enjoyment.

I feature in one of the posts together with the Rhyl Junior High School Rugby team of 1969. My abiding memory of that team was playing on a frozen pitch at Glyndwr (then the Junior High School) and performing what others described as a ‘brave’ blockage of a long kicked ball with a rather sensitive part of my anatomy. I knew I had dome some serious damage, but it was thirty seconds, due to the cold, before the agony kicked in.

The blog is a compendium of  key places, events and people that makes up the historical fabric of the town. Strange to think that so much of what was our daily lives as children now forms historical records, of which, without people like Colin, would be lost in faded memories.

I send Colin my thanks and best wishes as he scales down the blog and concentrates on new challenges. Thank you for your research and insights into our great town.

Visit Colin Jones’ Rhyl BlogSpot

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Smells like Rhyl teen spirit…

 

10366028_649192055158076_1582848132908866755_n[1]Copyright: British Railways publicity department.

I had a conversation with a friend this week and we were talking about the evocative nature of smells which linger on the memory. It got me thinking about the smells associated with growing up in Rhyl…

My first is a general one which most of us shared up until August 1968 and that was the smell of sulphurous, hot oil and coal associated with steam trains stopped in the station at Rhyl. It was the smell of adventures as everyone in those maroon carriages was off somewhere, whilst I was stuck with a 1d platform ticket on the up line of the station. Luckily you can still re-live this in Rhyl by simply popping down to the Rhyl Marine Lake Railway and standing next to the engine before it sets off. Steam engines smell slightly differently today because they no longer have access to the Welsh steam coal which once powered ships across the globe. 260338_10200119901071348_901371961_n[1]

The second is a more distinctly Rhyl smell, that of donkey poo on the beach or on the journey from the beach to their overnight quarters. It was a distinctly fragrant and sweet smell, not, of itself, at all horrible. It whiffed of summer, sun, jelly sandals and ice creams.

 

My third is the smell of fresh baking at Reeds on Vale Road. I well remember popping in regularly for a 1d Hovis mini loaf which had both novelty value and a rich malty texture and smell. It was the essence of the smell of baking for me. I never minded queueing up in Reeds as you got to snort in the baking smell which quickly had you salivating like a dog in a butcher’s shop!  I later graduated to a regular habit of pineapple tarts which were sweet and tangy. I’ve never found any which came close to those from my youth.

You couldn’t think of Rhyl without smelling that concoction of caramelised onions, and candy floss that permeated the length of the west end. It smelt of summer adventures and fun. Possibly if you chose your ride badly at the fair,  the Rotor or the Mad Mouse for example, you might get a second chance to drink in this heady aroma later in the evening.

At the Foryd end of the town on a damp day, the smell of the wet seaweed and the incoming tide with a foamy head was very evocative. I’ve dreamed of that smell and woken up feeling homesick. I missed it greatly when I lived away from Rhyl.

Whenever we had relatives come to stay, which was often, we always ended up walking up the promenade and visiting the Lifeboat House. When the boat and tractor were in and the mechanic was working on them, the smell of the heavy deep blue lubricating oil was a rich smell I’ve only smelt in other Lifeboat stations.

427785_10151157386863138_2005698872_n

One of the least pleasant smells I associate with the town comes from the small beach next to the Foryd Bridge. I was drawn there one day, whilst playing along the river (and in the bushes between the river and the Marine Lake, from where my mother had warned me to stay away)  by a horrendous smell. It was the smell of rot and decay, yet I was drawn to it. I found a large tope, a type of shark, some eight foot long with the colour drained away from it so that it was almost indistinguishable from the sand and line of seaweed. It had been caught as a fishing trophy and dumped there once a photograph of the proud fisherman had been taken. What a waste of the life of an awesome fish I thought. It  was both scary and fascinating to be so close to this, by now eyeless, sea monster, the focus for millions of flies.

 

I spent an hour just looking at it and poking it with a stick to ensure it was indeed dead. The tope had probably been there for several days judging by the way the flies were entering a cavity opened up in the gut. There was little chance now that it was  simply sunbathing. Eventually the angry flies and overpowering dank odour drove me away, but I remained fascinated that such a beast had been swimming off the beach of Rhyl.

rb

Dank odours bring me to another distinctive Rhyl smell… the grotto that was the changing room at the open air pool on the promenade. The smell of wet mortar impregnated with almost fluorescent saturated moss was never forgotten. Those changing rooms were washed down by a firefighter grade hose pipe on a daily basis. The regular soaking the walls received only encouraged the tropical rainforest of moss and wet rot that climbed from the floor to every wall in each of the putrid cubicles. How I now miss that smell and the excitement it heralded.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

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…

Tagged , , , , , , ,
Advertisements