Virtual Rhyality

I miss Rhyl but is it the Rhyl I remember that I miss or is it the place itself?

The closest I can manage at present is to let Google do the walking but even then when did Google create the images?

I took you through the Rhyl I remember now let’s see the Rhyl of more modern times.

The view from West Parade up Water Street. Turpin’s arcade has gone from the right to be replaced by a Beefeater Hotel. Good for attracting holidaymakers but a little bit of old Rhyl that’s gone.

Turn around and where the beautiful domed Pavilion once stood I now get to see:

A Sky Tower? I don’t even know when it replaced the Pavilion and whether it is still there.

Look to the other side of the Water Street opening, however, and there is a slightly flashier version of the arcades I knew and loved.

The only thing from my days in Rhyl is the name Harker on the arcade frontage, Les Harker.

I know that in the years I have been away there have been many changes in what was my home town for 17 years. They do say you should never go back because it will destroy your memories.

The last time I physically returned to Rhyl was two years ago following the funeral of my good friend Roger Steele. We said farewell at the Colwyn Bay Crematorium then travelled to Rhyl to raise a glass or two and spin yarns about him at one of the pubs where we once drank many years ago.

The Rhyl I really remember is from over 40 years ago now. Even starting outside my father’s old shop is different. The premises and those next door became part of a housing association company and even the front door to the house has changed.

Once a chemist shop but now changed completely. The window area was once a plate glass window curved at the right end where there was a porch with the shop door set back. The arch to the left once led to a covered porch with steps up to our front door, a magnificent Victorian porch. The bay window above was my bedroom in the late 60s.

I can imagine standing there then walking towards the prom before turning left on to Crescent Road to walk past our old back gates and the yard.

Now the yard is bigger because the Victorian mews at the back, which once would have housed a carriage but later housed our boats out of season when they were stripped and repainted or varnished, has gone and the dividing wall between our yard and the bakery is no more.

The back end of our house and business as it is now when seen from Crescent Road. To the left the stairs leading up to flat that Mr Massey once rented from us. The marked window, right, was my bedroom for a few years, shared with my brother, before we moved to a room at the front. The setback section of this property once had a wall coming out from between the two lower sets of windows.

As I continued down Crescent Road I could see the former bus and coach station, where I briefly ran my casing business, is now a car park for the Beefeater and where Marshall’s warehouse once stood is now a brand new house.

The biggest change was at the five-way junction. Where once had stood my Victorian red brick primary school there was now a featureless red brick, rectangular monstrosity.

At least the old tuck shop on the facing corner was still there. Gone are the Sherbert Dabs and Black Jacks and Spangles because it’s a hairdresser now.

Instead of going forward I turned to the left and took Bedford Street which would return me to Water Street. As it happens at the far end the barber’s shop which I first was taken to when I was five years old still offers the same service. Facing it, what was once the jeweller’s shop run by Vin Thomas, has been taken back as a home.

The barber’s shop where the five-year-old me used to sit on a board across the chair is now turned unisex.

The final part of the journey took me right out of Bedford Street on to Water Street. At the top where once stood the new Post Office when I was a child this is what remains:

At least you could still post a letter.

I did follow the Google maps to neighbouring streets but when I reached Queen Street I could not take any more. Too much of it had become a buiding site.

Many of the changes in Rhyl are probably vast improvements on the way it had become during its downturn period. They may have made it look tidy but they have taken its heart and soul.

Published by Robin

I'm a retired journalist who still has stories to tell. This seems to be a good place to tell them.

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