Memories Are Made Of This

A Memory of Rhyl.

My father’s family moved to Rhyl in 1891 and my mother’s family in 1925. My parents fell in love on Rhyl Golf Links. Even though they settled in Portsmouth after their wedding, family bonds held fast and we spent every summer and chunks of other time in Rhyl in the family homes of my mother in Highfield Park and my father in Conwy Street. I was born in 1935 and even though I do not remember much of pre WW2 days, I do remember that we enjoyed respite visits from the Blitz on Portsmouth throughout the war. On these visits my sister and I attended school at St. Mary’s Convent on Russell Road: long gone, replaced by a housing estate. The old family homes still stand, however, even the first one on East Parade.

How lucky I am to have spent so much of my childhood in Rhyl, growing up beside a gloriously smooth and firm sandy beach. Actually swimming in these shallows was a bit of a laugh: even very small children could paddle and play in waters little deeper than normally experienced in a bath tub. Being on the beach during ebb tide was perfect for making sandcastles, but you had to be on the lookout during flood tide, or you would find yourself stranded on a sandbank with water encircling you. Winter high tides, though, could be quite “enthusiastic” and as I grew older I loved walking along the lower prom at high tide, getting repeatedly splashed.

The last members of both my parents’ families died soon after I moved across the Atlantic to start a new life in Canada in 1959, and I thank my lucky stars that the Rhyl I knew “kept it all together” as long I was there. After I left, Rhyl Pier closed and was later demolished, the Marine Lake Amusement Park closed, the Pavilion closed, all joining the vanished or vanishing Punch and Judy Shows, the outdoor theatre and, to top it all off, the bandstand where we could sit and listen to the Rhyl Silver Band. But worst of all …… the sand dunes were gathered up and taken away, to be replaced by miniature golf. Sand crept in and overtook much of Rhyl Golf Links, reducing it from an 18 to a 9 hole course.

Both families played prominent roles in our lives, both individually and collectively. For example, my maternal grandfather would have me join him whenever possible as he walked into town every morning, and while we were walking, he would devote the time to bonding with me and teaching me how to behave “like a lady”. If a funeral procession went by – a fairly frequent occurrence in that town – we would stop, move to the edge of the pavement and face out towards the road, then stand still as the cars went by, taking care to bow our heads as the hearse passed. Almost everyone else did the same. And even now, I still do.

The lifestyle I knew in Rhyl has vanished. I cherish the memories, and feel privileged to have had the opportunity to experience this magical way of life, which added such depth to my memory bank.

Added 03 October 2013


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