CARDALL’S CORNER – A Victorian Summer Holiday in Rhyl – July 2016

By Val Brodie

The Journal of Annie Eliza Bull – July 1874

In Annie Bull’s day, the journey time from Marton to Rhyl was six hours. Travelling with friends in a group including children, her train trip (change at Rugby, Crewe and Chester) was an adventure for a young single woman, in her early twenties. She wrote a journal each day and a copy has come into the Southam Heritage Collection, courtesy of Gill Flower, and from it we have learned a lot about Victorian holidays.

Annie said ‘we all felt tired when we got in, it was a very nice day and we had a pleasant journey only it was so dusty the dust seemed to blow in through the carriage windows all the time’. They were met at Rhyl station with a carriage by their landlord, whom they knew, and then on arrival they went upstairs to wash and brush their clothes free of dust before having tea. First they wrote home then ‘went out onto the Parade and heard the band’.

All meals were taken at their lodgings and special items of food such as salmon or a fowl were bought at the market. The children played on the sands whilst the adults walked along the sea front to see the crowds and watch the dancing in the evenings.

Some mornings they went onto the beach before breakfast and bathed. Bathing featured most days and a bathing machine was hired from the old woman in charge. Annie’s friend Emmie had her ears pierced and they had their photographs taken – a lengthy activity! Not only the children but the young women enjoyed donkey rides. The party hired a piano which was delivered to the lodgings on their first evening and happy times were spent ‘with music’.

The surroundings were very different from landlocked Warwickshire. When the steamer was due to land from Llandudno they went to watch it dock at the pier. Built in 1867 at a cost of £15,000, the pier stretched nearly half a mile out into the sea. (It was demolished in1973.)

There were expeditions into the hills to see the wonders of the waterfall at Dyserth and the castle at Elmdean. They travelled by donkey cart with extra donkeys for the youngsters. They passed a National School for the poor, so in they went! Imagine a modern head teacher admitting rubber-necking tourists! The pupils spoke Welch (Annie’s spelling) but were being taught English. They sang to the visitors who also admired their handwriting.

The homeward trip again was tiring and they almost missed their connection for Marton at Rugby – but ‘the guard held the train’. Times were different then!

First published in the District Advertiser, Southam edition July 2016