Sunday, 26 July 2009

Rhos Fynach, Rhos On Sea, Colwyn Bay

Whilst reading an ancient copy of Norman Tucker's excellent book Colwyn Bay: Its Origin & Growth, I found this photo of the Rhos Fynach (now a popular pub on the front at Rhos on Sea) that must date back to the 1870s or maybe even earlier.

Taken across the road from where Ninos is now, it shows the gardens of the Rhos Fynach extending all over the Rhos Point area and reaching down to the beach, with the prom itself being a dead end finishing at the Fynach's gates. Also can be seen a series of stone farm buildings situated where the Rhos Abbey Hotel (now St Trillos Court apartments) was later built.

At extreme left of the photo can be seen what later became the grounds of the Promenade Garage, (home to legendary coach company, Pye's Coaches, before they moved to Prince's Drive) In 1956, the Forte family opened a small shack serving hot and cold drinks and snacks on the site. The present Fortes building, with flats above, dates back to the 1960s. The ground floor was reconfigured and refurbished in 1997 to form the present Fortes Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlour.

Larger version can be seen here:

Same view today:

Interesting to note that most of the buildings on the left-hand side are still around today.

How far back does the Rhos Fynach go into history? Its commonly known that a Charter was granted in 1230 by Llywelyn The Great to Ednyfed Fychan for the property then known as 'Ros Venych' but what's not so well known is that a quantity of Roman coins dating from the reign of Constantine The Great were discovered wrapped in sheets of lead in an old stone drain when a section of the Rhos Fynach's garden was being cleared for the construction of the Rhos Abbey Hotel in 1898. It appears that the earlier history of that particular area still remains to be uncovered.

The low lying land right along Penrhyn Avenue and the whole area of what is now the Golf Club were all originally part of the Afon Ganol stream and marshes. The stream flowed from the direction of Mochdre (it is said boats were once able to reach Mochdre) and split into two, one arm flowing out to sea by Penrhyn Bay (a map of 1720 shows a large lake at its mouth) and the other flowing down what is now Penrhyn Avenue, entering the sea at the bottom of Rhos Road. These days, a now much smaller Afon Ganol now flows through a man made ditch and is pumped out to to sea next to the clubhouse at the golf club.

Obviously, this was a time long before any sea defences were built, so the whole low lying area overflowed during high tide, thus making the higher land around the Rhos Fynach, St Trillos Chapel and Abbey Road a virtual island at times.

I believe there was a track/causeway from the Rhos Fynach to the 'mainland' that follows the route of the present prom towards Colwyn Bay, with a Lodge cottage for Rhos Fynach (later called the 'Rising Gull' ) situated roughly where the little newsagents on the corner of Rhos Road is now. I can just imagine the desolate, half flooded marshes where Penrhyn Avenue is now, with maybe a rough cart track winding its way through them over to the Rhos Fynach.

(Not sure who made the map or where it came from, but if anyone knows, I would be very happy to credit it fully.

More recently, it was unused during the early 1970s when it was very dilapidated. Colwyn Borough Council applied to demolish it in 1972 but failed. By this time, it had become part of the 'Blue Dolphin complex', with an open air swimming pool, cafe and changing rooms.

I think it was then renovated to some degree by the Council and reopened as the 'Cegin Y Mynach' tearooms, which lasted until about 1985/6, when its condition had again deteriorated to a point that it was unsafe to use. By this time, the whole Blue Dolphin complex was closed and abandoned. The Rhos Fynach building was boarded up and left for 5 years.

In 1990, a Llandudno businessman called Ray Gardener signed a 99 year lease with Colwyn Council and, at a cost of £350,00, it was then completely renovated and extended into the pub/restaurant we know today, which opened in November 1992. The Council (now CCBC) own the Freehold and it is now let to Mr Robert Skelley (the current Landlord).

Rhos Fynach in 1954:

Rhos Fynach in 2009:

Just remembered I have another one of the exterior, taken in 1908:

Here's some photos of the miniature golf course that was in the gardens of the Rhos Fynach in the 1970s:

The miniature golf course was removed (amid great local uproar) in 1990 as part of the conversion into the pub/restaurant. The area where it was located is now a lawn and circular outdoor terrace.


Anonymous said...

Found this when searching for my huband's ancestors. To me the photos are priceless - as I believe Rhos Fynach is where his ancestors lived (Parry Evans). Would anyone know if there is any Parry Evan info available elsewhere on Norh Wales' blogs?

Many thanks

Anonymous said...

Sitting here on promanade in Rhos, nice to see pics of the crazy golf. Still get annoyed every time I walk past where it was..... such a boring spot now :(


Anonymous said...

Sitting here on promanade in Rhos, nice to see pics of the crazy golf. Still get annoyed every time I walk past where it was..... such a boring spot now :(


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