Tuesday 28 July 2009

The Blue Dolphin, Rhos On Sea

The Blue Dolphin formed part of the outdoor swimming pool complex at Rhos On Sea and the name was also used to represent the complex as a whole. In Summer, it functioned as the cafeteria for the pool but, at other times, hosted various functions and was described as 'one of the area's busiest social centres'. It was used for 'discos, parties, dances and flower shows'. It was originally opened on August 3rd 1933 by Boxing Champion Jack Petersen.

By the late 1970s, the complex had hit hard times. The Blue Dolphin recorded a loss of £14,000 in 1978 (a lot of money in those days!) and Council thoughts began to turn to closure. It didn't help that the whole place was showing its age and in need of expensive repairs.

In 1981, a Rhyl entrepreneur called Mike Farrell (already operator of Dinosaur World in Eirias Park) leased the complex from Colwyn Borough Council and announced his intention to revamp it into a Treasure Island themed water attraction, creating 80 jobs. The ageing changing rooms were to be demolished and the rubble used to reduce the pool's depth to 3 feet. A replica sailing ship and some fake islands were to be introduced to the pool, whilst the Blue Dolphin was to be extended and renovated to provide restaurant and ballroom facilities. The dilapidated Cegin Y Mynach tearooms (now the Rhos Fynach pub) were to be renovated and a synthetic roof fitted.

There was some local opposition to the plan and Treasure Island was never built. Instead, in 1984, Mike Farrell admitted defeat and simply handed back the lease to Colwyn Council. By 1985, the entire site was derelict - even the popular Cegin Y Mynach tearooms had been forced to close as it was thought the building was too unsafe to let out to concessionaires.

1987 saw the announcement that a development of luxury apartments could be built on the site, with prices as high as £60,000! The Rhos On Sea Residents Association was vehemently opposed to this scheme, arguing that it should remain as a public amenity space. The development didn't go ahead.

In 1988, plans were announced for an Ice Rink on the site - a development that would have meant the closure and removal of Abbey Road at its Eastern end. The development didn't go ahead.

In 1989, plans were announced by Strand Leisure for a £1 million Indoor Bowling Centre on the site, with cafe, bar, conference room and snooker facilities. The development didn't go ahead.

In 1990, a Llandudno businessman called Ray Gardner (of Tiffanys Cafe Bar fame) signed a 99 year lease with Colwyn Council for the former Cegin Y Mynach Tearooms and, at a cost of £350,000, it was then completely renovated and extended into the Rhos Fynach pub/restaurant we know today, which opened in November 1992. The Council (now CCBC) still own the Freehold and it is now let to Mr Robert Skelley (the current Landlord).

Rhos Fynach in 1954:

Rhos Fynach in 2009:


As for the Blue Dolphin itself, the swimming pool and associated facilities, they were all bulldozed away in the early 1990s and a small park, called 'Parc Rhos Fynach' now stands on the site (opened September 1993):

Although pleasant enough, the park has always seemed very bland and uninspiring to me. When one considers the many thousands of people that used to flock here to enjoy themselves at the outdoor pool, its hard not to feel a sense of loss.

If you can add to this history, or have spotted an error, please feel free to get in touch.


Anonymous said...

Very interesting thank you. Do you know any history re. current Rhos paddling pool?

DD said...

It was paid for a local resident (quite a well known local family as I recall) and there's actually a plaque at the site that says who it was - I cant remember the name unfortunately!

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