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History of Rhos Fynach and Rhos-on-Sea


History of the Rhos Fynach

Rhos Fynach in the 1950s

The Rhos Fynach has centurys of history dating back to the middle ages.

Six Roman coins, in excellent condition, were found in the grounds of Rhos Fynach. They were from the time of Constantine the Great, indicating that the site was used in Roman times. In the Middle Ages, the site is thought by many to have been an outpost of the large Cistercian monastery at Maenan, in the Conwy Valley. The theory is that monks stayed overnight when making the round trip to collect fish from the fishing weir nearby. Legend has it that the buildings are haunted by a monk wearing a brown habit and white cloak.

A charter of Llywelyn Fawr (Llywelyn the Great) dated 1230 records that all rights in the land of “Ros Veneych” were bought by his chief adviser, Ednyfed Fychan. Ednyfed had to pay an annual rent of two shillings (10p in modern currency) for lamps in the parish church at Easter. Ednyfed was a significant figure in Welsh history. He also owned a manor house at the foot of Bryn Euryn, the hill south of Rhos.

In 1575, a charter by the Earl of Leicester granted Rhos Fynach, together with its lands and fishing rights, to a Captain Henry Morgan for the sum of sixpence. These favourable terms recognised services "rendered at sea in connection with the Queen’s enemies". In other words, Captain Morgan was a sea rover in the Drake tradition, a privateer who was probably not too particular whether England was technically at war or not with the ships he attacked. He was not the notorious pirate Captain Morgan, despite rumours to the contrary.

History of Rhos-on-Sea

The Rhosneigr

Situated at Rhos Point, the steamship Rhosneigr wreck may be seen at low water on a large spring tide albeit there is very little left to be seen these days apart from the drive arms to the paddles. Parts of the paddles metal structures are still evident. She was built in 1876 in Glasgow for the Southampton, Isle of Wight, and South of England Steamship Company and was originally named 'Prince Leopold'. She was sold to the Colwyn Bay and Liverpool Steamship company in 1906 and then to the Mersey Trading Company in 1907. She was renamed 'Rhosneigr'.

She developed trouble close to Rhos Pier, the passengers were offloaded safely but eventually she went aground near Rhos Point on July 20th 1908.

I haven't yet come across a picture of the 'Rhosneigr' but a close relative of hers is the `Rhos Colwyn` paddle steamer which was owned by Mr W. Horton who was a prominent businessman and property owner in Rhos on Sea. She operated between Rhyl, Rhos and Llandudno, surviving until 1911 when she was sold for breaking up. Below is a picture of the 'Rhos Colwyn' and the 'Rhosneigr' would have looked very similar to this:

Rhos on Sea Pier

Rhos on Sea Pier was originally the Douglas, Isle of Man Pier and was built in 1869. It was taken down, sold to Rhos on Sea and rebuilt in 1896. A far longer pier than Colwyn Bay it serviced pleasure boats between Liverpool, Rhyl, and Conwy. During the second world war it was decided that a portion be removed from the centre of the structure to prevent any attempts of landing by enemy troops. Shortly after the end of the war it was demolished completely as it was deemed unsafe. A sad end to another great Victorian pier.

Mosquito Airplane

Up to approximately 20 years ago there was another wreck situated alongside the Rhosneigr at Rhos Point and this was the remains of a Mosquito Airplane. All that could be seen Mosquito aircraftof it at low water on a big spring tide was a large straight upright propellor blade and one bent blade and the top of the engine housing. The legendary Mosquito, the 'Wooden Wonder', was one of the decisive aircraft of World War II and was conceived as an unarmed high-speed bomber. The Mosquito was built of a ply/balsa sandwich material. It was first flown on November 25th 1940 and possesed such phenomenal capabilities that it was developed in many different variants : an unarmed bomber, a reconnaissance aircraft, a radar carrying night fighter and a potent fighter bomber.

Following its crash into the briny needless to say the fuselage quickly disappeared and the remaining 'bits' were eventually removed by amateur divers and the rumour was that the remaining engines were of significant value owing to their bronze metal content!

The Blue Dolphin

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.

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).

Fish Weir

Photograph of Rhos-on-Sea Fish Weir

Mock up of Rhos-on-Sea Fish Weir

Rhos-on-Sea Coast From The Past


The Oriel Hotel Rhos Fynach