In October 2017, Marion took us on a fantasy holiday from London to Holyhead and Ireland, and showed some of the highlights that people would have enjoyed in 20th Century North Wales. We were mainly on the railway, which came here in 1848, and really opened up the area to tourism. Before the age of the trains, visitors would have had to contend with poor roads and stage-coaches to get around.

Marion's transport collection is a magnificent record of how we traveled in days gone by, and in this presentation, she showed us a wide variety of vehicles. From Chester station we traveled west and at Holywell, a motor omnibus took us from the out-of-town station, to the town itself, where we could see the Holy Well. A steam lorry took the freight from the station to wherever it was needed.

We took a detour onto the Prestatyn to Dyserth railway, and then arrived at Rhyl station, much the same now as when it was built. In Rhyl we saw the Monorail which had a short life – just a few weeks on the prom in the 1970s, and went to the dolphin show which was near the fairground. The Miniature railway opened in 1911, and is still a big attraction in the town. We were also on the beach when the world's first passenger hovercraft came in from Wallasey in 1962. [I was actually there! – it really was astonishing to see this huge 'boat' suddenly leave the water and make its way, crab-like, up the beach. I will never forget that sight!! …. K.]

In Llandudno, we walked along the longest pier in Wales, watched Ferrari's performing birds and went up the Great Orme on the Railway, which opened in July 1902.

We continued to Deganwy, where we boarded one of the river steamers for a wonderful trip down to Trefriw, to visit the Roman Wells, and then take a tour of the area by coach and horses. Other tours that we could have tried were the Loop Tour from Betws-y-Coed, the Silver Armchair coach tours and the char-a-banc tour around Snowdonia. The jewel in the crown was, and still is, the rail journey up Snowdon. It is hard to believe that in the early days, the only protection from the weather were some rather elegant curtains at the carriage windows.

We crossed the Menai Bridges on to Anglesey, where we found a very rural scene, of sheep being taken down the middle of the main street in Llanfair PG. We visited the unfinished castle of Edward I in Beaumaris, and the capital of the island, Llangefni, a small market town, then as now. We arrived at Holyhead station and boarded one of the LNWR boats for the 3 hour trip to Dublin, where some beautiful Irish scenery awaited, and there, sadly, we had to end our holiday, and make our way home.

It was another superb presentation from our Chairman, and we hope that there will be another from her in next year's programme.

 

Eric Coulton was our speaker in November, 2017, and his talk centred on the area between Rhuddlan in the south and the River Clwyd delta area in the north, which includes Kinmel Bay to the west and Rhyl to the east.

Beginning in Rhuddlan, which was occupied in Anglo-Saxon times, Eric told us how important the town was in the 13th Century, when Edward I decided to build another of his castles there, in his attempt to control the Welsh population. His difficulty lay in the fact that the Clwyd was not navigable as far as Rhuddlan and he need to bring in the building-stone by boat, as the surrounding area was, at that time, marshland. He solved the problem by canalizing the river to give access from the Irish Sea. Edward's first Parliament was held in Rhuddlan – we can still see the 'Parliament House' on the High Street – and in 1283, the 'Statute of Rhuddlan' gave Wales its independence and new judicial powers. Edward was in Rhuddlan when his first son was born in Caernarfon, and he founded the tradition of the monarch's first son being given the title of Prince of Wales.

The area is bounded by three great country estates – Bodelwyddan, Kinmel and Gwrych, and when, in 1794, the marshland was drained, and embankments raised, some development, and roads were built across the area, linking the surrounding towns. In 1848, the Chester to Holyhead coast railway was opened. It needed a rail bridge over the Clwyd, and at that time, there was only a ferry for foot passengers. The Ferry Hotel on the west bank in Kinmel Bay is a reference to it. Between 1862 and 1928, there was a wooden toll-bridge over the Voryd near the mouth of the Clwyd, but it became unsafe towards the end of its life, and bus passengers had to walk across and board the bus again on the other side. Soldiers walking in from the military camps were chadged half-price on the toll.

In 1932, the familiar art-deco 'Blue bridge' was erected to take road traffic, and in the harbour, the new 'Dragon's Bridge' for pedestrians and cyclists only, was opened in 2013, completing 15 miles of dedicated cycleways in Denbighshire and Conw.

The railway brought holidaymakers from England's industrial towns, and the area developed to cater for the tourists, with attractions such as the Marine Lake and the Miniature Railway.

On the west of the Clwyd, 1000 acres of the land purchased by the Kinmel Estate after the draining of the marsh, was bought by The Kinmel Bay Land Co., Ltd., divided into small parcels and sold to people who wanted to build their own homes. The area became known as Kinmel Bay in c1925, and postcards were issued by the Kinmel Bay Land Co., Ltd. to advertise the project. However, as no basic services had been provided, it must have been very disappointing for those who had dreamed of building a better life in North Wales. The unethical land company went bankrupt in 1931.

Sandy Cove was originally a private estate of holiday homes, which later became permanent residences.. Sunnyvale was taken over by the military during the war, and there is a series of postcards which show the estate. One card of 'Aled Gardens' is captioned 'Allied Gardens'…

Today, the North Wales coast has one of the highest concentrations of holiday caravans in Europe. Eric's talks are always engrossing and enjoyable, and his illustrations are beautifully presented.

 

In January 2018, we enjoyed looking at albums that members had brought along.
There was a wealth of interesting postcards. Jane brought a family collection that had belonged to Nellie. She was part of a wandering troop who appeared in music hall in different parts of the country. When she had to stay home due to illness her friends sent postcards from each venue. Many were pictures of children and she was always addressed as My Chum.

Keith had a collection from a mystery photographer. It seems he travelled from the north of Lancashire down to Cheshire and into Wales taking pictures. They were very distinctive with a wide white border and a photo with curved edges in the centre. Keith would love to know who the photographer was because there is no name printed on the cards.

Trebor is trying to collect all Tucks Oilette cards. He brought an album by the artist Agnes Richardson. These cards of children and fairies are very distinctive. The pictures were replicated several times and Trebor is looking for all the variations.

Olivia and Lynne had some photographic cards of Glan Conwy Hawarden, the villages where they grew up. They both made comments about how much they had changed.

With other cards of North Wales shop fronts, orchids, wooden cards and football it certainly made a fascinating evening.

 

There was a good attendance for Peter Simpson's eagerly-anticipated talk about the life of the 7th Marquess of Anglesey, in February.. The title of Marquess was bestowed upon Field Marshall Henry William Paget, 2nd Earl of Uxbridge, on 4th July, 1815, following his role as Second-in-Command to Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo, when a severe knee injury meant that he later lost part of the leg. His wooden, artificial, articulated leg is on display at Plas Newydd.
            George, Charles, Henry, Victor Paget, the 7th Marquess, was born on 8th October, 1922. The family derived their wealth from deposits of coal beneath their Staffordshire estate, and copper in Parys Mountain on Anglesey.  Henry grew up at the family home, Plas Newydd, with his mother and sisters, one of whom, Katharine, was his twin. He attended Wixenford School and Eton College, before returning to Anglesey to be tutored at home.
              In the 1930s the house was modernised and in 1936, Rex Whistler was commissioned to paint a mural for the new dining room. The teenage Henry, also an artist, formed a bond with Rex. During the war, Henry's artistic ability was put to good use, when he went to work in the drawing office at the Vickers-Armstrong Aircraft factory in Broughton, Flintshire, which made the Wellington bombers. He was able to redesign part of the wing, which was then called the 'Uxbridge aileron'   In 1940, he joined the Hampshire Regiment and later, the Royal Horse Guards, his father's Regiment. By 1947, he was an Honorary Attache at the British Embassy in Washington DC.  When his father passed away on the 21st February that year, Henry became the 7th Marquess. The family faced crippling death duties, which took 9 ½ years to clear.  In October, 1948, Henry married Shirley Morgan in Chiswick Parish Church, and over the next 14 years, the couple had 5 children.
            Henry was a County Councillor for Anglesey from 1951 to 1967 and he and his wife were involved with many public bodies, such as the Historic Buildings Council for Wales, the National Trust, the National Federation of Women's Institutes and the Welsh Arts Council. Henry was a man of the people, and enjoyed the  Summer Fairs held at Plas Newydd,  and also the major events, such as the Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in Caernarfon in 1969.
           
            When plans for a third crossing of the Conwy river were under discussion, he led the campaign for the tunnel, rather than a bridge to carry the A55.  He was Lord Lieutenant of Gwynedd between 1983 and 1990. He was also a family- and military-historian, having published, among other works, a biography of the 1st Marquess, and an 8-volume 'History of the British Cavalry'. He was a broadcaster and took part in many television and radio programmes, including 'Down your Way' and 'Bargain Hunt' .
                In 1976, Henry  gave Plas Newydd to the National Trust, and his friend, the architect Clough Williams-Ellis, performed the opening ceremony. Although the house and gardens are now open to the public, some of the family still live in apartments there. The house is elegant, but homely and comfortable, while the gardens are informal and beautiful, with the backdrop of the Menai Strait and Snowdonia.
            To mark the centenary of the birth of Rex Whistler, in 2005, Peter Simpson had suggested that a commemorative exhibition might be mounted at Plas Newydd, and he recorded an interview with the Marquess. It was a great surprise and delight for us to be able to hear extracts from the interview during the talk at the Club. Peter had also been given access to the family photograph albums, and his presentation included many lovely items from them.
            In 2006, Henry took part in the funeral service of his friend, the artist Sir Kyffin Williams.
            Henry passed away at home, on  13th July,  2013, and a private service took place at St. Edwen's  Church, which is on the Plas Newydd estate. A Memorial Service  was held at Bangor Cathedral on 14th June, 2014, in which Peter gave one of the eulogies.
            Peter has a great affection for Plas Newydd and its history and we all of us felt that we had almost 'met' the Marquess during the evening, as Peter had spoken so eloquently about him and his family.
 

In October 2017, Marion took us on a fantasy holiday from London to Holyhead and Ireland, and showed some of the highlights that people would have enjoyed in 20th Century North Wales. We were mainly on the railway, which came here in 1848, and really opened up the area to tourism. Before the age of the trains, visitors would have had to contend with poor roads and stage-coaches to get around.

               Marion's transport collection is a magnificent record of how we traveled in days gone by, and in this presentation, she showed us a wide variety of vehicles. From Chester station we traveled west and at Holywell, a motor omnibus took us from the out-of-town station, to the town itself, where we could see the Holy Well. A steam lorry took the freight from the station to wherever it was needed.

               We took a detour onto the Prestatyn to Dyserth railway, and then arrived at Rhyl station, much the same now as when it was built. In Rhyl we saw the Monorail which had a short life – just a few weeks on the prom in the 1970s, and went to the dolphin show which was near the fairground.

The Miniature railway opened in 1911, and is still a big attraction in the town. We were also on the beach when the world's first passenger hovercraft came in from Wallasey in 1962. [I was actually there! – it really was astonishing to see this huge 'boat' suddenly leave the water and make its way, crab-like, up the beach. I will never forget that sight!! …. K.]

               In Llandudno, we walked along the longest pier in Wales, watched Ferrari's performing birds and went up the Great Orme on the Railway, which opened in July 1902.

We continued to Deganwy, where we boarded one of the river steamers for a wonderful trip down to Trefriw, to visit the Roman Wells, and then take a tour of the area by coach and horses. Other tours that we could have tried were the Loop Tour from Betws-y-Coed, the Silver Armchair coach tours and the char-a-banc tour around Snowdonia. The jewel in the crown was, and still is, the rail journey up Snowdon. It is hard to believe that in the early days, the only protection from the weather were some rather elegant curtains at the carriage windows.

               We crossed the Menai Bridges on to Anglesey, where we found a very rural scene, of sheep being taken down the middle of the main street in Llanfair PG. We visited the unfinished castle of Edward I in Beaumaris, and the capital of the island, Llangefni, a small market town, then as now. We arrived at Holyhead station and boarded one of the LNWR boats for the 3 hour trip to Dublin, where some beautiful Irish scenery awaited, and there, sadly, we had to end our holiday, and make our way home.

               It was another superb presentation from our Chairman, and we hope that there will be another from her in next year's programme.

Eric Coulton was our speaker in November, 2017, and his talk centred on the area between Rhuddlan in the south and the River Clwyd delta area in the north, which includes Kinmel Bay to the west and Rhyl to the east.

               Beginning in Rhuddlan, which was occupied in Anglo-Saxon times, Eric told us how important the town was in the 13th Century, when Edward I decided to build another of his castles there, in his attempt to control the Welsh population. His difficulty lay in the fact that the Clwyd was not navigable as far as Rhuddlan and he need to bring in the building-stone by boat, as the surrounding area was, at that time, marshland. He solved the problem by canalizing the river to give access from the Irish Sea. Edward's first Parliament was held in Rhuddlan – we can still see the 'Parliament House' on the High Street – and in 1283, the 'Statute of Rhuddlan' gave Wales its independence and new judicial powers. Edward was in Rhuddlan when his first son was born in Caernarfon, and he founded the tradition of the monarch's first son being given the title of Prince of Wales.

               The area is bounded by three great country estates – Bodelwyddan, Kinmel and Gwrych, and when, in 1794, the marshland was drained, and embankments raised, some development, and roads were built across the area, linking the surrounding towns. 

In 1848, the Chester to Holyhead coast railway was opened. It needed a rail bridge over the Clwyd, and at that time, there was only a ferry for foot passengers. The Ferry Hotel on the west bank in Kinmel Bay is a reference to it. Between 1862 and 1928, there was a wooden toll-bridge over the Voryd near the mouth of the Clwyd, but it became unsafe towards the end of its life, and bus passengers had to walk across and board the bus again on the other side. Soldiers walking in from the military camps were chadged half-price on the toll.

In 1932, the familiar art-deco 'Blue bridge' was erected to take road traffic, and in the harbour, the new 'Dragon's Bridge' for pedestrians and cyclists only, was opened in 2013, completing 15 miles of dedicated cycleways in Denbighshire and Conw.

The railway brought holidaymakers from England's industrial towns, and the area developed to cater for the tourists, with attractions such as the Marine Lake and the Miniature Railway.

On the west of the Clwyd, 1000 acres of the land purchased by the Kinmel Estate after the draining of the marsh, was bought by The Kinmel Bay Land Co., Ltd., divided into small parcels and sold to people who wanted to build their own homes. The area became known as Kinmel Bay in c1925, and postcards were issued by the Kinmel Bay Land Co., Ltd. to advertise the project. However, as no basic services had been provided, it must have been very disappointing for those who had dreamed of building a better life in North Wales. The unethical land company went bankrupt in 1931.

Sandy Cove was originally a private estate of holiday homes, which later became permanent residences..  Sunnyvale was taken over by the military during the war, and there is a series of postcards which show the estate. One card of 'Aled Gardens' is captioned 'Allied Gardens'…..

Today, the North Wales coast has one of the highest concentrations of holiday caravans in Europe.

Eric's talks are always engrossing and enjoyable, and his illustrations are beautifully presented.

  In Janusry 2018, we enjoyed looking at albums that members had brought along.

There was a wealth of interesting postcards. Jane brought a family collection that had belonged to Nellie.

She was part of a wandering troop who appeared in music hall in different parts of the country. When she had to stay home due to illness her friends sent postcards from each venue. Many were pictures of children and she was always addressed as My Chum.

Keith had a collection from a mystery photographer. It seems he travelled from the north of Lancashire down to Cheshire and into Wales taking pictures. They were very distinctive with a wide white border and a photo with curved edges in the centre.

Keith would love to know who the photographer was because there is no name printed on the cards.

 

Trebor is trying to collect all Tucks Oilette cards. He brought an album by the artist Agnes Richardson. These cards of children and fairies are very distinctive. The pictures were replicated several times and Trebor is looking for all the variations.

 Olivia and Lynne had some photographic cards of Glan Conwy Hawarden, the villages where they grew up. They both made comments about how much they had changed.

With other cards of North Wales shop fronts, orchids, wooden cards and football it certainly made a fascinating evening.

 

There was a good attendance for Peter Simpson's eagerly-anticipated talk about the life of the 7th Marquess of Anglesey, in February.. The title of Marquess was bestowed upon Field Marshall Henry William Paget, 2nd Earl of Uxbridge, on 4th July, 1815, following his role as Second-in-Command to Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo, when a severe knee injury meant that he later lost part of the leg. His wooden, artificial, articulated leg is on display at Plas Newydd.

  George, Charles, Henry, Victor Paget, the 7th Marquess, was born on 8th October, 1922. The family derived their wealth from deposits of coal beneath their Staffordshire estate, and copper in Parys Mountain on Anglesey.  Henry grew up at the family home, Plas Newydd, with his mother and sisters, one of whom, Katharine, was his twin. He attended Wixenford School and Eton College, before returning to Anglesey to be tutored at home.
 
n the 1930s the house was modernised and in 1936, Rex Whistler was commissioned to paint a mural for the new dining room. The teenage Henry, also an artist, formed a bond with Rex. During the war, Henry's artistic ability was put to good use, when he went to work in the drawing office at the Vickers-Armstrong Aircraft factory in Broughton, Flintshire, which made the Wellington bombers. He was able to redesign part of the wing, which was then called the 'Uxbridge aileron'   In 1940, he joined the Hampshire Regiment and later, the Royal Horse Guards, his father's Regiment. By 1947, he was an Honorary Attache at the British Embassy in Washington DC.  When his father passed away on the 21st February that year, Henry became the 7th Marquess. The family faced crippling death duties, which took 9 ½ years to clear.  In October, 1948, Henry married Shirley Morgan in Chiswick Parish Church, and over the next 14 years, the couple had 5 children.
Henry was a County Councillor for Anglesey from 1951 to 1967 and he and his wife were involved with many public bodies, such as the Historic Buildings Council for Wales, the National Trust, the National Federation of Women's Institutes and the Welsh Arts Council. Henry was a man of the people, and enjoyed the  Summer Fairs held at Plas Newydd,  and also the major events, such as the Investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in Caernarfon in 1969.
When plans for a third crossing of the Conwy river were under discussion, he led the campaign for the tunnel, rather than a bridge to carry the A55.  He was Lord Lieutenant of Gwynedd between 1983 and 1990. He was also a family- and military-historian, having published, among other works, a biography of the 1st Marquess, and an 8-volume 'History of the British Cavalry'. He was a broadcaster and took part in many television and radio programmes, including 'Down your Way' and 'Bargain Hunt' .
In 1976, Henry  gave Plas Newydd to the National Trust, and his friend, the architect Clough Williams-Ellis, performed the opening ceremony. Although the house and gardens are now open to the public, some of the family still live in apartments there. The house is elegant, but homely and comfortable, while the gardens are informal and beautiful, with the backdrop of the Menai Strait and Snowdonia
 To mark the centenary of the birth of Rex Whistler, in 2005, Peter Simpson had suggested that a commemorative exhibition might be mounted at Plas Newydd, and he recorded an interview with the Marquess. It was a great surprise and delight for us to be able to hear extracts from the interview during the talk at the Club. Peter had also been given access to the family photograph albums, and his presentation included many lovely items from them.
 In 2006, Henry took part in the funeral service of his friend, the artist Sir Kyffin Williams.
Henry passed away at home, on  13th July,  2013, and a private service took place at St. Edwen's  Church, which is on the Plas Newydd estate. A Memorial Service  was held at Bangor Cathedral on 14th June, 2014, in which Peter gave one of the eulogies.
Peter has a great affection for Plas Newydd and its history and we all of us felt that we had almost 'met' the Marquess during the evening, as Peter had spoken so eloquently about him and his family.
 
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In March, Ken Golby took on the role of 'Entertainment Manager', as he took us on a tour of Britain's holiday camps [no knobbly knees in sight!]
 He charted the development of UK holidays from the beginning of the 20th Century to the present day, with a slide-show of contemporary postcards, posters and advertisements, and some of his own holiday memories. There was also a display of camp-badges, including car-badge from a Butlin's Camp.  
 In the early years of the 20th Century, camping under canvas in a field near the sea was an enjoyable and affordable holiday. The campsite at Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk was just for tents in 1906, but was later upgraded to chalets.. The chalet sites often had only basic facilities, with a communal toilet / shower block and stand-pipes for water. The success of this camp resulted in the development of 14 new sites the area, a trend which was seen in other parts of the country
 By 1931, Billy Butlin was running a fairground in Skegness, and saw the opportunity to expand his seaside business into holiday camps. The first, in Skegness, was opened in April,  1936, by aviator Amy Johnson, and a second opened in Clacton in 1938. . This new way of providing holidays, with on-site accommodation, entertainment, meals and other facilities such as nurseries,  was popular around the country and was soon copied by others. The camps were a springboard for many of the Redcoat entertainers, some of whom went on to become household names - Des O'Connor, Cliff Richard, and locally, Jimmy Tarbuck at the Pwllheli Camp. Although the big three names, Butlin, Warner and Pontin, were friends, they were rivals in business.
 The story of many of the camps can be told by one in North Wales. The Tower Beach Camp in Prestatyn, which was funded jointly by the LMS Railway and Thomas Cook, was to have been the first of a string of luxury 'Cook's Camps' across the country, but it was  the only one built. It was designed ,as many were at that time, in the Art Deco style. The camp opened in the summer of 1939 but was taken over by the Royal Corps of Signals from September that year. It reopened for holidaymakers in the 1950s, was bought and refurbished by Pontins in 1975, but  finally closed in 1985. The site is now a housing estate called Tower Gardens. This is a fate which befell many of the camps, as, in the 1960s and 70s, foreign holidays became more affordable.
The holiday camps had to upgrade their offerings to compete and many converted to caravan parks, or  closed altogether. In the 21st Century, the chains are still improving their holidaymakers' experience - between 2005 and 2013, Butlin's opened 3 hotels in Bognor Regis, The Shoreline,  The Ocean and The Wave, all built in a flamboyant Art Deco style.
  The Scouts and Guides, Church Lads' and Church Girls' Brigades and other youth organizations have for many years involved their members in adventure- and holiday-camps. The CLCGB's Chester and Liverpool Camp will be in Prestatyn, 28th July – 4th August this year
 The National Camps were set up by the government as educational holiday facilities just before WW2, and they were also expected to serve as accommodation for evacuees during the war. One such, the Colomendy Camp, was located near Mold, Flintshire, and a card written from the camp, by Doreen to her mother in Liverpool, has the poignant message " …I don't like it here. Will you come and fetch me home."
The Miners' Welfare  Scheme built the Derbyshire Miners' Camps for employees and their families, and was just one of many such organizations providing much-needed holidays for workers across the country.
  The traditional 'Hi-de-Hi'- style camp may be losing its attraction for many people, now that air travel has allowed us to holiday in almost guaranteed good weather abroad, but it is still popular, especially with those who have fond memories of their own holidays in a gentler age, and want their children or grandchildren to have the same experience.            
Ken gave us a most interesting and enjoyable evening, showing a vast knowledge of his subject, with a talk interspersed with lots of fun and laughter.
 
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Adrian Hughes, owner and curator of the 'Home Front Experience' in Llandudno introduced his talk by telling us how he came to be reading all the headstones in the Great Orme Cemetery.   
 
 The Commonwealth War Graves Commission tries to identify the resting places of servicemen and women,  in churchyards and cemeteries throughout the country, so Adrian chose to look at this one. The tiny church of St. Tudno  served the sparse population of the Great Orme for centuries, but by 1890 the cemetery had reached its capacity. The council bought 3 acres of land adjacent to it, and the new cemetery was opened in 1903.  At that time there was no water on site, and the nearest well was ¼ mile away, but later, water was pumped up the hill. The approach road was very steep and dangerous for horse-drawn hearses, so the now familiar 'zig-zag' road was built. 
 
There was a great variety of stories to tell about the residents of the cemetery. With some, it was the life of the person which was remarkable, such as that of Zaloudek,  'The Bohemian Bigamist', a tailor with a shop in Mostyn Street, who made the dress for the 1924 Llandudno May Queen. With others, it was the circumstances of their death, as in the sad case of newly-married man, Ernest Weller who was killed  in a train-crash on April 17th, 1948, aged 23. [I had just checked the date and realised that I was writing this on 17th April, 2018 - exactly 70 years later! ]
 
There are two headstones with the same date – July 13th, 1911, the day of the Investiture of the Prince of Wales in Caernarfon.  Each has an inscription describing how the men died. They were council-workman Thomas Jones and Joseph Hobson. During the day, the two men had prepared an old boat with combustible materials and a flammable liquid, out in the bay, to be set on fire that evening as part of the Investiture celebrations. Sadly when the men went back later to light the fire-boat,  there was a huge explosion, and the headstones tell us that Joseph, aged 21 years, was drowned in the accident, while Thomas, 61 years old, was killed by the explosion. It was a dreadful end to what was to have been a joyful day.
 
Major James Cecil Parke, born in Ireland in 1881, was a celebrated sportsman – a rugby union captain and tennis champion, he played golf for Ireland, and was a cricketer and sprinter. He was wounded twice in WW1, and in 1920, moved to Llandudno to join a firm of solicitors. He was a Scout Leader, and was the founder of the tennis courts at Craig-y-Don, which are adjacent to the Community Centre where the Postcard Club meets and holds its annual Postcard Fair in August. James collapsed in Mostyn Street, and died on 17th February, 1946 at the age of 64.
 
Mary Johnson moved to Llandudno from Hythe in Kent in 1917, to avoid the Zeppelin raids on the south coast. In September 1918, she was in Ireland visiting her daughter, and on 10th October, she boarded RMS Leinster in Dublin for the return journey to Holyhead. A German Submarine fired 2 torpedoes which hit and sank the Leinster, which had on board almost 500 military personnel and, as a Mail boat, some postal workers from Dublin. Lifeboats were deployed, and saved 200 of c700 passengers and crew. Sadly, Mary was one of those lost in the worst maritime disaster in the Irish Sea. Her husband had been waiting for her on Llandudno Junction Station platform, when he was told that the Leinster had been sunk. It was two days later that he learnt that his wife was not among the survivors.
 
 There was the opportunity for a 'sing-along' as we heard some of the work of the prolific and popular songwriters Bert Lee and Bob Weston, and Bob's son Harris, including 'Good-bye-ee', 1917, and 'Knees up Mother Brown', 1936. They wrote for the music hall and film, and their WW1 songs lifted the nation's spirits. Bert Lee was born in 1880 in Yorkshire, and moved to Llandudno before WW2. He passed away on 23rd. January, 1946 and is buried in the Great Orme Cemetery.
 
Adrian's presentation was a masterpiece of detective-work,  uncovering the stories of some of the people laid to rest in this most beautiful spot.
 
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Our talk in May was  'The Conwy and Menai Crossings'. They are very familiar to us, but Bob Daimond,  a Civil Engineer from the Menai Bridge Community Heritage Trust brought a new dimension to the subject, through his knowledge of their history, and especially through his use of spectacular contemporary photos of the construction-works.  
  
The Road Bridges and Tunnel.
 
  In the 1820s, improvements were needed to the Chester to Holyhead road. As part of that, Thomas Telford [1792-1870] created one of the world's earliest suspension bridges at Conwy. Work started in 1822, and the toll-bridge opened in 1826. It was designed to harmonise with the adjacent 13th Century castle, and give the appearance of a draw-bridge. It closed to traffic when the 1958 bridge opened. It is now Grade 1 listed,  and administered by the National Trust.
 
 By the 1950s, because of the increased volume of traffic on the road, a new bridge was needed. A booklet on the Castle Hotel, by Will Swales, tells us that - " On 4 February 1955, the Minister for Transport and Civil Aviation, John Boyd Carpenter, was guest of honour for a lunch at The Castle Hotel to celebrate his cutting of the first sod in the construction of a new road bridge to be built across the River Conwy. The new bridge was opened in December 1958 by Henry Brooke, Minister for Welsh Affairs. It provided the first toll-free road crossing. On this occasion there is no record of a celebration at The Castle Hotel."
 
  The hotel has links with all three bridges, and the booklet makes interesting reading.   You can see it at:-
 
http://www.castlewales.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Castle_HistoryBooklet_web.pd
 Work on the first British 'Immersed Tube Road Tunnel' under the river started in 1986, and it was opened by the Queen in 1991. Excavated material from this project formed almost 70% of the 50 hectares of the Conwy RSPB Nature Reserve, according to the RSPB website.
Telford's masterpiece, the picturesque Menai Suspension Bridge, took the road over to Anglesey. Although work was begun in August, 1819, c3 years before that on its sister-bridge at Conwy, the Menai bridge also opened in 1826, on 30th January.  The stone was from the local Penmon Quarries. The bridge has been repaired and upgraded over the years.
 
 Earlier this year, the Welsh Government launched a consultation on proposals for a third crossing of the Menai Strait. The result of the consultation is awaited with interest. 
 
The Rail Bridges.
 
 By 1838, the Post Office needed trains to carry mail from London via Chester to Holyhead for Dublin. Robert Stephenson's revolutionary 1848  tubular iron bridge at Conwy is now unique and Grade 1 listed. The huge tubes were floated on the river, and then raised into position. The Conwy bridge took the rails onward to his monumental Britannia Bridge at Menai, which opened in March, 1850. A disastrous fire on 23rd May, 1970 meant that the bridge was redesigned, using steel supports and a concrete deck, whilst retaining the original towers. It reopened in January 1972, with the works completed 2 years later. Between 1977 and 1980, a road deck was added.
 
 The beautiful lions  which guard each end of the bridge date from 1848, although they do look as though they could have been designed in the Art Deco style of the 1920s/30s.
  Despite the major alterations to the structure, the Bridge retains its Grade 2 listing.
 
The two Stephenson bridges had been developed in tandem, with research by Ironmaster William Fairbairn, to find the best shape for the tubes, and the result was the fore-runner of today's box-girder.
 
With the increase in traffic along the North Wales coast, the bridges have undergone  strengthening, redesign or refurbishment over the years.
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  Our June meeting saw a change to the programme, as Lawrence was unwell, but Chairman, Marion, stepped in to take us on a great 'Postcard Day Out' to Blackpool. The town's coat of arms dates from 1899, with the motto "Progress", and  it has certainly lived up to it.
 
  We 'landed' at the airport, which opened in 1909 and was one of the earliest in the UK. The first Aviation Meetings were held there that year and again in 1910. Postcards were issued showing some of the famous pilots of the time who came to take part.
 
  Our first stop was the much-loved grade-1 listed Tower, height 518' 9", which opened in May, 1894, just 5 years after its big sister, the Eiffel Tower, height 1060'.
 
There were several attractions inside Blackpool Tower buildings – Dr Cocker's Aquarium, Aviary and Menagerie had started in 1875, on what was to be the Tower site, and stayed open to provide income for the Tower while that was being built, and was eventually incorporated into it.  The Menagerie housed a variety of animals including lions and polar-bears and closed when Blackpool Zoo opened in 1973.
 
   The Aquarium was closed in 2010, to make way for the new 'Blackpool Dungeons' which opened in the following year. The fish were carefully re-homed at the local Sea Life Centre and other marine centres.
 
   The famous Blackpool Tower Circus opened with the Tower itself on 14th May, 1894, [admission 6d.] and boasts that it has given performances every season since. 
 
  In 1894, when the Tower first opened, it included a modest ballroom, but in 1899, the new more splendid one was opened, and it is still a major feature of the complex. In 1956 there was a fire which destroyed the ballroom floor, which was then restored. More recently, the Town Council has spent a lot of money to restore the magnificent interior, and the roof with its sliding glass ventilating panel, which allows hot air to escape. Reginal Dixon was one of the best-known organists, as he played the grand Wurlitzer Organ in the Ballroom for 40 years until his retirement in 1970.
The entrance-fee for the Tower was 6d., and a further 6d for the lift to the top. On a clear day, it is possible to see the mountains of North Wales. There are now some new attractions in the Tower Complex.
 
  On the Beach, we had a ride on the donkeys,  for both children and adults in the past, but brought up to date in 2014, with the world's first 'contactless payment' machine in the saddle of Dillon the Donkey. We admired the entries in the sand-modelling competition, and visited the 3 Victorian piers, owned by the Sedgwick family:- The restored North Pier of 1863, which is the longest; the Central Pier of 1868 and South Pier dated 1893. They offer a variety of amusements, shops and entertainment.          
 
  The Winter Gardens opened in 1878, with an Opera House which seats almost 3,000 people for its varied shows and concerts,  and the Empress Ballroom which stages dance festivals, and other events, together with Exhibition space.
 
 To the south of the town is the famous Pleasure Beach, one of the most visited UK attractions.  Opened in 1896 by W.G. Bean, it developed from a small amusement park and now covers 42 acres. The first ride was 'Maxim's Flying Machine', giving people a chance to experience 'flight' in 1904, the year after the Wright brothers made their first powered flight. The site has a wide variety of rides and also has a special children's area. In the Arena is an Ice Show. Many rides were brought from America, and 'The Big One' of 1994, became the highest rollercoaster in the UK, at 213'. In May this year a new ride opened – 'The Icon', at 88' high with speeds up to 55mph.  The family of Mr. Bean, the Thompsons,  still run the Park today.
 
 We boarded the tram for a ride along the prom. Blackpool's electric tram system was, in 1885, a pathfinder in the development of public transport. It is now the only original working tram system in the UK, with the heritage trams used during the Illuminations and Bank Holidays. The trams themselves were decorated with lights, as rockets, paddle-boats etc
Before returning home, we just had to see the 6-mile, world-famous Illuminations.  In 1879, the Council wanted to experiment with electric street lighting, and 8 arc-lamps were positioned 350 yards apart.  The idea was so revolutionary and exciting, that c100,000 people came to view them, as they were possibly the earliest electric street lamps in the world.
 
  When a new section of the promenade was officially opened in May 1912, by Princess Louise, a garland of lights adorned the route, and lights appeared again the following year. This was the inspiration for the Illuminations which have been held every year except for 1939-49, since 1925.
 
Postcards show the development of the illuminations over the years.
 
Blackpool is constantly striving to renew and improve the visitors' experience, whether they come for a day-trip or a longer stay.  'Progress', as ever.
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The theme for the evening was 'my best postcard find of the year' which provided us with a varied and interesting selection of items.
  Jane had recently visited the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool, and had brought along the cards she had bought in an exhibition by the Singh Twins, two girls from the city, with a Sikh heritage. They had studied  art at the University of Chester and now have world-wide acclaim, with their modern twist on traditional Indian miniatures. Their delicate and intricate works often have influences from other countries, and sometimes include political or environmental messages. The twins have over 40 awards including an MBE in  2011.
           
  John [Lawson-Reay] revealed a 'blast from his past' with a rare card of the interior of the 'Rendezvous Room', a nightclub at the Crescent Hotel in Llandudno in the 1960s.  It was flooded by water from a tap which was left running, but the place was empty at the time. There is a block of flats on the site now.
 A programme for Rhyl's first Royal Visit was my own best find. It related to the Laying of the Foundation Stone for the new Children's Hospital, by TRH The Prince and Princess of Wales [later King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra] on Friday, July 13th, 1894. Unfortunately, the original site for the new building proved unsuitable, and the Stone was removed to the new  site later. The idea of a Children's Convalescent Home in Rhyl began in 1872 in a tiny house on the prom, and developed over several sites, into the large, state-of-the art red-brick building on Marine Drive, The Royal Alexandra Hospital and Convalescent Home, which opened in 1901.
Keith's family featured on his card, which was the first he had ever kept. It showed his father, and uncles, Bob and Charlie, in Queensferry in 1916. Sadly, Bob died in a boating accident in the village.
  Ken's card had solved the 60-year mystery for him, of what had stood on an empty site near his West-Derby junior school. Ken's grandmother lived near the school, and knew that the building had burnt down before WW1, but didn't know what it had been. Recently, Ken started researching the area on the computer; he found his gran's house, the school and a new pub on the derelict site, called 'The Bulldog', which had been built on the site of a priory. On Ken's card, there was no caption, but the old building was still there.  Luckily, there was a reference written on the back,  to 'Leyfield Priory, 1913', and that was the building which had burnt down all those years ago.
Lawrence's collection had an unexpected boost when, in a Scottish view-card , he spotted a bus, which, he knew, was the only one to be run by its operator.  He had thought it most unlikely that he would ever find it on a card .
  A Court Injunction featured in the story of Lindsay's card, which showed a picture of HMS Fearless, a 1,600-ton cruiser, which had been sent to the Foryd in Rhyl for scrapping in 1907. The company used explosives to dismantle the boat, but shards of metal were landing in the garden of a local resident. She complained, and obtained an injunction to stop the explosions, but they continued. 
   Lynne's card was a superb real-photo of the Bowling Green Inn, Pen-y-Bryn, Wrexham, c100 years ago, and still in business today. It is a very scarce view, which she was delighted to find. Lynne also brought one of the service cards from Ken Hassell's funeral, which I will bring to next month's meeting, in case anyone hasn't seen it.
 Trebor's find was a most beautiful children's card, with a poignant story.
Trebor and his wife has been to Cardiff in April for the rugby match, which was on the same day as the South Wales Club fair. They went along to the Penylan Community Centre, and called at the table of one of their favourite postcard dealers,  Christine Booth, and found this unsigned 'Tuck Oilette', which, they knew, was by US artist Clara Bird. Trebor was pleased with his purchase, but sadly, it was to be the last he would buy from Christine, as she passed away later in the year. Trebor will always have 'warm remembrances of her'.
 Ferrari's Birds made an appearance on Marion's leaflet, which described all the tricks that the feathered entertainers performed.  It was one of Llandudno's most popular seaside shows, and is often seen on postcards of the time.       Some of the feats performed by his birds were:- walking a tightrope, drawing a carriage with passengers and luggage, and sitting calmly on the barrel of a musket whilst it was being fired.  Gicianto Ferrari  1847-1923, came from Genoa and lived in Llandudno for many years. His gravestone in Llanrhos church yard features 2 carved birds.
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  In a particularly strong field, Marion gained almost half of the total votes for her superb 'Blackpool Day Out' presentation in June. She had stepped in at the last minute, when Lawrence was unwell. She received a £10 voucher for the fair.  Second, was Bob Daimond with the Conwy and Menai Crossings,  and third was Barbara's quirky talk "My Life [so far] in Postcards"   
 
The One-page Display competition had 10 entries, with a good selection of themes and localities:-
 Shapes and Sizes', which showed several unusual formats, including a diamond-shape and a bookmark card;
 
    'The pleasure steamer "La Marguerite"' - 4 lovely cards of the popular Steamer at Llandudno, in 1907;
 
     'Using Modern Technology',  three cards by children's artist Beatrice Mallet – featuring a vintage radio, telephone and typewriter';
 
       'Caergwrle when Dad was a Lad'  was part of a family history project. 'Dad' was born in 1905, and lived in the village until his marriage in 1934;
 
       'Transporters' used cards of a plane, a train, a boat and a motorcycle-and-sidecar, all with pullouts of North Wales locations;
 
        'Nurse Edith Cavell' – the 4 cards told the tragic story of Nurse Cavell's death on October 12th, 1915, her funeral procession, grave and monument. 
 
        'All Roads lead to…?',   these were 3 identical Hutton views of a rural road running past a white cottage, with 3 different locations in the captions…"Snowdon Range and the Glyders from the Llanfairtalhaiarn, or Llangerniew or Llanrwst Road."
Five 'United States Postal Cards' from the 1880s,  with printed 'stamps', similar to our Postal Stationery cards which appeared in 1870. These were plain on the reverse for correspondence, as picture-postcards were not allowed by the UK Post Office until  September 1894.
 
       'A Glimpse of Paradise' – some romantic scenes -  a lady in a punt with a cherub, hearts and flowers; two semi-clad ladies with doves in a mountain and lake setting; a bird with two heart-shapes, and a reproduction of Klimt's famous painting of "The Kiss".
 
            The winner of our new brass Pillar-Box trophy, and lapel-pin, was Keith Hough, with his exceptional cards of 'Sheep Shearing in the Nant Ffrancon Valley', by Colwyn Bay photographer, Hutton.
 
All the competition sheets were displayed at the fair.
 
 Many congratulations to Marion and Keith, and many thanks to everyone who took part.