Heulfan y Rhyl - Rhyl Sun Centre

Staff Picks: Favourite Images from the Archive

Rhyl Sun Centre and Pont yr Aber swing bridge and the surrounding Cei Quay), Caernarfon by Dr Hayley Roberts, RCAHMW Commissioner (Maritime Heritage) and Senior Lecturer in Public International Law at Bangor University.

Although both of the images I have chosen from Coflein feature architectural landmarks (for very different reasons!), I have selected them not for any historical or cultural reason, but just simply for the memories that they both evoke.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so the old adage goes, and certainly photographs play a huge part in conjuring a feeling of hiraeth for me.

This is one reason why I think Coflein, along with People’s Collection Wales, is such a special resource. 

Rhyl Sun Centre - Designed by Gillinson Barnett & Partners and opening in 1980 - RCAHMW
Rhyl Sun Centre – Designed by Gillinson Barnett & Partners and opening in 1980 – RCAHMW

Archive Details: https://coflein.gov.uk/en/archive/6211458/details/504

The first image I have chosen is the Rhyl Sun Centre. Designed by Gillinson Barnett & Partners and opening in 1980, the Sun Centre featured the first indoor surfing pool in Europe and the largest pool in the country. A late 20th-century pop culture icon!

This photograph completely transports me back to the 1990s, when my parents would take me to the Sun Centre for the day – which was incredibly exciting! I can see myself zipping down the Octopus and Elephant slides (just to the side of the this photo), queuing for what felt like forever to get on the Dragon slide (with my dad going first and catching me at the bottom), and racing back to the main pool when the tropical storm started – even though the ‘rain’ stung a little as it pelted on my back! Looking at the picture, I can almost smell the salty chips we would eat poolside, sat in towels, before whizzing around on the monorail to wave down at my mam. It instantly makes me think of happy childhood summer holidays!

Caernarfon swing bridge and quay - The bridge was built in 1970, replacing an earlier swing bridge that opened in 1900 - RCAHMW
Caernarfon swing bridge and quay – The bridge was built in 1970, replacing an earlier swing bridge that opened in 1900 – RCAHMW

Archive Details: https://coflein.gov.uk/en/archive/6362082/details/504

As a ‘Cofi’, born and bred, the second image has to be Caernarfon. Although you can see the famous castle in this particular photograph, it is not why I chose it. Rather, it is because of the swing bridge, Pont yr Aber, and the surrounding Cei (Quay). The bridge was built in 1970, replacing an earlier swing bridge that opened in 1900, and is actually powered by electricity. 

Again, I can almost step into my childhood in this picture, heading past the iconic Floating Restaurant (built in 1946, scrapped in 2011, and just out of shot in this photo) and over the bridge to the playground in Parc Coed Helen, getting a 99 from the ice-cream van on the way back – although I think they may have increased in price a little since then! If we were lucky, we would catch the bridge as it was swinging open to let one of the boats through, meaning we could stand on it as it swung – very exciting! On a sunny day, this area would be teeming with locals and tourists, and full of life – the wall outside the Anglesey Arms (out of shot) packed with people enjoying a drink in the sun, and children lining the quayside with crabbing lines and buckets, waving to the Queen of the Sea as it sails out to sea! This photo evokes a hundred memories, and just feels like home!

By Dr Hayley Roberts, RCAHMW Commissioner (Maritime Heritage)

06/15/2020

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