far the biggest number of amusements were to be
found at our next stop, Rhyl.
When we first visited Sunny Rhyl in the 60s I
thought it was fantastic as it had not one but two
amusement parks. I know that I always used to spend
hours pestering my parents on 'When are we going to
memories of Marine Lake are much hazier than that of
the seafront Ocean Beach park. Although I was only a
child when the park was still in operation I still
recall feeling that Marine Lake had perhaps gone
past its prime. It always seemed to be much less
crowded than its rival and the rides appeared out
dated in comparison.
From the road you could not fail to notice the
wooden figure eight Roller Coaster. This had been
installed in 1920 and lasted until the park closed
at the end of the '60s.
Many of the rides were more like those you found at
a permanent park rather than those found at
travelling funfairs. There was a River Caves and the
dodgems were in a building along with a Ghost Train
and a set of Gallopers.
don't recall there being that many roundabouts
although I understand there was a Satellite at one
point and possibly a Waltzer.
of the highlights was the miniature train. This
started off in the amusement park, even passing
under the park's entrance, and then took a journey
around the perimeter of the lake.
1969 the company that owned the park had had enough,
as they also ran the more popular Ocean Beach. The
whole park was razed to the ground and handed back
to the council.
installed a number of family orientated attractions.
There was a large six lane Astroglide (with a cafe
underneath), Moon Walk, kids rides and a Ghost Train
called The Bogey Run. I think this might have been
the one that ended up at Ffrith Beach in later
this was much more low key than the park had been
during its glory years. In fact, the only thing that
remained from the original Marine Lake park was the
miniature railway. Although all these other rides
are now long gone the railway still carries
thousands of passengers around the lake each summer.
The railway at Marine Lake, Rhyl first opened on 1st May
1911, and is now the oldest miniature line in the UK.
FROM WALES TODAY: Alan Cliff of Rhyl talks about the
development of the town's miniature railway...
In April 1911 Wenman Bassett-Lowke announced he was
going to build a mile-long 15" gauge
passenger-carrying railway around the Marine Lake in
By May that year the 'father' of model and miniature
railways in Britian had completed the line and
commenced services. On August Bank Holiday Monday
1911 just over 5000 passengers were carried during
13 hours of running.
1920 it was clear the original locomotives needed
replacing and in August 1920 a local engineer,
Albert Barnes of Albion Works, Rhyl, produced the
first of his 'Albion' Class of 4-4-2 steam
locomotives for the Rhyl line. This 'Atlantic' type
of engine was named Joan.
Between 1920 and 1934 a further five locomotives
were built, three of which - John, Michael and Billy
- remained at Rhyl. Another Michael (subsequently
named Railway Queen) went to Belle Vue, Manchester
and Billie (named after a girl) went to Margate.
is a tribute to Albert Barnes and his Rhyl craftsmen
that all six locomotives are still in existence and
are universally known as the 'Barnes Atlantics'.
Joan still runs at Rhyl. Billy, Railway Queen and
Michael slumber in North Wales, awaiting the call to
home and duty. Billie and John are privately owned
elsewhere in the UK. John has recently paid a
courtesy visit. Despite many difficulties in latter
years, the oldest public passenger-carrying 15"
gauge miniature railway in the UK, and possibly the
world, is still hard at work. Trains run from Easter
board of trustees, mainly local residents, now
manages the assets. Plans for the future include a
new station which will also function as a Visitor
Centre. A maintenance depot is envisaged as part of
the complex. A supporting group, the Friends of the
Rhyl Miniature Railway, has been formed. The
'Friends' not only raise money for the railway but
supply trained volunteers to drive and maintain the
locomotives, repair the track and staff the station.
Most of the volunteers are North Walians, several
being Rhyl citizens. However, as the fame of the
railway grows, 'Friends' are joining from all over
the UK and abroad.
Trustees and 'Friends' are working hard to see that
Rhyl Miniature Railway's historic and special place
in both the world of miniature railways and the
world of entertainment is assured for the
foreseeable future. The August 2003 Gala Weekend at
the railway saw 1300-plus passengers carried. The
fiery jewel in Rhyl's entertainment crown is burning