by Phil Gould
: Added February 2006
Between Rhyl and Colwyn Bay lie Towyn and Abergele. These places are home to numerous holiday parks.

As a child it just seemed like there was mile after mile of caravans and holiday chalets, broken up by the occasional amusement arcade, like the Black Cat (pictured, right).

There were a small number of amusements which could be found next to an arcade close to the beach in Abergele. I can recall a kids' roller coaster, swing boats and roundabouts.

During more recent years two adult amusement parks have been set up in Towyn and these could have contributed to the demise of the once mighty Ocean Beach.

The resort of Colwyn Bay has always seemed to have a much more tranquil and genteel feel in comparison to its brash seaside neighbour of Rhyl.

Its own amusement park was called the Happy Hour and was firmly aimed at children and young families.

Although not on the seafront the park was built in a railway goods yard and I always used to get a tantalising glimpse of what lay in store through the railway bridge arch as my dad drove to our hotel.
Normally the Gallopers spinning top was a sign that the park was open for business.

The Gallopers was the first roundabout through the entrance and always the first ride I would head for.

Next to this was a large children's Monte Carlo Rally ride which had a roof to protect the motor cars and their drivers from the elements.

Then came a set of Dodgems that had a tin roof rather than a traditional canvas tilt.

At the far end was the Peter Pan Railway. You climbed into individual trains that meandered around a track before disappearing into a tunnel which contained a number of animated scenes from Snow White.

These attractions stayed put at the site for all the years that my family spent holidays in the resort.

Although these remained static there were changes in the area next to the Gallopers at the entrance to the park.

Originally I remember there was a large children's wheel with caged cars (I think it was made by a company called Supercar). Later this was replaced by a square helter skelter which, in turn, was replaced by a small Astroglide. On different visits there was also a children's roller coaster and mini-Jets on site.

An open top toytown juvenile ride was housed in a semi permanent building in this part of the park.

Running along the back of the park were a row of sidestalls and an arcade. These ran along the full length of the Happy Hour.

In the late 60s a Ghost Train was constructed as part of this row. It was unusual in that it was a very narrow ride with a small entrance.

This park was closed to make way for the new road, which now runs through the centre of the resort. I think the Gallopers went to Ffrith Beach before being sold to a travelling showmen.

On the promenade itself, just along from the pier, were a few children's rides, including flying planes, a platform children's roundabout and mini dodgems that were coin operated.

There was a laughing policeman figure in the centre of the small track. These were built up at the sea front entrance to Eiras Park.
A land train called The Welsh Ffargo (pictured right) used to transport visitors from the promenade to Eiras park.

While the park never had any fairground rides it is perhaps worth mentioning because for a time in the 60s it was home to a Guinness Clock. These timepieces were originally created for the Festival of Britain by the well-known drinks company. They were a larger than life clock. Every 15 minutes a whole host of figures and cartoon animals would appear on parade from behind the clock's doors.

In the 70s the park made the most of the latest craze by installing a Space Hopper arena; you could choose from the standard orange ones or the larger blue hoppers and bounce around to your hearts content.

The Black Cat Amusement Arcade, Towyn.

Gallopers at the Happy Hour Amusement Park, Colwyn Bay, in 1980. Photograph: National Fairground Archive








The Welsh Ffargo. Photograph: Gary Radice



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