Winter Gardens and Aquarium The Parade Rhyl
In 1875 a Prospectus was issued for shares in a new company, Owen Edwards being named as company architect. According to the details of the prospectus the Company was being formed to provide a marine and fresh water aquarium, summer and winter gardens, concert hall and assembly rooms, pavilion, skaking rink etc on The Parade, a short distance from the railway station and pier. The company had already purchased approximately 35 acres of land with a frontage to the Irish Sea of nearly half a mile. Approximately two thirds of the land was to be laid out as a private park for the erection of villas. [Manchester Guardian Saturday 6 November 1875 Page 1 Column 6]
RHYL WINTER GARDENS AND AQUARIUM - An important step in regard to the prosperity of this fashionable and rising Welsh watering place was taken on Saturday afternoon when the memorial stones of the new Aquarium and Winter Gardens were laid. The improvement which was inaugurated on Saturday is to be carried out by a company formed some time ago for the purpose of providing Rhyl with an aquarium, summer and winter gardens, a picture and sculpture gallery, bowling green and croquet lawn, a skating rink and all the amusements and attractions which are usually associated with such an undertaking. ...... The company entered upon their task with spirit a few months ago and have prosecuted it since with every desire to complete the works as soon as possible. Mr Edwards, the architect, who has made the designs for the main building seems to have fully realised the object for which it is to be erected and the result will be a building equal, if not excelling, the similar erections at Southport and other places, fine as those may be. The works were let in four contracts, three of which, the construction of the rink, the entrance offices, board room and gardener’s house, and the foundation of the main building for the aquarium and concert hall, were secured by Mr Herd of Manchester, while Mr Abel Jones of Rhyl was entrusted with the erection of the boundary walls and sea wall, another portion of the work having been done by Mr Griffiths of Rhyl. It was on 4th January in the present year that the first sod was cut by the Lord Lieutenant of Denbighshire and the progress since made is, to say the least, surprising. A skating rink which gives an area of 1113 square yards has been completed and opened on Saturday.
The gardens which are about seven acres in extent have been laid out, beds of flowers, mounds and walks have been made, and a cavern of an unusual size for an artificial construction of this character has been completed near the skating rink. This portion of the work is perhaps the most original of anything to be found in the gardens. It has been made by the head gardener of the company, Mr Weeks, who himself conceived the idea of constructing the cave, and has in a great measure assisted in carrying out his own design. It is about 60 feet long, 20 feet broad, and about 20 feet in height. The roof and walls are formed of large pieces of rock fixed in a manner to imitate a natural cavern. The appearance of the roughly constructed roof suggests the idea of some of the large blocks of stone coming down but, of course, there is no danger of that kind to the apprehended. The walls are covered with mirrors and the cave itself lit with numerous Japanese lanterns of various colours and sizes which gives the place a very fantastic yet pleasing appearance. The cave is entered from two approaches, so that crowding need not occur. The gardens at the present time are, however, in a rough state but, as already stated, much has been done towards laying them out.
The skating rink is not so beautiful as some buildings devoted to a similar purpose which we have seen but it supplies the great desideratum - a large skating area. The building is of brick and stands close to the entrance to the gardens. It is 167 feet long and 66 feet wide and the floor is exceedingly smooth and well adapted to roller skating. A gallery runs round the interior of the rink for the use of visitors who go as spectators and underneath the gallery are seats for the skaters. The roof is of glass with stained pitch pine timber and is circular in form. The building is exceedingly well lighted during the day by means of the glass roof, and at night by gas. At each end of the building is a recess, on of which is occupied by the orchestra, which has already been engaged and performs under the direction of Mr Seaton Ricks, and the other as a refreshment bar. There are also retiring rooms for ladies and gentlemen and a room in which to fit on skates. The covered rink communicates with an open air skating surface, equal in size to the covered area and which is protected from the north wind by a finely constructed rockery, erected under the direction of Mr Weeks, the company=s gardener.
The report continued with details of the laying of four foundation stones. No description was given of the main buildings but the estimated cost of these was noted as £35,000. The concert hall and aquarium would face the Irish Sea with the croquet lawn and bowling green in front [Manchester Courier Monday 11 September 1876 Page 6].
Reference Manchester Guardian Saturday 6 November 1875 Page 1 Column 6
Reference Manchester Courier Monday 11 September 1876 Page 6
Reference Flintshire Building Control Records UD/F/5/28 Plan No 327