Famous Local People
Reverend William Hughes
A carte-de-visite portrait of the Baptist missionary and teacher Reverend William Hughes (1856-1924), seen here with two of his pupils, Kinkasa (aged 11) and Nkanza (aged 8). The 1891 census records the latter as Nkanza Ross, aged 14, an ‘Industrial Student’ born in the ‘Congo, SW Africa’.
Hughes, who spoke only Welsh until he was 19, trained as a minister at Llangollen Baptist College. In 1882 the Baptist Missionary Society sent him to work in the Congo but ill-health forced his return to England three years later, accompanied by Kinkasa and Nkanza. The three toured the Welsh chapels lecturing and raising funds for their missionary work. In 1885 Hughes married the daughter of the principal of Llangollen Baptist College and in 1887 he, his wife and his African colleagues settled at Colwyn Bay, a small seaside town in North Wales, where, in 1889, he founded the Congo Training Institution. Subscriptions flowed in and within a year the institution had a new building. In 1892 Hughes published Dark Africa and the Way Out.
The idea behind the institution was a simple one. Instead of sending white missionaries to Africa, the most promising African converts would be brought to Britain and trained – in a firmly Christian society – in a variety of useful professions. The institution attracted students from Cameroon, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and the United States. By 1903 over twenty students were training with local citizens and living in Colwyn Bay. During the course of their training they met Britons from all walks of life, at garden parties, at work, or as guests in local homes.
For further information on the life of Reverend William Hughes, please watch the following: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kN9WdVfj4bE&t=1s
Timothy Dalton – James Bond
The thought that one of the 007s might hail from Colwyn Bay could well be a surprise to many, but on 21st March 1946, this 007 was born here.
This suave, sophisticated actor was born in Colwyn Bay whilst his father was based here during World War II.
Timothy’s first film role was in The Lion in Winter, 1968, as King Philip II, moving onto Permission to Kill, and Flash Gordon.
On television, Timothy played Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre and on the same theme Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights.
It is in The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989) that Timothy appeared as Bond.
This Colwyn Bay Football Striker was born on 29th April 1966, beginning his youth career at Arsenal.
The highlight of his career was at Cardiff City, where he made 211 appearances scoring 71 goals. Here he won a Division Three Championship and two Welsh Cups.
He also played for Conwy United, Rhyl, Bangor City, Chester City, Yeovil Town and Newport County.
Although a prolific goal scorer, Carl did not gain a full Wales Cap, but did play for his country at schoolboy level.
Terry Jones – Monty Python
Born on 1st February 1942 in Colwyn Bay, Terry Jones is a patron of Theatr Colwyn, Colwyn Bay’s historic theatre that has recently been re-furbished.
Terry’s grandparents used to run the Colwyn Bay Amateur Operatic Society, staging Gilbert and Sullivan concerts on the Pier every year and so Terry is stirring up a family tradition in being part of today’s Colwyn Bay entertainment scene.
Whilst at Oxford University, Terry met up with Michael Palin and formed an internationally known writing team that brought us such popular programmes as The Late Show and the Frost Review. From here, a coming together with John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Graham Chapman and Eric Idle occurred to produce a show that is still loved across the world.
A Writer, Director and Performer, he not only has a taste for the stage but is also a well acknowledged expert on medieval history.
BBC Weather Forecaster – Helen Willetts
Although born in Chester on 10th February 1972, Helen was educated in Colwyn Bay at Pendorlan Primary School and at Eirias High School.
At Eirias, she was part of the Badminton team, winning several tournaments and becoming No. 2 in Wales.
Helen joined the Meteorological Office in February 1994, having graduated from Nottingham University with first class honours in Physics.
Helen moved to the BBC Weather Centre in 1997. She now broadcasts regularly on all BBC domestic channels, returning to Colwyn Bay often to see her parents.
Prolific Builder Sidney Colwyn Foulkes
Known as “SCF”, this was the son of a builder, who built much of the housing in Colwyn Bay Centre, St. Johns Methodist Church as well as Colwyn Bay Hospital in 1925,
Rydal School Memorial Hall, Elwy Road Housing in Rhos and Rhos’s Eventide Homes. As his father went bankrupt and died early, at age 16 SCF was the sole bread-winner for his family, working as a joiner and jobbing builder until he gained a scholarship to study architecture under Professor Sir Charles Reilly, Head of the Liverpool School of Architecture.
After war service in the RNAS, he returned to Colwyn Bay, designing the Arcadia Cinema in Princess Drive and then the Hospital using innovative ideas from U.S.A. Rydal School buildings followed, receiving in the 1930’s the Honorary Degree of Master of Architecture by Liverpool University.
“SCF” was innovative, ignoring senseless regulations at times lowering ceiling heights to save man-hours materials and heating costs. The Elwy Road Housing Estate was a particular treasure, Clough William Ellis coming to see it along with Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous American architect. During this time he received the OBE and became Freeman of the Borough.
He was a founder member of the Historic Building Council for Wales and was active in the Council for protection of Rural Wales. He also became involved in major engineering projects both in Wales and the Lake District of England, SCF having left his building achievements for future generations to enjoy.
Goalkeeper and Football Manager Mike was born in Colwyn Bay on 28th November 1945, playing for Reading, Shrewsbury Town, York City, Watford, Charlton and Colchester United.
He managed Colchester United, Norwich City, Everton, and Apoel. As a goalkeeper he represented Wales at Under 23 level on four occasions, his son Ian representing England.
In 1992, as Norwich Manager, he got them to third place in the new Premier League, qualifying for the 1993/93 UEFA Cup during which they knocked out the mighty Bayern Munich.
This well-loved and respected nurse of the Bay of Colwyn area took an active role in the Territorial Army, reaching the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Whilst Matron at the Nant y Glyn Maternity Hospital, Colwyn Bay Community Hospital and finally at Abergele Hospital, she became known as “the perfect Matron.” Nurses working under her were well disciplined, for Matron demanded the very best from her staff. As an administrator she was highly efficient, her strictness being tempered by sacrificial kindness and cutting edge humour.
She enjoyed a national profile as Chair of the Welsh Board and of the National Council of the Royal College of Nursing. She became the first woman to become Deputy Lord Lieutenant and High Sherriff of Clwyd, being awarded the OBE in 1970 and CBE in 1988. In 1973, she married the Town Clerk of Colwyn Bay, their marriage being a very happy one but ending in nursing him through his final distressing illness. She was so loved by her family, passing away in 2011.
In the early days of what we call Theatr Colwyn today, this was the figure behind many of the productions presented at what was then The New Rialto Repertory Theatre. He leased the building for nine weeks and stayed twenty two years!
He lived in a flat with his black cat above the auditorium, creating a theatrical company of such renown that it was visited by Dame Sybil Thorndike.
During World War II, audiences were huge in number, the Stage Manager being Jack Howarth, who later became Albert Tatlock in Coronation Street. Stanley left in 1958 because of ill health and closed down the company, moving to a flat in Rhiw Road. He died in 1960 at the age of 77.
Jules Prudence Riviere
We present this great Parisian who moved to Colwyn Bay, the road where he lived being named after him. He later moved to Llandudno, where on its Pier he produced magnificent musical performances.
It was at the beginning of Colwyn Bay’s Pier in 1900 that the Maestro was secured to perform with his orchestra to audiences reaching 2,500 people. On June 2nd 1900, to a packed opening night, Jules Riviere and his Orchestra vowed the audience away with a guest appearance of Madame Adelina Maria Clorinda Patti. Oh! To have an orchestra like this today on the Pier would be wonderful, Jules giving so much to the history of Colwyn Bay. He passed away on 26thDecember 1900, being buried at Llandrillo yn Rhos Churchyard, where his grave can be found today.
Rev W Venables Williams
When appointed Vicar of Llandrillo yn Rhos in 1869 there was no such place as Colwyn Bay, the Rhos Parish at that time stretching from Glan Conwy to Eirias Park. The population of this area was around 900!
By 1871, the new township was beginning to emerge around Pwllycrochan Halt, that was to become Colwyn Bay Station, and it is here that the Reverend started to develop social and civic activities in this new part of the Parish. He began Anglican Services in a joiners shop on Ivy Street, the first meeting having an attendance of 70 on 18th June 1871. On the site of the present St. Paul’s Church, he opened a chapel one year on. The Conway Board of Guardians governed the activities and Venables Williams was involved for 25 years sometimes as Chair.
As well as his clerical duties, Venable Williams was very active politically, being very successful in removing the abuses of the Conway rating system, as well as confronting the Poor Law Medical Association with accusations of overcharging! As a result prices of medicines for the poor were greatly reduced. In 1871, as a result of getting the Railway fully rated, he was able to bring about the reduction in local taxes too from 5/1d in the pound to 2/3d. In 1886, however, the Mochdre Tithe Rioters burnt down the Chapel, making way for today’s St. Paul’s. Venables Williams continued to be active on various bodies involved with the building of Colwyn Bay and so we can say that not only was this man a notable cleric, he also was very much a part of building the community – a good role model for clerics today!
(died 27 July 1593) was a Welsh Roman Catholic priest. He is a Catholic martyr, beatified in 1987. There is a chapel in Anglesey built as a memorial to him. Davies was born in North Wales, probably Croes yn Eirias, Denbighshire, but his date of birth is not known, however one source gives the year 1555. Groes yn Eirias (meaning Cross in Torch) is believed to be the old name for the area of dwellings between Llanelian and Colwyn Bay. Groes Road Colwyn Bay is a route to Llanelian Church. With his patron Robert Pugh, he secretly produced the book “Y Drych Christianogawl”, said to be the first book printed in Wales. The press may have been located in a cave above the sea at the Little Orme head between Llandudno and Penrhyn Bay.
Richard Salisbury Ellis CBE FRS
Born 25 May 1950 in Colwyn Bay, Richard Salisbury Ellis is the Steele Professor of Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He was awarded the 2011 Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Born 2 July 1981 in Colwyn Bay, Angela Hazeldine is a British actress and musician, known for portraying Gemma Craig in the Five soap opera Family Affairs. Hazeldine played the role of Gemma Craig in Family Affairs for four years. She has also guest starred in episodes of Kavanagh QC, Heartbeat, The Royal Today and Doctors. She made her feature film debut in Kapital, a 2007 collaboration between writer/director Greg Hall and composer Steve Martland.
William “Billy” Morris
(30 July 1918 – 31 December 2002) was a Welsh international footballer who played as an inside forward. He was part of the Burnley side which lost 0–1 to Charlton Athletic in the 1947 FA Cup Final. Between 1947 and 1952, Morris won a total of five caps for the Wales national football team.
After he retired from playing, Morris had two spells as manager of Wrexham. His nephew is former Wrexham and Chester City forward Elfed Morris.
John Reginald “Reg” Hunter
Born on the 25th October 1938, John Reginald Hunter was a Welsh footballer. His regular position was as a forward. He played for Colwyn Bay, Manchester United, Wrexham and Bangor City.
(26 November 1915 – 12 April 2005) was a Welsh football goalkeeper. He played for several clubs, most notably for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Liverpool. Born in Colwyn Bay, North Wales, Sidlow played for Llandudno, Colwyn Bay and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Signed by Wolves in 1937 by the great Major Frank Buckley. Sidlow was the first choice Wolves keeper both before the war.
Michael “Mike” Walker
(born 21 April 1966) is a former professional tennis player from Wales who competed for Great Britain and Hong Kong. Walker, who grew up in Colwyn Bay, was given a wild card into the 1986 Wimbledon Championships and lost his opening round match, which went five sets, to Swiss player Claudio Mezzadri. He returned to Wimbledon the following year, this time competing in the men’s doubles, partnering Stephen Botfield. The pair were beaten in the first round by Glenn Layendecker and Glenn Michibata. He was a member of the Great Britain Davis Cup squad in 1987, although he wasn’t called on to play a match. In the 1988 Wimbledon Championships he played mixed doubles with Joy Tacon, but was again unable to reach the second round.
Legendary Figure – Madog ab Owain Gwynedd
For those looking for the heritage of the United States of America, look no further than Rhos on Sea, for it was from here that according to legend this Welsh Prince sailed to Mobile, Alabama USA in 1170.
This legend gained great prominence in the Elizabethan era, leading onto the belief that Madog’s voyagers intermarried with native Americans with Welsh speaking descendants still living there as Welsh Indians!
So when you are in the USA – look out for Bay of Colwyn Indians!