Park on former cemetery, Rhyl

Link to French translationPark on former cemetery, Morley Road, Rhyl

Morley Road Park occupies a plot of land which was a cemetery in Victorian times. See below for the stories of some of the people buried here.

The cemetery’s origins were controversial. A local landowner had given the plot to the town for a public cemetery. A committee of Nonconformists and Anglican churchmen was formed, but the local press reported that “by some adroit procedure” it was appropriated by the church, despite most of the population being Nonconformists. This resulted in much bad feeling.

At 3pm on Wednesday 15 June 1859, hundreds of people gathered at the new cemetery to witness the ground’s consecration by the Bishop of St Asaph. The first burial took place that afternoon with the interment of the body of William Williams, aged 15 months, son of Joseph Williams of 13 Sussex Street.

By the late 1880s the cemetery was full and no new graves were made, although some burials continued until the late 1930s in existing graves. The Rhyl Improvement Commissioners began negotiations to purchase 7.5 acres of land on Dyserth Road for a municipal cemetery, funded by the ratepayers. Thus began another dispute, similar to the one in 1859, between Church and Chapel – the result of which is the “Church Cemetery” and the “Town Cemetery” (Maeshyfryd Cemetery) on opposite sides of Dyserth Road.

In 1967-68, Morley Road Cemetery was landscaped as a park. The gravestone inscriptions were recorded and indexed, and a plan of the cemetery was made. A Book of Remembrance, compiled from these records, is available to view at Rhyl Library, Museum and Arts Centre.

The park was landscaped again in 2006 and was reopened on 26 May that year by Rhyl’s mayor, Brian Blakeley, and Pauline Dobb of Denbighshire County Council.

With thanks to Ruth Pritchard, of Rhyl History Club

Postcode: LL18 3HG    View Location Map

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Individuals buried here

Schoolboys Richard and John Edwards were buried here after they and a friend, John Thomas Jones, drowned in a bathing accident.

The boys, aged 11 to 13, left school on Friday afternoon 7 June 1878 and were intent on bathing. The Edwards brothers lived with their parents Richard and Amelia at Plastirion Terrace. The boys entered the sea opposite their home, after walking past bathing-machine manager William Vaughan, who was up a ladder painting at the time.

Mary Jones, visiting from St Asaph, noticed the boys jumping in the seawater as she sat knitting on the sand hills. She alerted Mr Vaughan when she looked at the sea again and saw only three piles of clothes. He mounted a horse and rode to the spot. Three days later, he told the inquest the boys had drowned because of the southerly wind and outgoing tide and the boys missing their footing. John Thomas Jones was buried in Llanrwst.

Station master Thomas Winston sold the first ever train ticket for travel from Rhyl on 1 May 1848. He was born in Ewell, Surrey, in 1815 and buried here after his death in Rhyl on 29 June 1889. After retiring, he returned to the station booking office on 1 May every year to sell a ticket to a passenger.

His roles included: Rhyl Commissioner; raising funds to build St Thomas’ Church; and director of Rhyl Promenade Pier Co, the town’s gas company and the Rhyl Cocoa House Co. He served 18 years on the board of guardians for St Asaph workhouse.

In 1877 he gave Rhyl a granite animal drinking trough which stood for nearly 100 years in Queen Street.  It was inscribed with: “A gift from a friend to animals”.  The trough is now outside Bodrhyddan Hall.

He is remembered in St Thomas’ Church with a stained glass window and a brass plaque describing him as a “true Christian Philanthropist”. 

Shipbuilder Robert Jones was born in Rhuddlan c.1817. He built ships in Rhuddlan before moving the business to the Foryd, Rhyl. 

The old Foryd shipbuilding yard was roughly opposite Pont y Ddraig and extended southwest in an arc towards Wellington Road. Over the years at least 33 sailing ships were built there. They included flat-bottomed coasters, barques, brigs, brigantines, schooners and fully rigged ships.

Robert Jones started a Methodist Sunday School in 1859 on board a moored boat.  As numbers increased, the school moved to his large moulding loft. Eventually premises were built in Warren Road, where the present red brick Salem chapel now stands. Robert Jones is remembered on a plaque at the chapel.

He died, aged 54, of a stroke on 5 May 1871 and was succeeded by his son, also called Robert Jones. Robert Jones senior is buried here along with his wife and daughter.

The Rev George Ash Butterton was 60 years old when he arrived in Rhyl in 1866. After his wife Sarah died that year, he threw himself into public life. His roles included: member of the Rhyl Improvement Commissioners; Flintshire magistrate; director of Rhyl Winter Gardens; chairman of directors of the Rhyl Hydropathic Company (Claremont); and president of Rhyl Liberal Association.

He had been ordained in 1838 and obtained his Doctor of Divinity in 1848. He was headmaster at Uppingham School 1837-47, then at Giggleswick School until 1862 and Rector of Cleobury North until 1866. He died, aged 86, in 1891 and is buried in this cemetery with Sarah.

An obituary commented that “the kindly and genial countenance of Dr Butterton will be remembered for many years to come”. Butterton Road in Rhyl was named after him while he was still alive.