St Thomas’ Church, Rhyl

St Thomas’ Church, Rhyl

Services in Welsh began at the Parish Church of Holy Trinity in Rhyl in 1835. Population growth after the railway’s arrival in Rhyl in 1848 meant that a larger church – the one you see here today – was soon needed. It was intended for visitors as well as residents.

Aerial view of Rhyl with St Thomas Church in 1920
Aerial view of St Thomas' Church in 1920, courtesy of the RCAHMW and its Coflein website

The church was dedicated to St Thomas in honour of the Bishop of St Asaph, Rt Rev Thomas Vowler Short. He had supported the church’s construction. Sir George Gilbert Scott designed the building and, later, the clock in the tower. The church, now listed Grade 2, was consecrated in 1869. The tower and spire, added in 1875, were seemingly designed to outdo those of the Marble Church in Bodelwyddan – being 30cm (1ft) taller!

Thomas Winston, Rhyl’s first stationmaster, helped to raise funds for the church’s construction, and donated one of the stained glass windows and one of the bells. Sometimes he defended Nonconformists when they were “abused” by intolerant Anglicans. When he died at his nearby home, Bodannerch, bells were tolled at the church to inform the townspeople. Railway employees carried his coffin for the funeral.

The aerial photo, courtesy of the Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales, shows the church and nearby streets in 1920. It is from the Aerofilms Collection of the National Monuments Record of Wales.

Some members of the choir of St Thomas’s Church have gone on to careers as soloists. They include tenors Arthur Cobban and George Owen, singers at the Royal Opera House. In its post-war heyday, the choir boasted a rare family quartet: tenor John Evans and sons Barry, Bobbie and Peter.

Sources include: ‘St Thomas’ Church, Rhyl 1861-2002’, by Michael McEvoy

Postcode: LL18 3LW    View Location Map

Parish website

Copies of the old photo and other images are available from the RCAHMW. Contact: nmr.wales@rcahmw.gov.uk