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‘Dad, what was Ruthin like 30 years ago?’

30 years ago, our main GP surgery was on Mount Street, where the dentist is now. Close by, agricultural marts were still held in the town centre. Even though farmers were struggling after Chernobyl, market days brought bustle—and traffic chaos. Parking overspilled to rough ground on what was to become Tesco. Near the mart was our sole supermarket, KwikSave, under pressure from the majors then opening ever bigger stores in nearby towns. Kwiks included Coleman’s the greengrocer. There were top-up grocers at Warren’s Happy Shopper, the Eagles Stores and at the small Co- op at Well Street/The Square (which stayed open till 8 p.m.). The Leamington Stores had not long closed. None of the above shops opened on Sundays. Borthyn Spar did, though. Independent convenience shopping included five greengrocers, at least four butchers and two wholefood shops. We had a slaughterhouse on Wynnstay Road. There were five newsagents in town plus the location then with the greatest range of magazines of all, including some rather idiosyncratic titles, Bridge Services. The number of shop units increased overall, with the conversion of Castle Mews. You could get DIY materials from three town centre locations. 30 years ago, we had branches of four clearing banks (including the TSB). We also had agents for four building societies where, strangely, security was little more than a lockable till. There was a choice of four estate agents. The main method of spotting houses for sale was via two weekly newspapers—in black & white. We used copper phone lines to talk. Our telephone exchange was full of analogue switchgear, not empty as now bar a handful of computer servers. The gas board shop had closed (and the gasometer demolished) but MANWEB still kept a shop on Clwyd Street. There was another selling consumer electronics in town (Butland, soon to become Lewis Electrics), where you could also buy blank VHS and audio cassette tapes. They were about to move their larger white goods to Lôn Parcwr. In 30 years, it’s perhaps women’s fashions and accessories that have seen the most significant downward trend in store numbers. In 1988, there were some dozen shops. Remember the likes of Lucinda, Sandpiper, Montecito, Élite Shoes, Tudor House, Jeffries (sic) and Panache? In addition, there were two shops selling children’s clothes. On the other hand, the number of hair & beauty salons has changed little (although many names & locations have) as has the number of cafés. In 1988, Finn’s chippie had an eat-in area. We had no Indian restaurant or takeaway but we did have a popular Italian—complete with piped Spanish music! Smokers were welcomed into
every café, pub & restaurant. 30 years ago, we were served by Clwyd County and Glyndŵr District Councils. Official documents tended to be in English only. Glyndŵr gave us black sacks for all our rubbish in one. There were no recycling facilities or bottle banks. Glyndŵr looked after the seasonal paddling pool at Cae Ddol and licensed the Hippo Club. Clwyd had responsibility for the library at the Old Gaol (shut on Saturdays), Llysfasi agricultural college and the Naylor Leyland Centre, Well Street, a resource for local schools. Clwyd Highways operated from the unmodernised area surveyor’s offices & depot at the end of Lôn Parcwr, then a cul-de-sac. Glyndŵr ran its dust carts from premises near the coal merchant on what is now the Park Road car park. 30 years ago, car parks were free. Market Street’s was set to be chained-off before 9 a.m. You could buy two- and four-star petrol and, just, unleaded at three service stations including at Slater’s Well Street (selling Jet), which was attendant-operated. Petrol was still available in Cerrig, Clawddnewydd, Llanbedr DC, Llanfair DC and Pentre Llanrhaeadr. We had a mainstream car dealer, selling and servicing Citroëns. That at Pentre Llanrhaeadr sold Austin Rovers. For those venturing farther afield, we had two travel agents. One sold rail tickets. There were no speed limits through Llanbedr, Llanfair, Llanferres, Pentre Llanrhaeadr, Llandegla or Rhewl. 30 years ago, the bus operator serving virtually all local destinations was Crosville Wales. We hired our coaches from Rogers of Graigfechan, Cloion Coaches of Clawddnewydd or Clwydian Tours of Pentre Llanrhaeadr. All have gone. And travellers up Clwyd Street by whatever means were greeted by a large friendly green sign saying, “Croeso i Ruthun / Ruthin Welcomes You”. Whatever happened to that?
How   different   was   our   town   at   the   formation   of   predecessor   the   Ruthin   &   District Association? The answer is “very”! PETER DANIELS remembers some of 1988
What hasn’t Changed? As at March 2018 Gayla House, Wayfarer, Boot’s the Chemist, Trefor Jones, Jan’s Cards, Harris Toys, Llewelyn Jones, Spread Eagle Books, John Jones & Son, Esso, Hill & Roberts, Mount Street surgery, The Hide Away/Ruthin Memorials and King’s (and Barclay’s, just) have remained in the same locations under the same managements for more than 30 years. There are establishments occupying the same location but which have changed their management: The Post Office; Siop Nain; the Well Street Pharmacy; Beresford Adams; Gamllin’s; Swayne Johnson; Chatwin’s; Castle Bell; Cyril Arnold; Finn’s; Aydin’s; Beresford Adams (then called Nationawide Anglia) and Ruthin Wholefoods (then including home brew and even less healthy confectionery). The Midland Bank changed its name to HSBC but occupies the same building. Work & Leisure Wear (Army & Navy), Corwen Carpets, Wern Vets and Norma Elizabeth still trade under their former managements but from different locations. Many of our pubs have a direct link to the past. Other than closed Eagles, Wynnstay Arms and the Old Anchor, all others are intact, in one form or another.