FRIENDS OF THEATR COLWYN
THE GREAT FIRE OF 1930
by Roy Schofield
A loud crackling of burning timbers awakened a Mr Tomlinson who lived above an adjoining shop at approximately 4.30am on Saturday 13 December 1930. He ran to the nearby police station where the Voluntary Fire Bridge were summoned.
According to newspaper accounts they arrived in a very short time and the firemen, in great danger from falling timbers and molten lead (which was falling from the blazing roof) took two hours to extinguish the fire.
Although local occupants awoke to find their bedrooms full of smoke, no injuries were sustained and the fire was confined to the interior of the Rialto. The newspaper stated that the fire was the worst Colwyn Bay had experienced since the Pier was burnt down five years before.
Alas, the inside of the theatre was extensively damaged – in fact, it was gutted. According to the Pioneer, “All that remains of the theatre are four walls. The stage and proscenium were reduced to ashes and over 800 seats were burnt out and buried beneath the debris of the fallen roof. In the basement of the theatre are several shops, such as the joiners and painters, but these escaped with only damage caused by water. The shops on either side of the theatre entrance also escaped serious damage, apart from their stock, which was damaged by water.”
The building was insured for £2,500 and the contents were insured with a Manchester Company for £2,000. The newspaper added that both were valued at much more than those sums. At the time of the fire the Colwyn Bay Public Hall Company Ltd owned the building but it was rented from them by Coast Cinemas Lds (who also owned cinemas at Conwy and Penmaenmawr).
There is, however, a missing piece to this story … the historian does not yet know how long the repairs took and when, therefore, the building reopened. Does anybody know?
This article was written by Roy Schofield and if you have any further information, then please email this website.
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