Can Rhyl shake its ‘Crap Town’ label and become a short-break star?

Once known for bucket-and-spade holidays, Rhyl has since seen high unemployment. But a £33m regeneration of the Welsh town is underway

It was summertime when Katey Howell, 34, first visited Rhyl, and she was bowled over by a town where everyone “seemed really happy”. The north Wales seaside resort was “full of holidaymakers, had a beach you could walk to and a good range of shops”. In 2004, Howell moved from Manchester to be with her future husband. “It seemed like a nice thing to do, to get away from city life and move down here.”

Rhyl’s glory days – when families from Merseyside and the Midlands would gather during Factory Fortnight to enjoy the beach, the funfair and fish and chips eaten al fresco – are long gone. Assembly member Ann Jones, who has lived in the area all her life, says the introduction of cheap flights to Spain and guarantee of a better climate started a slow decline that saw magnificent seafront Victorian B&Bs turned into flats.

Related: Rhyl: the Welsh town that’s fighting back against its ‘Crap Town’ reputation

Related: North Wales named one of the world’s best regions by Lonely Planet

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