Show­men to pier own­ers

North Wales Weekly News - - POLITICS/ OPINIONS -

£250,000 a year bud­get just for the un­der deck steel­works.

“My chal­lenge is to get it back to its for­mer glory, to strip back where the paint is crisp rather than look­ing like it has 30 coats of paint on.

“I want it im­mac­u­late and it will take a lot of years.

“We will in­vest what we can, depend­ing on the in­come, that de­pends on the weather and what hap­pens with Llan­dudno and the sur­round­ing area.

“It would be nice to get help but we will put as much as we can back in.

“Prof­its will go straight back in. I don’t get paid, I would like to in the fu­ture but not for a num­ber of years. It will need to be per­fect and we can then min­imise ex­pen­di­ture.

“I don’t think it needs ma­jor changes, just what is here do­ing a bit bet­ter.

“In the past it was man­age­ment run, run well, but they only had a bud­get to spend. With me if I want some­thing done I will sup­ply the bud­get and make it hap­pen.”

Talk­ing about his fam­ily back ground, he said: “My grand­dad moved to the coast to help my dad’s asthma, to get to the coast and es­cape the sooty air.

“All the show­men he sup­ported came with him. They built the Down­town club and Schooner pub and were based there and had rides on Rhyl fair­ground.”

“My grand­dad and dad were en­trepreneurs. My grand­dad was an en­tre­pre­neur in the show­man world, tak­ing rides to new places while my dad de­vel­oped in fixed as­sets.

“My mum(from Ruthin) was also a bit of an en­tre­pre­neur and bought a nurs­ing home.

“Our work ethic is you work long hours, some­time you got paid, some­times you didn’t, you hope there are more good days than the bad ones.”

Adam worked on the farm and then the ar­cades, thrown into the fray at an early age.

“I was run­ning the Down­town at 16, it was in­ter­est­ing, you had to learn fast, I was also run­ning the fair at Tir Prince.

“On a Satur­day I could go to school at St David’s in Llan­dudno in the morn­ing, fin­ish at 12, work at the fair­ground and then go to the club for the Satur­day night. It was quite tir­ing!”

The seeds for the fam­ily’s ma­jor in­vest­ment in Towyn were sown when Billy Jnr fell in love with horses as a teenager.

Adam said: “My dad first saw har­ness rac­ing at Pon­tins and was hooked. He swapped a car for a horse and from then on loved horses. That even­tu­ally de­vel­oped into the race­track at Tir Prince af­ter first do­ing sea­sonal grass track rac­ing.”

It was not all smooth sail­ing as af­ter build­ing Tir Prince in 1989 it was washed away by the floods just weeks later and had to be re­built the fol­low­ing year.

Adam said: “We lost £500,000 with the flood, it was not in­sured. It was a month af­ter it was handed over from con­trac­tors that it flooded. The in­ter­est rates then went up to 17% so there was mas­sive pres­sure. I re­call my dad hand­ing the keys back to HSBC and they gave them back and said ‘what are we go­ing to do with it?, Do your best.’

“It was pulling ev­ery­thing down at the time, bleed­ing ev­ery­thing dry.

“Ev­ery­thing was against us but then my dad did the mar­ket, it took off and it saved us. It was a life­line to us and gave us the money to in­vest.”

They have thrived but Adam does re­main con­cerned for the fu­ture of the amuse­ment trade in North Wales and says the sec­tor has not had enough sup­port or credit. He said: “We are cre­at­ing rev­enue and em­ploy­ment but we are get­ting ne­glected be­cause I think peo­ple don’t like the im­age they think we por­tray be­cause the history of ar­cades al­ways ap­pear to be seedy. But it is a fun­da­men­tal part of leisure tourism in Bri­tain.

“I think we are for­get­ting what makes a Bri­tish hol­i­day, the sea­side, the fair­ground, the amuse­ments, that is the ba­sis of ev­ery child’s Bri­tish hol­i­day and mem­o­ries is what runs Bri­tish tourism. We can’t for­get mem­o­ries.

“The amuse­ment in­dus­try em­ploys a lot of peo­ple. We have the growth in ad­ven­ture tourism which is great, it is a ride at the end of the day. It is ex­pen­sive though and is not some­thing you go on time and time again.

“Some­thing like Zip World is very good and gets peo­ple here and puts us on the map but it is a one off for many peo­ple. Peo­ple might spend some time there on their hol­i­day but then where else do they want to go, fam­i­lies will go to the sea­side and we need to make sure we don’t ne­glect this sec­tor.”

Pier owner Adam Wil­liams

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