Showmen to pier owners
£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