Rydal Penrhos

Rydal Penrhos School is an independent co-educational boarding school in Colwyn Bay, North Wales. It is the only Methodist school in the independent sector in Wales.[1] It is located on multiple sites around the town with a site in the neighbouring village of Rhos-on-Sea where it keeps its watersports equipment for easy access to the beach. In 2018 the governors announced that no further boarding pupils would be enrolled on account of reduced demand for boarding education in the area. Current boarders could complete their courses, but the school's boarding accommodation would be gradually disposed of. The school's educational policy and ethos would remain unchanged.

Rydal Penrhos School
Pwllycrochan Avenue

, ,
LL29 7BT

TypeIndependent day and boarding
MottoVeritas Scientia Fides
(Truth, Knowledge, Faith)
Religious affiliation(s)Methodist
1999 (mergers)
FounderThomas Osborn
Department for Education URN401972 Tables
Acting headteacherSally Harding
ChaplainReverend Nick Sissons
Age3 to 18
Enrolment150~ (Prep)
350~ (Senior)
Colour(s)Black, Amber & Cyan

Rydal Penrhos has a strong tradition in sports and the arts. The school's 1st teams in both hockey and rugby have, in recent years, been a strong selling point for the school, which thrives on their successes. The 1st XI hockey team, along with the U16 team, have been exceptionally successful in the Welsh Nationals, claiming several titles in the past five years. In 2007, the U16 boys team won the North Wales Final at hockey, only to go on and lose in the final at Nationals.


The school started life as five separate institutions:

  • Rydal School was founded (as Rydal Mount School) by Thomas Osborn in 1885 as a boys’ boarding school. It was named after the house, at the junction of Lansdowne Road and Pwllycrochan Avenue in Colwyn Bay, which Osborn had acquired from Reverend Frederick Payne. This is still the main school site. From 1977 it was a co-educational school. Its former motto was Prodesse quam conspici ("Do good without display").
  • Penrhos College was a Methodist girls-only boarding school founded in 1880 as a result of the generosity of Reverend Frederick Payne, a wealthy benefactor and Wesleyan minister who lived in Colwyn Bay. It was prominently situated above the promenade towards Rhos-on-Sea. Its former motto was Semper ad lucem ("Always towards the light").
  • In the early 20th century both Rydal and Penrhos created preparatory or junior departments, which in due course each moved to its own premises.
  • Rydal Preparatory School occupied Walshaw House, Oak Drive, Colwyn Bay when Rydal School was evacuated to Oakwood Park during the Second World War (see below). In 1946 when Rydal came back from Oakwood Park, the Preparatory School took its place there. It remained there until 1953, when it moved to its present site at Pwllycrochan. This had been the property of Lady Erskine, owner of the Pwllycrochan estate, and was developed as the Pwllycrochan Hotel before being bought by Rydal.
  • Penrhos Junior School occupied a substantial house in Oak Drive, Colwyn Bay.
  • Lyndon School was a private preparatory school in Colwyn Bay.

In 1887, Payne had founded St John's Methodist Church on Pwllycrochan Avenue, which was used regularly by both Rydal and Penrhos. In 2010, the stewardship of St John's was passed to Rydal Penrhos, which needed more space for school worship and special events.


A degree of uniformity of design in central Colwyn Bay owes much to a single architect, Sidney Colwyn Foulkes, whose concept has been followed by other architects. His father designed St John's Methodist Church, and he was responsible for many of the school's buildings, as well as others in the vicinity, and further afield in North Wales. This led to the area that includes the school being designated as Colwyn Bay's first conservation area.

Evacuation of Rydal School

During the Second World War the main campus of Rydal was occupied by the Ministry of Food. The school was evacuated to Oakwood Park, a small country estate 2 miles west of the town of Conwy. The school returned to Colwyn Bay in 1946.

Evacuation of Penrhos College

During the Second World War, the Penrhos College site was taken over by the government for Ministry of Food use. The Duke of Devonshire, anticipating that schoolgirls would make better tenants than soldiers, offered Chatsworth House for the use of the school. The contents of the house were packed away in eleven days and 300 girls and their teachers moved in for a six-year stay. The whole of the house was used, including the state rooms, which were turned into dormitories. Condensation from the breath of the sleeping girls caused fungus to grow behind some of the pictures. The house was not very comfortable for so many people, with a shortage of hot water, but there were compensations, such as skating on the Canal Pond. The girls grew vegetables in the garden as a contribution to the war effort.


Rydal Preparatory School merged with Penrhos Junior School in 1995 to become Rydal Penrhos Preparatory School, which, in 2003, underwent a further merger with Lyndon School, which retained its name until 2010. The former Penrhos Junior and Lyndon campuses were disposed of and staff and students were relocated to the larger existing Rydal Preparatory School campus.

In 1999 Rydal School and Penrhos College agreed to merge as Rydal Penrhos School. Initially they were run as three separate divisions: "preparatory", "girls" and "co-educational", reflecting the three formerly separate incarnations. The Penrhos College campus was eventually closed down and sold for re-development, and its pupils moved to the main Rydal campus, the divisions being amalgamated into a single entity. The merger and integration was not without controversy, not least over the sale of the former Penrhos site and the restructuring of the staff.

Introduction of the I.B.

In 2004, the school began to offer the International Baccalaureate programme of study in its Sixth form years, as a parallel alternative to the A-level programme that was already being offered. This led to an increase in the number of pupils attending the school from overseas countries such as Ukraine, Belgium, Canada, Germany, France, Kenya, Nigeria, Peru, Russia and the Czech Republic.

First-class cricket

Rydal School
The pavilion at New Field, Rydal Penrhos
Ground information
LocationColwyn Bay, Wales
Coordinates53°17′47″N 3°44′24″W
Team information
Wales (1929)
Denbighshire (1934)
As of 10 August 2009
Source: CricketArchive

The school's cricket pitch was used as the venue for a first-class match between Wales and the touring South Africans in 1929.[2] The three-day match, played on 10–12 June 1929, resulted in a 10-run victory for the South Africans and saw Bob Catterall of South Africa (117) and William Bates of Wales (102) record centuries.[3] Denbighshire later played a single Minor Counties Championship match against Northumberland at the ground in 1934.[4]

Notable alumni


  1. "Unavailable". prep.rydalpenrhos.com.
  2. "First-Class Matches played on Rydal School, Colwyn Bay". CricketArchive. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  3. "Wales v South Africans, 1929". CricketArchive. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
  4. "Minor Counties Championship Matches played on Rydal School, Colwyn Bay". CricketArchive. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
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