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Gresford is a former mining village near Wrexham, north-east Wales. The actual village is around a mile away from the site of the colliery. Until the late nineteenth century, the parish boundary encompassed an enormous area including Burton, Llay (Welsh: Llai), Rossett (Welsh: Yr Orsedd), and Gwersyllt. The bells of the parish church, All Saints' Church are one of the traditional Seven Wonders of Wales. Gresford church as it stands now dates to 1492 and is a large and very well-built building considering the size of what the population would have been in the present day boundaries of the parish. The base of the church tower has earlier remnants of a previous building and an earlier roofline of a former transept can be detected in the tower. The colour of the stone is quite distinctive and is typical of the Wrexham area. It is a sandy brown colour and is called Millstone Grit. It is locally referred to as "Cefn" stone.

History
Despite being in Wales the name Gresford is not Welsh, but Saxon in origin. Gresford was settled by the Angles of Mercia in the 7th and 8th centuries. There had been battles between the descendants of the Deceangli and incoming Mercians in 613, so this seems a likely dateline.

However it is fairly certain that the new settlers simply took over an existing settlement and renamed it, as a Roman alter was found within the church in 1908. The alter is likely to depict Nemesis (Nemesi), this and the unearthing of a Roman coin hoard nearby-dating 150-300, is clear evidence of some sort of settlement. There is also a stand of yew tree's within the churchyard the oldest dating to A.D. 500 ó Long before Anglo settlement. Yew tree's were significant to Brythonic people and considered sacred. There is another ancient yew on the grave of Dafydd ap Gwilym in the churchyard of Ystrad Fflur (Strata Florida) Ceredigion.

Whatever the name of the settlement before the Angles arrived it was named Gretford in the Domesday book, its pronunciation and spelling have changed widely until the modern literate period. The village would have been within easy reach of the River Alun (sometimes spelt Alyn), and there was a ford across the river to Yr Hob (English: Hope) and Y Ffrith from Roman times. A water supply and power for a mill were vital at these times, so the name reflected this in Gres-ford. It is reputed that at the time of the Mercian settling Gresa was the local high man. In the 19th century some misguided scholars attempted to trace the name to Welsh roots by saying the name was Y Groesffordd, which means the crossroad in English. Unfortunately there was no evidence for this in written documents of the period when the whole area was resettled by Welsh aligned to Owain Gwynedd 1170-1203. At this time the Bishopric was transferred from that of Saint Werburgh's Chester to Llanelwy (St Asaph). The vicars of the village were Welsh with patronymic names. For example, Morud ap Gwarius, who became vicar in 1284. If the village had been given a Welsh name it would have turned up in this period, and more importantly the crossroads only came into being in the 18th Century! The fact is it would have been more likely to name the village Rhyd-gresa, or Rhyd.... Rhyd being the translation of "ford".

Some believe that the name Gres-ford refers to a grassy ford (Crossing point or bridge which spanned the River Alyn).

In common with many of the towns and villages of the border lands, or Marches, Gresford has gone through periods of both English and Welsh dominance.

Gresford Colliery
Work began to sink the mine shaft from 1907/08 and the colliery was in production before World War I. The coal was renowned in the area as being of very good quality and hot burning.

Gresford Colliery was the site of one of Britain's worst coal mining disasters. The Gresford Disaster occurred on on 22 September 1934 and 265 men died in an underground explosion. The bodies of the miners were never recovered. The head gear wheel is preserved and forms part of the Gresford Disaster Memorial along with a plaque. The coal mine was located on the edge of the Alyn valley, between the Shrewsbury and Chester Railway (later G.W.R Birkenhead-Paddington line) and the old main road between Wrexham and Chester.

The colliery lasted until 1973 when it was closed due to "geological problems". The effect that the tragedy had upon the area cannot be imagined today. Within the Wrexham coalfield, Gresford was not established as an industrial village as the likes of Brymbo, (Brynbaw in Welsh meaning hill of dirt), or Coedpoeth had been. It had been more agricultural in nature before the coming of the mine, so therefore as many men came from other villages as from Gresford itself. So virtually every single village for miles around had someone lost down the Dennis shaft. To this day, Wrexham town library has the memorial book on display with a list of the poor souls still buried underground.

North Wales Mineral Railway
The railway that runs today between Shrewsbury and Chester via Wrexham through Gresford, might not today with its single track give many clues to its important past. It was responsible for opening up the Wrexham area to outside trade for it rich mineral reserves. when the North Wales Mineral Railway opened the Shrewsbury and Chester in 1847 it was greeted with great joy and fanfare. There was also a branch via an inclined plane to Brymbo and Minera from a Junction at Rhosrobin-Wheatsheaf Junction, this was later replaced by the much easier Wrexham and Minera Branch. Another branch also went from Gobowen to Oswestry (Welsh: Croesoswallt) in Shropshire. The line was hugely successful but became a source of contention between the London and Birmingham - later the LNWR and Brunel's Great Western Railway. The railway wars of the 1840s led to much hostility and wasteful competition in the race for one company to take over another. Eventually the Shrewsbury and Chester was absorbed by the Great Western Railway no doubt to the chagrin of the London and North Western Railway directors. This is evidenced by the refusal of the Chester station master to allow the proper servicing and paths for GWR trains to the shared station. Eventually parliament was involved to rectify this situation.

Gresford station was built of stone and was a very pretty building, it was midway up the notorious Gresford bank. The bank was so steep that a refuge siding was required at the station in the event of engines having to leave some of their load behind to get up the hill. Banking engines were also used on occasions. There are many stories from people over the age of 50 of them as children standing on 'Blackies' bridge (footbridge over railway) and watching the engines struggle up the hill. Gresford station was demoted to Gresford Halt for Llay from 1956 and was closed altogether from 1964.

Engines of the 57xx, 45xx, 43xx, 38xx, Hall, County, Grange and Manor were among the many classes of engine that used the line in later years of steam along with British Railways Standard Classes. There were also Ex L.M.S-London Midland and Scottish Railway engines used on the line in the 1960s. Until the 1967 season there were mainline expresses between Birkenhead and London. The line would have been very busy. When the heavy industry of the Wrexham area is accounted for, one can imagine how important this transport artery would once have been.

Gresford Athletic
The history of the present day Gresford Athletic football club stretches back to 1946 although it is known that the club existed in the 1920's.

The club remained in the Welsh National (Wrexham area) league until the introduction of the Cymru Alliance league in season 1990-91 when they became one of the founder members of the league. They remained in the Cymru Alliance league for four seasons before being relegated back to the Welsh National league, during the four-year period they reached the league cup final losing to a very strong Rhyl side at NEWI Cefn Druids.

They became Champions of the Welsh National Premier league in season 1995-96 but because of financial difficulties could not meet the ground criteria for promotion back to the Cymru Alliance. The following season a new committee was formed with the intention of getting the club back into the Cymru Alliance. This was achieved by becoming Champions (pictured below)of the Welsh National Premier league in season 2000-2001. This time the committee managed to raise the finance to upgrade their Clappers Lane ground to Cymru Alliance standards. The were also beaten finalist in the Welsh Trophy that season.

Manager Alan (Sammy) Jones has been with the club since the late 1980's and his success's include the North East Wales challenge cup, league titles with the first team and youth team, he has also led the club to Welsh National, Welsh Trophy and Cymru Alliance league cup finals.


 Libraries in Gresford:
 Gresford Library
       Vicarage Lane
       Gresford
       Wrexham
       LL12 8UW
 01978 852627
 Mon 2.30-7.00 pm
       Tue 10.00-1.00 2.30-5.30 pm
       Wed 2.30-5.30 pm
       Fri 10.00-1.00 2.30-7.00 pm


 Football in Gresford: Gresford Athletic FC


 Pubs/Bars in Gresford:
 Beeches
       Chester Road
       Gresford
       Wrexham
       Clwyd
       LL12 8PW

 Griffin Inn
       Church Green
       Gresford
       Wrexham
       Clwyd
       LL12 8RG
 01978 852 231

 Pant yr Ochain
       Old Wrexham Road
       Gresford
       Wrexham
       Clwyd
       LL12 8TY
 01978 853 525

 The Red Lion
       Marford Hill
       Marford
       Wrexham
       Clwyd
       LL12 8SN
 01978 853562

 The Yew Tree Inn
       High Street
       Gresford
       Wrexham
       Clwyd
       LL12 8RF
 01978 852 566


 Hotels in Gresford:
 Premier Travel Inn
       Chester Road
       Gresford
       Wrexham
       Clwyd
       LL12 8PW
 01978 853214


 Restaurants in Gresford:
 Beeches Brewers Fayre (Tradional Pub Food)
       Chester Road
       Gresford
       Wrexham
       Clwyd
       LL12 8PW
 01978 853214


 Take Aways in Gresford:
 Wah Sing Chinese Takeaway
       46 Chester Road
       Gresford
       Wrexham
       Clwyd
       LL12 8NE
 01978 852322


 Children in Gresford:
 The Homestead Day Nursery
       Old Wrexham Road
       Gresford
       Wrexham
       Clwyd
       LL12 8TY
 01978 853946


 Schools/Colleges in Gresford:
 All Saints Primary Gresford
       School Hill
       Gresford
       Wrexham
       LL12 8RW
 01978 852342


The Albion Band - Gresford Disaster


Gresford - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
GRESFORD, a parish, in the union of Wrexham, partly in the hundred of Bromfield, county of Denbigh, and partly in that of Mold, county of Flint, North Wales, 3 miles (N. E.) from Wrexham; containing 3928 inhabitants, of whom 574 are in the township of Gresford. This place is supposed to have derived its name, anciently Croesfordd, or "the road to the cross," from its situation near an ancient cross (within half a mile to the south of the present church) of which the shaft is still remaining. The parish is very extensive, comprising upwards of 12,000 acres; and the village is delightfully situated on the western side of the road from Wrexham to Chester, near the head of a beautiful valley, which opens into the Vale Royal of Cheshire, a tract of country remarkable for the richness of its soil, the beauty of its scenery, and the pleasingly diversified views which it presents. The little Vale of Gresford is one of the most lovely valleys in the principality, abounding with interesting objects, enlivened by the meanderings of the river Alyn through its meadows, and finely varied with richly wooded eminences, on one of which stands conspicuously the beautiful church, remarkable for the elegance of its architecture and for its picturesque appearance. The plantations and pleasure-grounds attached to the elegant villas and rural mansions which are scattered throughout this small but romantic dell, combine, with the natural beauties of its scenery, to render it in every respect one of the most attractive spots in this part of the country. Deeply sheltered in the vale is Gresford Lodge, a stately mansion, designed by Sir Jeffrey Wyatville, and one of the most tasteful and highly-finished edifices erected by that distinguished architect. In the parish are also Erddig, situated in a detached portion of it, the grounds of which are disposed with great taste, and beautifully adorned with wood; Gwersyllt Park; TrÍvalyn Hall, the ancient mansion of the Trevors; TrÍvalyn House; and several other mansions. It is bounded on the east by the Dee, and intersected by the Alyn, a tributary of that river; and on the banks of these streams, and of the Pulford brook, are extensive but not very rich tracts of meadow, which are frequently flooded: the soil is tolerably good. Coal is found within the parish, and mines are worked to a considerable extent in Gwersyllt township, where are also some mills for drawing wire, which afford employment to a small number of persons. The Chester and Shrewsbury railway runs along the Vale of Gresford, parallel with the river Alyn, and has stations at Rossett and Gresford. Fairs for cattle are held on the second Monday in April, the last Monday in August, Easter-Monday, June 24th, August 21st, and October 22nd.

The living is a vicarage, rated in the king's books at £21. 2. 3Ĺ., and endowed with five-sixteenths of the great tithes; present net income, £714; patron, the Bishop of St. Asaph. The impropriate tithes of the township of Gresford have been commuted for £102. 2., and the incumbent's tithes in the township for £76. 8.: the impropriate and vicarial glebes in the township comprise 184a. 3r. and 17a. 1r., respectively; and there is a glebe-house. The church, dedicated to All Saints, is a spacious and elegant structure, in the later style of English architecture, with a lofty square embattled tower, of fine proportions. This tower is richly ornamented on the summit with figures of the twelve apostles, alternated with crocketed pinnacles; and in the south-west angle with an elaborately enriched ogee canopy, surmounting a niche of beautiful design, in which is a statue of Henry VII. The interior of the church consists of a nave, chancel, and north and south aisles; the roofs of all these are of oak, panelled, and profusely ornamented with fruit and flowers exquisitely carved. The rood-loft screen, of very superior workmanship, is still remaining entire, and in the chancel are twelve ancient stalls of oak richly carved. In the north aisle is a beautiful niche, surmounted by an enriched canopy, and in the south aisle a piscina of elegant design; in several of the windows of the church are some fine remains of stained glass. Under an arch in the north aisle is an ancient stone coffin, on the lid of which is a shield charged with armorial bearings, round which is inscribed Hic jacet Gronow ap Iorworth ap Dafydd, &c., with the date 1321; and under a flat arch in the south aisle is an altar-tomb, with a recumbent effigy clothed in chain mail, supposed to represent Madoc ab Llewelyn ab Grufydd. There are several monuments to the Trevor family of TrÍvalyn, one of which, erected in 1638, during his lifetime, is to the memory of Sir Richard Trevor and his wife Catherine, who are represented in a kneeling posture; the inscription records that he served thirty years in the wars in Ireland, was governor of Newry and the counties of Down and Armagh, and vice-admiral of North Wales, and that he lived to see his great-grandchildren. In the chancel are, a monument by Westmacott, to the memory of J. Parry, Esq., formerly M. P. for the county of Carnarvon; and a white marble tablet to William Egerton, Esq., with a bust of this gentleman, finely executed by Chantrey. Within the last few years, a monumental brass, executed by Messrs. Waller, has been placed in the church; an instance of the revival of the ancient art of engraving monumental brasses. The bells of the church are particularly melodious. A chapel at Rossett has been lately rebuilt and endowed by John Townshend, Esq., of TrÍvalyn, and made a district church, with a portion of the parish ecclesiastically assigned to its minister for pastoral purposes. There was formerly a chapel of ease at Allington, but no vestiges of it are now discernible, except the cemetery. The dissenters have several places of worship.

Dame Margaret Strode, widow of Sir George Strode, of the Inner Temple, London, by will, in 1715, gave £500 in trust to the Bishop of St. Asaph and others, for the purchase of lands, the produce of which was to be appropriated to clothing and instructing three boys and three girls of the parish, and, if the funds would suffice, to apprenticing them to masters and mistresses of the Church of England. Of this sum, £450 were vested in the purchase of some land in the parish. Dame Dorothy Jeffreys, of Acton, in the parish of Wrexham, in 1728, gave £50 in trust for the instruction of poor children of this parish; and in 1758, the sum of £114 which had accumulated from the former legacy, and £86 from the latter, making together £200, were placed out in mortgage on a farm purchased by the parish, which realizes five per cent. interest. The annual income available from these endowments is £26, for which sum a few children are gratuitously taught in a large Church school for boys and girls, otherwise supported by school-pence and subscriptions. In the Rossett district is the Lavister infants' school, established in 1846, by Mrs. Barker, of Boughton, near Chester, at the expense of her family; and at Merford is a third school, conducted, like the others, on Church principles, and in which sixteen children are taught at the expense of Mrs. Griffiths, of TrÍvalyn Hall. There are several Sunday schools in the parish, of which by far the most considerable is held in the Gresford school-house, and the others are supported by the dissenters. Mrs. Shakerley, of Lower Gwersyllt, in 1757, bequeathed £200 for the purchase of lands, directing the rental to be applied in clothing, and apprenticing to husbandry and housewifery, six children of the parish; no application having been made for apprenticing for several years, this sum has accumulated, and the proceeds now amount to £45 per annum. Mrs. Jane Shakerley, in 1777, bequeathed £100, to be applied in the same manner as the last-named bequest. Mrs. Anne Shakerley, in 1748, and the dowager Lady Williams, each bequeathed £100, directing the interest to be laid out in clothing the aged poor of the parish, to which purpose is also applied the interest arising from the other benefactions, when no premiums are paid for apprenticing children, according to the intention of the respective benefactors. Near the church, and adjacent to the school-house, are two unendowed almshouses. John Davis, of London, in 1595, bequeathed a rent-charge of £13. 6. 8. on his estate at Allington to the poor of the parish, among whom are also distributed the proceeds of other charitable bequests.

Wat's Dyke may be distinctly traced along the eastern bank of the river Alyn, in a direction towards Caergwrle. Sir Richard Trevor, whose monument is in the church, was born in the parish, and resided at the ancient mansion in the hamlet of Allington, or, as it is sometimes called, TrÍvalyn: in this old Hall is his portrait, with some emblematic allusions to his former life as a warrior, and his subsequent application to devotion and retirement. At Merford is an ancient British camp, called "the Roft," on an eminence commanding prospects of great extent and variety, chiefly over the Vale Royal of Cheshire; and in the hamlet of Erddig is another strong intrenchment, called "the Roman Fort."



 

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