Wrexham (Welsh: Wrecsam) is an industrial town and sizeable urban area in north-east Wales, close to the English border with Cheshire. It is the main commercial, educational and cultural centre in North Wales, and often termed 'The capital of North Wales'. It is the administrative centre of the county borough of Wrexham. The town itself has a population of 43,000 (although its metropolitan area is well over 100,000) and is thus the largest town in North Wales. The entire county borough has a population of 130,200.
Prehistoric and Roman times
There is evidence of prehistoric activity in the Wrexham area. Evidence of occupation during Roman times was found during the construction of the Plas Coch Retail Park outside the town centre.
Wrexham is not mentioned in the Domesday Book; the first mention of it comes in 1161 by which time there was a Norman motte and bailey castle at 'Wristlesham', however, being well to the east of Offa's Dyke, there has probably been a settlement there since Saxon times.
The town became part of the county of Denbighshire when it was created in 1536. Wrexham was divided into two distinct townships, Wrexham Regis (which was under the control of the King) and Wrexham Abbot (generally the older parts of the town, which originally belonged to Valle Crucis Abbey at nearby Llangollen).
During the English Civil War, Wrexham was on the side of the Royalists as most Welsh gentry supported the king, even though local landowner Sir Thomas Myddelton, owner of Chirk castle gave his support to Parliament. Wrexham became the main town in the area and grew wealthy with its markets.
Nineteenth and twentieth centuries
Wrexham was formerly one of the most industrialised areas in Wales. One of its main industries was brewing and there were several large breweries in the town, together with many smaller breweries situated at the back of local inns. Some of the more famous old breweries were the Albion, Cambrian, Eagle, Island Green, Soames and Willow. However, the most famous was the Wrexham Lager brewery which was built between 1881 and 1882 in Central Road. This was the first brewery to be built in the United Kingdom to produce lager beer. Another major producer, Border Breweries, was formed in 1931 by a merger of several of the existing smaller breweries. All commercial brewing in Wrexham has now ceased.
Bricks were produced in Abenbury, on the outskirts of Wrexham. The brickworks was sited on both sides of the Abenbury Road.
Coal mining was an important industry in the area, and provided employment for large numbers of Wrexham people, however most of the mines were situated well outside of the town centre. Wrexham's coal field was part of the larger North East Wales field. A number of deep mines were constructed throughout the area including Llay, Gresford, Bersham and Johnstown. A number of new settlements were built on the edge of the town to accommodate miners at a number of the sites including Llay and Pandy (for Gresford).
Other forms of mining and quarrying have taken place around Wrexham throughout its history, these include Lead extracted from Minera. All mining and most quarrying has now ceased in the area.
One legacy of Wrexham's industrial past was the Wrexham area's large and complex network of railways, the main branch being the Wrexham and Minera Branch, which supported the steelworks at nearby Brymbo Steel Mill and the Minera Limeworks. The rail network was torn up in the 1960s - Beeching Axe (and the Minera Branch in the early 1970s). Wrexham began a period of depression: the many coal mines closed first, followed by the brickworks and other industries, and finally the steelworks (which had its own railway branch up until closure) in the 1980s. Wrexham faced an economic crisis: with residents anxious to sell their homes and move to areas with better employment prospects, but buyers were uninterested in an area where there was little employment. Many people were caught in a negative equity trap. Wrexham was suffering from the same problems as much of Industrialised Britain and saw little investment in the 1970s.
The 90's to present day
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) intervened to improve Wrexham's situation: it funded a major dual carriageway called the A483 bypassing Wrexham town centre and connecting it with Chester and Shrewsbury, which in turn had connections with other big cities such as Manchester and Liverpool. It also funded shops and reclaimed areas environmentally damaged by the coal industry. The town centre was regenerated and attracted a growing number of high street names- BHS, McDonalds, Game, Burger King, HMV, KFC and other major retail chains came to Wrexham. The biggest breakthrough was the Wrexham Industrial Estate, home to many manufacturing businesses including Kellogg's, JCB, Duracell and Pirelli. There are also a number of other large industrial estates with companies such as Sharp, Brother, Cadbury, and Flexsys. The dual carriageway was extended halfway to the Estate in 2003, and is expected to reach it by 2011.
The high land prices in the town mean that apartments and flats within the town centre have been built. This is leading to large apartment blocks being built in and around the town centre.
In June 2003, the Caia Park estate in Wrexham was hit by riots, when local youths attacked several Iraqi Kurds living in the area, believing that they had been given preferential treatment due to their status as asylum seekers. Police were brought into the estate and petrol bombs and other missiles were hurled at them, causing a major riot.
Current Developments & Regeneration
Recent years have seen a large amount of redevelopment in Wrexham's town centre. The creation and re-development of civic and public areas such as Queens Square, Belle Vue Park and Llwyn Isaf have improved the area dramtically. New shopping areas have been created at Henblas Square and Island Green and major development is currently taking place at Eagles Meadow - a fairly large area of land between St. Giles and the inner ring road. The £100m+ development when completed will increase Wrexham's retail area by over 400,000 sq feet and house a large range of high quality retail outlets, bars, restaurants, cinema, bowling alley and new penthouse apartments. Already commited to the development are Debenhams, M&S, Next, H&M, River Island, TenPin and Odeon. The development is being carried out by Wilson Bowden and WB City Homes. It will include public areas and an iconic bridge to connect the development with the old High Street. The main street in the development is designed to give spectacular views of St. Giles Church The housing boom is also being felt in Wrexham. The central area has seen a number conversions and new build apartment complexes. Currently apartments are planned for a large area off Mold Road (close to the Football ground) and on Salop road (close to Eagles Meadow), and near the Island Green shopping complex. Outside of the town centre new build estates are being developed in Brymbo (former steelworks site), Wrexham Western Gateway site (Ruthin Road) and Mold Road.Plans have been unveiled for a £17m waste processing centre for Wrexham which will help reduce the amount of waste going to landfill sites. It is believed the centre will be built on Wrexham's industrial estate and run by Spanish-owned Waste Recycling Group.
Wrexham is now the largest settlement in North Wales, and has applied for city status several times, most recently in 2002 as part of the celebrations for the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II, along with Aberystwyth, Machynlleth, Newtown, Newport and St Asaph. In the end, Wrexham lost out to Newport, which has more than three times Wrexham's population. Wrexham county borough is among the smallest local authorities in north Wales by area. Although several attempts have been made to enlarge the local authority, other towns, such as Llangollen have rejected it, as there is a lot of "town rivalry" with neighbouring towns and cities, particularly Chester.
Wrexham hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1888, 1912, 1933 and 1977, as well as an unofficial National Eisteddfod event in 1876. Wrexham has a number of theatres, including the Grove Park Theatre on Vicarage Hill and the Yale Studio theatre close to Llwyn Isaf. The main Arts centre is at Wrexham County Library, with others at NEWI in Plas Coch and Yale College. There is a multi-screen Odeon cinema in the Plas Coch retail park just outside the town centre, with another planned at the new Eagles Meadow development - due to open 2008. The nearby town of Llangollen holds the International Musical Eisteddfod every July.
Wrexham has built a vibrant music scence over the last few years. In 2007 it featured on BBC Radio One's Steve Lamac show, and regularly features on the Welsh music portion of the station. The main live music venue in Wrexham is Central Station, a club with a capacity of approximately 650, attracting touring bands from across the country. Since its opening in 2000 the venue has played host to hundreds of acts, including The Charlatans, the Scratch Perverts, Ash, The View, The Wildhearts, Mansun, Shed Seven, The Wonder Stuff, Skindred, Supersuckers, Moscow, Bloc Party, Hundred Reasons, Bloc Party, Grandmaster Flash, Electric Six, Trashlight Vision, The Fall, Budgie, Crosbi, The Blackout, Kids in Glass Houses, Rooster and Robert Plant.
Another live music venue in Wrexham is the William Aston Hall at NEWI. It hosts concerts and live entertainment. This 900-seat venue has recently undergone extensive refurbishment, and is now designed to accommodate a range of events from conferences and exhibitions to theatrical performances and pop/rock concerts. Acts who have performed there in the past include Super Furry Animals, Love, Ray Davies, Funeral for a Friend, Freddie Starr and Sweet.
Wrexham's newspapers include the free Wrexham Mail, the Wrexham Evening Leader, and the weekly broadsheet Wrexham Leader, often known as the "Big Leader". Two radio stations, Marcher Sound and Classic Gold Marcher, serve the town. Television stations BBC Wales, ITV Wales and S4C also have bureaux in the town for their regional news services.
Wrexham has a vibrant nightlife mainly centered around the older original parts of the town close to the St. Giles Church along High Street, Town Hill and Brook Street. Some of the more popular bars include Lloyds, Bar Cuprum, Yates, Vialoto, Milliners, Sugar Reef, Cafe Zouk, Fat Cat Cafe Bar, Chequers, 1-5, Barracuda, Yales Cafe/Bar, Honky Tonks, the Commercial, South Central, Chicago Rock Cafe and Sgt Peppers. Nightclubs inclue Liquid, Envy, Scotts, Central Station (including live music venue) and the Centenary Club (at Wrexham FC)
Wrexham's former police station on Regent Street, originally the barracks for the Royal Denbigshire Militia, is now home to Wrexham County Borough Museum. The museum has two galleries devoted to the history of the town and its surrounding communities. There is also a programme of temporary exhibitions, including last year an exhibition featuring the Mold Cape, the first time the Bronze Age treasure had returned to North Wales since its discovery in 1833. Just to the west of the town, Bersham Heritage Centre and Ironworks tell the story of John Wilkinson, the 'Iron Mad' pioneer of the Industrial Revolution. At the top end of the Clywedog Valley, about ten minutes' drive from Wrexham, Minera Lead Mines are the remains of the profitable lead industry that dates back to prehistoric times.
Just to the east of Wrexham, there are the few remains of Holt Castle. The castle and the nearby late medieval bridge were the scene of constant skirmishes during the Civil War in the 17th century. The bridge was the entrance to North Wales and of vital strategic importance.
Just 2 miles south of Wrexham town centre, Erddig, the National Trust property, was home to the Yorke family until 1973. Its last resident, Philip Yorke, handed over a house in need of restoration as years of subsidence caused by the workings of Bersham Colliery had caused a lot of damage. The house was voted one of the two most popular Stately homes in the UK by a National Trust / Channel 5 publication. However, the house was not popular with Bersham miners as it stood on a pillar of coal and they had to work round it.
Wrexham's mining heritage is nearly all gone. Most former mines have been converted into industrial and business parks - one such development at Bersham Colliery has the last surviving headgear in the North Wales coalfield. Just off the A483, on the edge of Wrexham, the Gresford Disaster Memorial stands witness to the 261 miners, 2 rescuemen and one surface worker killed by a series of explosions in the Gresford Collery in 1934.
St. Gile’s Church, Wrexham is the parish church of Wrexham and includes a colourful ceiling of flying musical angels, two early eagle lecterns, a window by the artist Edward Burne-Jones and the Royal Welch Fusiliers chapel. In the graveyard is the tomb of Elihu Yale who was the benefactor of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, USA and after whom Yale College Wrexham is named. The tower of St. Giles is claimed as one of the 'Seven Wonders of Wales' and the tower of Yale University reflects its design. The Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Sorrows, in Regent Street, is the main church of the Diocese of Wrexham, which extends over all of the north of Wales. Wrexham also has a number of non-denominational chapels and Churches scattered about the town. The main Methodist church is in Brynyffynon, off Regent Street. Up until the 1970s the town was full of Welsh non-denominational Chapels and the attendance of these was far in excess of that of the Anglican Church in the town.
In the past, Wrexham had a church with a spire much taller than the St Giles steeple dedicated and named after St Mark, but this was demolished as the building's foundations were in danger of collapse. A multi-storey car park named "St Marks" was erected on the site.
Football & Rugby
The town has a professional football team, Wrexham AFC, which competes in the Football League. Currently managed by Brian Carey and his assistant Steve Weaver, the club has a rich 130 year history and is perhaps most notable for an FA Cup upset over Arsenal F.C. in 1992, together with a number of European Cup Winners Cup runs in the 1970s. Despite the attempt to knock down the club's historic Racecourse Ground and replace it with a shopping development in 2005/06, the club's future is now assured, thanks to a consortium of local businessmen led by a local car dealer Neville Dickens. The town end of the ground is due for redevelopment in the 2007/8 season, which will see a new stand and a number of high quality apartments built.
On Saturday May 5th 2007 Wrexham AFC preserved its Football League status with a 3-1 win over Boston United.
The ground has in the past also served as the secondary home of the Llanelli Scarlets, one of the four Welsh professional rugby sides that compete in the Magners sponsored Celtic League. They would play, on average, two games per season there, though since the problems experienced by Wrexham FC during its period in administration, and uncertainty over the future of the ground, there were no Llanelli Scarlets games played there in season 2005-6 nor are any games scheduled for the 2006-7 Magners League season. Liverpool FC Reserves also play their home fixtures here, as do the Welsh international rugby team on occasion.
Extreme & Oudoor Sports
Wrexham's close proximity to the Welsh mountains makes it an ideal base for outdoor sports. Just 8 miles from Wrexham town centre the Coed Llandegla Forest Mountain Biking centre is home to some of Wales' best cross country trails. Work is due to commence shortly on one of Britain's top ski centres. Located on the site of the former Gresford Coal mine (Just off the A483), the centre will include a downhill artificial surface along with the UK's first professional ski jump.
- Tennis: Wrexham is home to one of the UK's best Tennis complexes. Situated in Plas Coch the North Wales Regional Tennis Centre plays host to a number of international competitions each year including the 'Challenger' Series. The centre is also home to the Wrexham Lawn Tennis Association.
- Athletics: Queensway International Athletics stadium in Caia Park is Wrexham's second stadium after the Racecourse and has hosted the Welsh Open Athletics event in recent years.
- Hockey: Plas Coch is home to the North Wales Regional Hockey Stadium, a water-based international FIH accredited facility with seating for 200 spectators and floodlighting. The stadium is due to host the 2007 Celtic Cup in July this year.
- Basketball: The recently formed NEWI Nets are North Wales' premier BBall team and currently compete in English Division 2. 2006/7 season finishing 5th. They play at NEWI's Plas Coch sports arena.
Up until recently Wrexham was never marketed as a tourist destination. Always overshadowed by the prestigious Roman City of Chester, just over the border. However, since the turn of the century the industry has started to attract an increasing number of visitors. The town and county has some wide and diverse attractions, from statley homes and countryside to science discovery and leisure. The close proximity of Wrexham to the mountains of Snowdonia and the Berwyns makes its an ideal base for activity breaks.
Wrexham has a number of primary and secondary schools. It has just one Welsh speaking secondary school, that being Ysgol Morgan Llwyd. Recently, three of the largest secondary schools, St David's School, Ysgol Bryn Offa and The Groves High School were merged to create two larger "super schools", Ysgol Clywedog and Rhosnesni High. Wrexham has also become home to the first shared faith school in Wales in the form of St Joseph's. Yale College is the main post-16 education facility. Wrexham is also home to the newest University of Wales college, the North East Wales Institute of Higher Education (NEWI). This incorporates the North Wales School of Art and Design. NEWI is currently seeking full university status as the future University of Wales, Wrexham.
Wrexham County Borough Council elects a mayor who serves for one year. The current mayor of Wrexham is Councillor George D James. Wrexham Council's website, is one of the leading council websites in the country. People who live under the jurisdiction of Wrexham County Borough Council are able to pay taxes, debts and other fees through the website. They can also access many other services, such as reporting crimes, submitting planning applications and applying for permits.
The Wrexham constituency elects members to the UK Parliament and the National Assembly for Wales. The constituency includes both the town and some of its outlying villages such as Gwersyllt, Llay, Marford and Rossett.
The UK Parliament constituency of Wrexham has long been a safe seat for the Labour Party. The current Member of Parliament is Ian Lucas, and the Assembly Member for the National Assembly for Wales constituency of Wrexham is Lesley Griffiths.
Wrexham has various links to the transport network, with two railway stations and a large bus station. Wrexham General station provides direct rail services to Chester, Shrewsbury, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Cardiff, Bangor and Holyhead while Wrexham Central station provides direct rail services to Gwersyllt, Hope, Penyffordd, Hawarden, Buckley, Shotton and Bidston, Merseyside via the Borderlands Line.
A recent focus on road transport by the council has improved the bus travel in the Wrexham area, with most buses being low-floor and slightly elevated bus stops to allow people easier access to buses. A new bus terminal in Wrexham has been built. It is the largest in north Wales, featuring indoor shops and ambient music, along with a staffed information booth. The bus station serves local, regional and long-distance bus services.
Wrexham is one of the first areas in the United Kingdom to adopt the use of American Bluebird school buses. 10 currently operate in the Wrexham area, transporting pupils to and from the schools and colleges.
Wrexham has many major plans for the future. The WDA (Welsh Development Agency) (now disbanded), had earmarked Wrexham as a potential transport hub. The UK capital of culture for 2008, Liverpool, has also donated £100,000 to a study of electrification of the Wrexham to Bidston line, and a possible rail link to the North Wales coast line. This will open new rail links to the east, and the urban area of Liverpool.
With house prices rising rapidly in this area, the council has made many plans for massive suburban housing estates to be built. One, near Ysgol Clywedog, will include a small shopping centre and another primary school.
On 30 January 2006, it was announced that a new railway company, named the Wrexham Shropshire and Marylebone Railway (WSMR), had been formed. It plans to run a fast or high speed rail service from Wrexham, through Shrewsbury to London's Marylebone station. The announcement made it unclear as to whether it will use locomotive hauled trains or high speed DMU trains, but it was mentioned that the line to Shrewsbury may need infrastructural upgrades to handle high speed trains.
Wrexham is on the Borderlands Line
Wrexham is on the Shrewsbury-Chester Line
Museum: Bersham Ironworks
Plas Coch Retail Park
Mon 9.00 am-7.00 pm
Tue 9.00 am-7.00 pm
Wed 9.00 am-7.00 pm
Thur 9.00 am-7.00 pm
Fri 9.00 am-7.00 pm
Sat 9.00 am-4.00 pm
Wrexham Farmers Market
9.30am-1:00pm Third Friday each month
01987 292 010
Rugby: Wrexham RFC
Borras Park Albion FC
Brickfield Rangers FC
Gap Queens Park FC
Lex XI FC
Borras Park Veterinary Surgery
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Rhyd Broughton Veterinary Group
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