Wrexham's Heritage

Wrexham's Heritage

Throughout history, humans have left their mark on the Wrexham landscape, either whilst living - the iron age hillforts - or through death - the bronze age barrows.

Workmen digging a trench in the village of Brymbo in 1958 made an important discovery which proved prehistoric human activity in the area. The men had unearthed a Bronze Age burial cist containing skeletal remains, a flint knife and beaker.

Brymbo Man'Brymbo Man', Wrexham's celebrity skeleton, dates from around 1600 BC. He has recently undergone a facial reconstruction and the fascinating results can be seen in the newly refurbished County Borough Museum.

The Romans also made their mark in the mid 1st century AD by establishing farming communities in Plas Coch and Chirk. They produced tiles and pottery at Holt and mined lead at Ffrith for the 20th Legion based at nearby Chester.

The earliest identifiable reference to Wrexham was in 1161 when 'the castle Wristesham' was mentioned in the Pipe Rolls. Between 1086 and 1277, the area was the Princedom of Powys Fadog and was ruled by the Lords of Maelor from Dinas Bran.

During the Medieval period, the town developed as an important market centre. Markets still play an integral part in local life.

Royal visits have been many in Wrexham. Edward I first appreciated the advantageous military position of the County Borough and visited on a number of occasions during his conquest of Wales. During the Civil War, Charles I visited Royalist Wrexham and gave a passionate speech from the Shire Hall on High Street.

Wrexham came to prominence in the late 18th century when John 'Iron Mad' Wilkinson and his famous Bersham Ironworks were at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution. In 1774, Wilkinson took out a patent for the boring of cannon and is said to have supplied cannons for both sides in the American War of Independence! He also produced many of the cannons used in the Napoleonic wars and most of the cylinders for the famous Boulton and Watt steam engines.

The Pontcysyllte AqueductThe establishment of a rail network in the 19th century meant that goods could be transported more easily, giving a boost to the established industries. The introduction of canals, a prime example of which can be seen at Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Trevor, meant that Wrexham could export Worldwide.

There was an extensive lead mining industry at Minera and the deposits of clay led to a famous brick, tile and terracotta industry at Ruabon.

Coal deposits meant there was extensive mining activity in the area. An infamous accident occurred in 1934 when the Gresford Colliery exploded killing 265 men.

Brewing and tanning were the main industries in Wrexham. The first lager brewery in Britain was built at Wrexham in 1880 by a German immigrant, Ferdinand Graesser.

The Cambrian Leather Works in Wrexham supplied the leather for the binding of the eleventh edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica in 1910, which needed nearly a million skins!

Wales' 1958 World Cup Team Against CzechoslovakiaFootball plays a big part in Wrexham's heritage. The Football Association of Wales was formed at the Wynnstay Arms in Wrexham in 1876. Wrexham AFC, famous for their giant killing exploits, are the most successful football team in Wales and have lifted the Welsh Cup over twenty times.

There is more information about the area's social and industrial history in the Wrexham County Borough Museum. It is also the place to research family and local history at the A N Palmer Centre for local studies and archives.

So rich is Wrexham's heritage, it is one of the few places in the World to have its own specialised encyclopaedia.

Related Links:

Visiting Wrexham | Wrexham County Borough Museum | Famous People 

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