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Book Reviews: Wrexham’s Industrial Past and North Wales Walks

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Book Reviews: Wrexham’s Industrial Past and North Wales Walks

Lots in store with these book reviews from John Morris.

In the illuminating and well researched Wrexham At Work, Stewart Shuttleworth explores Wrexham At Work. He takes the reader on a historical journey of industrial change and adaptation alongside its implications for people’s working lives.

Our Industrial Past

The author focuses on the industrial past of the County Borough of Wrexham Maelor, including agriculture, brick and tile works, and coal mining at Gresford, Bersham, Llay Main, Black Park, and Rhosllanerchrugog. He looks at iron and steel manufacturing at Brymbo, the ironworks at Bersham, limestone at Minera, leather works, wool and sheepskin production, and, of course, brewing. The mind boggles at the range of employment our county had to offer.

These images bring this history on our doorstep to life and include the sculpture in Bonc yr Hafod Country Park on the site of the old colliery. This mine employed over 1,900, and the purpose-built miners’ village in Llay was conceived in the 1920s as a garden city development. The picture of the mine shaft in Bersham is pertinent since it was the last working colliery in Denbighshire, closing in 1986.

Brewing History

Wrexham’s brewing history was based on the high quality of local water. Readers will read about the 19 breweries in Wrexham in 1860. Landmark buildings were the Mitre Brewery in Pentrefelin, Wrexham Lager, and the Nags Head pub next to Soames Brewery and its 130- foot chimney, built in 1894.

The chimney is a prominent landmark, purchased by the former MP John Marek to save it from demolition. The centre of brewing in Wrexham is now the revitalised Wrexham Lager (Cwrw Cymru) behind the renowned Jones’ fish and chip shop. Within the introduction, Stewart notes that a key feature of the book is to reflect on the culture and identity of the people.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t mention that Wrexham was designated as a city in 2022. There is no reflection on the influence of the new owners of Wrexham AFC. He misses the media attention given to the work of the Pfizer team during the Covid pandemic.

He also omits how Wrexham has witnessed a resurgence in the recognition of the Welsh language. This is evident in the section on education, where he doesn’t mention the eight Welsh medium primary schools, plus the extensions being built at Ysgol Plas Coch and Ysgol Hooson.

These oversights detract from a book with many outstanding features about the industrial changes within Wrexham. Hopefully, the author can address the issues highlighted in the next edition. This book is well worth reading, particularly for students studying local history.

Feedback from readers regarding Love Wrexham’s circular walks has been excellent, and many have expressed the desire to challenge themselves on longer ones.

If you’d like to see some more of our walks, click here.

The Limestone Way

Colin K Peter takes the reader on seven stages in the brilliantly researched and engaging The North Wales Limestone Way. The newly created route covers an overall distance of 85 miles. The detailed route descriptions are the key element of Colin’s excellent text. In addition, the Limestone Way intersects some well-known and commonly used tracks and routes, including Offa’s Dyke, The Wales Coastal Path, The Clwydian Way, The Hiraethog Trail, and others. The author breaks the Limestone Way into seven stages, including from Llandudno Great Orme to Rhos on Sea, Rhoson- Sea to Abergele, Abergele to Denbigh, and then on routes finishing at Prestatyn.

Iron-Age Hill Forts

The text provides extensive information augmented by an excellent range of stunning photographs of historical and social significance. These include copper mines, iron-age hill forts, cave dwellings, Roman ruins, and Norman castles. The author advises the walks are best taken in early autumn when the weather is warmer and the days are longer. Although the book doesn’t include detailed maps, ample details of pathways and key focus points are provided, and OS online maps can supplement these notes. The books open up the areas between popular Victorian seaside resorts and the tranquillity of the industrial past to modern industrial Wales and the changing economic environment, including offshore wind farms.

Bibliographic Information

Title: Wrexham At Work
Author: Steven Shuttleworth
Publisher: Amberley Publishing
ISBN: 978-1398102859
URL: amberley-books.com/wrexham-at-work.html

Title: The North Wales Limestone Way
Author: Colin K Peter
Publisher: Llygad Gwalch Cyf
ISBN: 978-1845244606

Finally, for more book reviews, click here.

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