This is the first attempt
of plotting the development of the village of Acrefair. Any corrections or
further information would be welcomed.
The village of Acrefair, lies midway between Wrexham and Llangollen in North
Wales. It has a long industrial history and the surrounding area is littered
with the visual remains of workings of a time long gone. Coal, iron and clay
were all worked and produced in and around Acrefair and all have left their
scars on the local landscape.
The main road from Wrexham to Llangollen runs through Acrefair but not on
the same route as that used by the ‘turnpike’ road up to the mid-nineteenth
century. Then the road diverted right just after the Hampden Arms public
house down Bethania Road (Then known as Black Lion Road after a local public
house) towards the original village centre, some half mile way. Here were
situated two pubs, a post office (Ran for many years by a certain Dan Ellis)
and a shop. Roads led off up to Ruabon mountain and down Chapel Street
towards Cefn Mawr. The turnpike road carried on towards Llangollen on what
is now a simple path.
The village of Acrefair flourished in the nineteenth century and the village
centre moved to its present location on Llangollen Road . The building of
the main Wrexham to Barmouth railway bisected the village with one of
Robertson’s ‘Skew Bridges’ being built to take the railway high over the
village. Close to the bridge was situated the Eagles Inn, once kept by
Betsen Richards and the bridge became know as ‘Pont Betsen’. The railway
station opened and rows of terraced houses sprang up in all directions along
Llangollen Road and towards Cefn Mawr. Many of these houses were tied to
local companies: Burton Terrace for example was owed by the New British Iron
Company. Although many of these houses have now been demolished, many also
remain and provide examples of houses built with the locally made Ruabon
Acrefair was home to Air Products limited, an American company who moved
into the area around 1950 providing much needed employment. Their arrival
and the subsequent expansion of their factory car park caused the demolition
of ‘British House’; a substantial building built by the New British Iron Co.
around 1860 for use by their directors and managers and containing a large
Board Room. Unfortunately, the company went into liquidation just before
1890, and its successor, Hughes & Lancaster's Engineering from Chester, had
no use for the building and sold it to a private owner. By 1930 it was being
used as a boarding house, lodging staff from nearby Monsanto Chemical Works
and visiting preachers.
George Borrow, in his book titled 'Wild Wales', described his passing
through Acrefair in 1854. He wrote how the blazing glare of the furnaces of
the New British Iron Company lit up the entire neighbourhood. The spoil
banks of iron slag from these works still litter the area and are still
known by their local names of 'Black Rock', the 'White Rock' and the 'Ballas(t)'.
These banks would have been much larger today but for the work of companies
in the 1920's who erected machines to crush the waste for use as road
foundations. This work continued right up to the outbreak of the second
Nearby, the Delph Clayworks was started around 1860. It was owned by Thomas
Seacome and manufactured bricks and chimney pots from the nearby deposits of
fireclay situated above the works, on the Pen-y-cae road. A simple gravity
tramway truck system conveyed the clay to the works but by 1928 the best
clays were worked out.
Ownership moved to Wyndham & Phillips, who produced salt-glazed fireclay
sanitary pipes and moulded fittings for export all over the world, including
Cairo, Port Elizabeth and Buenos Aires. At its peak, there were 18 kilns at
the Delph Works with about 100 men including press-men, moulders,
bricklayers, carpenters, blacksmiths and engineers. The works closed in
Just outside Acrefair the Australia Silica and Brickworks was situated in
Trevor. Started in the late 1860's by George Mason, it moved ownership in
the 1890's to Roberts, a local man, and Maginnis, a Scot who lived in Derwen
Hall, Garth. Initially, the quarry at the back of the works provided the raw
materials and held deposits of silica stone and pure ganister.