Discovering History on Our Doorsteps
May is Local and Community History Month, and with the instruction to ‘stay local’ ringing in our ears for most of the past year, it’s likely that, like us, you’ve engaged with your immediate vicinity far more than usual (whether you wanted to or not!). For those of you interested in local history, the good news is that Wrexham and the surrounding area has plenty to offer. There are, of course, the obvious attractions, such as the splendour of Erddig or the magnificence of Thomas Telford’s aqueduct at Pontcysyllte. Or you might want to see the view from the top of Holt Castle, which you can do safely now barriers have been installed. There you can transport yourself back more than 800 years, to a time when border fortresses like this were making their mark on the people and the landscape of Wales.
Or it’s possible you’ll decide to take another stroll back in time by visiting the recently refurbished cemetery on Ruabon Road. When it was built in 1876, it was designed not only as a burial site, but also a pleasure garden for mind, body and soul. The Victorians, like us, well understood the value of exercise.
It’s hard to believe now, but Wrexham was once the Amsterdam of North East Wales. We speak of its trams of course, which once made their way into the town from depots in Johnstown and Rhosllanerchrugog. The tramways are sadly long gone, but Wrexham Council has held a public consultation on the fate of the two trams they still have in storage. So, if you wanted to re-live those glory days of electric, you might want to get involved.
Finally, the town itself has much to commend it to the budding local historian, from its historic pubs and churches, where worship of one form or another has gone on for centuries, to its covered markets and imposing shop fronts, which stand witness to a proud mercantile tradition.
Historic Wrexham town
So, if the pandemic has awoken your inner local historian, inspiration is just a walk away.
Thinking of studying history? Get a taste by taking one of our short courses Introduction to Welsh History, A History of Homes and Gardens or Historical Frontiers: From Hadrian's Wall to the US-Mexican Border. If you want to study history further, take a look at our degree: Social and Cultural History, which is also available with foundation year.
Written by Dr Kathryn Ellis and Peter Bolton, who teach modules in social, cultural and political history at undergraduate level, as well as a range of short courses here at Wrexham Glyndŵr University.