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Even some farmland in the area has been changed drastically over the years through the effects of mining and industry. The NCB's opencast mine at Brymbo in summer 1974, looking across towards the site of the later steelworks rolling mill.

Grass, hedges and even trees can grow back fairly quickly if left to their own devices. As a result it’s quite easy to look at the more rural parts of our area of study and imagine that the landscape seen today gives a good idea of the surroundings a hundred years ago, or even three hundred years ago.

In fact, the effects of industry and in particular mining  have wrought substantial change, making the history of the landscape that much harder to read. Probably the most destructive of these changes was the series of opencast coal workings that were carried out between the end of World War II and the mid 1970s. There are still a few places where you can see field boundaries and lanes much as they appear on, say, the tithe maps of the 1830s: over towards Glascoed or in the valley of the Gwenfro on the township’s southern boundary, for example. But much of the rest of the land in between has been dug over for coal, and with it disappeared all kinds of historical evidence that can now only be seen on maps.

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John Wilkinson is, by a long way, the most well-known of the area’s early industrialists, the men who oversaw the first transformation of the area from an essentially rural one into one of the centres of the Industrial Revolution in Wales. This is understandable, given the importance of the ironworks he single-handedly established. However, there were many other figures in this early generation of iron- and coalmasters who played a part in developing the mineral resources of the Denbighshire hills. They came from a variety of backgrounds – small landowners, or the sons of the first generation of furnace-owners – but by the early years the 19th century they had risen hugely in status on the back of their mineral wealth (and the labour of thousands of colliers, lead miners and ironworkers). Some of them were closely involved with our small area of study, Brymbo.

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This is site about Brymbo, a township once part of Denbighshire, and its history. You can read more about the site in general, start with the most recent posts or with the archives listed below.