As has been mentioned before, Brymbo township lacked any substantial villages until the 19th century. The agricultural labourers of preceding centuries might have lodged in the homes of the yeoman-farmers who employed them, or lived in small cottages on the edge of the farmland. With the growth of mining and quarrying after 1700, those who worked in the new industries no doubt followed the same pattern as seen elsewhere in Wales, and constructed small houses for themselves on the old common land at Harwood and around Bwlchgwyn. But it was not until well after 1800 that modern, planned settlements for the miners and other industrial workers of the area appeared. One of the earlier ones was Vron, a few rows of miner’s houses on Offa’s Dyke, almost directly south of Brymbo Hall.

Even more so than the land around Harwood, Vron was entirely agricultural until well into the 19th century, the only older ‘settlement’ of any kind nearby being the little hamlet of Pentre’r-fron, which is mentioned in 17th century documents. The tithe map of the 1830s, for example, shows only Ty Cerrig, the croft later known as Caellewelyn, and the Vron Farm lying between Brymbo Hall and the Gwenfro. The present site of Tanyfron village, a short distance to the east, is occupied by another farm of about 30 acres then known as the College Farm, or simply as the College.

Alfred Palmer records only a little about the College and its ownership over the years has proved difficult to establish. During the 19th century and part of the 18th it was owned by the Murrall-Griffith or Murhall-Griffith family, who also owned the small farmstead at Penrhos now called Rhos-y-Coed (the latter was also a pub, the Red Lion, for a time). They must have bought the College in 1777, when the London Chronicle carried an advertisment for its sale by auction. It was then in the occupation of Francis Isaac, and interestingly the advertisment mentioned that there was a pending application for a lease to raise coals on its land. Perhaps this could have been the beginning of the coal works that later became the Vron Colliery. At the end of the century a John Isaac is recorded as the tenant: perhaps he was related to Francis. Later on, in the 19th century, a family with the surname Manuel farmed there, and were followed by a Mr William Griffith.

In his History of the Parish Church of Wrexham, Palmer speculates on the College’s rather curious name. He takes it as possible evidence that it was part of an endowment for St Giles’ church at a time, during the 16th century, when the latter was being turned into a collegiate church. There is not much evidence that this actually came about, as Henry VIII’s activities soon put an end to collegiate churches in general.

By the 1850s, and the development of the colliery at Vron under the management of William Low, there was an increased demand for housing in the area. A couple of small rows of cottages were built next to the colliery, and in 1857 land was purchased in the Vron for a small Methodist chapel – usually a sign of a community’s growth. An article by A H Williams in Bathafarn, 1947, states that the chapel’s founders were Boaz Jones, William Jones (“y gaffer“), Charles Johnson, Dafydd Prydderch, and William Lewis, while its most important figure in the early years was Isaac Jones, born in Flintshire, who had come to the Vron in 1857. The other important building of the Welsh industrial village – the pub – was represented by the City Arms, at the south end of the houses, and the Four Crosses towards the north. The railway even reached Vron from Brymbo, and within a few years the landscape of the tithe maps was barely recognisable.

The College lasted until the closing years of the 19th century, when the ever-increasing need for housing finally erased it from the map. It changed hands in  1892, and in 1893 another newspaper advertisment detailed the “sale of valuable freehold building sites, on the College Farm estate, Brymbo“, to be conducted by Messrs. Bevan and Phennah. The auction was to be held on the farmland itself, or in the farm buildings if the weather was wet. “Several proposed new roads […] will place the lots in most desirable and convenient situations for the adjoining works, either at Vron, Plaspower, New Broughton, Gatewen, or Brymbo“, ran the advert; here we can see the very beginning of the village now known as Tanyfron, essentially a planned miner’s settlement. The solicitors dealing with the sale were Messrs. Poyser and Shutter of Regent Street, Wrexham, and I wonder if this was the reason a short stretch of road in Tanyfron is still named “Poyser Street”. By the end of the century new houses had spread down the hill and across the fields of the College Farm, along the banks of a small brook which once ran to join the Gwenfro at this point. Even the congregation of the Vron Methodist chapel was to move down the hill within a few years, building a new and larger chapel, Mynydd Seion, on Park Road, Tanyfron, in 1896.

Despite the new building, Vron continued to be considered a separate village down to the present day. The colliery and old chapel are long gone and even the last pub closed a few years back, but in the fields all about you can still find obvious signs of the industry that brought the village into being: spoil and waste heaps, now mostly covered by trees. Close by, the street name “College Hill” is the last reminder of the previous centuries’ history.