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This is another in my occasional series of walks around the area, and links to an earlier one through Penrhos.

From the junction at Penrhos, an unusually straight lane runs northwards towards Brymbo Pool: Mount Pleasant farm stands at its far end, at the junction with Brake Road. A “brake” is a local term for a railway incline: sure enough, maps of the 1870s show a tramway running downhill at the roadside to the furnaces, connecting with others running south to Penrhos and the Wonder Pits, and running north and west to others. It must have been a busy place, of drifting smoke, blaspheming carters, and spoil tips spreading across the fields, giving rise to one suggestion that the name “Mount Pleasant” was probably tongue-in-cheek.

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The British Museum’s online galleries include some very interesting maps, such as many of the original surveyor’s drawings for the Ordnance Survey First Series.

One of these is this survey of Cyrn y Brain by John C. Giles, done in 1835. If you have Flash, you can zoom into the interactive version to find Brymbo, towards the upper right of the sheet.

This map is especially useful as it is not only rather clearer than the actual First Series, but (just) predates even the tithe maps. Some good details to notice:

  • The ironworks is not shown: in 1835 it could well have been shut. This was the era of John Wilkinson Jr, the trustees’ Chancery cases, and general stagnation. The “Brymbo smelting house” is however very prominent, along with a single coal pit on the estate, in an enclosure just south of Brymbo Pool.
  • Brymbo village is still a scattered hamlet covering the area of the old Harwood common. Vron and its colliery are absent, and Bwlchgwyn consists of two or three cottages.
  • The long-vanished lake at Moss is shown near to Brynmally Hall. R V Kyrke told Alfred Palmer that bitterns, grebes and other water birds used to nest here. The second Brymbo Pool, drained during the 19th century, is shown a little west of the main one (though it’s still visible on aerial photographs as a different colour of vegetation)
  • John Thompson‘s Ffrwd Ironworks is in operation, with a coal pit nearby. Another coal pit is shown immediately adjacent to Penycoed.
  • There is a barely-visible square feature on the right-hand edge of Brymbo Hall gardens, with a small stream running from it to another feature to the south. Is this the lost cold bath and bath house?

Incidentally it’s nice to see Pentre Broughton shown on the map using its older and to my mind far better name, Pentre Cwn Brithion, the “hamlet of the spotted dogs”.

A few months back I started to write about the history of one of Brymbo’s smaller villages, the Lodge, starting in the 18th century. The second part, however, will be a step backwards to the century before.

Legal cases, particularly Chancery cases, can often provide a lot more information than you’d think at first glance. In this instance a 1692 suit filed by Robert Griffith, Esq, of Brymbo Hall against John Hill and his wife not only holds the answers to an ownership puzzle over the Lodge estate itself, but casts some light on a previously unknown coal mine.

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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.
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