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Although we might think of Wrexham as a largely industrial town, with the Brymbo district as its economic powerhouse through much of the 19th century, the Industrial Revolution in north Wales was actually something of a damp squib. A. H. Dodd’s classic text on the subject, first published in the 1920s, explained some of the reasons why: remote sites and poor communications restricted trade to the local area, whereas the coal and iron of south Wales had access to deep-sea ports (giving particularly direct access to the lucrative Irish market). The collieries west of Wrexham, old, smaller-scale workings on shallow seams, were a world away from the deep mines of the Rhondda, and Brymbo’s steelworks was unusual in its hilly, land-locked site. By the 1900s many of the area’s coal and iron operations had ceased.

The small-scale and localised development of industry in the district led to a distinctive landscape, where a patchwork of agricultural land was intermingled with small collieries, related industries such as brickworks, and villages spreading across former areas of common land. The last of these smaller scale industrial sites survived through to the 1950s, 60s and 70s; in Brymbo, a particularly interesting one lasted until the 1980s. There are now few buildings near Pentresaeson crossroads, and there were never very many, but you can still see one of the main landmarks of the immediate area, the old Taylor Brothers iron foundry and its distinctive chimney, just down the township road to Bwlchgwyn alongside the bed of the former Minera railway line. Back in the 19th century this would have been a good site for a small ironworks, with reliable supplies of coal in the immediate vicinity, a tributary stream of the Gwenfro running nearby and, from the 1840s, the railway giving vital access to outside markets. However the history of the building is not well recorded and there is still a lot of work to be done on establishing its exact origins.

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