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The pool today.

There are certain public spaces that seem to define a community as much by their existence in memories and experience as by their physical existence. Brymbo Pool, I suspect, is one of these.

There can be few people locally who have not walked up there on Sundays or summer evenings, rather as many would remember the walk across to Hope Mountain, down Farm Lane to the Hafod, or over to the waterfalls at Nant-y-Ffrith, depending where you lived or how much time you had to waste. I always imagine the pool in bright sunshine, simply because it was where you might go when it was sunny. Nevertheless it has a recorded history too, although early on it becomes as murky as the water has occasionally been.

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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”.

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.