North East Wales

Brymbo steelworks heritage centre clearing work starts

Brymbo Heritage Group at the Number 1 Furnace
Image caption Workers have been abseiling down Brymbo's Number One furnace

Work to clear part of an old Wrexham steelworks has started in order to turn it into a heritage centre.

Workers abseiled down Brymbo Steelworks' listed Wilkinson Number One blast furnace to clear trees and clean the building.

The site closed in 1990 with the loss of 1,000 jobs.

In September, Brymbo Heritage Group (BHG) was awarded £97,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to help turn the site into a heritage centre.

Three scheduled ancient monuments and a Grade II listed building remain on the site.

'Cracking job'

BHG plans to start guided tours and gather oral histories or memories of former workers as well as digitising 3,000 old photos and other material for local schools, colleges and universities.

Spokesman Brian Stapley said five workers had been abseiling and doing a "cracking job" on clearing vegetation from the blast furnace wall.

He added: "The next step is to try and get rid of all the damage caused to the foundry when we had heavy snow in March.

"The snow brought the roof in and we need the emergency works done as soon as possible."

Mr Stapley said BHG hoped to make the site safe to take people on heritage tours.

Brymbo's industrial roots date to the 1760s when John "Iron Mad" Wilkinson and his younger brother took over the furnace at Bersham, near Wrexham, from their father.

John Wilkinson later bought Brymbo Hall and built two blast furnaces, marking the beginning of what was to become Brymbo Steelworks.

Landowners Brymbo Developments Limited (BDL) took over the reclamation after the steelworks closed in 1990, with housing being built on some of the sprawling site.

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