Wrexham, the largest town in North Wales and home to more than 65,000 people, has been caught on film at a number of moments through the past century. They allow today’s viewers to get a glimpse of the lives of previous generations.
Where you see a ⏯ symbol, that’s the link to the free-to-view online video.
National News In The 1930s
Because this footage in the British Pathé archives was unused, it’s not accompanied by a commentary.
On Friday 18th May 1934, Prince Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII, Duke of Windsor), visited the town on the third and final day of a visit to North Wales. At a time of high unemployment, many communities in Wales suffered high levels of deprivation.
In his capacity as Patron of the National Council of Social Services, the Prince visited the following locations:
- New council houses in Trevenna Way, Spring Lodge, Wrexham
- Ponciau Recreation Ground playing fields at Rhosllanerchrugog
- Craft centre at Brymbo Steelworks
- “33 Club” at Shotton and the children’s play area at Queensferry in Flintshire
It’s amusing to see one particular child determined to keep running about in front of the prince. She seems unaware of the camera, even as she attracts the eye away from the important dignitaries.
On 22 September 1934, at 2:08 a.m, an explosion and subsequent underground fire at Gresford Colliery killed 266 men.
The decision to permanently seal the colliery’s damaged districts meant that only eleven bodies were recovered.
Gresford was one of Britain’s worst coal mining disasters, despite only starting production in 1911. Later investigations found many reasons to be critical of the private owners and underqualified managers.
A Signpost In The 1950s
In the 1950s someone driving towards the town took a short film clip of their journey, which is now part of the HuntleyFilmArchives.
A Wonderful Carnival Film From The 1970s
YouTube channel PoppyWales.Cymru uploaded this wonderful colour cine film from the 1970s. Made by the late Mr Rees Lewis of 10 Edward Street, Wrexham, it’s almost four minutes of beautifully clear footage of the carnival participants and some of the spectators.
As the parade moves through the town centre to Bellevue Park, we see the young children of the Bellevue Park Playgroup dressed as children’s book characters. Their supervising adults – far fewer of them than we would expect to see today for a large group of tiny children on a moving vehicle without barriers – are dressed as witches.
The Town In The 1980s
Graham Lloyd uploaded a number of videos showing old photos of the town, to promote the website wrexham-history.co.uk
Three minutes of good quality black and white photos of the town in 1988.
From the Mostyn History Preservation Society Film Archive comes this short film made at North East Wales Institute (NEWI) in 1988. Various locations, students and tutors appear. Given the shots of students hanging about in corridors and shuddering in the biting wind, it certainly would not be included in a promotional video!
Welcome To Wrexham 1989 | Wrexham.com
Almost nine minutes of Wrexham’s people and places in 1989.
Unfortunately, the Brymbo Steelworks shown in the film closed the following year, on 14th May 1990.
In town, we see the Littlewoods store. Sold by the Moores family in 2002 to David and Frederick Barclay for £750 million, the brand closed its last stores in 2005.
In the middle of a film promoting the town, it seems strange to ask “What of the lifestyle of a family living in Wrexham?”, at the very point we see two very young children and their quiet mother sitting in a gaudy plastic environment eating fast food out of polystyrene containers.
It’s especially striking because at no point we see people enjoying a quality meal in a cafe, pub or restaurant. The alleyway offering a teashop contains nothing but a young woman who’s either searching for customers, or looking for a way out past the camera crew.
In the estate agent’s window, a Victorian house is offered for sale at £22,250. Next to it is a detached house for £67,500.
“High technology education and training” appears to be learning how to type into a word processor and creating random blocks of symbols on a dot matrix printer.
It’s all very charming and entertaining, with lots of 80s hair and fashion on display. Plus, hundreds of people appear on this promotional film that has suddenly become a little piece of history.
YouTube channel joe bloggs uploaded a video made back on 7th July 1991 with a cumbersome home video recorder. It shows a fourteen minute drive around the town centre, and surrounding streets, passing homes, shops, businesses, other vehicles and a number of pedestrians. It is accompanied by a well selected soundtrack.
Dave Spencer’s videos of buses around the UK in past decades includes this one from the town centre.
Amusingly, half way through you suddenly hear someone driving around in the background asking people to vote for the labour candidate, John Marek.
In 1992 John Major’s Conservatives and Neil Kinnock’s Labour fought the General Election. While John Major won nationally, in Wrexham the sitting Labour MP John Marek increased his majority. He later moved on to the National Assembly for Wales before becoming an independent.
Another video from Dave Spencer, this time recorded on quiet day in the year 2000. Toy Story 2 is advertised on the side of one of the passing buses.
Video47 captured a few moments of buses trying to operate around the disruption of the bus station redevelopment works. A number of pedestrians and passengers also appear.
Over 400 free events took place for all the family in libraries and local communities across Wales as part of Libraries Fortnight (1st-14th November 2011).
In this video, the Young Ambassadors of the Olympics (London 2012) visited Wrexham’s library. It was an age when having 35 computers, free wifi and the ability to watch one of 2,000 film and TV programmes on demand was something to talk about.
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