The History of Chirk
Chirk - Y Waun
The town of Chirk sits on the border of England and Wales on what was the old A5 road which runs from London to Holyhead. There is no doubt that over the past centuries many people have travelled this route for pleasure or work.
The history of Chirk is well documented and like many towns and villages has evolved over the past thousand years.
Several notable buildings have always been at the heart of village and town life although one thousand years ago the church was main focus with a number of buildings situated around it forming a small village. On the south side of the church there once stood an early Norman Motte and Bailey fort, sadly no longer visible apart the earth mound.
The church is a double nave building which is fairly common in North Wales and a walk around it is well worth it, not only for the monuments inside but also the different variations in building techniques visible in the external walls.
During the 1700 and 1800's Chirk started to see an increase in buildings with the Hand Hotel playing a key role as a hostelry and coaching inn along the A5.
Also in the 1800's we saw the establishment of a Boys school and a Girls school which was designed by Augustus Pugin, the well known designer from the era.
In Elizabethan times coal was discovered in the Halton area and this would eventually lead to the establishment of Black Park and Brynkinallt coal mines which would see men moving from agriculture to the mines for employment.
National changes that were beyond the control of the local employers saw coal being phased out with the last mines in Chirk shutting for good in 1968.
Sitting on the A5 (B5070) Chirks' character has over the past 50 years changed with other employment coming into the town, a much-improved road network allowing inhabitants to take up employment in other towns.
Housing development has seen the towns housing stock grow bringing much needed accommodation for the inhabitants.
We must not forget that tourism is now playing a major role in the prosperity of the town. Chirk Castle is a major attraction bringing thousands of visitors into the area each season.
The other major attraction is Telford's Aqueduct and Henry Robertsons Viaduct which stand at the head of the Ceiriog Valley. The award of the World Heritage status has seen the canal get the recognition it rightly deserves and brings much needed visitors to the area.
Written by Graham Greasley for this website