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History of the Heritage Centre

Bersham Heritage Centre, in the heart of the attractive Clywedog Valley, is Wrexham's centre for Industrial Heritage and home to the Museum Service's Industrial History collections.

18th century drawing of the Eastern Works

Background History

Like many of the properties in Bersham, the Heritage Centre is a historical site in its own right. John Wilkinson had his East Works, a part of the Bersham Ironworks complex, where the Heritage Centre now is. This area was known as Rolling Mill meadow, a name that hints at the work that took place there. Some of the boring mills that made the cylinders and cannons were located here.

Bersham Cannon in Corfu

After the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 the Bersham Ironworks went into decline. In 1818 the site was leased to the Harris family and they opened a paper mill at Bersham. There were two further paper mills down stream at the Turkey and Esless mills.

In 1874 the Heritage Centre building was built as the Board school for the children of Bersham. Bersham School finally closed in 1961.

A contemporary portrait of John Wilkinson

In 1983 the school building reopened as the Bersham Industrial Heritage Centre. The centre’s aim was to collect, conserve, promote and interpret the heritage of the Clywedog Valley and its associated industries such as iron, steel, coal and lead mining. In 1994 a new gallery was opened to tell the story of Brymbo Steelworks and in 1997 the forge area was refurbished to enable blacksmith demonstrations to take place using the forge.

One of the many temporary exhibitions held at Bersham, Heritage Centre

Since 1996, the heritage centre has been the venue for the Wrexham Heritage Service’s industrial history exhibitions and the store holds an important collection of artefacts from the many industries of Wrexham County Borough.

Works bell from Brymbo Steelworks

In 2007-08, museum staff created two new permanent displays: John Wilkinson, Wales and the Wider World on the history of Bersham Ironworks and the career of John Wilkinson, and Sharp as Steel, Tough as Iron on the history of Brymbo Steelworks and its connection to John Wilkinson.