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New strategy aims to help preserve and develop opportunities from Wrexham’s heritage

A new strategy that aims to safeguard and preserve Wrexham’s heritage for future generations has been backed by councillors.

Executive Board members yesterday unanimously voted in favour adopting the Wrexham Heritage Strategy 2018 – 2028: Making Connections.

Wrexham County Borough is full of heritage – from historic buildings in the town, two National Trust sites, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, Wrexham Museum, two Victorian Markets, Brymbo Steelworks and many more buildings, landmarks and objects.

However over the years some of local heritage sites have been closed to the public due to cutbacks, with the council keen to point out buildings have been made watertight or preserved for future generations when hopefully the resources will be around to make best use of them.

Across Wales the heritage sector supports close to 40,000 jobs and is claimed to generate £749m a year. It is also one of the reasons North Wales is a top visitor destination (it was recently cited by Lonely Planet as the fourth best place to visit in the world).

It has been 13 years since the local authority published its last heritage strategy, however “pressure on public spending” has been cited as a reason for the closure of some local sites.

The new strategy – known as ‘Making Connections’ – aims to bring together groups and individuals who are passionate about Wrexham County Borough’s heritage to help conserve and promote local history.

It is hoped that this collective approach could “attract significantly increased levels of external funding which can benefit the sector as a whole and mark a step change in the contribution heritage can make to the County Borough’s visitor economy.”

Overall there seven objectives outlined in the strategy to help achieve the overall aspirations:

– Establish a new coordinating body, ‘The Wrexham Heritage Partnership’ to drive forward the strategy
– Undertake an audit of key monuments in order to identify and cost their conservation needs. Funding will then be applied for to support a rolling programme of work over the life of the strategy
– Establish of a network of Heritage Hubs and seek new and imaginative ways of linking heritage sites with associated services and businesses
– Identify and seek funding for key developmental opportunities to strengthen the Heritage Hubs
– Develop a distinct ‘Heritage Brand’ for Wrexham County Borough’s heritage and seek new and imaginative ways that the brand can be marketed and promoted
– Develop County Borough wide projects to celebrate each community’s unique heritage
– Identify key educational opportunities to increase the number of school visits to key heritage assets

Speaking at the meeting Cllr Hugh Jones, lead member for communities, partnerships, public protection and community safety, said: “We cannot underestimate the importance of our built heritage and environmental heritage.

“In Wrexham we have one of the most significant industrial heritages in the whole of the United Kingdom, it is equal to Iron Bridge and Coalbrookdale and stems back to the same period of time.

“We are very fortunate to have the support of a number of private and volunteer organisations that help us in the task of maintaining our heritage so that we can hand it onto future generations.

“What we want to try and achieve is something more than heritage. We want it to become a living part of our community and that heritage will come back into life by giving access to younger people.

“I hope as a result of the strategy we can work in partnership with a number of organisations across the county borough to deliver that objective.

“When I first became lead member for this area, I’ve tried to create an ambition where the heritage sites that had been closed will be reopened.”

Cllr Jones added: “We have something really significant and important that we should hand onto future generations.”

Leader of Wrexham Council, Cllr Mark Pritchard added: “Wrexham is hotbed of historial sites and monuments. The industrial revolution and heavy industries in Wrexham shaped and moulded what Wrexham is today.

“I hope going into the future we can protect, preserve and support as many sites as we can.”

You can view the “Wrexham Heritage Strategy 2018 – 2028: Making Connections” in full here.

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