It’s the end of what has been an interesting year, and naturally it’s the perfect chance to reflect on some of the events of the last 12 months.
2013 has been an eventful year for the town, so the Wrexham.com team sat down over the festive period and discussed which stories we thought should make this list. There have been some low points this year, from the sad incident that took place at the Cambrian Vaults, through to the ‘Lads On Roof‘ incident that took place back in April.
There have also been some high points. Wrexham FC made it to Wembley and won the FA trophy, Dynamo fever gripped the town and Sir Bradley Wiggins paid a fleeting visit to Wrexham. A particular highlight was a herd of cows deciding that their preferred way of getting from A to B was via the A483.
Wrexhamites such as Beth Bennett have also stepped forward to help improve the perception of the town, with WreXfest highlighting all the good the town has to offer. Events such as the Wrexham Christmas light switch on, Walk on Wales and the Play Day were also great successes for the year.
Rather than document the year month by month, we settled for a combination of ‘big Wrexham’ stories, the most popular stories and just a few of our own personal favourites thrown in for good measure. Underneath are 13 stories that we hope will make you look back and recollect…
Don’t forget, these are just our own personal choices. There is also a thread on the Wrexham.com forums regarding your own Wrexham highlights of the year. You can join in the discussion and share your thoughts here!
Wrexham Go To Wembley…. Twice!
This year saw Wrexham Football Club’s first ever trip to Wembley, and remarkably the second! The initial trip was for the FA Trophy, which of course was won in a nail biting penalty finale.
A matching achievement was that of the thousands of fans who travelled to London from all corners of the earth, which for those in the UK was a particular challenge as it coincided with biblical amounts of snow!
You can relive the Wembley experience here - the good one! We wont talk about the other appearance, which had the one redeeming element of better weather.
Lads On Roof
‘Lads on Roof’ as its known locally is a particularly memorable incident from 2013 that has remained in most people’s minds, perhaps not for good reasons.
On April 24th part of Chester Street was closed off after two leisurewear clad idiots gained entry to the roof of some buildings at the top part of the street.
After 29 hours the incident ended, when the two, aged 18 and 19 gave themselves up. Over the 29 hour period access from Saith Seren to Waterworld was closed off, police wore full riot protection gear and potentially lethal items were thrown from the roof.
One of the most memorable elements of the story was the ‘infamous KFC’, which was given to the two males by the police. The KFC bargain bucket story was one that generated such an response, that the story made it to the internet outrage funnel the Daily Mail.
It is worth noting that the incident generated a nine page response on our forums, and after Snowmageddon, the Lads On Roof story became one of the most read stories on Wrexham.com . You can relive the Lads On Roof incident / liveblog here, if only for the odd sight of North Wales Police officers edging down Chester Street in a classic Roman centurion attack formation.
The ‘Pulped’ Jillings Report Is Finally Released – Sort Of.
After many Freedom Of Information requests and legal eagles Snail Snail & Snail finally ruling that a censored version of the report in to abuse in ‘care’ homes in North Wales could be released – we took a look. Wrexham Council was one of the local authorities releasing a copy, doing the usual trick when you are trying to locate something ‘lost’, knowing exactly where it is and finding it secure under lock and key.
Oddly the released version to the public did not match a version we had seen weeks earlier – perhaps a mystery to solve in 2014 is why there appears to be several versions of the report, who edited it, why they edited it, and will the full original report ever be released?
Our comparison of the two Jillings reports can be found here and is worth a read even if we say so ourselves.
Tour Of Britain
September saw the Tour Of Britain, featuring the previous year’s Tour De France Champion Sir Bradley Wiggins and renowned sprint racer Mark Cavendish take to the streets of Wrexham for Stage 4 of the tour.
Crowds gathered as racers entered Wrexham via Marchwiel, traversing the streets of the town centre, before eventually heading West towards Snowdonia.
We were live blogging on the day of the race through the town, and the excitement and enthusiasm from spectators was palpable as they awaited the arrival of the cycling stars. Even Bradley Road was renamed officially for the occasion!
This was the first of three major sporting events in Wrexham over a short space of time, with two games from the Rugby League World Cup hosted at the Racecourse and Wales Rally GB. All anecdotally contributed to the local economy having been well supported by the local and wider population.
For the record, Sir Bradley Wiggins was the eventual winner of the Tour Of Britain’s Gold Jersey and hopefully we’ll catch a glimpse of him and the other racers next year too.
You can view our Tour of Britain picture special, and get a longer look at Sir Wiggins here.
Wrexham.com broke the news locally that the town had been selected as the site for the new mega-prison, which is seen as good news or bad depending on your point of view!
There are various reports stating that there will be little local job benefits, financial benefits and overall good for the town. Conversely the planning application contains similar points, but in a more positive light.
The planning application is due to be heard at the start of the week, and without pre-empting how that will end up, work will start in the summer on the building of the prison.
A documentary about Wrexham Prison has been created can be found here on BBC iPlayer, and is well worth a watch.
Here at Wrexham.com we’re known for our weather and helicopter updates, and we couldn’t do this list without adding a weather based story to our highlights.
On January 18th Wrexham was hit by ‘Snowmageddon’, the first heavy bout of snowfall of the year. Of course snow was a recurring theme for the start of the year, and stayed with us up until April, with the occasional bit of rain washing it away, before it snowed. Again.
We liveblogged everything from school closures, road closures, straight through to where the deepest snow was. Our coverage was so popular that the website crashed several times.
While there were problems on the roads and damage caused to houses, one thing was clear during the snow, and that was the community spirit that came as a result of the weather.
One iconic image that sticks out took place during the March snowfall, and saw Wrexham FC fans digging and travelling through the snow to watch Wrexham play in Wembley.
Dynamo Comes To Town
Back in the height of summer, magician Dynamo visited Asda in Wrexham and was met with swarms of crowds, eventually leading to the supermarket’s car park being closed off. Originally it was thought the TV star would perform outside the store, however it later transpired he was there to sign merchandise for those who had queued up early enough.
Aside from some disgruntled attendees it was a coup for Wrexham to attract a high profile celebrity, no more so apparent in the sheer number of people who arrived early to see him.
We chose this article as it shows both positive and not so positive aspects of Wrexham’s ability to host events. Positive in so far as the appetite from members of the public is there – they want to spend time out of the house engaging in community activities. Not so positive in that there is a slight concern that perhaps we struggle to host large scale events.
With an eye to the future it’s clear the council will be scaling back their events programme, so it will be up to members of the public (such as Beth Bennett, who has already put together some successful events in the town) or the private sector to pick up the baton and continue to give the town a diverse events programme going forward.
To recap on the magical Dynamo visit, then you can read our story here. One of us is still trying to find out who he is.
The Play Day / Beach That Wasn’t Quite A Beach
The ‘Wrexham-On-Sea’ beach debate was one that gained a mixed response from its first mention. The original plan was to bring all the fun of the seaside to Wrexham, incorporating the four-day event with the annual Play Day, and possibly the Walk of Wales.
However due to negative publicity from members of the public and local publications, the beach idea was subsequently scrapped. Although a similar beach event took place up the road in Buckley, and was praised by the same publication that had initially commented on the Wrexham beach.
The Play Day went ahead as usual and saw thousands of children descend upon the town for a day of fun and games. There were even some bucket and spades at hand, for the massive sand pit in Queens Square.
The Play Day is a prime example of a Wrexham event done right. The community gathered together and enjoyed an event that wasn’t expensive to run. The town is often criticised for its lack of events, however the Play Dat saw the come together, enjoy the sunshine, build sandcastles in the non beach and generally just have fun.
Held on Llywn Isaf and Queens Square, there were countless events and toys available for children to take part in. Our personal favourite was the scaffolding that children could jump off (onto the safety of a crash mat of course!) There were water balloon fights, marshmallow roasting, forts and games for children to take part in.
There was also a sandpit on Queens Square, which begs the question ‘When is a beach not a beach?’, but in this case, it wasn’t a beach!
There are rumours that the Beach could take place next year, with a member of the private sector funding the event rather than public money. Whether the beach happens or not, the Play Day is just on example of the many popular events that have taken place in the town this year, and we hope 2014 leads by example.
You can read our ‘beach that wasn’t a beach’ coverage here.
The ‘Bubble Match’
Back in August President Obama visited Wrexham, and said “I want to watch some soccer”. Due to archaic rules dictated as they so often are from Cardiff, the usual presidential protection was not possible south of Rossett so North Wales Police took over.
Every single slip road on to the A483 was closed off for a period of time prior to the convoy processing to Wrexham, with police outriders zipping up and down. Every single bridge over the road had a police presence, and several police vehicles escorted the convoy to the promised land.
The LLPD chopper buzzed overhead keeping an eagle eye on the whole operation, which when President Obama headed back to Chester was repeated.
Thankfully all trouble was avoided, and there was certainly no smoke bombs, seats destroyed, offensive banners or people prosecuted as a result of the day.
You can read our documentation of the day, plus a frankly unbelievable video of the scenes on the bypass that day by clicking here.
Morrisons Fuel Saga
There was a strange turn of events at Morrisons towards the end of July, when motorists were stranded on the forecourt after filling their tanks with what later appeared to be contaminated fuel.
When we arrived on the scene cars were stranded on the forecourt, at the side of the road just at the Morrisons exit and some had even travelled a short way up the main road before breaking down.
The incident, despite affecting a relatively small number of vehicles, received national news coverage later in the day and Morrisons informed customers the petrol in one of the tanks had become contaminated from rainwater, with some challenging this account.
One memory that stands out is seeing people in a state of bemusement, totally powerless, having had to set aside any plans they may have had for that afternoon. It certainly wasn’t one of the most memorable events for the people affected, but it was one of the strangest in the course of 2013.
You can read our ‘Fuel Saga’ story here.
The ‘Storm That Wasn’t A Storm’ Day But We Covered It Anyway
2013 was full of extreme weather. The year started with ‘Snowmageddon’, summer was full of heat waves and flash floods, and the later half of the year was full of gale force winds and even more torrential rain.
Back on October 27th it was predicated that a storm christened St. Jude was about to hit the UK. Wrexham was given a yellow weather warning by the MET office, winds of 30mph and heavy rainfall were predicted for the day. UKStorm2013 was preparing to hit the region, it even had its own hashtag so it was serious business.
Wrexham.com had raided the shelves of local supermarkets for bread and were ready to brave the elements and liveblog our way through Stormageddon and provide live weather updates for anyone that doesn’t own a window.
However St. Jude turned out to be a bit of a damp squib. There were weather images suggesting we were currently in the midst of heavy downpours and wind, but alas or thankfully, nothing happened in the town.
While parts of the country were hit by the rain and wind, Wrexham had luckily managed to avoid any sort of ‘UKStorm2013′ and it was actually a relatively nice day. There was a bit of spitting later in the evening, but it was largely clear, blue, stormless skies.
Despite liveblogging a normal, slightly Autumnal day, we did get to use our favourite ‘dramatic bin blown over in horrendous wind’ photo. Which always goes down well…
You can relive Wrexham’s escape from UKStorm2013 here.
Wales Comic Con
Wales Comic Con has gone from strength from strength over the past few years, and 2013 was arguably the biggest year yet.
The line up featured the cast of Red Dwarf, and actors from Star Wars, Lord Of The Rings and Game of Thrones. Once again the big names drew in big crowds, which resulted in queues from the Glyndwr sport centre down to the entrance of the university.
With stars such as Jonathan Ross, Shane Ritchie and the Simpsons living room already lined up for the 2014 event, it looks as though this years event will be as popular as ever.
The Changing Face Of Wrexham
2013 saw the start of a number of changes in Wrexham. A round up of 2013 wouldn’t be complete without the subject that has caused the greatest debate and ‘outrage’ in the town. Of course, it is the looming budget cuts and inevitable changes to Wrexham facilities.
It was announced that Wrexham Council has to make significant budget cuts over the next few years, which has resulted in the future of many of the town’s facilities being put at risk.
Along with this one of the most iconic and ‘beautiful’ buildings in Wrexham was finally demolished. The old Groves school was knocked down, significantly changing the landscape at that part of town. And with the possibility of Waterworld and the police station being demolished at some point in the future, the landscape could change even more. However we feel the empty land could hold a new water park.
2014 looks set to see many more changes in Wrexham. It could result in a year without community centres, leisure facilities, swimming pools, libraries, one huge super school in the town centre, a prison and no free after three parking.
On thing is for sure though, the face of Wrexham, as we know it will continue to adapt and change.
Don’t forget, these are just our own personal choices. There is also a thread on the Wrexham.com forums regarding your own Wrexham highlights of the year.
You can join in the discussion and share your thoughts here!
Discuss this with fellow wrexhamites our Wrexham Forums. Other recent threads on the forums include:
A483 A55 Junction Changes
Protecting the Paedophiles - Which WCBC councillors voted for Jillings to be pulped??
Egerton / King Street Regeneration
Famous People spotted in Wrexham
Patient treatment needs utmost priority