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Modern history of Wrexham

In the latter half of the twentieth century, Wrexham began a period of depression: the many coal mines closed first, followed by the brickworks and other industries, and finally Brymbo Steelworks in September 1990.

In the latter half of the twentieth century, Wrexham began a period of depression: the many coal mines closed first, followed by the brickworks and other industries, and finally Brymbo Steelworks in September 1990.

Wrexham faced an economic crisis. Many residents were anxious to sell their homes and move to areas with better employment prospects, however buyers were uninterested in an area where there was little prospect of employment.

Many people were caught in a negative equity trap. Wrexham was suffering from the same problems as much of industrialised Britain and saw little investment in the 1970s.

Between 1962 and 1992 there was a hardened nuclear bunker, built at Borras for No 17 Group Royal Observer Corps North Wales, who provided the field force in Western Area of the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation and would have sounded the four minute warning alarm in the event of war and warned the population of Wrexham in the event of approaching radioactive fallout.

The building was manned by up to 120 volunteers who trained on a weekly basis and wore a Royal Air Force style uniform.

After the break up of the communist bloc in 1989, the Royal Observer Corps was disbanded between September 1991 and December 1995.

However, the nuclear bunker still stands at Borras Park. Between the ROC vacating the premises in September 1991 and its new use as a recording studio around 1993, the building was under preparation for use as the Home Office North Wales Regional Government Headquarters (RGHQ) although it is unlikely it was ever actually activated as such, given the short timescale.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Welsh Development Agency (WDA) intervened to improve Wrexham's situation: it funded a major dual carriageway, the A483, bypassing Wrexham town centre and connecting it with nearby Chester and Shrewsbury, which in turn had connections with other big cities such as Manchester and Liverpool.

It also funded shops and reclaimed areas environmentally damaged by the coal industry. The town centre was regenerated and attracted a growing number of high street chains.

However, the biggest breakthrough was the Wrexham Industrial Estate, previously used in the Second World War became home to many manufacturing and technology businesses. There are currently over 250 businesses on the Wrexham Industrial Estate and in the surrounding area. A dual carriageway from the main A483 was extended halfway to the Estate in 2003, and is expected to reach it by 2011.

In June 2003, the Caia Park estate in Wrexham was hit by the Caia Park Riots. Tension between Iraqi Kurds and locals centred on one of the estates' pubs escalated and resulted in petrol bombs and other missiles being hurled at police trying to restore order. 51 local residents received prison sentences. There has been no repeat of the events of 2003.

Wrexham as a whole has since seen a vast influx (10-15,000) of Polish and Portuguese migrant workers. There are two Polish shops in Wrexham Town Centre and a Portuguese cafe in Hightown.

 

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