The fate of Bryn Estyn Hall, located on the western side of Wrexham, was decided at a recent meeting of Wrexham Council. The decision was taken to demolish the building, leaving the future of the land surrounding it, and the successful Victorian Walled Garden project, hanging in the balance.
When this news was reported in the media, there was a surprising number of people who thought that despite the buildings past history, it was worthy of a second chance. Save Our Heritage, together with Wrexham Civic Society, are campaigning to save the building and surrounding land, with a view to bringing it back to life.
If the Council continue with their plans, it will likely be demolished in September 2020. However, we anticipate that a bat survey will need to be carried out before this can happen.
Wrexhams Local Development Plan will see up to 1600 new homes and a school being built around the former Bryn Estyn Estate. We think that the building could be repurposed to serve this new community with the potential for a number of different uses. The gardens would be a wonderful place for local people to relax or exercise in - an "island in a sea of houses" if you like.
Look up Bryn Estyn online and you will be confronted with a narrative that focuses on the dark chapter of the buildings history. The abuse that some children experienced can never be forgotten and should not be brushed aside. We realise that our campaign will likely be received with mixed views. We understand that there are those who believe the building should be demolished, and just as many who want to retain this handsome building and parkland.
When the Council Executive Board voted to demolish the building, the supporting narrative was all about erasing the dark memories of Bryn Estyn. However, the school closed in 1984, and has been used by the Council (under the name Erlas House) until 2015. If the Council had truly wanted to remove all traces of the scandal, it's had over 30 years to do so - but it chose not to. Using the child abuse scandal as a reason for demolition in 2019 is not remotely valid.
For around 15 years, Wrexham Council promoted the building for use a conference and training centre. They called it "... an ideal venue for all your conference and training needs. This stately mansion blends itself into the quiet idyllic nature of its surroundings".
Our choice to start this campaign has not been taken lightly as we are aware that this will be a controversial subject. However, looking at the bigger picture, the buildings long history and its connections to the town of Wrexham, we recognise that this is too valuable a place to lose.
We hope that all who read these pages do so with an open mind. We can point to many locations with dark pasts (the mills of the North West and Yorkshire for example) that now have brighter futures. This building, and the Soames family who lived there, shaped the Wrexham we see today.