Hopes raised Hollywood duo could boost Wrexham’s City of Culture bid
Liam Randall, local democracy reporter
Hopes have been raised that a Hollywood-driven profile boost could help Wrexham’s bid to win the title of UK City of Culture 2025.
The county borough is one of 20 places to put its name forward for the competition after senior politicians approved an application last month.
The takeover of Wrexham AFC by actors Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney has attracted worldwide attention since news of their interest in the club was first revealed in September 2020.
The area was in the spotlight once again this week after a Hollywood-style sign spelling out the name of the town in large white letters appeared on the Bersham Bank colliery tip, near Rhostyllen.
Wrexham Council leader Mark Pritchard believes its star appeal could be key to beating off cities like Southampton and Wolverhampton to win the accolade, as well as its industrial heritage.
He said: “Wrexham has a bounty of mineral wealth and proud industrial past but is best known for its coal mining, with Bersham, Hafod and Gresford being our most well-known collieries.
“The Welsh language and culture is embedded in the fabric of Wrexham from our manufacturing and mining heritage to our modern and thriving business park that includes a manufacturer of the Covid vaccine.
“Future projects for Wrexham include the Wrexham Gateway Project that will transform the gateway into Wrexham as well as plans developing for Football Museum Wales due to open in 2023.
“Speaking about football it’s not hard to get excited about the stratospheric developments at the Racecourse ground and Wrexham AFC.
“The Racecourse is the world’s oldest international stadium that still continues to host international games and Wrexham AFC is the third oldest football club in the world.
“The club, the fans and the new owners are spreading the Wrexham name worldwide, engaging with a new international audience for the club and town.”
The UK Government today confirmed it had received a record number of entries from places interested in becoming the next UK City of Culture.
Wrexham is one of five Welsh locations to have made a bid, alongside Bangor, Conwy county, Powys and Newport.
As well as cities, regions and groups of towns from across the UK were encouraged to apply on this occasion.
Cllr Pritchard said having the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct on its doorstep could also aid Wrexham’s cause, with further plans in the pipeline for the old Brymbo Steelworks site to be turned into a visitor attraction.
He said: “We have miles of Unesco World Heritage along the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and Canal as well as two national trust properties and sites of outstanding natural beauty.
“These attractions as well as innovative local businesses are drawing in tourists from near, far and wide.
“Many other assets are yet to be fully exploited fully such as the Brymbo Heritage site – a former steelworks that has on its grounds an extremely rare example of a 300 million year old fossilised forest.
“This site provides a unique insight into Wrexham’s geological history, its Welsh language, its local talent and industrial past.”
The 20 bidders vying to take on the baton from Coventry as the next UK City of Culture will be reduced to an initial long list in the next few weeks.
They will then be cut down further to a final short list early next year, with the winner announced in May, 2022.