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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 10:21 GMT 11:21 UK
Generations of steelworks sadness
The village of Brymbo
Most of the shops closed after the steelworks shut
Work on the disused Brymbo steelworks is due to begin shortly, in an attempt to breathe new life into a small community on the outskirts of Wrexham which has been devastated by its closure 11 years ago.

People living near the derelict site had all but given up hope of the area ever being redeveloped and new employers moving into the village.

The plant remains one of the only former steelworks in the UK which has not been reclaimed.

However funds have now been secured from Europe and the Welsh Assembly to build a business site, houses and recreational areas.

But for residents the work cannot start soon enough, mother-of-two Joanne Mannering, 29, said the closure of the plant totally changed village life.

She not only lived near the plant, but her family worked there too.

She said: "It just went all quiet, there were kids messing around on the site, we had the police there due to vandals, it just went horrendous and like a ghost town down there.

"It used to be fun, there was always people back and to, there was always something going on but you don't hear anything, you don't see anything anymore, it is awful."

Joanne Mannering and her daughter Natasha
Mrs Mannering has seen the effects of the closure

She added: "Nobody wants to be here anymore, everybody wants to get out of the village, there's nothing here for anybody, everything has been effected absolutely everything."

Joanne believes the closure has also affected the lives of her children, 10-year-old Natasha and four-year-old Nicholas.

"A lot of the children aren't going to the local school anymore, they're going to schools out of the village, there's nowhere safe for them to play anymore," she said.

Brymbo steelworks
Brymbo steelworks has been derelict for 11 years

"Down by the steelworks there's rats and cats and people wandering back and to."

But the area was not always derelict, Joanne can remember a time when the steelworks were fully operational.

She said: "We lived outside the main gates to the steelworks, we saw men shift changing.

"We got used to the noise and atmosphere and you always knew what time it was because of what was going on in the works and then it just went all quiet."

Her grandfather worked at the plant until an accident in 1987 cut short his working life.

Albert Jones, 74, lives just a few yards away from the now run down site where he worked for 25 years.

Mr Jones will bear the scars of the steelworks for the rest of his life. He lost part of his hand while he was on shift.

Albert Jones former Brymbo steel worker
Mr Jones worked at the plant for 25 years

But he still has fond memories of his time there: "It was hard and dirty but the men were good fun and we all knew each other," he said.

He admits that the shutting down of the site surprised everybody: "Despite all its shortcomings it was a good works. Even up to the time it closed, it was making a profit."

Mr Jones said the area has been badly affected: "It devastated the village, this was a prosperous little village, there must have been about seven little pubs here, god knows how many shops, there's nothing here anymore."

"For the young people it's a tragedy, there's no work round here for them, they've got to travel out, I always had it on my doorstep."

He is pleased the area is getting redeveloped: "It's to be hoped they do make a trading estate on it to put some work in for the local people."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Brymbo resident Joanne Mannering
"Nobody wants to be here anymore"
See also:

27 Aug 00 | Wales
6m Euro aid for Wrexham
12 Feb 01 | Wales
Derelict steelworks jobs boon
18 Jun 01 | Wales
'Brymbo Man' meets his public
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