James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants

Coedpoeth, Pen Y Gelli & Adwy

The modern Coedpoeth encompasses former communities such as Penygelli and Adwy'r Clawdd though in the 19th century Adwy'r Clawdd, now known as Adwy, was the more prominent village with the higher 'Coedpoeth' described as a mountain road. Adwy'r Clawdd means 'gap in dyke', its name referring to Offa's Dyke. The dyke, stretching the length of Wales from Prestatyn to Chepstow, passes along the eastern boundary of the modern village of Coedpoeth. (Click here to see a timeline of events in the Coedpoeth area while John and Sarah were living there.)

Occupations in the commercial directories of that era testify to the self-sufficiency of such isolated rural communities. Without the modern eqipment, which we take for granted, people were far more preoccupied with daily chores but local reports in the Wrexham newspaper (it also covered world events so space was limited) illustate how leisure activities, in which members of the Shelby family were often involved and which were generally dependant on local volunteers, were organised and how people worked together to provide funds to create the amenities they required and to maintain and equip them.

Bersham is a large township which stretches westward from the borough of Wrexham, between the rivers Gwenfro and Clywedog, to the mountain township of Minera or Mwnglawdd. It is bounded on the north by Broughton-in-Bromfield and Brymbo, and on the south by Esclusham Above, Esclusham Below, and Erddig - all, but the last-named, townships in the old parish of Wrexham. The name ‘Bersham’ was formerly applied to the township only, and not to the village now so-called. John Wilkinson and the Old Bersham Iron Works (1899).

[By the late 18th century the ironmaster, inventor and entrepreneur, John Wilkinson owned a mineral empire that included Minera, Brymbo and Bersham. In the 1760s, when he and his younger brother William took over their father's Bersham furnace it began to prosper. John went on to buy Brymbo Hall and to build two nearby blast furnaces, which became the Brymbo Steelworks. He gained fame and fortune as the developer of the precision casting processes; Bersham produced the cylinders for James Watt's steam engines, much used by colliery owners for mine drainage, and cannon, world-renowned for their high quality. For more than a century there was a huge expansion in mining and related industries, exploiting the vast local deposits of iron, lead, and coal. Railway development inevitably led to a Minera branch line. The history of the industrial transformation of the beautiful Clywedog valley is traced at the Bersham Heritage Centre.]