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Bersham 1920s Ddol

Bersham 1920s Ddol

Bersham, or Berse Drelincourt, was formed by two adjoining groups of cottages. In 1774 one of these two hamlets was called “Pentre Dybenni” (Dybenni’s Hamlet). Its more modern name was “Pentre dibynau” (Hamlet of the cliffs).


The other hamlet was a cluster of cottages sometimes called “Dol Cuhelyn” (Cuhelyn’s Meadow), sometimes “Dol Cae Heilyn” (Meadow of Heilyn’s field). It is now known as “The Ddol”.


Bersham Ironworks were large ironworks further upstream of The Ddol. Ironworking began here around 1640, and in the 18th century, Isaac Wilkinson bought the ironworks. The main product was cannon, although the process to make them in iron was difficult, and cannonballs often became stuck in the barrel, leading to explosions.


When Isaac’s son John Wilkinson took over, he employed a boring machine to accurately make a smooth bore cannon, which became so popular that cannons produced using this technique were used in the American War of Independence and the Napoleonic wars. As well as cannon, the smooth bore machine could make cylinders for Boulton & Watt steam engines, leading Wilkinson to enter into a partnership with Watt to make the cylinders. For many years the area was one of the most important iron manufacturing centres in the world.


With the cessation of war, the market for cannon was lost. The space to expand at Bersham had run out, and Wilkinson needed to move on. He bought a house and estate at nearby Brymbo and built a blast furnace there, at what would later become Brymbo Steelworks. The Bersham site was leased to a family who opened the short-lived Turkey paper mill on the site.


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