|Welsh: Cei Connah|
Lower half of Connah's Quay from the air, with Flintshire Bridge visible
Connah's Quay shown within Flintshire
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|UK Parliament||Alyn and Deeside|
|Welsh Assembly||Alyn and Deeside, North Wales|
Connah's Quay (Welsh: Cei Connah) is the largest town in Flintshire, lying within the Deeside conurbation along the River Dee, near the border with England. It is located 6 miles west of Chester and can be reached by road from the A548, by rail from the nearby Shotton railway station, and also is on the National Cycle Network Route 5. It is also lies just south of Deeside Industrial Park, one of the largest such complexes in the region. The major part of Tata steelworks is also on the town's border on the north bank of the River Dee. Wepre Woods, an ancient woodland in the town, is controlled by Flintshire County Council's Ranger Service and includes Ewloe Castle which dates from the 13th century.
With a population of approximately 23,000 with Shotton which it is continuous with, Connah's Quay constitutes just under half of the population of the greater Deeside area, and is the largest town in Flintshire.
The original name of the place was New Quay, but due to confusion with other similarly named places, it was renamed some time after 1860. The town's placename is of uncertain origin; among the theories are:
- That Connah was an industrialist and one of the principal founders of the dock in the town
- From a former landlord of "The Old Quay House", a public house which is still on the docks in what is now the west side of the town.
- That Connah was a man who owned a chandlery store on the docks.
- From a lady called Mary Connah who used to own the dock, and so when people crossed the River Dee from places opposite, such as Parkgate or Neston, they would ask, "Could you take me to Connah's Quay".
The Welsh translation for Connah's Quay is Cei Connah, which has been incorporated into signage of the area. While Cei Connah is never used in spoken or written language, the need for a dedicated translation arises because there is no Q in the Welsh alphabet.
The earliest recorded settlements date from the time of the Domesday Book, listed as 'Wepre', part of the Hundred of Ati's Cross, Cheshire. The total population was 6 households. Wepre Woods are also recorded, measuring ½ a league.
Modern history and the railways
Until the 18th century, the area where Connah's Quay and its neighbours Shotton, Aston and Queensferry now stand was nothing more than fields and a handful of inhabitants. It was not until the silting of the River Dee ended Chester's port activities that people and commerce began to flood in. The docks at Connah's Quay became a vital source of trade and finance for the greater Flintshire area, and with the advent of the railways during the 19th century a number of railway companies began to appear.
The first railway to appear in the area was the Chester and Holyhead Railway running across the coast of North Wales linking the rest of the Great Britain with Ireland via the port at Holyhead. The purpose of this railway was chiefly for post to and from Ireland. During the 19th century, the railway's importance grew as Holyhead became the destination of choice for Ireland rather than Liverpool. Most of the line was quadruple tracked and this included the stretch through Connah's Quay.
With the success of the Irish Mail trains, the dock was connected by the Wrexham, Mold and Connah's Quay Railway to the nearby town of Buckley, chiefly to transport bricks, clay and pottery products. A railyard was established at Connah's Quay docks with small feeder lines to the lines at Shotton, connecting to the North Wales and Liverpool Railway and the Chester and Connah's Quay Railway.
20th century and decline
By the late 1950s, the port had virtually ceased trading and the railway was in terminal decline. The two docks had by then long silted up, imprisoning the rotting hulk of an old wooden ship, the Bollam. This old vessel was believed to have taken part in rescuing the defeated British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk.
The town's passenger railway station (Connah's Quay railway station) on the North Wales Coast Line and northern terminus of the WMCQR line was open between 1870 and 1966. While the line remains open, there no trace of the former station. The street Leighton Court was built in 1998 on the site of the former station forecourt as well as the former WMCQR line, which had been lifted many years before. In fact, the growth of housing in the town and greater area since the line to Buckley was removed means that there is almost no trace of the former line. Its former path across the cricket pitch, up Pinewood Avenue and down past the substation has been completely built over.
The mainline itself has seen some decline. As the Mail trains gave way to international aviation the old quadruple tracking was lifted sometime before the 1980s, and the line was also under threat from the Serpell report. Fortunately, the line was spared and has seen runnings over the years from HSTs as well as seasonal steam workings from heritige railways.
Another activity that ceased with the closure of the port was fishing. Fishermen would row out across the river in an arc, paying out a long net over the stern of the boat as they went: see seine fishing. They then returned to shore and hauled in the net. Mostly they caught fluke, which would then be sold from barrows pushed around the housing estates.
Facilitated with the lifting of the Buckley line, by the 1970s the town had absorbed the nearby hamlets of Golftyn, Kelsterton and Wepre and many housing projects were developed.
As with many small towns, the decline of local commerce has resulted in Connah's Quay overdeveloping its houses at the expense of shops and businesses. Many of these houses were indeed refittings of former shops. As a result, the town's population has swollen from a few hundred inhabitants to close to twenty thousand over a period of 50 years. Minister for Housing and Regeneration and Assembly Member for Alyn and Deeside since 2003, Carl Sargeant, lives in the town.
Business in the town is mainly limited to local newsagents and a few independent traders located along High Street.
While the town itself does not have many businesses, energy production is a major industry in the area and the town is home to Connah's Quay Power Station, a 1498MW gas fired station on the south side of the Dee, which utilises gas not only from the Dee estuary but also the Douglas Complex located further afield at Talacre.
Many of the town's residents are employed at the nearby Deeside Industrial Estate, located on the north side of the Dee, and is the location of a second power station, Tata steelworks, Toyota, Wales Rally GB and the central headquarters of the Iceland chain of supermarkets.
Schools in Connah's Quay include Connah's Quay High School, Bryn Deva Primary, Wepre Primary, Brookfield Primary and Golftyn Primary.
Further education is provided by Deeside College, formerly Kelsterton College, and by the 6th Form at Connah's Quay High School, which shares resources and students with other schools in Deeside.
As noted above, in the last decade several large housing developments have been built in Connah's Quay and the town has a booming property market, with houseprices steadily increasing the town appeared to have finally shaken the effects of the mass redundancies from major employers in the 1970s and 1980s. However, this presumption proved inaccurate, as recent surveys show that the accumulating masses of unemployed members of society within the Connah's Quay area are rising by a further four percent every year. Crime statistics  now rank Connah's Quay (central) 5th highest rate in Flintshire with neighbouring Shotton (east) placed worst.
Connah's Quay has a town council of twenty members. 18 represent the Labour Party and two are Independents.
The town is home to Deeside College which has on site the North Wales indoor athletics centre and athletics track which is used by Gap Connah's Quay F.C., formerly known as Connah's Quay Nomads. A perennial fixture in the League of Wales during the 1990s, the club were relegated to the Cymru Alliance in 2009 due to the restructuring of the Welsh Premier League. The division went from 20 teams to 12, and the Nomads were one of the 8 unfortunate teams that year.
With the appointment of former Wrexham and Port Vale star Mark McGregor as player/manager, the team won the Cymru Alliance twice in succession and were finally readmitted to the WPL. Two seasons of consolidation have ensured that the Nomads are also part of the rejuvenation of North Welsh football, following from the rise and successes of Prestatyn Town, Bangor City and Airbus UK.
The town is also home to a cricket club, who play their home games at Central Park. They have 7 teams in the North Wales League, the 1st XI won the North Wales Premier Cricket League in 2011.
Other facilities include Connah's Quay Sport Centre which has 4 grass football pitches, a sports hall, 2 gymnasiums, an outdoor floodlit artificial pitch which can host 3 x 6 a side football pitches or a full size football or hockey pitch. There is also an indoor sports hall which hosts 5 a side, basketball, badminton and many other activities. A swimming pool is also located in the town, just off Wepre Drive.
Connah's Quay is serviced by a citizen led hyperlocal news website Deeside.com which is a collaborative community resource set up 2013. Other local news outlets include the Leader, Chronicle and Daily Post.
Arguably, the town's most famous resident was T.G. Jones, the former Everton and Wales defender and one of the country's top pre-war players. Owing to the success of the Nomads and the close proximity to other teams in the area including Wrexham, other footballers have also lived in the town such as Gareth Owen.
Former BDO darts world champion Ted Hankey also lived in the town during the 1990s.
Also a resident for a number of years was Emlyn Williams, the author, playwright and actor.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Connah's Quay.|
- Connah's Quay Town Council
- BBC Wales - Connah's Quay, Shotton & Queensferry website
- National Cycle Network Route 5
- Wepre Country Park
- Ewloe Castle
- Deeside College
- Connah's Quay Cricket Club
- Details on Connahs quay sports centre
- Deeside.com Hyperlocal news website