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The Turf Hotel is a public house in Wrexham, Wales. The location of the pub on the corner of Wrexham AFC's Racecourse Ground is what makes this pub famous not just in Wales but in the footballing supporters fraternity across the whole of the United Kingdom.
For over a hundred years now, the Turf Hotel has become the meeting place on match days for some of Wrexham’s most loyal fans.
The most important fact about the Turf Hotel is that on 5 March 2007 it celebrated 130 years as being the oldest international football ground in the world. The first international on the Racecourse took place on that date in 1877 when Wales lost 2-0 to Scotland.
No other ground in the world has been an international venue as long as the Wrexham Racecourse, and yet another international is being held on the ground on 26 May 2007. The first ever against New Zealand.
Situated on Mold Road, which is now regarded as the ‘Gateway into Wrexham’, the Turf has been situated in its present position long before the football club was actually founded.
The local records are unclear, but it is believed that the ‘Turf Tavern’ was built between 1840 and 1844. It was first mentioned in the ‘North Wales Commercial’ (Business Directory) in 1844, and stated that the Landlord was a John Tench. The last North Wales Commercial before that was in 1840, and there was no mention of the Turf then.
The first race meeting at the Racecourse was on 29 September 1807, and later a Grandstand was built next to the Turf, which later became known as the Mold Road stand when the football club was up and running.
Known as the Turf Tavern, its name later changed to the Turf Hotel. This is believed to have happened when the original building was knocked down and replaced by the current building. Due to the lack of building records, there is no accurate date as to when the Turf Hotel replaced the Turf Tavern, but it is believed to have been rebuilt around the 1860s.
As well as horse racing, the Racecourse was also being used by this time by Wrexham Cricket Club, and it was from members of the Cricket Club that Wrexham Football Club was formed in 1872. Cricket Club members met at the Turf Hotel on 28 September 1872, for ‘the purpose of starting a football club for the ensuing season.’ This was to give them activities for the winter months.
Not long after, changing rooms were added next to the Turf for use by both cricketers and footballers. In fact the football pitch at this time lay from north to south, and so it remained until 1902, when it was changed to its present day situation of east to west.
By this time the Turf had become a focal point for the local community for the many sporting events, and with the growth of football in North Wales, the Racecourse became the home of Welsh football, with international games taking place there, as well as Welsh Cup finals.
The changing rooms were used right up until the late 1940s when new changing rooms were opened under the Plas Coch stand. The changing rooms adjacent to the Turf were situated upstairs, and the teams would climb down a wooden staircase and run out over planks onto the pitch. Also on the same floor were the club offices, which you could enter from Mold Road.
Sadly, part of the building adjoining the Turf, where the changing rooms and club office were situated, was demolished when the development of the Pryce Griffiths Stand took place.
The balcony, which is still situated on the back of the Turf, was the prominent place for the local gentry to watch the many sporting events taking place from there. There have been many other sporting events witnessed from the balcony, including cycling. In fact their once lay a cycling track around the pitch, whilst both boxing and wrestling has also taken place on the Racecourse.
In recent years the ground has played host for both Rugby League and Rugby Union World Cup games, while up to the late 1960s the Turf itself had its own bowling green situated where the pub car park is now.
Throughout all this time, the Turf has stood overlooking the Racecourse, witnessing many local and international sporting events.
The Turf was also the starting point of the Olympic Torch Relay when it visited Wrexham on 30 May 2012.
- Wrexham County Borough Council
- Local History — Wrexham (BBC)
- Further archaeological information about Wrexham