Lower half of Connah's Quay from the air, with Flintshire Bridge visible
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Connah's Quay (Welsh: Cei Connah) known locally as "The Quay" is a community and the largest town in Flintshire, lying within the Deeside conurbation along the River Dee, near the border with England. It is located 6 miles (9.7 km) 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.
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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".
In 2018 the National Library of Wales released 1832 tithe maps of the area online. At this time Connah's Quay did not exist as a placename, but there were several land occupiers/ merchants with the surname 'Connah' in the Northop/Hawarden area.
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.
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. A major steel works, John Summers & Sons, was founded in 1896 and is now owned by Tata Steel. Although now known as Shotton Steel, the plant lies mainly in Connah's Quay.
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.
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, lived in the town until his death in November, 2017.
Top-y-Fron Hall is a Grade II* listed structure from the Georgian era.
Connah's Quay Power Station is an example of industrial architecture from the 1950s.
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 Coleg Cambria, formerly Kelsterton College, and by the 6th Form at Connah's Quay High School, which shares resources and students with other schools in Deeside.
Since the 1990s, several large housing developments have been built in Connah's Quay and the town has a booming property market, with house prices steadily increasing the town appeared to have finally shaken the effects of the mass redundancies from major employers in the 1970s and 1980s. However, surveys in the 2010s show that unemployment in the Connah's Quay area is rising by a further four percent every year. Crime statistics now rank Connah's Quay (central) as the 5th highest rate in Flintshire with neighbouring Shotton (east) placed worst.
Connah's Quay has a town council of twenty members. As of May 2019, thirteen represent the Labour Party and seven 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 Connah's Quay Nomads F.C.. 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 Wales football, following from the rise and successes of Prestatyn Town, Bangor City and Caernarfon Town.
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.
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.
Tom Doran is a Welsh professional boxer who currently holds the WBC International middleweight title. Doran fought as an amateur for Shotton Amateur Boxing Club, in the welterweight division. Doran won his first regional championship—the vacant WBC International middleweight title—in an action-packed two rounds against Luke Keeler on 2 April 2016.
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