Ebenezer

The Ebenezer Question? The PKC Group, Baynon Property Services and other local businesses in Cefn Mawr would like to see this building reopened. In September 2015 we submitted a business plan to reopen it as an Arts and Visitor Centre for the World Heritage Site. This would give our community a major tourist attraction at the centre of our village that could be shown on Brown & White Tourist Information Signs. This would be directly linked to the Aqueduct by Jessop’s Tramway and Windborne Gate (WBG) set up as the main parking rather than Trevor Basin. WBG is 500mts to the aqueduct and 500mts to the centre of Cefn Mawr. Simple YOU ARE HERE signs at WBG would encourage some of the +200,000 people visiting the aqueduct to also come into Cefn Mawr and just 10% will put 20,000 tourists on our streets, which is why we say what we say, and keep saying it.

 

This will provide the required footfall to be able to keep the building open on a viable basis and for it to assume the intended role as the leading regeneration work of the THI, which we fully support. The Ebenezer will tie in with the Cefn Community Museum in the GEH, Cartographic Museum in the HBI and Clwyd Family History Society in the Rhosymedre Enterprise Centre offering even more and ensuring footfall to all including all local businesses is increased. Introduction of tourism on this scale would start the economic regeneration of our community and allow us to progress towards becoming a Tourist Destination and Transport Hub for the Pontcysyllte World Heritage Site, Dee Valley and South Wrexham over the course of the planned LDP2 by WCBC.

 

The overall scheme “Back to the Future for Cefn Mawr” outline can be seen in three documents we have published, Cefn Mawr & WSP (Wales Spatial Plan), Cefn Mawr & PPW 2016 (Planning Policy Wales), Cefn Mawr & WTS (Wales Transport Strategy). These are on our LDP2 webpage and printed copies are available at the Cefn Community Museum, Clwyd Family History Society, Cefn Library and the Holly Bush Inn. We hope everyone has had a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and look forward to seeing you all at the Holy Bush Inn (HBI) in 2017.

The Ebenezer was built in 1873 and is situated in the tranquil village of Cefn Mawr, North East Wales. Ebenezer Chapel has a long, rich heritage and the properties along Crane Street are humbled by the towering, double gabled frontage of the Ebenezer Chapel which is a prominent landmark when looking into the settlement from across the valley and a dominating structure from within the street-scene. The chapel rises from the centre of the village, positioned at an important convergence point. The three storey chapel was extended to the west in 1899. It is constructed from irregular sandstone blocks with buff terracotta used for the window heads, date tablet and string course. Characteristic red terracotta has also been used for decorative ridge tiles and ball and claw finials. The chapel displays several window styles reflective of the various stages of its development during its history.

The Ebenezer Chapel central to Cefn Mawr is marked as 4405 on this Inland Revenue map of 1910 and it can be seen that the Chapel has Crane Street on its south side and High Street on its north side. The smaller shops and buildings to the right of the Chapel would eventually be demolished to make way for Cefn Square in 2008, almost 100 years later. The Holly Bush Inn is also clearly numbered 4548 and the Cefn Vaults will be 4550, the PH is the Cross Keys numbered 4408 and the Plas Kynaston Hall still with stables is numbered 4542. And the same scene in 2015 with the new Tesco road built.

A view of Crane Street with the shops at what would become Cefn Square and the Ebenezer in the distance around the 1900’s and the village is thriving as is obvious from this picture.

The Ebenezer after restoration and before the fourth and final closure looking out on to Cefn Square where the other shops had once stood, the Holly Bush Inn is to the right of the picture and AE Roberts Electrical Shop can be seen under restoration further down Crane Street. Cefn Square has created a useful open area at the centre of our village but still remains unused to its full potential and will no doubt continue not to be, until the footfall is increased.

2005 and the Ebenezer on Crane Street prior to restoration and Griffiths’ Store breeze blocked off that once opened on to Crane Street for business. This was the scene before work started on the Ebenezer and in the distance the Holly Bush Inn can be seen in Green and White. At the time, although some properties were run down there were actually more businesses open that in 2016. You could still go for a sit down meal of fish and chips on Well Street and pay a visit to the Bank.

The Ebenezer underwent major refurbishment in 2008, carried out for the Dee Valley Community Partnership (DVCP) and supported by Wrexham County Borough Council (WCBC). RL Davies Construction of Colwyn Bay was awarded the 1.1 million pound contract for the restoration of Ebenezer Chapel which was part of the Cefn Mawr Townscape Heritage Initiative. The project was a part of the £3.5m regeneration initiative, funded through Heritage Lottery Grants, and the physical regeneration funds provided by the Welsh Assembly Government.

Before work started on the Ebenezer Chapel itself some prior demolition work was undertaken at the junction of High Street with Well Street for what would eventually become Cefn Square, and along Crane Street which was not popular.

Here demolition of Griffiths’ old store begins on Crane Street which caused the biggest problems.

The work lead too many traffic jams which annoyed everyone and most of local traders reported their takings where down as a consequence of such and had lost business.

The bulldozers move in to clear Griffiths’ old store from the street.

Ebenezer Chapel is situated in a prominent position in the heart of Cefn Mawr and has a long rich heritage and was refurbished and modernised to a very high standard. The chapel was extended to the front with a glass and smooth render double gabled extension facing onto Cefn Square which complements the original form and provides an interesting contrast to the buildings prominence within the village. Ebenezer Chapel’s was fitted with a new lift by SKG of Leicester. DVCP and WCBC consulted and contracted SKG for the platform lift because of their experience in supplying platform lifts for over twenty years. The lift blends into surroundings and utilises available space without obscuring the chapel’s historic building features, such as the stained glass windows. The lift means the chapel is accessible to all and complies with the Disability Discrimination Act.

 

During the restoration Councillor Warren Coleman said: "The fact Pontcysyllte Aqueduct and [Llangollen] Canal recently became a world heritage site which means this project is even more important now, as the village has close historic industrial links with the site. 'Industrial hub' "So we're keen to listen to the thoughts and views of the local community before we push ahead with phase two," said Councillor Coleman, chair of the Cefn Mawr Regeneration and Town Heritage Initiative Steering Group. Cefn Mawr - with many buildings made from the famous Ruabon red brick - was once an industrial hub, serving nearby quarries, iron foundries and chemical works until their decline. The Ebenezer was intended to be a community centre with services and facilities including office and gallery spaces and a café bar.

Michael Olijnyk, who runs Michael's Photography, said: "If you saw Cefn now compared with five or 10 years ago you'd be impressed. It has been a good investment for me but Cefn needs to bring people in - it's quiet." He bought an empty shop six years ago and has converted the property into a studio and flats on the first floor. Restoration revealed a piece of railway track had been used to hold up the first floor and which had to be removed during renovations. Mr Olijnyk reckons more could be made of the community's industrial history to attract visitors due to the "amazing buildings" and historical features such as track ways and alleys linking the community which is on different levels.

 

In 2010 Cefn Mawr received another £1.2m cash injection for further THI renovation work in addition to the £3m already used to give historic structures in the village a much needed make-over. Residents, groups and businesses in Cefn Mawr were urged to share their views on the major project and an exhibition and consultation event was held at the Ebenezer Centre to give people the chance to learn more about the Townscape Heritage Initiative and respond to Wrexham Council.

 

Paul Blackburn, regeneration project manager at Wrexham Council, said: “The original details have been carefully recreated with help from local specialists, including the cast-iron cresting, richly detailed fascia, signage and a beautiful mosaic threshold reproduced from old photographs.”

Since the restoration of the Ebenezer was completed in 2009 the building has had a continued history of closure and non commercial viability. The three commercial enterprises that opened at the centre all withdrew within 12 months of opening and when WCBC reduced funding in 2011 the DVCP ran into difficulties. The DVCP had been funded to the tune of £90,000.00 annually plus three seconded members of WCBC council staff. This would most likely have been costing WCBC in the region of £165,000 a year, and therefore in 2011 WCBC made the rational decision of cutting the funding. With only £40,000 of council funding available annually a voluntary group was set up to run the building in 2012. However this also proved unsuccessful and the Ebenezer closed its doors for the fourth time in 2013 and has remained closed since. Note this picture is dated 2010 as the Holly Bush In is painted red and white.

The non viability of the building is largely due to the lack of footfall and trade and the cost of running the building. The small takings available do not justify or cover operating costs. Furthermore since the Ebenezer closed in 2013 the new Tesco Supermarket has opened and this has had the effect of reducing foot fall in the village even further. This was followed in 2014 by the loss of the bus service for the traditional shopping centre of Cefn Mawr which was moved to serve Tesco, so the village centre and the Ebenezer has now been left without a public transport service. This is a particular problem for the viability of the building since it has no car parking and the streets of Cefn Mawr are very narrow.

 

There is also resentment in our community about the amount of money pumped into and wasted on the Ebenezer to date with nothing to offer or show for the community with the highest unemployment rate in the county of Wrexham.  After approximately £1.5M ponds spent on the building with an unknown additional amount in funding to keep it open the Ebenezer really has proved to be a white elephant in the middle of our community. 

The Ebenezer advertised to let which has been closed for three years as of 2016

However in 2013 the PKC Group took on the restoration of a similar sized building on the opposite side of the street, the Holly Bush Inn on a much more modest budget. This was a major exercise but working with the THI and WCBC the restoration of the Holly Bush Inn was completed in 2015, and the Holly Bush Inn is now seen as the lead restoration project in Cefn Mawr and is popular with our local people. The Holly Bush Inn and the pub stayed open throughout restoration to maintain life at the heart of our village. However we are fully aware we need to increase footfall into our village. So to try and help rectify the situation and bring more people into Cefn Mawr, i.e. the tourist market the PKC Group again looked at the practical proposals they had been making since 2010 when the group was formed.

The bleak empty streets of Cefn Mawr and what was once a thriving village not so long ago

The rescue plan for Cefn Mawr as put together by the PKC Group is called “Back to the Future for Cefn Mawr” where we reinstate proven and environmentally friendly technology and infrastructure to promote the recovery of our community at the centre for the Pontcysyllte World Heritage Site. This aligns with and supports both the WPP and new LDP2 by WCBC for our community. The plan also is in full compliance with the Future Generations Act 2015 by the Welsh Assembly Government which the PKC Group fully supports for the benefit of our children and grandchildren. We are planning for a better future. 

 

In the “Back to the Future for Cefn Mawr” plan the Ebenezer is used as an Arts & Visitor Centre for the Pontcysyllte World Heritage Site which would give Cefn Mawr a major tourist attraction in the middle of our village. To support the Ebenezer on a practical basis to ensure that it can remain open and serve the local community without continued funding from WCBC we are also promoting:

 

  1. Opening up and establishing the Windborne Gate parking area as the main parking facility for the aqueduct. This is half way between the aqueduct and the middle of our village, therefore people visiting the aqueduct (200,000 annually) can also be encouraged to come into Cefn Mawr. Parking at WBG could give up to 350 slots so this more than compensates for the lack of parking at the Ebenezer.

    By encouraging people to explore the wider area of the Cefn and not just walk over the aqueduct and then drive off, this will have the additional bonus of reducing CO2 emission in a very practical way, i.e. the dwell time increases and the drive time decreases. This is a primary objective of the Sustainable Development Charter by the WAG.
     
  2. Opening up of Jessop’s Tramway as a limited byway for horse drawn vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians, all environmentally friendly forms of transport. This will then provide an attractive and practical direct link between the centre of Cefn Mawr and the Ebenezer with the aqueduct and WBG parking and will allow local people to run horse drawn hackney services bringing tourists into Cefn Mawr.

Crane Street Cefn Mawr 2016

Crane Street Cefn Mawr 1900

3. The a comprehensive signage scheme is required to tell the +14M vehicles driving past Cefn Mawr annually the we are here and that directs the traffic to our various facilities and venues.

Exit from the Halton Roundabout on the A5 with signage for the Cefn.

 

This is the goal we are working towards for our community, to put our community on the tourist map so that we can switch our economy from post industrial to tourism based and provide a better future for our children and grand children. That has always been a primary goal of the PKC Group.

 

Please see related documents:

 

The Ebenezer Name

 

The name “Ebenezer” comes from the Bible and it is said that during the end of the time of the judges of Israel, they experienced revival under the leadership of Samuel and the nation repented of their sin, destroying their idols, and began to seek the Lord. Samuel gathered the people at Mizpah where they confessed their sin, and Samuel offered a sacrifice on their behalf. It was during this time of repentance and renewal that the enemy attacked: “While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle”. The Israelites went out to do battle against the invaders, and God sent them supernatural help: “That day the LORD thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites”. Israel’s victory over the Philistines was decisive. Several cities the Philistines had captured were restored to Israel, and it was a long time before the Philistines tried to invade Israel again. To commemorate the divine victory, “Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the LORD has helped us’”.

Ebenezer means “stone of help.” From then on, every time an Israelite saw the stone erected by Samuel, he would have a tangible reminder of the Lord’s power and protection. The “stone of help” marked the spot where the enemy had been routed and God’s promise to bless His repentant people had been honoured. The Lord had helped them, all the way to Ebenezer.

 

Or so the story goes from the Bible.

The Ebenezer Cefn Mawr 2016
This webpage can be down loaded in this handy PDF file for printing out as you like. We hope you will join us in the effort to get the Ebenezer reopened as a useful asset to our community that will help us switch our economy to Sustainable Tourism Development and become a productive and useful part of the of the Pontcysyllte World Heritage Site rather than being excluded from it.
The Ebenezer Cefn Mawr 2016.pdf
Adobe Acrobat document [3.5 MB]