Horse and Jockey pub, Wrexham
Horse and Jockey, Hope Street
This low building, with its thatched roof, looks incongruous at the heart of Wrexham’s busy commercial district. It is one of the oldest buildings in the town centre, possibly built in the 16th century as a hall house – a residence centred on a large room with no ceiling.
In the 17th century, the building was extended and divided into three cottages. Later, the part nearest to Hope Street was a private house, sometimes used as a guest house, while the part along Priory Street was a “beer house” called The Colliers. The buildings were combined into a single pub in 1868. Despite the many modifications for different uses over the centuries, you can see glimpses of its original timber-frame construction inside.
The pub was renamed the Horse and Jockey in honour of Fred Archer (1857-1886). The Cheltenham-born jockey rode at nearby Bangor-on-Dee, and at many other racecourses, before committing suicide aged 29, after the death of his first child and then the death of his wife while she gave birth to their second child.
He is regarded as one of the finest jockeys of all time, having notched up more than 2,700 wins in his short life. He was champion jockey 13 times, despite his height of 1.78 metres (5 feet 10 inches) – unusually tall for a jockey. The picture on the pub sign was painted in 1938, copying an original painting of Fred Archer.
In 1938 the pub was sold by Beirnes Brewery to the Wrexham Lager company, which repaired the building to prevent it collapsing. The following year, the company obtained a permit for materials to protect the thatched roof during the Second World War.
There have been tales of a ghost called George at the Horse and Jockey. Landlord Geoff Williams says a spirit once saved a cleaner from injury by grabbing hold of her leg as she began to topple off the chair on which she was standing. The cleaner was shaken by the experience, and had to take the rest of the day off.
Postcode: LL11 1BG