Soames brewery chimney, Wrexham
The brick chimney behind The Nag’s Head is a Wrexham landmark, visible from afar as a companion to the nearby tower of St Giles’ Church. The ornate chimney was built in 1894 by the FW Soames & Co brewery. Now a listed building, it stands 37 metres (120ft) high.
The company amalgamated in 1931 with two other brewers to form Border Breweries, whose production was centralised at the Tuttle Street site. The brewery closed in 1984, after Marston’s acquired Border Breweries. Local MP John Marek was keen to save the chimney from possible demolition. Marston’s gave him the chimney, along with £2,000 for its maintenance. Dr Marek sold the chimney through an internet auction in 2011.
Ale was brewed at the Nag’s Head long before the site was acquired in 1879 by Arthur Soames, who made his 21-year-old son Frederic the brewery manager. The brewery then expanded rapidly, on both sides of Tuttle Street. Frederic, who lived in Bryn Estyn Hall, was Mayor of Wrexham and also owned the Racecourse football ground. The Soames Charity Cup was a major regional football competition. The brewery bought hostelries further afield, such as the Central Hotel in Colwyn Bay.
One of the brewery’s lorries was requisitioned for the First World War and hit by a shell near the Western Front. A photo of the damaged vehicle was used by FW Soames & Co as patriotic advertising.
Five of Frederic’s sons served in the war, and two died. Arthur Henry Soames, recipient of the Military Cross, flew to France in August 1914 as part of the first ever deployment of British warplanes over the English Channel. He was killed in 1915 while experimenting with a bomb at an aerial warfare research establishment.
William Noel Soames, a Lieutenant in the Cheshire Yeomanry, was killed in Egypt in 1916. He was vice-president of Wrexham Football Club and manager of FW Soames & Co. before the war.
Julian Soames, of the 5th Dragoon Guards, survived being shot three times. One bullet passed clean through his skull. After a brief spell of hospital treatment, he returned to the fray, telling a comrade that he was fine apart from occasional headaches!
Postcode: LL13 8DW