Campaigners hit back in war of words over Wrexham's listed Groves school

Reporter:

Jonathan Grieve

Campaigners who fought to save the Groves school from demolition have hit back at claims the building was not listed on its own merits.

Wrexham Council leader Cllr Mark Pritchard said Welsh Government ministers Ken Skates and Mark Drakeford had succumbed to pressure from ‘Save Our Heritage’ campaigners who fought to get the building in Powell Road listed.

But campaign group members say they did not apply pressure to the Welsh Government and that the building was listed for architectural reasons.

They say putting together a plan to help homeless people in the town would be a better use of resources than forking out for 24-hour security on the site.

Elaine Guntrip-Thomas, from the campaign group, said: “The former Grove Park School is an integral part of Wrexham’s heritage, and has national significance.

“Along with its architecture, the very reason for its existence as a school for girls, at a time when equality was being fought for across the UK, is hugely important.

“Professor Joyce Goodman, Centre for the History of Women’s Education at the University of Winchester wrote ‘the girls’ school is one of the few tangible sites of women’s history that remain in the locality, and while sites of men’s historical engagement are many, those of women are few.’

“Save Our Heritage has consulted a number of professional bodies with regard to conversion of the building into two primary schools, and has been assured that this is entirely possible, and that a feasibility study would be the next step.

“As a group of volunteers, we are trying to access funding to carry out this study.

“We hope the council will join us in our endeavour to see the building brought back to life as an educational establishment.

“We have the support of a large number of councillors, and will be engaging with them over the next few months to see if there is way forward that is beneficial to the children of Wrexham.”

The original decision to demolish the Groves building was taken in January last year at an executive board meeting after the council withdrew from negotiations to sell the building to Coleg Cambria.

Other options discussed included demolishing part of the building but retaining the facade at £418,000, as well as an extra £155,000 per year to protect it while waiting for any development to go ahead, and retaining and mothballing the site for £375,000.

If it had been demolished, the council had planned to build two new schools on the site to meet increasing demand.

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