Proposal for £6m regional landmark to be built in Wrexham - POLL

Published date: 01 March 2010 |
Published by: Phil Robinson
Read more articles by Phil Robinson



An artist impression of Waking the Dragon Tower and the surrounding area 

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ART dealer Simon Wingett has long held a dream to create a lasting tribute to his father.

Now he has unveiled plans for the Waking The Dragon tower, a landmark he says would rank alongside New York’s Statue of Liberty.

The project also features an art gallery, a 100-seat cafe/bar, a 125-seat restaurant and space for language study - plus, of course, lofty viewing areas from where visitors would enjoy panoramic views around Wrexham and the borderlands.

Mr Wingett has already started the planning application process for the development on land just off the A5 at Halton roundabout, near Chirk, which he believes could create up to 50 jobs.

The site, owned by Wrexham Council, is also one of the three currently under consideration as the borough’s new traveller and gipsy park.

Mr Wingett, 54, who has his home and a gallery at Erbistock, said producing the blueprint for the Waking the Dragon Tower marked the culmination of a five-year ambition.

His aim is to commemorate his father, well-known local businessman Frank Wingett, who died from throat cancer in 1988.

He envisages the entire £6 million cost of building the tower will be raised from commercial sponsorship and charging people £2,000 for a personal dedication on each of the 416 steps inside the structure.

Mr Wingett believes the tower could raise £1 million a year, with all visitor entrance fees going to the Frank Wingett Cancer Appeal, which this year celebrates its 30th year of raising awareness of the disease and championing the need for early diagnosis.

The planned tower would dominate the landscape at just under 200ft tall.

It would be topped by a 75ft high dragon – a mixture of bronze and steel – with a wingspan of 160ft.

The development would sit within a landscape of formal and informal pathways planted with oak trees.

The area immediately around the building would depict the four branches of ancient Welsh folklore tale, the Mabinogion.

Visitors would enter at the base of the tower where there would be interactive displays and an opportunity to learn about Welsh culture before climbing a helical staircase, with glass lifts for those needing them.

Next to the tower would be a cultural centre along with a cafe/bar and restaurant and possibly a museum.

Mr Wingett said: “One could draw parallels with the tower and the Statue of Liberty.

“The whole place will be mythology brought to life and the theme is awakening the dragon in the fight against cancer.

“We want people seeing the dragon, which will be visible for miles around, to get the impression that it has either just landed or is about to take off.”

He added: “We have already started the planning process and, if we are successful, the intention is to begin building in August to mark the 150th anniversary of the National Eisteddfod coming to Wrexham.

“There is a 12-month building period, so the tower could be open by August or September of the following year.

“Wrexham Council currently owns the site and we are sorting out an option on it.

“I hope there is massive public support for this project.”

Aled Roberts, leader of Wrexham Council, said ”There is no doubt this project will strengthen and further develop the tourism and heritage available to visitors in this part of North East Wales.

“It will not only celebrate our unique heritage and culture, it will also boost the local economy with the creation of local jobs and draw in a huge number of tourists who will spend their money locally.

“The dragon’s location will provide unrivalled views across Wrexham and the surrounding borderlands and I have no doubt we will receive visitors not only from Wales but from the whole of the UK, who will want to see this amazing dragon for themselves.”

What do you think of the plan?

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  1. Posted by: eveningreader at 11:36 on 01 March 2010 Report

    £6 million is a lot of money!

  2. Posted by: GBoycott at 12:01 on 01 March 2010 Report

    Sounds a bit of a gimmick but then that is what draws tourists. I'd far rather see a statue of Britannia on top though. Who will pay for a step at £2000 a go.

  3. Posted by: ooban at 12:08 on 01 March 2010 Report

    Money well spent! Which will give a better impression of Wrexham to tourists and business investors as they cross the border into North Wales - this magnificent landmark, heritage and cultural centre, or an untidy travellers' site with piles of scrap metal and rubbish?

  4. Posted by: a cahill at 13:28 on 01 March 2010 Report

    Imaginative.... defining Wrecsam's Welsh Culture, History and Heritage..... with no cost to the taxpayer....could also be used as an educational centre for Schools...... a far better idea than any put forward in the past with regard to the arts.... go for it !!... a modern building defining the past

  5. Posted by: eveningreader at 14:28 on 01 March 2010 Report

    If this goes ahead I believe Wrexham will well and truly look like a town from the movie Batman.

  6. Posted by: eveningreader at 14:42 on 01 March 2010 Report

    Frank Wingett wouldn't have wanted £6m spent on this. He might have preferred the Shooting Star Appeal and Nightingale Hospice having the money instead

  7. Posted by: Roland Cleth at 15:23 on 01 March 2010 Report

    Wonderful idea - shame it will never happen. eveningreader - Wrexham looking like Gotham City is still, very defninitely, progress.

  8. Posted by: Newwales at 17:17 on 01 March 2010 Report

    Fantastic News if built, But it MUST be built in Wrexham not Chirk, the A483 not A5. Wrexham is the capital of North Wales & might become a City in 2012, So it MUST be build on the border with england on the A483 ONLY, we always get a raw deal in Wrexham, we are Welsh, build it on our land, not on Chirk Land.

  9. Posted by: GBoycott at 17:45 on 01 March 2010 Report

    'Chirk land' is 'welsh land' moron, typical welsh nationalist reply.

  10. Posted by: karen at 18:07 on 01 March 2010 Report

    Great idea! I'd rather see it in Wrexham though. Maybe somewhere near the Uni if its going to have an art gallery.

  11. Posted by: ooban at 19:17 on 01 March 2010 Report

    The Chirk site will be ideal - as people come up the hill from the border crossing it will be a truly epiphanic moment as the tower and the dragon come into view. It will make a huge statement and be a huge revelation about North Wales and Wrexham: "this is somewhere special" it will say. The border north of Wrexham on the A 483 just wouldn't have the same impact, it needs to be on the historic A5 which has always been the gateway to North Wales.

  12. Posted by: ooban at 19:19 on 01 March 2010 Report

    As for just giving the cost to another charity, this will generate a huge income for years to come, repaying the original investment many, many times over. It will also attract huge revenue to the entire Wrexham area by making it worthy of the attention of both tourists and business investors.

  13. Posted by: eveningreader at 19:58 on 01 March 2010 Report

    Must be getting too old. Can't understand why all of a sudden towns and cities have to spend vast ammounts on modern art sculptures etc for their skylines. Gatesheads got one, St Helens, Manchester, Ebbsfleet etc.

  14. Posted by: Arwen at 21:02 on 01 March 2010 Report

    I'm not sure you would be able to see an awful lot from a tower at Halton. The shallow, steepsided valleys in this borderland area and their nestling cottages and trees, have always made me think of the Hobbits who lived in the Shires, so if a tower is desired, why not have a tower with Sauron's Eye on top of it, the better to watch over Middle Earth. Might make for a more elegant design too.

  15. Posted by: yachydda at 22:31 on 01 March 2010 Report

    The model looks impresive...the idea is good but not everyone is happy with its location...must agree that the location is a little is the 483... Hope mountain... or on the mountain above Chirk...the views would be incredible from both locations and would draw the crowds in... Halton roundabout is congested enough, the extra traffic generated will cause chaos.

  16. Posted by: yachydda at 23:50 on 01 March 2010 Report

    The model looks impresive...the idea is good but not everyone is happy with its location...must agree that the location is a little is the 483... Hope mountain... or on the mountain above Chirk...the views would be incredible from both locations and would draw the crowds in... Halton roundabout is congested enough, the extra traffic generated will cause chaos.

  17. Posted by: cymraes64 at 02:52 on 02 March 2010 Report

    Now that is a tough one, Gipsy camp that tax payers will foot the bill for or a privately funded Statue, and art gallery that will be a tourist trap and benefit the community? Gotham City or Tinker paradise?

  18. Posted by: Britabroad at 09:34 on 02 March 2010 Report

    An imposing looking edifce without doubt, but is it art? The dragon appears to have escaped from dungeons and dragons or some other fantasy game. As for comparing it with the Statue of Liberty, puleeeese, this is Wrexham, not New York. A good idea, but a return to the drawing board is required.

  19. Posted by: a cahill at 10:07 on 02 March 2010 Report

    Leaving aside the dragon statue the concept of an arts centre and language study facility with the prospect of a museum representing Wrexhams past is one of the best ideas to come out in the past decade.... the focus seems to be on the Dragon but the benifit to tourism can only be good

  20. Posted by: Roland Cleth at 11:33 on 02 March 2010 Report

    Britabroad - "The dragon appears to have escaped from dungeons and dragons or some other fantasy game..." You say that, as if it's a bad thing :)

  21. Posted by: RED CHILLI at 12:37 on 02 March 2010 Report

    a great addition to the gateway to wales. incidentally the halton roundabout alongside mcdonalds is the intersection for the A5 and the A483. the location is spot on also as its the highest point in that area for maximum impact.

  22. Posted by: tommy at 19:38 on 02 March 2010 Report

    Wotta a load of bol**cks.There are homeless people all over north wales including wrexham,we should be thinking of ingenious ways of building them a home.why build this ???What we need is cheap affordable housing,not some absurd shrine with an idiotic beast on top,that will just lose a pile of cash and end up being payed for by the assembly.

  23. Posted by: millie at 20:32 on 02 March 2010 Report

    Let’s make this dream come true! To have such a symbolic landmark in the area would be amazing. To have the opportunity to have such a great landmark on our doorstep that would provide jobs, more tourism in the area would be great. I could imagine this being a landmark known around the world. £6 million may sound a lot of money but in the long run would pay for its self. It has true meaning & is not just based on waste & greed. Good luck Simon Wingett.

  24. Posted by: tommy at 20:44 on 02 March 2010 Report

    Anyone thought of name a for this useless pile of about white elephant(despite it being a dragon)...or perhaps Mr moneyeater.....or what about Mysterious Semblance at the Strand Of Nightmares(with aplologies to Tangerine Dream).

  25. Posted by: tommy at 20:59 on 02 March 2010 Report

    ...I suppose on the other hand such an absurd ugly imposing ediface might keep the Sassenachs at look at that and the english will do a uturn back to the fatherland...trouble is the yanks will be attracted to this Disneyesque Dog Poo and come flocking.....

  26. Posted by: hen ddraig at 23:49 on 02 March 2010 Report

    Has anybody consulted the operator of Chirk Airstrip. The idea of constructing a 200ft high 160 ft wide obstacle close to an operational airstrip a recipe for accidents.

  27. Posted by: rampantdragon at 00:17 on 03 March 2010 Report

    This landmark will be an incredible demonstration of Wrexham’s confidence for the future of our town. In the current economic climate it is exactly what we need to attract positive attention and will act as a beacon for tourism and new investment. Ambitious projects in the area are too often brought down by detractors, but I’m sure Waking The Dragon will rise above any negativity, gaining support from the public and businesses across the region, who have so much to gain from its success.

  28. Posted by: tommy at 11:23 on 03 March 2010 Report

    rampant dragon, So the building of a folly will release us from the social implications of a rotten bank controlled economy,where politicians are the puppets of powerful business interests. You say this will act as a beacon for new investment,its not investment we need its social and economic change.A kind of change that liberates people rather than imprisoning them with debt.

  29. Posted by: GBoycott at 12:05 on 03 March 2010 Report

    Surely this will be a paradox to all the fringe lunatic welsh nationalists, impsoing a symbolic welsh landmark on the border whilst begging the english to spend their money to come and look at it.

  30. Posted by: Arthur at 13:30 on 03 March 2010 Report

    What a wonderful symbol the Dragon would make at the gateway to Wales. It would generate employment, tourism and most of all for years to come would generate much needed income for the Frank Wingett Cancer Appeal.

  31. Posted by: tommy at 19:53 on 03 March 2010 Report

    If its cancer you want to fight then you should be screaming from the rooftops about the billions that the government will be spending on Trident,and illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan,where our soldiers have been involved in murdering innocent civilians.Just think what Cancer research could do with all those billions. The money spent on defence is an act of criminal insanity.

  32. Posted by: common sense at 21:58 on 03 March 2010 Report

    I think it looks great,although i'd like to get another price off bob the builder. i'd much prefer to see this on the A5 where so many tourists drive past before turning up towards llangollen and bala,than the travellers site which for reason's i can't comprehend that the local council want. i can only imagine the councilors were very high up their ivory towers and the last invasion of travellers caused choas in the area.madness.

  33. Posted by: bill336s at 15:20 on 30 March 2011 Report

    Mr. Wingett Snr. would be turning in his grave to think that £8mil now, £12mil.+ probable final figure, is being proposed to be spent on this grotesque construction........... and in his memory? That sort of money could do a heck of a lot of good up the valley in Dolywern or even in Nightingale House in Wrexham. Come off it Mr. Wingett, very Jnr. use your alleged talent elsewhere to raise funds directly for your father's very deserving charity!

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