raise a Glass to our Rich Past

For more than a century and a half, The Turf Hotel has been the go-to spot for Wrexham’s fans on match days, making it a beloved institution in the world of football.

It’s not your average pub though! It proudly holds the title of being the only pub in the entire United Kingdom that can brag about being built right inside a football club’s grounds. Talk about a unique setting! And get this, it’s even the oldest public house at any sports stadium worldwide. Now that’s a claim to fame.

Situated on Mold Road, which is known as the fancy “Gateway into Wrexham,” The Turf has been around even before the football club was a thing.

The exact details are a bit fuzzy, but historians believe that the establishment, originally known as the “Turf Tavern,” was built sometime between 1840 and 1844. It first appeared in the “North Wales Commercial” (Business Directory) in 1844, introducing its landlord, the one and only John Tench.

It was a popular joint, because the directory from 1840 conveniently forgot to mention it. The Turf’s proximity to the Racecourse, where the first-ever race meeting took place in 1807, was a stroke of luck. A grandstand was eventually built next to the pub, which cleverly became known as the Mold Road stand when the football club was up and running.

The Turf Tavern decided to spice things up and rebrand itself as The Turf Hotel by 1866.

Legend has it that the original building had to make way for the shiny new one we see today. Unfortunately, there aren’t any reliable records to pinpoint the exact date of this magical transformation. Let’s just say it happened when it happened, and we’ll leave it at that.

There’s more! The Racecourse wasn’t just a place for horse racing—it also became a hangout for Wrexham Cricket Club. In fact, it was some bright minds from the Cricket Club who got together on October 4, 1864, at The Turf Hotel to form none other than Wrexham Football Club.

They wanted something fun to do during the winter months, and hey, football fit the bill perfectly.

In those early days, The Turf Hotel was more than just a pub. It served as the changing rooms for both cricketers and footballers. They even had a wooden staircase for the teams to make a grand entrance onto the pitch. Talk about a theatrical kickoff! The football pitch itself used to lie north to south until 1902, when someone decided to switch things up and change it to its current east-to-west orientation. It’s all about keeping the players on their toes, right?

As football grew in popularity in North Wales, The Turf became a true hub for the local community. The Racecourse became the go-to place for Welsh football, hosting international games and nail-biting Welsh Cup finals. It was the place to be if you were a sports enthusiast or just looking for some good old-fashioned fun.

Now, let’s fast forward a bit. By the late 1940s, the changing rooms next to The Turf Hotel were retired in favor of snazzy new ones under the Plas Coch stand. But don’t worry, the memories of those wooden staircases and plank runs onto the pitch live on.

The club offices were also on the same floor, accessible from Mold Road. Sadly, when the Pryce Griffiths Stand came into the picture, part of the building next to The Turf had to be torn down. But fear not! The original balcony remains intact, even if the view of the Racecourse isn’t quite as clear as it used to be. It’s still a great spot to catch a glimpse of the action.

And speaking of action, The Turf balcony has seen its fair share of sporting events.

From cycling races around the pitch (imagine that!) to thrilling boxing matches and wrestling showdowns, there was never a dull moment.

They even had their own bowling green back in the day, right where the pub car park is now. Who needs a fancy golf course when you can roll some bowls at The Turf, right? In 2007, The Turf faced a bit of a scare. It was almost demolished as part of the revamp of Wrexham AFC’s grounds.

But guess who rode in on a white horse to save the day? None other than Wales First Minister Rhodri Morgan, a true hero in our lighthearted tale.

And let’s not forget one of The Turf’s proudest moments—the Olympic Torch Relay! On May 30, 2012, the Olympic flame chose The Turf as its starting point during its visit to Wrexham. Talk about an honor! The pub was in the spotlight, and the torch’s journey began in true Turf style. And now, in present day, The Turf Hotel continues to stand strong as a cherished part of Wrexham’s history and sporting culture.

It remains a gathering place for fans, locals, and visitors alike, offering a unique atmosphere and a chance to be surrounded by the stories of the past. So, next time you’re in Wrexham, make sure to swing by the legendary Turf Hotel. It’s not just any pub—it’s a piece of sporting history, a place where fans have gathered for over a century and a half to share their passion and create memories. And who knows? Maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of the spirit of John Tench himself, the original landlord who set The Turf on its merry course all those years ago.
Up The Turf!

An Unlikely Journey

For me, The Turf is a cherished establishment with a rich history and deep roots in the Wrexham community. My connection to this pub goes back to my childhood when my parents were regular patrons, and I would eagerly tag along, offering any help I could. I have vivid memories of carrying sandwiches up to the balcony, where passionate football fans would gather to watch the matches. Those experiences left an indelible mark on me, shaping my future in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

After gallivanting around the world in my early twenties, I found myself drawn back to my hometown of Wrexham, and The Turf called out to me. Encouraged by a former football club director (probably after one too many pints) I seized the opportunity and took over the lease, embarking on a new chapter in the pub’s storied history.

Now, mind you, I had absolutely no experience running a pub, but what I lacked in knowledge, I made up for with sheer determination and a touch of that peculiar Welsh stubbornness. I was dead set on creating a warm and inviting space for the locals, tourists, and football enthusiasts alike, even if it meant a few bumps along the road, and oh, boy, were there bumps—more like Welsh mountains, really. But I soldiered on, fueled by my stubbornness and the belief that a pint of Brains cures all woes.

Today, I am proud to say that The Turf thrives as a bustling business, deeply ingrained in the fabric of the Wrexham community. But it’s not just about the business aspect for me; it’s about the colourful characters that walk through our doors, seeking genuine camaraderie, playful banter, and memorable moments that truly matter.

As you may have heard, The Turf has gained even more attention and excitement following the purchase of Wrexham AFC by the renowned duo, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

As the team garners increased visibility through the original “Welcome to Wrexham” documentary, The Turf stands proudly next to the stadium, radiating with the electric energy surrounding the club. It’s an honor to be a part of this thrilling journey and to witness the renewed passion for football within our community. So, whether you’re a footie fanatic seeking a pint to fuel your roaring chants, a local looking for a cozy spot to gather with your mates, or a tourist making your way through town.

The Turf welcomes you with open arms, akin to a warm embrace from a Welsh granny. Step inside and immerse yourself in the ambiance, the rich history, and the genuine warmth that fills this pub, creating a little slice of Welsh heaven.

Lastly though most importantly, as I recount this story, it’s essential to acknowledge that none of this (and I mean none of this) would be possible without the unwavering support of my wife, Shelley, and the incredible staff who bring The Turf to life day in and day out. They are the heart and soul of this establishment, and their dedication ensures that every visitor feels like family. Together, we invite you to join us and become a part of The Turf’s remarkable story.

Wayne Jones

Pay it Forward

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