North East Wales

Wrexham mines centre demolition: Neville Dickens fined

Former Mines Rescue Centre in Wrexham
Image caption The centre shut during the 1980s before being handed to the fire service

A Wrexham businessman has been fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,700 costs for partially bulldozing an historic mines rescue centre without permission.

Motor dealer Neville Dickens pleaded guilty to the unauthorised demolition of the listed building on Maesgwyn Road.

Two men he employed to carry out the work were also fined.

But the magistrates' court court was told Dickens, of Gresford, accepted full responsibility for what happened.

The centre was built in 1913 to train miners in how to rescue their colleagues in underground emergencies.

Magistrates were told that hours after labourers Alan Newcombe and Ray Haynes began work on the site on 18 August last year the Welsh heritage organisation Cadw gave it Grade II listed status.

Aled Rowlands, prosecuting for Wrexham council, said the two men were told to stop work by a council official.

They returned two days later to try to make the building structurally safe but that resulted in part of the roof collapsing.

In mitigation David Manley said Dickens thought he was acting within his rights because he had not been told of Cadw's decision to list the centre on the day workmen moved in.

"He assumed these things would be decided by the local authority and as it had already given two planning permissions for it to be knocked down," he said.

'Blatant act'

"He did not think in a million years that it would be granted listed status."

The court was told that Dickens had now started work on a project to restore the centre and had engaged a leading architect.

Newcombe, also from Gresford, was fined £300 with £200 costs and Haynes from Pentrebychan was ordered to pay a £150 fine plus £100 costs.

After the hearing Lawrence Isted of Wrexham council said: "The council takes seriously its responsibilities to protect listed buildings and had no choice but to seek a prosecution in this case given the blatant act of demolition involved.

"This is a reminder to anyone intending to undertake any works of demolition or alteration to seek advice and the necessary consents before doing so."

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