Plas Acton was built about 1860 for John James who was one of the leading lawyers in the town. He was the son of Thomas James of Wem, Salop, who started the law partnership of James & Hatch in 1823 and whose offices were situated in the old Gate-House in Priory Street, Wrexham. John James was married three times, first to Mary Anne, daughter of John Painter, the printer, who had his shop in High Street, Wrexham.
Their marriage lasted eight years until her death in 1824. In 1838 John married his second wife Catherine, a daughter of Thomas Hilditch of Oswestry. This marriage lasted only a short time until she too, died. He was married a third time, to Anne Elizabeth, daughter of John Farrer who was at that time manager of the Kenrick & Bowman Bank, which was also located in High Street, Wrexham. John James and family were staunch Presbyterians and he was at one time one of the trustees for the Chester Street Presbyterian Chapel.
At one time, he was chapel organist for many years and during this time (in 1836) he presented to the chapel a much larger pipe organ which he purchased from St Mark’s Church in Liverpool. In his younger life John James set up a law partnership with an up-and-coming lawyer, Cyril Jones. The partnership did not last long, because shortly afterwards John joined his father’s practice at the Gate-House, hence the name of the partnership – James, James & Hatch.
Plas Acton House was built in a mature reddish brick with stone features; it was a house of character with many interesting and historical features. The house was situated within a large mature garden, the land attached to the dwelling being in the region of about 25 acres. The approach to the house was by a curved carriage drive leading from Pandy Lane.
At the rear of the property was a cobbled courtyard giving access to the stable and coach-house. The slate roof to Plas Acton had an interesting profile, with a steep pitch of about 60 degrees. There were many gables to the roof with ornamental bargeboards. The tall ornamental brick chimney stacks towered above the roof and were capped with moulded stone coping.
The projecting stone-built bay window to the front elevation was a novel feature with stone mullions and transoms, and a castellated finish to the top of the bay. The projecting porch was also built in stone, its steep gable projecting above the roof level and finished with moulded coping stones. The pointed moulded arch gave character to the place of entry. The name of the architect is not known, but resembles the work of Mr Gummow.
When the Wrexham Corporation received its Charter in 1857, it was a turning point in the history of the town. The division of the electoral wards had not yet come about until the year 1876, when the election of the first Council took place. There were fifty-two names put forward as candidates, out of which twelve were elected to serve on the new Council. John James was elected the first Town Clerk to the Corporation at a salary of £80 per annum.
He continued in that office until he resigned in the March of 1879. At that time, the Council meetings were held in Bryn-y-ffynnon House which was taken over for the Municipal Offices. John James was succeeded by Thomas Bury. John James after an interesting life died at Plas Acton in the May of 1888 and was buried in Gwersyllt Churchyard. His father-in-law John Farrer also died at Plas Acton in December 1882, aged 85 years.
In 1929 Plas Acton was purchased by the law partnership of Cyril Jones and the property was then let to various short stay tenants. During the war years (1939-45), the house was let to evacuees by the name of Wiles. By the end of the war the property needed money spending on maintenance work, to bring it up to some sort of standard.
In 1945 the property was put on the market to be sold by auction at the Wynnstay Arms Hotel, Wrexham by the auctioneers Seth Hughes & Co. The property was purchased by the Eames family for the sum of £1,000. Mr Austin Eames, the well-known electrical engineer in the Wrexham area, took up residence at Plas Acton. Mr Peter Eames, said the house was divided into two during the early part of the 20th century, the rear part of the house being known as Acton House.
Also, it was mentioned that the name of Eames was a Cornish name, his ancestors originating from Cornwall. The Eames family lived at Plas Acton until it was purchased by the Welsh Board in 1970 on a compulsory purchase order for the route of the proposed Gresford, Rossett and Pulford bypass. The house and buildings were demolished around 1971-2 when work started on the bypass.
Sources: Description source, Lost Houses In & Around Wrexham – Raymond Lowe p94-95; NWN Media; Local Bygones; Tom Farrell Collection.