The Stiwt Theatre. Formerly the “Miner’s Institute” (Plas Mwynwyr), which was built in 1926 and dominated the social and cultural life of the village until 1977 when it closed. The local council, which had purchased the building in 1978, decided to demolish the building in 1985, but it was saved as a result of local campaigning. Following fundraising efforts, it was renovated and reopened as a community theatre. The Stiwt Theatre holds the Wrexham young people’s music festival since 2006. The Stiwt now do various shows and the building is open to the public to see. www.stiwt.co.uk
The Early Years
Theatr Stiwt first opened its doors on 25th September 1926 and true to the vision of its founders it was to dominate the social and cultural life of the local community for decades. It provided not only a theatre in Wrexham but also a concert hall, cinema, games rooms, public library and multi-function rooms all of which provided an escape from the harsh realities of life in the Great Depression.
The theatre was built by the community for the community by the Miners Welfare Organisation who levied 1p a ton on extracted coal in the harsh years of the depression between 1924-26 at a cost of almost £18,000. It was supported and run on a daily basis by subscription of 2 pence per week from the meagre wages of hard working miners who managed to raise another £20,000.
Decline and re-birth 1976 to 1999
Sadly, Theatr Stiwt entered a period of decline during the 1970s which eventually led to its closure in 1977. Falling into disrepair, the grand old building that had once stood proud as testament to the spirit of a close-knit mining community was considered for demolition in 1985 due to its condition, made worse by dry rot and ingress of rainwater through its vandalised roof.
The potential permanent loss of the theatre became the subject of several committees set up to raise funding for restoration from the early 1980’s which resulted in the eventual formation of the Stiwt Arts & Leisure Committee in 1988. It was this committee who took on the onerous task of not only raising sufficient capital funding but also the practicalities of organising a band of dedicated volunteers to chip away at the contaminated plaster and woodwork to rid the structure of rot and worn out fittings all within the constraints applied to a listed building.
The efforts of local volunteers was eventually recognised and rewarded with substantial funding including a £2.1 million Heritage Lottery Grant in 1996. The refurbished facilities came at a total cost of £4.3 million, making the theatre second to none in the area. Theatr Stiwt was re-opened for business in September 1999 under the control of a limited Charitable trust The Stiwt Arts Trust Limited.
With live theatre and entertainment seeing a huge resurgence in popularity, the Stiwt Theatre Wrexham has been transformed into a state-of-the-art venue for entertainment in the region. Our vision remains to nurture and develop the creative, cultural and recreational aspirations of all people in the immediate vicinity and wider community of Wales.
The Stiwt Theatre continues to offer a first class venue for the performing arts and cultural activities while also providing training and education for young people in the arts and creative activities. We hope to recreate the community spirit which was the original intention of the hardworking mining community in the 1920s by uniting past present and future generations within this grand old building for many years to come.
Visit the Stiwt website for information on current events.
Rhos is also renowned for its rich musical heritage, and has its own concert hall at the Stiwt Theatre.
Composers from the village include Dr Caradog Roberts, best known for the hymn tune “Rachie”; and Arwel Hughes, conductor and composer of the hymn tune “Tydi a Roddaist”. Notable performers from Rhos include the baritones James Sauvage, Andrew Griffiths and pianist Llŷr Williams.
Rhos is also home of several choirs, including the Rhos Male Voice Choir (Côr Meibion Rhosllannerchrugog); the Rhos Orpheus Male Voice Choir (Côr Orffiws Y Rhos); a Pensioners’ Choir (Côr Pensiynwyr Rhosllannerchrugog); a Girls’ Choir (Côr Merched Rhosllannerchrugog); and the Rhos Singers (Cantorion Rhos), a mixed voice choir. The male voice choirs have performed in many countries, and consistently enjoy success at national and international level. They have benefited from world-class conductors, the most notable of recent years being John Glyn Williams, John Daniel and Emyr James.
The Rhos Prize Silver Band was formed in 1884, but later became known as the Hafod Colliery Band. After the closure of Hafod colliery in 1968 the band was renamed Rhos and District Silver Band. In 2001 that the band changed its name to Wrexham Brass and is now based at the Glyndŵr University campus in Wrexham.