[Source: Paul Wright and Alan Young]

The section of line on which Fennant Road Halt was located was part of the 1¾-mile Great Western Railway (GWR) Ponkey Branch. The GWR opened the Ponkey Branch railway between Gardden Lodge Junction (on the Shrewsbury and Chester line) and furnaces (at Ponkey and Aberderfyn) and Bryn-yr-Owen colliery on 1 August 1868. The line was single track. On 27 August 1876 it was extended northwards to Legacy to serve another colliery – which one historical source states had closed in 1875 after only a five-year working life. The 6-inch scale OS map for the area published in 1879 showed connections to Gardden Pit, Brandie Pit and Park Pit at the southern end of the line. A short distance to the south of the Fennant Road level crossing was a connection to the Ponkey Brick and Tile Works.

By the time of the publication of the 1900 6-inch scale map a large gasworks had been established on the west side of the line a short distance to the south of what would be the Fennant Road Halt site. However the same map shows the Bryn-yr-Owen colliery as disused.

In 1901 the GWR opened its Rhos branch which passed through Legacy and a connection was made with the Ponkey Branch.

Passenger services were introduced onto the Rhos branch on 1 October 1901 and enhanced through the introduction of a rail-motor service on 1 May 1905. In 1906 a signal box was provided at the Ponkey level crossing (south of the Fennant Road Halt site). It was one of the improvements that made to the line between Ponkey Crossing and Legacy to facilitate the introduction of a rail-motor onto the line. The upgrading of the section of line between Ponkey Crossing and Legacy for passenger services seems to coincide with that section of the line being referred to as the Legacy Branch: it appears on maps of that period with that title.

Fennant Road Halt was opened on 5 June 1905 on the north side of a level crossing that carried Fennant Road across the line. To date no photographs of the halt have appeared so it is not known what facilities it had. The Ordnance Survey 25-inch scale map of 1909 a platform but no shelter. The platform was most likely of timber construction.

The steam rail-motor service ran between Ponkey Crossing Halt (a short distance south of Aberderfyn Halt) and Wrexham General. As well as Fennant Road Halt it also called at the intermediate points of Legacy and Rhostyllen stations in the Wrexham direction. The journey overall journey time between Fennant Road Halt and Wrexham General was 13 minutes, which was relatively fast. In the Ponkey Crossing Halt direction trains called at Aberderfyn Halt. The travel time to Ponkey Crossing Halt was 4 minutes but as it was such a short distance it is doubtful that anybody would have made that journey. Only 15 chains (330yd) separated Fennant Road and Aberderfyn halts and Ponkey Crossing Halt was a mere 14 chains beyond Aberderfyn.

Fennant Road Halt had competition for Wrexham journeys in the form of the Wrexham & District Electric Tramways which had opened an electric tramway between Johnstown (just to the south) and Wrexham on 4 April 1903. Although the trams were slower than the trains they took passengers into the town centre: Wrexham General station was inconveniently located half a mile from the centre.

Despite the tramway competition the November 1906 timetable (click here) showed twelve trains in each direction on Monday-to-Friday with three additional services on Saturday. This was a generous service for this era. Within a few years, however, the GWR had clearly tired of trying to compete with the trams as they withdrew the rail-motor service on 22 March 1915. Only two years after the passenger service was discontinued the connection with the Rhos branch was removed and by the 1930s the line had been cut back to a point just to the south of the Fennant Road. The 6-inch scale map of 1938 refers to the branch by its original name (Ponkey Branch).

The Ponkey Branch passed into British Railways ownership in January 1948 and remained in use to serve the Ponkey Gasworks until 31 August 1964.

The electric tramway closed on 31 March 1927.

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[Source: Paul Wright and Alan Young]

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