Generally known as Rhos, the village grew around the mines which were known to have existed in the area since the 16th century. In the 18th century the need for coal increased with the development of nearby Bersham Ironworks as coke was used to smelt iron. The ironworks closed in 1812, but coal mining continued. The development of the village may be largely attributed to the coal seams of north-east Wales that pass beneath the village. A large mining community was established during the 18th century.

Miners and their families travelled to the area to work and the village of Rhos developed to meet their needs. In the 19th century there were possibly as many as 50 pits about Rhos, including the famous Hafod Colliery. There is a list of the mines here

The Ruabon area was formerly heavily industrialised with large deposits of iron, coal and clay. Iron was worked in Gyfelia and Cinders as far back as the Middle Ages but heavy industry dominated the entire parish in the 18th and 19th centuries. Coal was extracted from pits at The Green, Plas Madoc, Plas Bennion, Wynn Hall, Afon Eitha, Cristionydd, Groes, Plas Isaf, Plas Kynaston, Gardden, Brandie, Aberderfyn, Ponkey and Rhos but many of these were hit by flooding in 1846 and ceased production. Later collieries were built at Wynnstay, Vauxhall and Hafod. Hafod Colliery, the last working colliery in the Ruabon coalfield, closed in 1968. The colliery’s coal tip has since been preserved as Parc Bonc yr Hafod.

While the mines provided work for local people wages were very low and miners often had to take payment in goods from shops owned by their employers, the so-called Tommy Shops. In 1830 miners in Rhos rioted against this system and the militia was called in to put the riot down. In 1878 there were reports of people starving in the streets as poverty caused great suffering in Rhos. In the previous three years several collieries and brickyards had closed resulting in about 1,200 men being made unemployed.

A symbol of Rhos' coal-mining and labour movement heritage is seen in the "Stiwt", the Miners' Institute of Broad Street. This fine structure was erected and paid for by the miners as a social and cultural centre for the community. It was built during the general strike of 1926.