At certain times of the week, one can stand atop Hope Mountain and watch the immense Airbus A300-600ST, otherwise known as the Beluga due to its distinctive similarities to the whale of the same name, lining itself up for its landing at Hawarden Airport, part of the Airbus Airport Factory at Broughton.
The little village’s connection to aviation history is considerable and stretches back to the Second World War. A glance at the Ordnance Survey map from the 1940s is interesting for what it does not show, rather than what it does. The glaring absence of the factory shows how important the area was, in that its presence was erased from maps in order to keep its existence secret from German intelligence officers, although attacks on the facility, largely unsuccessful did take place. Vickers-Wellington established a shadow factory at Broughton, eventually producing 5,540 Wellingtons and 235 Avro Lancasters. One of the two remaining Lancasters in existence was built at Broughton, and now forms part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. It was at Broughton that a production record was achieved, a Wellington being built in just under 24 hours. After the War, the factory was bought by the De Havilland Aircraft Company, producing the very successful Mosquito multi-role combat aircraft, amongst others. In the 1960s, the company became part of Hawker-Siddeley Aviation, before becoming part of British Aerospace in 1977. Today, the Broughton facility is owned by the multi-nationally owned Airbus and is one of the biggest employers in the area. The building of the popular Broughton Shopping Centre in 1999 has also come to dominate the village somewhat.
A far cry then from the small settlement mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. Named therein as, ‘Brochetune’, which is thought to mean, 'Brook Farm'. Situated today on the Flintshire/Cheshire border, a sign of how close it was even then to the native British, the nearby hamlet of Bretton thought to mean, ‘Welsh farm’. Broughton itself was essentially created in the late 18th century with an Act of Enclosure, which was designed to improve agricultural yield. Until the start of the Second World War, Broughton remained dependent on agriculture. Broughton Hall was a large manor house that was demolished in the 1970s to make way for a housing development. Originally built, it is thought at the end of the 17th century, it was owned by Richard Slaughter in the 1750s and by the Glynne Family, rescued from debt by marrying into the Gladstone Family. William Johnson, once the Mayor of Chester lived at the Hall at the end of the 19th century and is remembered in St Mary’s Church in Broughton for his generosity.