The name Brough is thought to have come from the Gaelic "burh" meaning "fortified place". Evidence has been found of Bronze Age settlement, but finds of worked flints,including a Neolithic flint knife, suggest earlier habitation.
The area was inhabited by the Parisi tribe, who were Celts, and Brough became their capital around 150 BC. During the Roman occupation of Brough, from about 70 AD, the settlement was named Petuaria, and a fortress was built which covered about 4.5 acres. A road was constructed from the Haven, out along what is now Cave Road, to York. In 125 AD the army left and by 270 AD the prospering town of Petuaria covered about 12 acres and was surrounded by a 9 foot thick stone wall. The present day Burrs playing field (pictured right) covers about a third of the old Roman site, and was excavated to a depth of 5 feet in the 1930s.
By the 4th Century the town had begun to decline with the increasing importance of York, and the tidal Humber waters had destroyed much of the southern fortress wall. A sudden rise in water levels left the Haven silted up and eventually much of the fortifications were demolished, with the stone being used to build the growing medieval city of Kingston-upon-Hull.
In 1239 the local lord attempted to establish a weekly market, and a two day annual fair, at "Burgus-upon-Humbre" as it was then known. He was unsuccessful and the adjacent village of Elloughton retained its importance. The township of "Elloughton cum Brough" is shown in records from 1796 to have had a population of 355, which had grown to 1009 by 1905, largely following development of the railways and the opening of Brough station in 1840.
The Blackburn Aircraft Company opened its Brough factory in 1916 and as the company expanded, becoming a major employer, many more people were attracted to the village. Considerable housing developments throughout this century, the increase in vehicle ownership and improving road links with Hull have all resulted in Brough becoming the thriving urban centre it is today.
The site at Brough dates back to 1916 when the Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company built a new factory here. The company flourished through the war years and the proximity of the River Humber meant the factory was ideally situated for the launching of seaplanes. The company's reputation grew and in 1939 became Blackburn Aircraft Ltd. Orders declined following the end of WWII and in order to survive the company took on all kinds of non-aviation work, even making bread tins for the local Jackson's Bakeries in Hull.
In 1949 the company amalgamated with General Aircraft Ltd and in 1955 won a contract to supply a new aircraft to the Fleet Air Arm. The NA39 was a low level fighter bomber, later to be known as the Buccaneer, which went into service with Royal Navy in 1959. The first aircraft of its kind in the world, it was a great success for the company, dominating factory production for 19 years. The Buccaneer flew its last operational missions during the Gulf War prior to its postponed decommissioning in 1991/2. Pictured above is the Gripen, being developed as a joint venture with Saab.
In 1960 the company became the Hawker Blackburns Division of of the giant Hawker Siddeley Aviation Combine which in 1965 became simply Hawker Siddeley, Brough, and later part of the British Aerospace Kingston-Brough Division. One of the company's best known aircraft is the Hawk or T45, seen the world over as part of the RAF aerobatic display team The Red Arrows (pictured left, flying over Cyprus). Another famous aircraft whose origins can be traced back here is, the Harrier, a VSTOL (vertical/short take off and landing) multi-role fighter. The Harrier's vertical take off is a stunning sight, but to see 6 tonnes of fixed wing jet fighter hover, and even fly backwards is truly awesome.
The Haven's existence can be traced back to 70 AD when it was used by the Romans as a naval base. The ferry from Brough across the Humber was an integral part of the Romans' Ermine Street for 400 years. At this time the Haven came further inland, to the present day site of the Ferry Inn, but during the 4th Century the changing shoreline and constant flooding left the Haven silted up with mud. It remained in use, mainly for the trading of coal, but during the 1800s this trade grew to include many other commodities such as grain, spirits, wines and building materials. However, with the advent of the railway and its growing importance, the use of the Haven for commercial activity declined.
In 1883 the Humber Yawl club was founded, making it one of the oldest yacht clubs in Great Britain, and the haven is used by its members for the mooring of yachts. Prince Phillip was made an honorary member in 1957. Today the HYC is one of the strongest sailing clubs in the North of England.
Between 1908 and 1968 the Humber Conservancy Board had offices near the Haven. The Lower, Middle and Upper Whitton Lightships were the responsibility of the Board, as was the charting of the upper reaches of the Humber estuary and ensuring that the positioning of the lightships and buoys accurately marked the shipping channels. In 1968 the British Transport Docks Board took over, leaving the Haven in 1991 when the offices were transferred to Hull.
Dick Turpin, the notorious highwayman, was born in Essex in 1705. The son of a publican, he became a butcher by trade, and in 1733 began stealing cattle after falling upon hard times. He joined a band of housebreakers and livestock thieves, the Gregory Gang, but when a number of the band were arrested, Turpin hid himself in London's East End. While in London he teamed up with another criminal, Robert King. The pair took to the coaching routes around London where they held the traveling gentry (and just about anyone else) at pistol point and robbed them of their valuables, gaining a fearsome reputation into the bargain. During a bungled attempt to arrest the pair, Turpin accidently shot dead his partner's brother and escaped to Epping Forest. Here he was tracked down by woodsman Thomas Morris, and when cornered Turpin murdered him to avoid capture.
Turpin fled north to Lincolnshire, and then to the East Riding of Yorkshire to escape the forces of law and order, and his vengeful former associates. He escaped detection for two years, living under the assumed name of John Palmer (his mother's maiden name) and carrying on an (apparently) legitimate trade in horses and cattle on both banks of the Humber. However in 1739, overcome with rage, Turpin shot a neighbour's cockerel and was arrested, either in Brough or nearby Welton. Historical records show that "Turpin's Cottage" in off Welton Road in Brough was once owned by a John Palmer, and it is believed that this was the home of his girlfriend, to whom he left a gold ring and two pairs of clogs. Legend has it that Turpin was lodging at the Ferry Inn at time of his arrest, and in a vain attempt to escape he jumped the toll gate at the corner of Cave Road on his famous horse Black Bess. Sadly this cannot be true as this turnpike road did not come into existence until 1771, by which time Turpin had been dead 32 years. Another conflicting local legend has it that Dick Turpin actually evaded arrest by leaping through a window of the Green Dragon Inn at Welton, two mile east of Brough.
Whatever the truth about his capture, Turpin was sent to the Debtors' Prison at York. When a letter to his brother-in-law was intercepted, asking him to vouch for him as John Palmer, Turpin's true identity was revealed and he stood trial as Richard Turpin on the more serious charge of stealing a foal. Following a finding of guilty he was publicly hanged at the Tyburn Gallows on what is now York Racecourse, on 7th April 1739. He was buried in Fishergate, York, in St, George's Churchyard, his headstone bearing the simple inscription "R.T. 33". The grave was robbed by body snatchers but friends recovered the corpse, burying it with quicklime. A more informative replacement headstone was erected later, and still exists today.
Another legend surrounding Dick Turpin, that of his famous ride from London to York on the mare Black Bess, is also a myth. It is more likely to be an exploit of the rather less well known highwayman John Nevison (1639-84). In 1676 he rode from Gad's Hill in London to York in just 15 hours.
Despite the somewhat romantic tradition that has grown up around Dick Turpin and other highwaymen of the time, the fact is that he was a very brutal thief and cold-blooded murderer. While he was on the run the newspapers of the day described him as "very much marked with the small pox".