The present day town of Brough owes much of its prosperity and status to its 100 years of aviation heritage. For much of the Twentieth Century Brough was one of the country’s major manufacturing sites for military aircraft. The Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company first built a factory here in 1916 and by 1933 the company had moved its entire production operation to the site. The proximity of the River Humber meant the factory was ideally situated for the launching of seaplanes. The company was incorporated as Blackburn Aircraft Ltd in 1939 and prospered throughout the war years.
During the years of auseterity that followed the end of WWII the company’s order book diminished. In order to make ends meet the company took on all kinds of non-aviation work and even made bread tins for the local Jackson’s Bakeries in nearby Hull. The company was amalgamated with General Aircraft Ltd in 1949 and in 1955 won a contract to supply the Fleet Air Arm with the NA39 – a new low level fighter bomber aircraft. The Bucanneer as it was to be known, was the first aircraft of its kind in the world. It entered service with the Royal Navy in 1959. It was a huge success for the company and dominated production for the next 19 years and continued in active service for over thirty years. The Buccaneer flew its last operational missions during the Gulf War prior to its postponed decommissioning in 1991/2.
In 1960 the company became the Hawker Blackburn 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 above).
In 1999 the company became BAE Systems. Although production was being gradually scaled down at the Brough site, it continued with work on the Eurofighter and the T45. Part of the site was annexed in 2007 and leased to East Riding of Yorkshire Council. The old air traffic control tower and flying club was redevloped as offices and workshops for small businesses and opened as Brough Business Centre 2008.
In 2013 the factory doors were closed for the last time and remaining manufacturing operations were moved to other sites, ending almost a century of uninterrupted aircraft manufacturing. BAE Systems still operates an office-based facility at Brough. The site of the factory is now under new ownership and being redeveloped as the Humberside Enterprise Park.