The Hidden History of Flint

Flint Castle Landscape Shot Flintshire
Delve Deep into Flint's Significant, Animated History
Flint Castle in Flint, Flintshire

Many locations have hidden histories with tales lost or forgotten in the mystery of time. Flintshire’s seaside town of Flint, is no exception to the rule and here we explore some of its hidden history.

With staycations on the rise and many homeowners, holiday makers and local residents seeking accessible activities and pastimes on their doorstep, finding a place to discover and explore can seem overwhelming at first.

Numerous attractions and curiosities are generously scattered across North Wales, but how do you know where to start and what’s right for you? Well, if you like castles, beautiful riverside scenery and a mesmerising history of ancient Kings, battles and interesting buildings, Flint is a great place to start.

At first glance, Flint may seem like an ordinary town, but when you delve deeper into its substantial history and discover what this unique town has to offer, it’s nothing but extraordinary.

Here we look at 5 facts about the Hidden History of Flint and why you should visit this historical hotspot, which was once an empty landscape until Edward I saw the location’s many advantages.

1. The River Dee – Before the town of Flint was formed, the land was wild and vacant, overrun by fauna and flora with nothing but a flowing river winding through the untamed valley, carving its way across North Wales. This waterway, known as the sought-after River Dee, has been a popular tourist attraction and thriving industrial area in Flint for centuries. With its changing faces, the River Dee has been used in many ways. From a means of transport for various commodities to fighting battles and waging wars whilst used as a military stronghold to a popular seaside resort in the 1800s with lavish sea baths and quaint ferries transporting visitors from Flint to Parkgate and Chester.

Furthermore, fishing has always been a big part of Flints present and former history, with fishermen and their boats riding the waves and tides of the solemn ebbing River Dee. Flint even had its own famous fishing family, who were known for the sale of a wide selection of fresh, family caught fish. This infamous fishing family were known as the Bithells.

2. The Castle – Flint town, although home to several diverse attractions, possesses one of the most historic sites in North Wales, Flint Castle. The story behind this striking stone and sand fortress is one of gruesome battles, tyranny and victory. With tensions rising between the King of England, Edward I, and the last Prince of Wales, Llywelyn ap Gruffudd of Gwynedd, the English king resorted to building and restoring ten different castles throughout North Wales. This was in order to dominate and oppress the Welsh and make them compliant with the new English order.

The Welsh Prince, his brother, Dafydd ap Gruffudd and his many loyal followers refused to go down without a fight, rebelling against the English monarch and fighting for their independence. Regardless of their valiant efforts and bravery, King Edward I and his fearsome army prevailed, not only ending the war but taking the life of Wales’ idolised Prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd.

The castle later served as a battlefront obtained by royalists during the Civil War which lasted from August 1642 to September 1651. Throughout the summer of 1646, both Flint Castle and town were plagued by Parliamentary combatants who rampaged through the streets, fighting, shedding blood and showing no mercy. The town, left in ruin and a state of devastation, took years to recover from the calamity that had befallen it.

Although the castle’s current state is one of dilapidation, worn down by weather and the various battles and events that took place on its prehistoric grounds, you can still visit the remains of this significant stronghold and relive its lawless past. In addition, you can also enjoy the far reaching views across the River Dee towards the Irish Sea and the Wirral.

3. The Medieval Town – Unknown to most, Flint was built during the medieval times whilst England was under the reign of King Edward I in the 5th century. Originally, Flint was a unique, distinctive design with parallel streets lined with neatly placed dwellings and businesses. Around the town and its soaring walls, a double ditch was dug deep into the ground as a protective defence for the inhabitants situated within the area. Towards the north section of the town was the entrance to the detached keep that lead to the extraordinary Flint Castle. A standalone keep was a rare commodity during this time period in Wales and was the only fortress commissioned by King Edward I to possess this feature.

Most of the individuals living within the town were labourers who had been hired to build and source the materials for Flint Castle. King Edward’s knights and soldiers enlisted masons, carpenters and diggers from across various parts of England including Nottingham, Chester, Lancaster and Stafford.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is John-Speeds-Map-of-Flint-Flintshire.jpg
John Speed’s map of Flint Town and Castle, 1610

4. The Booming Industry – Flint’s widespread timeless historical rarities are accompanied with an ever-advancing industry. On the Northern edge of the town during the early 1700’s, a blossoming industrial area began to emerge, which led to the development of a port used to export various goods via the sea from locality. Goods transported included, coal from local collieries, lead from a nearby smelter and artificial silk and man-made textiles produced in factories by men, women and children from 1907 to the 1980’s, to name a few. Flint was a busy town with plenty working opportunities and up to 10,000 people were employed in the nearby Courtaulds factory during the the 20th Century.

This opened the town to new possibilities and even helped what was once a small borough, advance in population and size, outgrowing its original historic walls. The outlines and remnants of the old medieval bounds are still visible in Flint’s streets, providing a constant reminder of the progress and advancements the settlement has made since the Edward I’st time.

The numerous factories located in Flint during this era have since closed, instead there are now safer, cleaner establishments in their place.

5. The Railway – Flint railway, designed by the well-known engineer Robert Stephenson, opened in 1848, had been constructed and worked on for over 3 years. The station itself was fashioned by Francis Thompson, an English architect known for his prestigious railway works.

This new means of transportation provided local residents and Flint town with prosperity and opportunity. Although the railway came with benefits in abundance, it also divided the borough into a hierarchy of sorts, with settlers working in the chemical factories and leadworks, making up the poorer area of the town, also known as ‘Below the Lines’, with well-off residents living on the opposing side of the tracks.

To date, Flint station is still in operation and was even voted the “Best in UK” in 2008. This now modernised station will take you across North Wales, as well as directly to London Euston on the Holyhead train. Flint train station is open every day of the week, with opening hours and closing times varying upon the day, but electronic computerised systems are in place for travellers to access everyday of the week and at times to suit the trains. There is an excellent free car park too, making shopping trips to Chester, Liverpool and Manchester easy.

Flint welcomes you to visit, not only experiencing its remarkable history, but to become part of it too!

Relive a part of Flints fascinating history for yourself by clicking the link below.