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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 January, 2004, 16:58 GMT
Cruise's ancestral town uncovered

By Joanne Gallacher
BBC Wales News Online

Tom Cruise
Cruise is descended from many generations of Mapothers in Wales
Tom Cruise's mission, should he choose to accept it, is to swap his glamorous Hollywood lifestyle for Flint, north Wales.

It may sound like a Mission Impossible - the small market town is a million miles away from his superstar lifestyle.

But after being informed by an American chat show host that his great-great grandfather emigrated from Flint in 1850 to Kentucky, he may well decide to retrace his roots.

So what can he expect to find if and when he does?

The Top Gun star, real name Thomas Cruise Mapother IV, would begin his Welsh odyssey by touching down in his private jet at Hawarden Airport, just a 10-minute drive from Flint.

En route to his B&B, he is unlikely to find any Mapother relatives, there are none registered in the telephone directory and people on the streets of Flint have never heard of it.


Flint town centre
A world away from Rodeo Drive but Flint offers much more value for money

For a man used to shopping on Rodeo Drive, the 41-year-old would be more likely to find George at Asda than Giorgio Armani.

But he could pick up bargains at the historic Flint market which dates back to 1278 and still opens every Friday.

"You can buy a cheap pair of shoes here but no expensive ones," said one shopper.


House for sale in Flint
Chez Cruise? He could snap up a new build for £370,000

Housing in Flint is in demand. Even so they're a world away from Beverly Hills, the majority of houses are modern three and four bedroomed new builds.

Property in the region can be snapped up from £65,000.

But if the millionaire wanted to splash out, Flint Mountain is known locally as a more prestigious area.

Houses there can fetch up to £370,000.

If that is still too cheap, Flint has a castle completed in 1284 - it was built by Edward I to subdue his Welsh subjects.

However, badly damaged during the Civil War the building would need to be completely renovated.

If Cruise decided that was the new pad for him, he would have to speak to present owners CADW, the Welsh monuments society.

The Hollywood actor has already been beaten to arguably the most exclusive property in Flintshire.

Liverpool footballer Michael Owen splashed out £1.6m on Soughton Hall, just four miles away from Flint town.

"Michael Owen has got the most prestigious address around Flint," said a local estate agent.

"Houses in the price bracket of Tom Cruise don't come on the market very often."


Beach in nearby resort of Rhyl
From Venice Beach.... to Rhyl's beach

Should Mr Cruise decide to take a break in the 'old country' he's advised to come dressed for the weather.

Cold days, rain and the odd days of thunder are not uncommon in Flintshire.

He can shelter from the elements and practice his martial arts at the Flintshire County Council-owned Pavilion Leisure centre.

He will find a swimming pool on site but with no membership-only health club and spa he will have to rub shoulders with the locals.

If he is after more gentle exercise Flint Golf Club could be just up his street.

The nine hole course enjoys unspoilt views over the Dee Estuary.


George and Dragon pub, Flint
Locals recommend Sunday roast at the George and Dragon

If he works up a sweat or feels peckish, The Last Samurai star can head for the local Chinese restaurant or if he wants a taste of home, there is a McDonald's around the corner.

Italian cuisine can be found at Flint Mountain Hotel on the outskirts of the town.

However, if he is after a traditional Sunday lunch then locals suggest he tries The George and Dragon pub in the town.

"They're brilliant with big portions," said one resident.

If, however, he wants to take girlfriend Penelope Cruz for a night on the tiles then Flint Borough Working Men's Club situated on Ffordd Llewelyn is the place to go.

There is no VIP lounge but someone will sign the pair in, I'm told.

Locals say the beer is cheap and the club has a "fun atmosphere".


The Pavilion fitness centre in Flint
The council-owned Pavilion offer a range of martial arts classes

If he is looking for something to do at the weekend when he may have his two children Isabella and Connor, locals suggest he takes a trip out.

The surrounding areas of Rhyl and Prestatyn can offer hours of fun in the arcades or a fun day out on the beach.

However, if he wants an evening at the cinema or 10-pin bowling alley he must head over the border to Chester, just 15 miles away.

And if he misses the action of the movie set, he can always take to the stage at Clwyd Theatr Cymru where Sir Anthony Hopkins is a patron.

Should Cruise decide to visit the region, locals say they would give him a "welcome in the hillside" (apologies for the cliché).

But he will have to run the gauntlet of the local paparazzi from the Flintshire Evening Leader and the Flint and Holywell Chronicle newspapers.

And beaming with pride at the news of Flint's world-famous export, the town's mayor Trefor Howarth said: "Anytime Mr Cruise wants to come over, we'd be more than happy to show him around."

Cruise's Welsh roots uncovered
18 Jan 04  |  North East Wales


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