Cheshire’s Early Flight Pioneer
Helsby Balloon Flight
Recently the spotlight has been shone on how excavations perform a very important role in the continuing study of all things historical. But just occasionally rather than exploring the ground a look to the sky can be just as informative.
The following material details the flight of an early balloon pioneer over the Helsby area of Cheshire.
“The Balloon Over Helsbye Hill in Cheshire,” is a product of the balloon craze that took hold in England after the flights of Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier in Paris and Vincenzo Lunardi in London. During this period, as Horace Walpole remarked, it seemed that balloons were the talk of “senators, philosophers, ladies, everybody”.
Thomas Baldwin was a “Chester Man, born and bred”. He had become an enthusiastic “aeronaut” although financing expensive endeavours such as this was always a problem.
Thomas Baldwin’s “Balloon Excursion” was from Chester to Warrington and the images relate to a time just 50 minutes after the flight began, sent on his way by a large crowd, showing the significance of the occasion. The balloon also boasted some scientific instruments.
Above Helsby Hill.
The rapidity of the balloon’s ascent, the bravery of the balloonist, the path taken by the balloon and the immense, aerial world that Baldwin has begun to explore are clear to see.
Cheshire landscape including the River Weaver.
Baldwin describes the views as “taken in a high Field, at the End of Sutton-Causeway,” while looking to the southwest, 2.30 pm “on Thursday the 8th of September, 1785”.
Thomas Baldwin’s Route
Archaeologists must feel at times that they are searching in an unreachable land but I am sure they would applaud a now largely forgotten Thomas Baldwin and his journey into what would have then been considered the “inaccessible realm”.
References and Acknowledgements:
“Baldwin’s Balloon: The story of Cheshire’s First Aeronaut”, A. W. Waterworth.
Department of Special Collections, Memorial Library, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
Frodsham and District History Society
Meanwhile, just to remind you, our next Zoom meeting is on
Tuesday 11 May 2021 at 7.30 pm – details are below,
and we look forward to seeing you all then. However, we also hope that you will be able to join us in person when our meetings resume later in 2021.
Jacquie Williams, Chair and the Committee
Please see our revised schedule on our Programme page:
Weaverham History Society promotes the study of and interest in history and archaeology with particular reference to Weaverham and the surrounding area.
|The Society meets at Weaverham Primary Academy, Northwich Road, Weaverham, Northwich, Cheshire, CW8 3BD.|
Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month and we invite a guest speaker to talk to us on a topic of historical or archaeological interest, though sometimes the subjects range further afield. You can see what’s planned on our Programme page.
Membership is £15.00 per year with renewals in September. Payments can be made by BACS sort code 09-01-29 a/c 26685458. Meetings are free to members of the Weaverham History Society, children and students. Visitors are requested to pay £3 at each meeting.
We also organise highly enjoyable visits to local places of interest in spring and summer usually by coach from the village and we seem to have started a tradition of having a yearly canal boat trip as well. The Society normally invests in the services of Blue Badge guides on our visits. We also have a very enjoyable Christmas event every year, the talk commonly having a seasonal flavour.
We have articles on a range of topics, mainly about Weaverham, but also covering the surrounding areas. Although not a dedicated family history group, we do have some information on local families, and are always interested to hear from you.
We are continually developing our Archives and we have an array of items (objects, maps, and photos). We are always grateful to receive any contributions.
As we expand our new website you will be able to see some of what we have by visiting our Weaverham Archives page.
The Weaverham History Society also has a Facebook page.
We launched this website in January 2016, but while we move things across you can still find the old website at http://history.weaverham.org.uk/index2015.htm
Moving into Spring, on 11 May we have a talk by Mike Royden who has been a teacher and lecturer in history and politics for over 30 years, having studied history and archaeology at the University of Liverpool. His many publications include Merseyside at War 1939-45 and Tales from the ‘Pool – a collection of Liverpool stories, and he has appeared on BBC’s Heir Hunters and Who do You Think You Are?
Mike’s talk is looking at the Poor Law and its evolution from how parishes traditionally looked after their poor, to the provision of workhouses and associated institutions, leading to the introduction of the welfare state. The talk is to be held on Tuesday 11 May at 7.30 pm via Zoom.
So do join us and if you would like to attend the May meeting please contact the Society on
As before I will initially send out an acknowledgement and then nearer the time send a Zoom link together with the meeting ID and password so that you can join the meeting.
I will also send out a reminder in advance of the meeting.
I should like to thank all those who have contributed to our meeting costs. This has really made a difference. So thank you very much. If anyone would still like to contribute, payments can be made directly using our BACS sort code 09-01-29, account 26685458.
I look forward to seeing you in May.
The Battle of Britain 10th July – 31st October 1940
80th Aniversary 2020
Following the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk and the fall of France, Germany planned to gain air supremacy in preparation for the invasion of Great Britain. The Luftwaffe began with an air and sea blockade targeting coastal shipping, convoys and shipping centres but on 1st August 1940 they were directed to achieve air supremacy by incapacitating RAF Fighter Command. Within days this led to them not only targeting airfields but also aircraft factories and infrastructure.
The Battle of Britain was the first military campaign fought entirely by air forces and the bravery of RAF pilots of Fighter Command flying Hurricanes and Spitfires supported by ground crew led to the defeat of the Luftwaffe forcing Hitler to abandon his invasion plans. The Battle of Britain was fought over Southern England and was later to be followed by the Blitz (starting with a bombing campaign over London and later targeting other major cities in the country such as Liverpool).
The Battle of Britain saved the nation from invasion and we have to thank the many pilots of the RAF as well as those from other countries who fought so bravely and, in many cases, sacrificed their lives.
Read more here.