Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Balloon Park

This post has been updated after its original publication to include information kindly supplied by Robin Macey of Nottingham and Derby Hot Air Balloon Club.  I’m delighted to give Mr Macey permission to reproduce the photo below to use in his illustrated lectures. Dad would have been very pleased. If any Nottingham readers have old photographs from past ballooning events in and around Nottingham, I’m sure Mr Macey would be pleased to hear about them

This is a scene captured by my father at Wollaton Park, Nottingham in 1970. There were no clues on the slide when I scanned it, but I found an article from the ‘Nottingham Post’ which I thought had helped me to identify the year. I recognised Wollaton Hall, a famous Nottingham landmark, and the park where I spent many happy hours as a child so this was a very good clue.

The article 'The Day Balloon Festival Filled Our Skies’ was actually published in 2009 in the ‘Bygones’ section of the Post. Further searches revealed a special balloon mail envelope issued to mark the the very 'First British Balloon Festival’ at Castle Howard, Yorkshire, in 1976, so I believed (mistakenly, as it later transpired) that Dad’s picture was recording only the third year of the festival being held. In the Bygones article Robin Macey of the Nottingham Balloon Club recalled the sport’s last major event in the city (up to the time when the article was published). In the late 1990s the City Council started to introduce red tape and to charge for the balloonists to launch in the park. As a result small private balloons stopped using it. The 1979 festival actually lasted a whole week and forty balloons took part, so it’s easy to see why Mr Macey said they filled the skies.

This picture by David Myers,** was taken at the park some time in the 1980s. The Council charges remain in place but special occasions, such as Armed Forces Day,  allowed organisers to pay a fee to use the whole park and therefore launch balloons without any extra charges. The RAF balloon was pictured at Wollaton Park on Armed Forces Day 2009 and pictures by Andy Jamieson.*** It’s not known whether it was actually launched, or simply tethered.

This article on the Easy Balloons blog talks of a forthcoming event in October 2013 when balloons were again expected to launch from the park for triple celebration of the first balloon flight from Nottingham in 1813, the 25th Anniversary of the East Midland Balloon Group and the 50th Anniversary of Anthony Smith’s flight from Nottingham Castle. Sadly, on the day the weather prevented the balloons from launching, even though the organisers were prepared to pay the fee to cover the special launch. The participants must have felt quite deflated but consoled themselves with a special celebration luncheon in Wollaton Hall itself. That must have been an uplifting experience.

Join us the  this week’s Sepia Saturday Balloon  Club for more posts inspired by the image below.

* Robin Macey believes that the balloon in my father’s picture is registration G-AXJA, later sold to a buyer in Ireland and changed its registration to EI-ANP
** Geolocation: Attribution-No Derivs 3.0 Unported
*** Wikimedia Commons: Creative Commons Share Alike 2.00 Generic Licence


  1. I always like seeing the colorful ways the balloons are decorated.

  2. Hot air balloons are so fascinating. When I saw the prompt I know that is what I thought I would also have to share. You have some pretty balloons there.

  3. I have never even seen a hot air balloon up close. An airforce pilot once told me that he would never fly in one! That put me off.......but I have changed my mind. I would like to give it a go!

  4. Saw my first ones in person just 4 years ago. A beautiful sight.

  5. What a shame the city council got a bit greedy. But they're not the only organization to do so. It happens all the time. A few people get together to do something fun. Other folks gather to watch. The event grows in popularity, and the next thing you know some group or organization is looking to make money off of it. I can understand it in part, however. More people means more litter to be cleaned up afterward which costs money. The trick is in balancing the things fairly.

  6. Balloons may seem safer than airplanes, gliders, and even paragliders, but they really can only go where the wind blows. The accident liability risk makes them less acceptable in public places than they once were. Even children's bouncy castles are now seen as potential hazards when strong winds take them airborne.

  7. Your father's photograph does very weĺl in capturing the essence of the festival - the balloon, the crowd and the location.

  8. I didn't know the Royal Air Force also employs balloons. I live near a park which is in use as a launch pad for balloons very often (in the summer a few times per week), so I'm quite used to see them fly over. I've never tried one myself because the fair is fairly high (150 euro), and I'm not a fan of heights.

  9. Wonderful photographs Marilyn. I always find half the fun of scanning old photos is searching them to find clues as to dates and locations. It must be a Sepia trait.

  10. There is something very imposing and rather inspiring about hot air balloons close to and it's wonderful to see them floating over the landscape. My parents used to live near a place where many people hired them and it was always wonderful to see. I have never felt any desire to go up in one, though!


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