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British Industrial History

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Balloon Equipment Store

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1879 Formed at the Woolwich Depot of the Royal Engineers under the command of H. P. Lee‎

1880 Military balloon training was initiated at Aldershot by Captain Templer and Captain H. Elsdale.

1882 The School of Ballooning and the Balloon Equipment Store were moved to the School of Military Engineering at Chatham. Captain Templer was in charge of the small factory producing balloons and hydrogen.

1882 Hydrogen started to be transported under pressure in steel tubes - the design of these tubes was by Lieutenants J. P. L. MacDonald and F. C. Trollope.

1883 Captain Templer completes a balloon using goldbeater's skin with the help of the Weinling family. These were Anne Weinling and her daughters Matilda, Elizabeth and Eugenie who knew the secret process. This balloon was the 10,000 cubic feet Heron. He also completed with the help of John Edward Capper the 5,600 cubic feet Sapper made from silk treated with linseed oil but the goldbeater's skin proved superior.

1884 The school had standardised on the following types of balloons:-

  • F Class of 5,600 cubic feet (not used in service)
  • S Class of 7,000 cubic feet.
  • T Class of 10,000 cubic feet.

1885. Balloon detachments were used in the Bechaunaland expedition under Major Elsdale and lieutenant Trollope; and also in the Red Sea operations in the eastern Sudan under Major Templer and Lieutenant R. J. H. L. Mackenzie.

Up to 1889 Major Lee, Major Elsdale and Major Watson (1888) served in turn as the commanding officer in charge of ballooning. They were succeeded by H. B. Jones (1890) and then B. R. Ward

1891/2 The School moved to Stanhope Lines, Aldershot when a balloon section and depot were formed as permanent units of the Royal Engineers establishment. This School was sometimes known as the Balloon Factory.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • The Royal Aircraft Factory by Paul R. Hare. ISBN. 0-85177-843-7