Balloon story not hot air ...

FURTHER to my note yesterday on South Shields's own intrepid Victorian balloonist and parachutist, William Shipley, who is the subject of a query from a reader, he wasn't the only Tyneside man to dice with airborne death.

As back as 1834, a North Shields man called Green went up in a home-made balloon – holding on, seemingly, only by a rope – and came down in the river at Howdon, where he was rescued by fishermen.

Twenty five years later, a Captain William Bell was killed while trying to land a balloon in a field near Pelaw.

He had with him a little dog which remained in the basket and was carried air-ward again, and out to sea, never to be seen again.

Awful image, isn't it?

By the way, you may recall I was recently looking at a newly-published history of Sunderland Volunteer Life Brigade (SVLB).

Just to let you know, the book, which costs 12.99, is available from the SVLB Watch House, Roker, Sunderland, which is open every Sunday afternoon.

Telephone Rose on 5292651.

It can also be obtained from Sunderland Tourist Information Centre and from local book stores.

All profits are going to the brigade's funds.