Ryhming out for daredevil artist

COMMERCIAL flight means most of us are blasé these days about getting a bird's eye view of where we live.

But imagine what it must have been like when obtaining a similar perspective was tempered by a real sense of adventure, even danger.

By trade, William Hetherington Shipley was a South Shields painter and decorator.

By inclination, he was an aerial explorer, a Victorian amateur balloonist and parachutist.

But does anyone know the whole of the poem that was written about his exploits?

The query comes from a relative of his in Leeds.

Shipley lived in John Clay Street, South Shields, and made his first balloon ascent from a field in Westoe in the spring of 1890.

After a successful flight, he came down at Cleadon.

A Gazette commentator wrote: "Only a few people could be persuaded that a painter who had never been higher than could be reached by means of a two-storey ladder would have the nerve to make the attempt."

A subsequent parachute jump was particularly rash – jumping from thousands of feet, Shipley, dressed showily in dark velvet, came down on the roof of a house in John Williamson Street.

He was sufficiently proficient, however, to later be engaged to advertise soap.

But here's the thing: a poem was written about him, called Shipley's Drop Frae The Cloods.

Says our correspondent: "Apparently there are nine verses. I would dearly like to see the whole of them."

So far I've only been able to turn up the following lines.

"Hurrah for wor rockets, hurrah for wor lifeboats, hurrah for wor Shipley, wor own plucky Shipley, hurrah for wor Shipley that dropped frae the cloods."

Anyone know the rest?