Balloon lands at Sprowston Hall
Balloon flight. 29th June 1815.
=From Harper's Ranelagh Garden (Norwich) to Sprowston Hall.
Care should be exercised in quoting from this account from The Bury and Norwich Post as this flight appears to have been made by William Windham Sadler (the son).
This great object of attraction, as was expected, drew to this city an immense assemblage of all classes of visitors. The company began evidently to increase from Friday morning, and by night hardly a bed remained in the city unoccupied. Those Who arrived on that day from a distance of 50 miles, stated that they were obliged to come early, as all. the modes of conveyance were already engaged for the following day, and on Saturday morning the 'city presented one of the busiest scenes ever witnessed. The streets were. literally choked up by visitors and their various carriages, and happy were they who were enabled to procure decent accommodation; indeed every house (as well as Inn) in the city, on an average, had its inmates doubled.—
The inflating the balloon commenced at 12 o'clock at Harper's Gardens, before upwards of 800 persons, amongst whom were• the principal families of this city and county, and more female beauty and fashion was never witnessed here. From the regularity of the proceedings there was no fear of disappointment, and after the process was finished, the balloon with the car attached, in which was Mr. Sadler, jun. was removed to a platform raised for that purpose, and after the ballast, &c. was placed therein, Miss Bathurst. the daughter of the Lord Bishop of the diocese, attended by the Mayor of the city, ascended the platform, and Lord Bishop of the diocese, attended by the Mayor of the city, ascended the platform, and presented Mr. Sadler with the flag bearing the royal arms, the band playing “God save the King."
At this instant, half-past three o'clock, the signal was given, and he was launched into the air. The effect at this moment upon the feelings of the spectators it is impossible to describe. It was most exciting and interesting to all, and loud and repeated cheers gave notice to the populace assembled on the outside of the gardens, who as soon as the desired object appeared in sight, returned the salute with the utmost enthusiasm.—Mr. Sadler, as the balloon left the gardens, continued bowing and waving his flag to the spectators below him. The air was clear and serene, and a more beautiful ascension was never witnessed: the direction of the balloon varied with the different currents of air, but as we have been favoured with the following account from Mr. Sadler, which being more correct, we give in preference to our own observations: “The ascension took place at 33 minutes after three o'clock, wind perfectly calm; so much so, that during the whole time of being elevated, which was out hour and five minutes, in the various changes of currents at different altitudes, the Balloon did not traverse more than 17 miles; the wind at rising was NNE. the thermometer stood at 80t. On the Car being set at liberty, owing to the stillness of the air, it rose almost perpendicularly to a great height, and from thence slowly passed over the Castle-hill; during this time, I alternately moved my hat and flag. In 12 minutes after the ascension. the thermometer fell to 73. I here tilled my glass, drank to the Mayor and Corporation of the City, and distinctly heard the loud cheering of the assembled multitude.
Come and take wine.
At five minutes to four, the Balloon entered a second current, which carried me over Mousehold Heath. I here distinctly heard shouts from persons collected near a house and calling to me to come down and take wine with them. I wrote a note, and threw over, thanking them for their invitation, and informing them I intended descending near. Perceiving from the direction I now took, that the high ground about Mousehold Heath would prevent my being much longer in view to the. inhabitants of Norwich, I determined on elevating the machine; accordingly threw out a quantity of ballast, when rapidly ascending, I encountered a third current to the NNW. which carried us over the Sprowston road, towards St. Faith’s. From this variety of currents, of different heights, I was enabled not only to remain in view to the persons on the spot from whence I ascended, but also to gratify many thousands collected on the different eminences, hundreds of whom, from every direction, followed the apparent course at the Balloon, both horse and foot ; therefore determined on descending amongst my numerous followers, that they might witness the descent, a novelty often wished, but seldom performed, the velocity of the wind in general preventing the possibility of it."
At half-past four o'clock it descended in a field adjoining to Sprowston-Hall, about three miles from the city. after having passed over the broadest part of it, thereby enabling the whole population to be witnesses of this truly interesting sight, which had much of novelty to boast of, not only it having been constantly in sight of the city, but also from it's again reaching the earth at so short a distance as to enable those persons who witnessed the ascension, also to see the descent; and several hundred on horses, in carriages, or on foot, soon assembled on the spot, and Mr. Sadler returned to the city escorted by a body of horsemen, and as he passed through the streets, was received with cheers by the populace, who were happy in hearing that not the slightest accident had happened to damp their pleasures in the recollection of the past. The multitudes of spectators that were assembled on all the high situations in and around the city, was beyond precedent. Those particularly observable wire the Castle-hill, the church steeples, and Mousehold-Hill.—Although it was market day, nearly all the shops in the city were shut during the ascension. Harper's Garden: boasted of a large and genteel assemblage of visitors on Friday and Saturday evenings; on the former there were 4200 present, and on the latter 2300.
Report taken from Bury and Norwich Post 2nd August 1815