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Crowds flocked to see a balloon take off from the Abbey Gardens, in Bury St Edmunds, in 1896 - from the Spanton Jarman collection


By Newsdesk Bury


This picture, taken from the top of 16 Abbeygate Street, shows a crowd that had gathered to witness the ascent of a hot air balloon from the Abbey Gardens on the occasion of the Annual Gala held on Monday, July 20, 1896.

The event, organised by the Lieut. Lempriers, attracted a large crowd of pleasure seekers and holidaymakers to the town.

Miss Maude Brooks, a renowned parachutist, known as ‘the parachute queen’ ascended with the balloon. Once airborne, Miss Brooks detached herself and parachuted slowly to the ground, eventually landing in the neighbourhood of Fornham.

View down Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds, with balloon in the AbbeyGardens. From the Spanton Jarman collection (5586213)
View down Abbeygate Street, Bury St Edmunds, with balloon in the AbbeyGardens. From the Spanton Jarman collection (5586213)

The Bury Free Press gave a full report of the event, describing the descent as ‘exceedingly graceful’.

-- This picture is part of a remarkable collection of 4,000 photographs in the care of Bury St Edmunds Past and Present Society which offers a glimpse into the town’s history.

Taken by two families of professional photographers, the Spantons and the Jarmans, the images span a period from the 1860s through to the outbreak of World War Two.

The fragile glass plate negatives were donated to the society in 1997 and in recent years many of these have been ‘digitised’ thanks to a Lottery grant and donations. They can be viewed at www.burypastandpresent.org.uk where you can also find details about membership and the group’s programme of events and lectures.

The Spanton-Jarman collection is held at the Bury St Edmunds branch of the Suffolk Record Office.

For more details about the Record Office, including its programme of talks and courses, visit www.suffolkarchives.co.uk.



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