What is the British Balloon Museum & Library?
The British Balloon Museum and Library is the official museum of the British Balloon and Airship Club and was formed in 1979 by a small group of balloonists. The purpose was to preserve the many different items associated with, and used in hot air and gas ballooning. The museum is run entirely by volunteers, not all balloonists, and is funded by three main ways, private and corporate donations and annual subscription to the “Friends”. A list of the officers with contact numbers and e-mail addresses can be found in Who’s Who.
What do the British Balloon Museum and Library preserve?
The collection covers a wide range of articles. It includes in excess of 60 envelopes that are donated, or on loan. There is also a large and varied collection of artifacts ranging from postcards to postage stamps, and baskets to burners, to a comprehensive library of books, magazines and technical papers relating to Lighter-than-Air Flight.
Where can I see these items?
The envelopes are based at locations in the United Kingdom, and frequently attend balloon meets. Special events are occasionally organised by the British Balloon Museum and Library, such as the meet at Cardington, in 1997, which saw a world indoor ballooning record attempt. Every two years the British Balloon Museum & Library hold an Inflation Day where old balloon envelopes are inflated.
Many items are displayed at museums around the country, sponsored by the British Balloon Museum and Library. These include the Museum of Berkshire Aviation at Woodley, and a few at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester. In 2011, a display was put into Cameron Balloons Ltd, in Bristol which included many artefacts, large and small, plus photographs.
How do I join the British Balloon Museum and Library, and what do I get for my membership?
A membership form is available to print off on the Membership page. The money goes towards the running of the museum and the membership includes four editions of the magazine, Trailrope. This carries news from the museum and articles connected with lighter than air.
Who can donate items to the museum?
The very simple answer is anyone. Previous acquisitions have come from balloonists, manufacturers, bequests, enthusiasts and the odd anonymous parcel. If you have anything that might be or is related in anyway to the history of lighter than air, it may be of interest. For more information on possible donations, please contact the chairman or secretary.
What are the future plans for the museum?
In a perfect world, the museum would hope at some time to have a dedicated building to hold the collection, provide a display, and give access to the public for a nominal charge. However this would depend on a sizeable amount of finance which would have to be raised through donation, fundraising and membership. Another possibility is corporate sponsorship. At the present time the museum is focused on the preservation of important balloons, artifacts and historical important items, and the provision of items for displays in museums around the country with the aim of raising the BBM&L’s profile.