John Bacon, educated at Cambridge University, was curate at Shaw and lived in Cold Ash where he pursued various scientific interests. He was captivated with air travel and many experiments on acoustics were carried out while flying in a gas balloon. He was a pioneer aerial photographer and the first to demonstrate continuous radio communication between the ground (Newbury) and a balloon flying to Crystal Palace.

Find out more about his achievements in this West Berkshire Museum ‘Talking History’ talk by local historian Fred Davison, who is an active member of the Cold Ash Parish Heritage Group. 2021 is the 175th anniversary of John Bacon’s birth.

Although this is a free in-person talk, tickets must be purchased in advance. Places are limited as the Museum’s Long Room will be set up to provide some social distance between attendees. We request that attendees also wear a face covering throughout the talk.

Bookings close 4pm on Tuesday 14 September.  Book ticket HERE.

Venue – West Berkshire Museum

Wednesday 15 September | 1 - 2pm | Free, donations welcomed

Click Here for details

Address....The Fisher Room of St. Mark’s Church, Cold Ash. RG18 9PT





We are pleased to announce the BBM&L will have a stand at The Midlands Air Festival.

Midlands Air Festival - ​4th to 6th June 2021

Ragley Hall, Alcester, Warwickshire. B49 5NJ

A team of enthusiastic members will inflate a selection of balloons from the collection so put in a request for good weather.

The producers of THE AERONAUTS film have given the BBM&L a number of artefacts used in the film and we have chosen a selection to offer for sale.

So raid your piggy banks and choose an area of wall that needs a unique framed artefact from the most dramatic balloon film ever made !

This is a sand bag used on one of the flights of the gas balloon 'MAMMOTH' with a signed authentication from the balloon's crew chief ( our president!)


These two flags are made of silk/satin and measure about 5 feet long - The W and G standing for Wren and Glaisher who flew the balloon to 36,000 feet ( approximately)

We have secured a number of copies of the book of the true story behind the film and signed by the crew chief. Gripping reading !

If you have not yet seen the film, it is available on Amazon prime.

2021 Inflation Day


Envelopes, Baskets and Burners

In these pages, you can see a small selection of some of the items we have in store, including Envelopes, Baskets, Burners and Gondolas. Explore the Envelopes gallery, which has a detailed history of each item in the collection.


Our photo collection

A selection of images from our extensive photographic collection. The Museum has an amazing collections of black and white photographs dating back to the 1800s and early 1900s.


Books, magazines and memorabilia

A selection of the books and magazines contained in our collection. The BBM&L is pleased to accept donations of balloon literature of any kind.



Looking ahead to October,  we have arranged to hold the AGM at The Donnington Grove Hotel, Newbury followed by the nearly-annual luncheon.

We look forward to seeing you all there and details will follow about the speaker, raffle and auction!

11am Sunday 31st October 2021.  Donnington Grove Hotel. 

Buy your tickets HERE.

STOP PRESS!  We are delighted to announce the speaker will be gas balloonist extraordinaire JONATHAN HARRIS.

The nearest thing to a modern day Phileas Fogg.


This Day In History


Transatlantic attempt by Bob Sparks and Haddon Wood. Launched 28 Sep 75; ditched off Cape Cod after 25 miles. They were flying N9VS, a Semco GAS-4 called Odyssey

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