Balloon Disaster in Rugby 1928

Sad outcome of a hospital carnival

In 1928 a tragedy occurred in Rugby when a balloon being piloted by Percival Spencer crash landed on No. 4 Hillmorton Road. This was a Rugby School boarding house run by the Rev. J.M. Hardwich, an assistant master at the School. The balloon became entangled in the roof and chimneys. The balloon had taken off as part of the Rugby Hospital Carnival but torrential rain forced it to land (umbrellas can be seen in the foreground of the first photo).

Tragic loss of the balloonist’s father

Percival managed to climb down safely, but sadly his father – the world famous balloonist Captain Harry Spencer – was killed instantly by a fall from the roof as he was attempting to disentangle the balloon. It was fortunate that no-one on the ground was hurt. The photographer Victor W. Long took the photographs shown. A full account of the tragedy can be found in the Rugby Advertiser for 14th September 1928.

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