Accident Gas Balloon Unregistered, Wednesday 2 June 1852
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Date:Wednesday 2 June 1852
Type:Silhouette image of generic BALL model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Gas Balloon
Owner/operator:James Goulston, alias 'Guiseppe Lunardini'
Registration: Unregistered
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Stone Breaks Hill, Lees, near Oldham, Lancashire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Landing
Departure airport:Belle-Vue Gardens, Manchester
Destination airport:Stone Breaks Hill, Lees, near Oldham, Lancashire
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
On 2/6/1852 a Gas balloon crashed on landing, Stone Breaks Hill, Lees, near Oldham, Lancashire, after a flight from Belle-Vue Gardens, Manchester. Pilot James Goulston, alias 'Guiseppe Lunardini' (aged 54) was killed. According to the following excerpt from a contemporary report (see link #2):

"We are now in possession of further particulars respecting the death of Mr. James Goulston, of Old Kent Road, London, who was killed while descending with his balloon, on Stone Breaks Hill, Yorkshire, near to the Lancashire boundary of that county, after an ascent from Belle-Vue Gardens, Manchester. Stone Break Hill is about eight miles from Belle-Vue Gardens (as the crow flies), and is halfway between Mossley and Oldham.

It is part of the mountainous range which separates Lancashire and Yorkshire and takes its name from an old disused stone quarry, near the village of Austerlands, or Springhead. It is a very rough and uneven neighbourhood, where it would be dangerous to attempt a descent in a balloon even in the most favourable weather.

At about a quarter before 8 o'clock in the evening, Mr. Goulston attempted to descend near the town of Lees, which ho had passed over. The balloon was then very low, and the rain was descending fast, the wind blowing in heavy squalls. Mr. Goulston was seen by some workmen to stand up in the car and pull at a string which communicated with the balloon. He afterwards stooped down in the bottom of the car, but it is not known for what purpose. The balloon passed between the houses of Mr. Edward Lawton and Claytonhouse, the residence of Mr. William Halliwell, a mill owner in tlhe neighbourhood.

The grapnels were out, and it was thought they would lay hold by the coping stones of one of the buildings, but this expectation was disappointed. The rain and the rugged surface of the country no doubt prevented people from following the balloon to render assistance.

The balloon now ascended the side of Stone Breaks Hill in a transverse direction The grapnels seem to have cleared the first field on tin slope of the hill, and the stone fence which bounds it but on the fence at the further side of the second field pieces of stone were chipped off, as if by the irons. The grapnels trailed along the third field, which is a meadow of mowing grass, still further up the ascent, and exactly 112 feet from the further side a bag of sand which had been used as ballast was found lying.

No one observed Mr. Goulston at this time, but it would seem that owing to the grapnels, when suddenly striking the last mentioned wall, giving a check to the balloon, or by some other accident, the unfortunate gentleman fell, head downwards, from the car, and became entangled in the network of ropes underneath, for it is clear his head struck with great force against the next wall a little beyond the sand bag.

A considerable quantity of brain and blood spattered over the wall marked the spot where this fatal collision took place, and a portion of the brains was found in the field under the wall. A portion of the scalp and some hair have also adhered to the rough stones of which the wall is composed. The grapnels dc not appear to have touched the ground until they entered the next meadow, where the soil was torn up considerably in several places.

The next wall was the boundary of the field one side, and that of the old stone quarry on the other. The quarry has not been used for the last 21 years. A quantity of blood and brains on this wall also indicate but too clearly, where the unfortunate aeronaut was dragged across it.

This is as the summit of the hill and the balloon passed over the quarry and against a house near it occupied by a man named Edward Kershaw, and a strong gust of wind again dashed the machine forwards with such force that Mr. Goulston struck the wall heavily, about 10 feet from the ground. Another sickening splash of blood marks the spot.

Here some villagers come up, and some of them holding fast by the ropes, while others got hold of the balloon, a knife was run in through the side, the gas allowed to escape, and its progress finally checked. The people who first came to Mr. Gousltou's assistance say they found him head downwards, so completely entangled in the netting, that' they had to cut the rope to liberate his body.

Their assistance, however, was too late. Life was probably just ebbing at the moment, for all they noticed was a deep sob and a gasp or two, and his last sensations of this life appear to have ended. His remains were subsetquently removed to the Three Crowns Inn at Austerlands"


2. True Briton: A Weekly Magazine of Amusement and Instruction, July 8 1852

Revision history:

14-Feb-2017 20:07 Dr.John Smith Added
14-Feb-2017 20:08 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]

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