This might be about our Plaistow and Stratford, or possible Plaistow in Kent and Stratford on Avon. All the same, a story worth sharing.
The following is Mr. Charles Green's account of his equestrian flight, and ascent from Beckenham ;
"At half-past six o'clock on Tuesday evening, the atmosphere being perfectly serene, I determined at once to attach the pony to his apparatus, and prepare for the ascent. For this purpose, the hoop of the platform on which he was to take his stand was opened, and he was led from his stable, but was extremely annoyed by the pressure of the crowd, to escape from which he took his station with apparent pleasure, and behaved rather rudely to one or two strange gentlemen who were anxious to arrange a portion of his decorations that had become misplaced, and which I was obliged to ad just myself. While his fetlock joints were being secured, and other arrangements made, he was perfectly calm, and repeatedly licked my hands. The saddle was made fast to the hoop, to which also was attached my grappling iron, a bag of beans, and about 250lbs. of ballast, in eleven bags. Soon after seven o'clock everything being in readiness, I ordered the last rope to be loosened, and we ascended slowly and nearly perpendicularly, amidst the largest assemblage of spectators I ever saw congregated. At the moment of liberation, my companion made several plunges backwards and forwards, and trembled violently, evidently alarmed at the shouts which I could distinctly hear until I had passed the Thames. He, however, in a few seconds regained his wonted serenity, and became quite passive, eating some beans from my hand, which, by leaning forward, I could easily give him. I now hung out my grapnel to be prepared for a descent, and dismounted to arrange some ballast; but finding that my weight on one side threw the platform off its perpendicular, and considerably discomposed my little companion, I resumed my seat, and, discharging a little ballast, attained the elevation of about a mile and a quarter. Here we were visited by a descent of snow, of the finest texture, which had from the reflection of the direct ray of the sun from above, and the oblique rays from the clouds beneath, the appearance of a shower of silver dust. On descending a little, the snow appeared changed into rain, but on a still further descent, neither rain nor snow were to be felt or seen, a circumstance not to me unusual. During these gradations the little animal appeared quite at home, and finished his bag of beans. Having been in the air upwards of half an hour, I began to prepare for a descent ; and there being scarcely a breath of air stirring, this was, with very little trouble, and without the slightest injury to the pony or myself, effected in a clover field in the parish of Beckenham, Kent, The moment my companion was liberated from his confinement, he took advantage of his situation, and enjoyed himself most luxuriously amongst the clover, which he devoured with every appearance of a keen appetite, although he had eaten more than a pint of beans while in the air. My first consideration was to procure a proper person to take care of the pony ; and very fortunately one of the first persons who came to my assistance was a gentleman called Lister, residing at Plaistow, and with whom I had the honour of being previously acquainted in London, who kindly procured me the use of the stable of a friend, in Beckenham.
The weight taken up on that occasion was as follows:-
The balloon and appendages (including grapnel, platform, tables, ballast, &c.) ...... 508lbs.
Weight of the pony.... .250
Weight of myself..... 148
The loss of gas in my descent having been comparatively trifling, I determined on retaining the remainder during the night, and either myseIf or my son, whom I expected with the car, to make an ascent the following morning, with Mr. Hemming, Professor of Chemistry, the gentleman who recently ascended with me from Stratford, and who, from the extreme roughness of the weather, had been on that occasion prevented from making some anxiously-wished experiments. He was, however, doomed to disappointment ; for on Wednesday morning the wind blew a strong gale from the west, which continued nearly the whole of the day, and which would, in a few minutes, have drifted the machine to the Nore. In the evening it became more calm, but the usual waste and condensation of gas, the balloon having been inflated on Monday night, did not allow sufficient ascending power for two persons. Under these circumstances, the villagers having been led to anticipate an ascent, I entered the car alone about five o'clock, and ascended to the height of about a mile. After remaining up nearly half an hour, I descended safely on Bromley Common, five miles from the field from which I ascended. The balloon, car, &c. were then packed up and sent off to London ; but my travelling companion, who had during the day been visited by some hundreds of individuals, did not arrive until late evening, when he resumed his old quarters safe and sound, being the first of his race that (the wooden horse of Pacolet excepted) ever traversed the regions of the air."
The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser
Tuesday 10 February 1829
(More about Charles Green and his amazing career as a balloonist on Wikipedia.)
(Pacolet was a dwarf in French literature, who had a wooden flying horse.)
(Mr Lister of Plaistow might have belonged to the family of Joseph – later Lord – Lister, who was born 1827 at Upton. However, there is also a Plaistow in Kent, not too far from Beckenham, which may be what is referred to.)
(Not yet been able to identify the Chemistry Professor Mr Hemming. Knowing about him might help us to know if his balloon flight was from Our Stratford or the other one.)