Archiver > NORTHUMBRIA > 2000-10 > 0971659578

From: "Al Shipley" <>
Subject: [NMB] South Shields Parachutist
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 2000 21:26:18 -0400

In 1890 a South Shields painter, William Hetherington Shipley made two parachute descents from a balloon floating above the town. On April 5 he made a descent from 6000 ft.landing in John Williamson Street and on April 7 made another jump from 15000ft - all according to an article that appeared in the Shields Gazette about 25 years ago (I wonder about the accuracy of those heights!). The article goes on to say that a poem commemorating the event appeared about 10 days later in the Daily Gazette and the first verse was published in Allen's Tyneside Songs (1891 edition). The first few verses (the paper states there were 9 verses altogether) are as below.
William Hetherington Shipley was born in 1853, father Joseph Shipley (b1823), mother Isabel Hetherington. He appears in the 1881 census of South Shields. He was also an apprentice in the merchant marine and the log books of his voyages (1870-1871) list him on every page for committing every misdemeanour in the sailing book. So balloon jumping was quite in keeping with his character! My questions are
1) can anyone provide any more details of William Hetherington Shipley and family - or of his father Joseph and mother Isabel Hetherington.
2) does anyone have the full poem.


Noo had on, me hinnies, and whisht till aw tell ye
Hoo Shipley hes proved his-sel fairly a man;
He up wiv his brushes and hivenward rushes,
And leaves us awl gyepen as hard as we can.
Sum called him a hero, and sum a greet ass,
Sum said wi' poor Shipley its awl up a tree.
Says he, "Noo awl show them it isn't awl gas,
Awl syeun let them see what a painter can dee."

Hurrah te wor rockets, hurrah te wor lifeboats,
Hurrah to wor gud-tempered star-gazin' croods:
Hurrah te wor Shipley, wor awn painter Shipley,
Hurrah te wor Shipley that dropt frae the clouds.

Miss Bomont wis clivor, but dropt in the rivor,
And doon a high climler she vary nigh fell;
So wor Shipley wis on, and syeun bet ten te one
If he had a ballon cud dee bettor his-sel.
He wid stonish the toon wiv a rush te the moon,
An' wid fetch doon the man that had been there see long;
He wid paint uo the stars, and wid rub up awd Mars,
An' the Clerk o' the Weather kick doon wiv a bang

The day was fixed up, the ballon wis myde up,
And sum said the painter wid fink at the last,
But Shipley he knew them, and swore he wid jew them
And wadn't back oot whin his word wis once passed.
The balloon was syeun filled, folks said hee'd be killed,
Sum said the chep wid drop clean i' the see,
Hoo folks opened their eyes when they sar the thing rise,
An Shipley flee thousands o' feet in the air,
They shooted "gud-byes" an blinked wi their eyes,
They'd made up their minds they wid see him nee mair.
But Shipley went up like a lark on the wing,
And when he wis far enough drop like a stem,
Then the strang parashoot like a sail opened oot-
An' he said it was nice and wid gan agyen.

Many thanks.......Al Shipley, London, Ontario, Canada

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