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TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
Balloonist Gleisher lived here
The pioneering weatherman and balloonist Glaisher lived here.
Location: 20 Dartmouth Hill, Blackheath, London
Description: James Glaisher (1809-1903) was a meteorologist & pioneer of weather forecasting, and pioneering balloonist.
In 1862 the British Association for the Advancement of Science decided to fund a series of flights to study the upper atmosphere. The balloons would have to fly as high as possible. Glaisher volunteered to perform these potentially dangerous flights. In all he made 28 ascents between 1862 and 1866, 13 of which were funded by the Association.
His usual pilot was the experienced balloonist Henry Coxwell (1819-1900). On their first ascent of 17 July 1862 they reached an altitude of 26,177 ft. without oxygen. On 5 September, in a balloon called the Mars, they managed an altitude in the region of 30,000 ft., although it almost cost them their lives. Glaisher lost consciousness and Coxwell had to climb up into the rigging to free a tangled valve line. His hands were so paralysed with cold that he had to pull the chord with his teeth in order to check their ascent. Had he failed to manage it, they would both surely have died of hypothermia or oxygen starvation.
In 1845, Glaisher published his dew point tables, for the measurement of humidity.
Glaisher was a founder member of the Meteorological Society (1850), and the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain (1866).