Why all eyes were on the skies above Leeds in May 1940

Its progress was followed by thousands of Leeds people as it drifted over the city.

Tuesday, 11th May 2021, 8:10 am
The escaped barrage balloon is pictured drifting over the West Yorkshire Bus Depot on Roseville Road.

This escaped barrage balloon was the cause of much excitement in Leeds in May 1940.

It had broken away from a barrage over a “northern town” and knocked chimney pots and spouts off houses as it went, as well as setting lots of alarm bells off.

Some Air Raid Precaution wardens managed to secure one of its trailing wires to a lamp post near St. James's Hospital, but it tore the lamp post out of the ground and continued on its way.

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Eventually, a contingent of RAF men, skilled at dealing with escaped balloons, arrived to deal with it.

It finally came to rest on Sheepscar Street North opposite the Clarence Hotel, but not without knocking one more chimney pot off a nearby house in Clarence Square.

The balloon had been loose over Leeds for four hours.

Escaped barrage balloons were a common occurrence.

A former pupil of Royal Park School recalled: “I remember seeing a barrage balloon coming loose and so I set off to follow it with a dozen or so others.

"It ended up at the other side of Woodhouse Moor. The next morning we were given 1000 lines –‘I must not follow barrage balloons’.”

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