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Col John Dunville Dunville CBE DL (1866-1929)

The links below are in chronological order of the documents. Longer documents, marked with an asterisk, are on other pages. Shorter documents are on this page.

John Dunville's Early Ballooning
Note Dropped from a Balloon
First Ascent by Robert Lambart Dunville
The 1908 Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett*
Second Ascent by Robert Lambart Dunville
Belfast Aeronaut Crosses the Irish Sea*
Mainly About Aeronauts*
Lady Wins Balloon Race
Winning Lady's Flight Over Yorkshire Moors
Letter to the Daily Telegraph
Woman's Night Flight

The Dunvilles of Northern Ireland and Dunville's Whisky: Ballooning*
John Dunville Dunville (1866-1929): Biography by Gordon Bruce*
Flights by the Dunvilles and Cups Won*
Mr. C.F. Pollock*
The Practical Balloon*

excerpts from newspaper cutting listing 31 competing balloons in the International Balloon Contest 30 May 1908

from Hurlingham, goal Burchett's Green Inn, about three miles from Maidenhead and twenty-seven miles almost due west of Hurlingham.
number 18: Valkyrie (winner) - Mr. C. F. Pollock, Hon Mrs. Assheton-Harbord, Miss Moore-Brabazon, Mr. D. Bingham, and Mr. R. A. Colville, landed mile south of goal
number 24: La Mascotte, Mr. John Dunville, Mrs. John Dunville, Capt. B. Corbet, and Mr. Vere Ker-Seymer, landed near Winkfield


published in late 1908

Local interest in this year's contest for the Gordon-Bennett Challenge Cup, which is open to the Aero Clubs of the world, was naturally intensified by the fact that one of the competing balloons was the Banshee, owned and piloted by Mr. John Dunville, son of Mr. R. G. Dunville, D.L., of Redburn, Holywood, and himself a director in the well-known firm of which his father is the esteemed head. Mr. Dunville is an aeronaut of considerable experience, for during the past two years he has made no less than fifty-four ascents, crossing the English Channel on two of his aerial voyages. The great majority of these trips were accomplished by his first balloon, La Mascotte, in which he won the Northcliffe Challenge Cup on 28th September, 1907, and the "hare and hounds" race from Hurlingham on the 24th June last. The Northcliffe Cup is awarded each year to the British aeronaut who makes the longest voyage during the twelve months, starting from any point in England, and the trip which gained Mr. Dunville the trophy was one from London to Wales, a distance of 190 miles, the second longest aerial journey ever made in England. He also competed in the international race at Hurlingham in May last, but was unsuccessful on that occasion. Doubtless in these competitions he gained experience which stood him in good stead in his more important undertaking - his attempt to gain the Gordon-Bennett Cup.


The result of last Saturday's International point-to-point is as follows:-

Mr. J. Dunville ("Banshee"), 2000f. … 1
Major Sir A. Bannerman ("Satellite"), 500f. … 2
Hon. C. S. Rolls ("Mercury") … 3
Mr Griffiths Brewer ("Vivienne") (last year's winner) … 4

Mr. J. Dunville, the winner of this race, is one of the most successful amongst British balloonists. Last year he won the Aero Club's hare and hounds race, whilst on the Continent he was second in the Gordon-Bennett Cup race from Berlin to Brussels. The "Banshee" was not the balloon which descended nearest to the specified destination. That distinction was gained by Dr. Chowald, with the "Ziegler," but, owing to some transgression of the International Federation rules, which governed the contest, the committee of the Aero Club were compelled to uphold the protest made by other competitors.

The next balloon race of the Aero Club will be held at Hurlingham on June 12, and will be for a trophy presented by the Hon. Mrs. Assheton Harbord.


race held on Saturday 22 May 1909?



Office of Origin: Gt Portland St
Office Stamp: 26 May 1909 Eton Windsor
Handed in at 8 14 a.m.
Received here at 8 28

TO Dunville Penn House Eton College

Banshee won the race best love mother

NEE LAMBART (1861-1940)

on envelope:

Dropped from Balloon
J Dunville Esq
Penn House
Eton College

on card embossed 'White's St. James' Street, S.W.':

Johnkins & Bellet
I am passing over in the Banshee . 5 of us; Bertie in Command Phyl H. being a bore - best love. Say if you get this Mother

on other side in different handwriting:

Hope see you (?)
B(?) moderate


Written in pencil. Banshee was in use from 1908 to 1913. Johnkins was a name for John Spencer Dunville. Was Bellet a name for Robert Lambart Dunville? Phyl H and PH was probably Philip H Gardner.


28 July 1908 from Chelsea in the balloon La Mascotte (50,000 cu ft)
Name of aeronaut: John Dunville
Names of passengers: Mrs. John Dunville, R.L. Dunville (aged 15 years, first ascent), Lieut. Pöe R.N. (first ascent)
Place of final descent: Rudgwick Station 7 miles from Horsham
Remarks: Got false lift let go 1½ bags to clear Railway signal bag; Got Equilibrium 800 ft


10 July 1909 from Chelsea in the balloon La Mascotte (50,000 cu ft)
Name of aeronaut: John Dunville
Names of passengers: R.L. Dunville, C.S. Rolls, Philip Gardener
Remarks: Thunder Storm (went into a cloud to avoid it).



Office Stamp: Navan DG 1 22 13
Office of Origin and Service Instructions: Lamballe 14. 10/35
Handed in at 1245

TO Dunville Sion Navan Ireland

Landed on coast brittany north of lamballe 8 last night all well John

published in the Westminster Gazette on 16 July 1913



For the second year in succession Mrs. John Dunville, the lady balloonist, has carried off the Hedges-Butler trophy in the Royal Aero Club's long-distance balloon race.

Piloted by Mr. C. F. Pollock, the "Banshee," Mrs. Dunville's balloon, outdistanced all others which started in the race from Hurlingham on Saturday, and succeeded in getting beyond North Walsham. The "Banshee" descended at Ebingthorpe, a distance of 120 miles from the starting-point.

published in 1912 or 1914



Although the official results will not be declared until next week, the placings in connection with the long distance balloon race for the Hedges-Butler Challenge Trophy, which started from Hurlingham on Saturday, are as follows:

1, Mrs. John Dunville's "Banshee II.," which landed at Grosmont, near Whitby, at 3.10 on Sunday morning. The balloon was piloted by Mr. C. F. Pollock, and in addition to Mrs. Dunville, Mr. Philip Gardner was a passenger.
2, Mr. A. Mortimer Singer's "Planet" which landed at Scarborough about 10 minutes after midnight on Saturday. The passengers were Mr. Singer, Major G. A. Crookshank, and Mrs. Pillarvine.
3, Captain E. M. Maitland's "Pompadour II.," which landed at Barrow-on-Humber, six miles from Hull, about 11.30 on Saturday night. Mr. R. Grenfell and Captain Loraine, of the Grenadier Guards, were the passengers.
4, Mr. H.P. Hohler's "Dunlop I.," which descended at Alford, in Linclonshire, at 9.30 on Saturday night. The passengers were Mrs Hohler and Major Sir Alexander Bannerman, R.E.

The distance travelled by Mrs. Dunville was over 220 miles. She had a delightful journey over the Yorkshire Moors and she states that she heard the call of the grouse in the early morning. She made a temporary descent at Sledmere, Yorkshire, about midnight.

published in The Aeroplane

Lieut. John Dunville, R.N., whose appointment to a temporary commission is notified, is famous as a balloonist and as one of the earliest members of the Royal Aero Club, of which he has been a member of the Committee practically since formation of the Club. At various balloon competitions he has been a successful and skilful competitor, and has supported the Club's funds generously on all occasions, besides presenting a valuable cup for a balloon competition. Mrs. Dunville is also a keen balloonist. At the aviation meeting promoted by the R.Ae.C. Mr. Dunville has been a valuable and hard-working official, whose tact and good nature has smoothed over many difficulties.

His long experience of ballooning is now being turned to good account for the instruction of young officers of the Naval Airship Section in the elements of their profession.

another newspaper cutting

A recent list of appointments to the Royal Naval Air Service contains the name of Mr. John Dunville as Flight-Lieutenant. "Johnny" Dunville, as he is familiarly called behind his back - I have never heard anyone have the temerity to address him personally that way - is a scion of the House of Dunville in the North of Ireland, where the spiritous liquors, and Sir Edward Carson, come from, and he personally is as famous among hunting men and aeronauts as is the spirit of his ancestors on licensed premises.

A sportsman of the first class, he has been Master of Hounds to at least two of the crack Irish packs, and he has taken part in goodness knows how many of the balloon competitions of the Royal Aero Club, besides presenting various prizes for balloonatics. He himself is a skilful balloon pilot, and that is why he is now busy teaching young officers of the Naval Airship Section the elements of their profession.

Anyhow, if the Government ultimately decides that Great Britain shall go "dry" for the rest of the war, and if the Dunville Distillery has to suspend operations, and dividends, accordingly, it is a consolation to think that the future of one member of the "Trade" is provided for in the King's Service.

published after 1918


To the Editor of "The Daily Telegraph"
Sir- We feel certain that you would render valuable service to many officers and men who did duty as kite balloon observers at sea during the war if, by the publication of this letter, their attention is drawn to a fact of which they are ignorant, namely, that they are entitled to participate in the distribution of the naval prize fund. Full particulars can be obtained from the Accountant-General of the Navy (Prize Fund Branch), Stamford-street, E.C. -
Yours faithfully,
JOHN DUNVILLE, late Commanding Officer, No. 1 Balloon Training Wing.
HARRY DELACOMBE, late Kite Balloon Organisation Dept., Air Ministry

published in 1925


Mrs. Dunville's Trip from Hendon to France in Husband's Balloon

Mrs. Dunville, the wife of Lieutenant-Colonel John Dunville, the famous balloonist, yesterday made a daring night flight in Banshee III which took part in the recent Gordon Bennet Race.

With her son, Captain M. Dunville, and Commander Baldwin, she ascended from the Welsh Harp, Hendon at 1 a.m., with the intention of landing in France.

Last evening her husband received a message in London stating that Banshee III. had landed near the Belgian frontier yesterday morning.

published in 1925


Banshee III. Makes Midnight Voyage from Hendon to France

Mrs. John Dunville, her son, Captain Dunville, and Commander Baldwin made an ascent in the balloon Banshee III. from the Welsh Harp, Hendon, at 1 a.m. yesterday with the intention of landing in France. A north to north-westerly wind was blowing and the weather conditions were favourable.

Last evening Lieut.-Col. John Dunville, the well-known balloonist and husband of Mrs. Dunville, received a message stating that Banshee III. had landed near the Belgian frontier.


The flight departed from The Welsh Harp on 25 January 1925. Source: John Baker, Archivist of the British Balloon Museum.

See also:

Photographs of John Dunville Dunville CBE DL (1866-1929)

The Dunvilles of Northern Ireland and Dunville's Whisky

William Dunvill (c1740-1793): The Distillery Line of the Dunvilles

Robert Lambart Dumville (1893-1931): Chairman of Dunville & Co. Ltd.

Family Tree