SOPHIA GARDENS: Temporary Landing Ground
Location: Just NW of Cardiff Castle in the centre of Cardiff city
Period of operation: 22nd to 24th May 1912. Later 26th June (second visit with a break) and then 18th July
THE STORY SO FAR
The then already famous French aviator Henri Salmet had been sponsored by the Daily Mail newspaper to undertake a tour of England, south Wales and later Ireland. He departed from WORMWOOD SCRUBBS in west London on the 18th May and routed via several stops/displays, including Bath and Bristol, to arrive here via Newport on the 22nd May. He then departed west to Swansea and Llanelli from where he turned around to visit Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.
Everywhere he went the arranged venues saw huge crowds gathered, and indeed, all along the routes he flew people would stop work hoping to get a glimpse of him and his Blériot monoplane. It is perhaps hard to imagine today just what an impact this tour had - virtually nobody in the UK, in the wider sense, had even seen an aeroplane, let alone one flying. His arrival at arranged venues were a huge cause for celebrations and civic events such as banquets in a town hall or a posh hotel were arranged.
A MICHAEL T HOLDER GALLERY
Although his visit to Cardiff is described as being in SOPHIA GARDENS, the actual Landing Ground Salmet used was, without much if any doubt, the recreation ground.
Note: The progress in Flight magazine was published on the 1st June 1912.
Note: Regarding this fifth item it is such a shame that Google has decided to often add modern additions. The seventh item, the advert, was published in the Western Mail on the 18th July 1912. The last item, the local area view is from my Google Earth © derived database.
A SECOND VISIT
On his way back from the West Country, Salmet decided to visit Cardiff again, arriving on the 26th June at the same location. He then soon became very ill and returned to London by train where he underwent an operation for appendicitis. Then a major surgical operation needing, usually, many weeks of recuperation. But no, Salmet was determined to continue his tour, and as the advert above gives evidence, he resumed his tour into the Midlands on the 18th July.
We'd love to hear from you, so please email us.
Copyright (c) UK Airfield Guide