It's the tether for the box-kite entertainments that were held there before the First World War.
In the brief but glorious history of pioneer work in aviation, so far as it applies to this country, there is scarcely a more romantic figure to be found than Colonel Cody. It was the writer's pleasure to come into close contact with Cody during the early years of his experimental work with man-lifting box-kites at the Alexandra Park, London, and never will his genial smile and twinkling eye be forgotten.
I only know because I went on a wonderfully-led walk by the Friends of the Park - full of great stuff.
Cody was an Amercian showman.
He recruited a 16yr old waitress at the Palace (Dolly), touring the country with his act, picked for her bravery in facing bullets shot towards her during it.
He was mad keen on flight - balloons were no longer a new thing - this was before the Wright brothers.
He flew his kites around a building in the park (the banqueting hall) that was demolished a long time ago.
You paid to stand at the foot of that tether and watch Dolly be hoisted up on a trapeze and parachute down (sometimes there were two of them) - exciting stuff!
Cody went on to advise the UK over the Great War and effectively helped create the RAF.
It was in the Palace Park - the Friends of the Park have a wealth of archive materials including more photos they kindly showed us some on the free walk they often conduct - well worth getting involved.
There is no trace of it now - the photo is the only one I've been able to find, but I presume there must be more, if only because the building was presumably a commercial venture and so may well have advertised.
As I learned on the walk, there was a racecourse in the park for around 100 years - only closed relatively recently; wondered how much it added to the general feeling of what sort of place the People's Palace was, given that the gardens had lots of 'attractions'.
The whole place interests me - built as a sort of public venture by the same people who brought us Crystal Palace - buy some land on a hill, get a railway company to connect it to London and sell the newly valuable land behind as houses to make a profit - voila - public works, speculator version.
I think barrage baloons were secured to winches mounted pn lorries so they could be raised / lowered and moved around. They had to be winched down every day to replenish the hydrogen and normally were kept at ground level until an attack was coming in when they were raised to the appropriate height. Hence - I suppose - " Then the balloon went up "
But WHAT did you think it was ??? I can't imagine :-)
Samuel Franklin Cody (1867 - 1913) Much of his earlier life is shrouded in mystery, due to his tendency to fictionalise it. However, he is thought to have been born Franklin Samuel Cowdery on 6 March, 1867 and, before settling in England in 1896, he was in turn a cowboy, a frontiersman, a showman and a playwright. At some stage he changed his surname to Cody to create a fictitious connection to William Frederick Cody, the famous cowboy showman 'Buffalo Bill'.
Samuel Franklin Cody is recognised as the first Englishman to have achieved sustained powered flight, and is thus to England what the Wright Brothers are to the United States.
In 1902,Cody's wife, Lela (Leila) Marie, became the first woman to fly, when lifted aloft in one of her husband's war kites.
So, not Buffalo Bill on a kite, but what an interesting couple.
It clearly is not only just a balloon tether. It must be a pressure cylinder also. Note the 2 plugs on the side. It is certainly hollow AND must have sturdy connections to pipework or other below ground things- otherwise it would have been taken away years ago by scrap men.
Re the buildings in Alley Palace. I understand there was an "Alpine Village" left over from an exhibition. These buildings were then kept and presumably used during the early years of the Park. Contemporary magazines like Builder & British Architect Northern Engineer often refer to this alpine village & exhibitions.
I guess you are right about the cylinder Gerry..
OK, it may have been called an 'Alpine Village' but that building looks decidedly Prussian to me.. also, any idea why the Foundation uses the German name for kites/hang gliders (Drachen)?
I'm always amazed at how big a German influence there was in the UK pre WW1.. especially in the Baker's, Butcher's and Brewing trades.. and how it was totally wiped out, or at least anglicised - I can't ever recall noticing these things before I developed an interest in Anglo-German connections. It is something that is only now, 100 years later, beginning to increase again with every ALDI :o( and Christmas Market ;0( that appears.. oh dear, you may even be wearing Lederhosen soon..