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Cameron Balloons

Cameron Balloons was established in 1971 in Bristol, UK by Don Cameron to manufacture hot air balloons. Don had previously, with others, constructed ten hot air balloons under the name Omega. Production was initially in the basement of Don's house, moving in 1972 to an old parish church in the city. In 1983 Cameron Balloons moved into its current premises in the former Robinsons paper bag/printing factory (originally built in 1887 in the Bedminster area of the city). In 1989 the company received the Queens Award for Export.

Output has grown to around 500 balloons per year making Cameron the largest manufacturer of hot air balloons in the world. Cameron Balloons is also famous for its special shapes, the first being Robertson's Golly, constructed in 1975. Most special shapes are made for commercial advertising, but some have been for rich balloonists wanting something different. Notable amongst these is the late Malcolm Forbes of Forbes magazine, who commisioned a number of special shapes, including Harley Davidson motorbike, Sphinx, bust of Beethoven, French Chateau, Pagoda and Minaret.

The Bedminster factory occupies three floors. Most factory space (1st and 2nd floors) is devoted to laying out the hundreds of yards of fabric which is sewn together by machinists. If the detail on the balloon is intricate, to save cost and weight, the designs may be sprayed or painted on instead.

The company also makes airships, helium balloons and static inflatables. Don and the company have been involved in many world record breaking attempts including trans-Atlantic, altitude and distance records.