Alex Ritchie

In terms of transport- which is very  much the theme amongst the owners of Gollywog- Ritchie reached for the skies.His passion rose to hot air balloons & he achieved great heights with his friend Richard Branson.

A chance meeting between the son of SBA member Per Lindstrand led to Alex becoming involved with Richard Bransons' balloon attempts - Alex was a qualified & highly experienced gas balloon pilot who designed & built the burners for all 3 of the Virgin Global Challenger ventures.

This led to a lifelong friendship sharing many balloon adventures and latterly Branson took a great interest in the 'big boat project'

In common with John(Jumbo)Goddard life to Alex was one great adventure - he actually did the things that schoolboys only dream about....

Journeying for 3 days & nights in a primitive native bus in search of an eccentric British ex pat who lived in the South African bush surrounded by a collection of old steam engines.

In the USA buying a 1919 Stanley Steam car which had not been used for 30 years & steaming it for 900 miles to a rally at Cape Cod & then shipping it back to the UK.

Ritchies other ventures include being involved with Richard Nobles Thrust SSC attempt on the world land speed record.

Alex spent much of his life designing & building steam launch plant of the highest quality and carried out restoration work on steam launches & steam car machinery.

Alex Ritchie, Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand before their round-the-world balloon attempt in 1997.


Taken in of January 1999 at a press conference in London, a week before Alex Ritchies tragic accident.


The Mirror Newspaper -


The garden is littered with the paraphernalia he left behind, including a 52ft steamboat, The Seagull, which he had plans to renovate. 


"That was Dad's big project," says Duncan. "He talked about the holidays we would have together in it. Alasdair and I still will. 

"Even in hospital, Dad asked about the boat. He was always designing bits and pieces for it." 

Alex Ritchie's Garden

Alex's sketches, inspiration and plans for the boat, including a mast and funnel.

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© Elliott Hopkins