'Centenary Anniversary of the First Balloon Ascent in England', 1884.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Printed woodcut from 'The Illustrated London News' showing three different images of the first balloon ascent in England. Vincent (or Vincenzo) Lunardi (1759-1806), Italian aeronaut and secretary to the Neapolitan ambasador in London, made this ascent in a hydrogen balloon on 15 September 1784. Lunardi's balloon was constructed from yards of fine silk in red and white stripes and measured 33 feet in diameter with a capacity of 18,200 cubic feet. 150,000 spectators turned out to watch the ascent from the Artillery Grounds at Moorfields in London. Lunardi, who took his cat and his dog with him in the balloon, rose to a height of three miles, flew northwards and landed in a field near Ware in Hertfordshire.