'Mr Lunardi in his Balloon', 1784.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Vincent (or Vincenzo) Lunardi (1759-1806), Italian secretary to the Neapolitan ambassador in London, made the first ascent in a hydrogen balloon in Britain. 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. After several delays, an ascent was planned for 15 September 1784. 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. Dimensions: 200mm x 152mm.