Esoteric London

No. 492: Three Cranes Walk, EC4

Posted in Catastrophes, Transport by esotericlondon on January 17, 2012

The Thames from Three Cranes Walk, London, EC4. Photo © Roger Dean 2011

The Illustrated London News, June 21st 1851:

On Monday evening, at six o’clock, according to previous public announcement, the Victoria and Albert balloon ascended from Batty’s Hippodrome, in the Kensington Road. Favoured by its proximity to the [Great] Exhibition, the ascent was attended by an immense crowd.

At the appointed time, Mrs. Graham, accompanied by her husband stepped into the car, and the balloon was immediately detached from its fastenings. It rose slowly from the earth, but had not ascended above 50 or 60 feet when it again sank, and in doing so the silken envelope came into contact with a pole or flag-staff, sustaining a considerable rent, by which the gas began to escape. this recoiling motion was due to the insufficiency of the supply of gas. The balloon again ascended, and by a succession of alternate risings and sinkings at length got clear of the inclosure, and floated away in the direction of the Crystal Palace. When over the building the aeronauts discharged their ballast, which they had been compelled to carry, greatly to their own disadvantage, while moving over the heads of the crowd. After clearing the building with some difficulty, and damaging a flag-staff, the balloon drifted towards the Green Park, and skimmed the surface of the reservoir, whence it again suddenly rose to the altitude of the houses in Piccadilly. A breeze at this time carried the balloon towards the roof of Colonel North’s house in Arlington Street, which looks into the park. In its passage over that dwelling the car became fixed between the sloping roof and a stack of chimneys rising from it. A gust of wind now gave an impetus to the machine, which worked heavily, and carried away the chimney stack, the balloon alighting on a roof in Park Place. A body of police immediately providing the means of arriving at the top of the house, where a frightful spectacle presented itself. The car of the balloon was jammed in its position so firmly, that all means of releasing it appeared for a long time hopeless. Mr. and Mrs. Graham had been thrown from their seats, and were lying on the roof of the house.