A History of Balloon Flights over LondonThe first ascent of man to the skies was made in a hot air balloon from Paris on 21 November 1783. Such was the progress of science that just a few weeks later a superior balloon design using hydrogen gas flew from Paris for longer, further and higher. London’s long association with balloon flights began with an Italian: Vincenzo Lunardi. He was the first man to fly from London and indeed from England on 15 September 1784 in a balloon filled with hydrogen gas. He took off from the Artillery Grounds near Moorfields and flew in the company of a cat, a dog and a caged pigeon to Ware in Hertfordshire. Following his success, balloon flights became a regular occurrence over the skies of London for over 150 years until the outbreak of World War II.
The celebrated London balloonist Charles Green was born at 92 Goswell Road, on 31 January 1785. His first ascent on the 19 July 1821, was in a balloon filled with coal gas. Sponsored by the owners of Vauxhall Gardens near Vauxhall Bridge, on 7 November 1836, he set a major long distance record in their balloon "Royal Vauxhall". He flew with Robert Hollond, the MP for Hastings and Thomas Monck Mason, to Wielburg in Germany. Taking off just after midday and flying through the night, they landed at 7am after their 18 hour journey had covered a distance of 480 miles (770 km), a record which remained unbroken until 1907. By the time he retired in 1852, Green had flown in a balloon more than 500 times, many of those ascents being from parks and sites in London.