Skip to main content

Royal Gardens, Vauxhall, Grand Day Fete

 Digital Record
Identifier: VBI_000198


  • Creation: July 1837


Conditions Governing Use

Access to the Theodore Newton Vail Collection of Aeronautical Images, Broadsides and Clippings is not authorization to publish. Separate written application for permission to publish must be made to the Institute Archives. Copyright of some items in this collection may be held by respective creators, not by the donor of the collection.

Biographical / Historical

Robert Cocking (1777-1837) was a watercolor painter and amateur scientist who was inspired to design and launch a parachute after witnessing André-Jaques Garnerin’s 1802 parachute descent. His design, an inverted cone-shaped parachute, was heavily influenced by Sir George Cayley’s article On Aerial Navigation (1810). On July 24 1837, Cocking and his invention were attached to the Royal Nassau (or Vauxhall) balloon, piloted by Charles Green with Edward Spencer, as it made an ascent from the Royal Gardens at Vauxhall in London. When the balloon reached a height of 5000 feet, Cocking called out "Goodnight Spencer, goodnight Green" and the parachute was released. However, it failed to operate as planned, crumpling rapidly and crashing within three minutes. Cocking died very shortly after his fall. Following the fatal accident, several aeronauts, including Charles Green, made ascents to benefit Cocking's widow.

Language of Materials


Existence and Location of Originals

Box 9

Physical Description



42.0 x 21.9 cm

General Note

Broadside advertising a fete in Vauxhall Gardens on July 24, 1837, featuring an ascent by Charles Green in his Nassau balloon and the descent of Robert Cocking is his newly designed parachute.

Sources used for Biographical/Historical note

Hodgson, J.E., History of Aeronautics in Great Britain (Oxford University Press, London, 1924), 331-334.

Rolt, L.T.C., The Aeronauts (Walker and Company, New York, 1966), 127-130.

Repository Details

Part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Libraries. Department of Distinctive Collections Repository

Massachusetts Institute of Technology Libraries
Building 14N-118
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge MA 02139-4307 US