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The first ascent of the Great Montgolfier Balloon, on Her Majesties Birth-day, May 24th

 Digital Record
Identifier: VBI_000406


  • Creation: 1838

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

J.W. Hoar’s balloon, referred to as the "Great Montgolfier Balloon," was originally named the "Queen’s Royal Aerostat," and was to ascend from a platform in the middle of a lake in the Surrey Zoological Gardens in Kensington on the birthday of Queen Victoria (May 24, 1838). Inflation of the balloon was hampered by an insufficient furnace, too small for the large size of the balloon. When the Gardens' proprietors refused to allow the ascension, angry members of the assembled crowd destroyed the balloon.

J.W. Hoar was instrumental in founding the "Aeronautic Association" in 1837, largely in order to organize a ballooning trip from England to Africa. In 1838 he constructed the giant Montgolfiere balloon for the Queen Victoria birthday celebration. Following the failed ascent at that event, Hoar built an even larger balloon for an ascension from Beulah Spa, Norwood on the opening of the Croydon Atmospheric railway, and later a balloon for the Notting Hill racecourse in 1839. These two launches were also failures, and Hoar seems to cease aeronautic activities after this date.

Language of Materials


Existence and Location of Originals

Box 19

Physical Description



2 pages; 28.0 x 6.9 cm

General Note

Clipping from an article about the Great Montgolfier balloon scheduled to ascend from the Surrey Zoological Gardens in London on Queen Victoria’s birthday in May 1838. Contains a description of the balloon and a short history of “fire balloons.”

Sources used for Biographical/Historical note

The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction 31 (May 26, 1838), 338, 352.

Hodgson, J.E., History of Aeronautics in Great Britain (Oxford University Press, London, 1924), 231-232.

Rolt, L.T.C., The Aeronauts: A History of Ballooning 1783-1903 (Walker, New York, 1966), 138.

Repository Details

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

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