Ascent of the Vauxhall Balloon and Mr. Cocking's Parachute

1837 (printed)

Height: 20.8 cm, Width: 13.2 cm

S.683-2012 T&P

Front page of The Mirror, or, Literature, Amusement, and Instruction, 29 July 1837, illustrated with an etching entitled 'Ascent of the Vauxhall Balloon and Mr. Cocking's Parachute.' The etching shows the last fatal balloon ascent of Robert Cocking (1776-1837). Gabrielle Enthoven Collection.

Black and white etching with a central image of Mr. Cocking's parachute against a background of clouds, with Mr. Robert Cocking in the basket doffing his hat, apparently to onlookers below. To the right a smaller inset image shows the Great Nassau Balloon with Mr. Cocking's parachute suspended below. The reverse is printed with the first part of an article about earlier parachute experiments by Louis-Sébastien Lenormand (1757-1837), Jean Pierre Blanchard (1753-1908) and André Jacques Garnerin (1769-1823).

The ascent of hydrogen and hot-air balloons was a popular attraction at London's pleasure gardens during the 19th century, and finding safe methods of descending from the air in parachutes was a contemporary concern. This illustration, the front cover of the magazine The Mirror, or, Literature, Amusement and Instruction for Saturday 29 July 1837, shows Mr. Robert Cocking's Parachute with Mr. Cocking (1776-1837) in the wicker basket attached to a tin frame covered with linen. Robert Cocking is depicted doffing his hat to the crowd that gathered below to see his parachute ascending from Vauxhall Gardens on Monday 24th July, towed upwards by Charles Green's 'Royal Vauxhall' or Great Nassau Balloon, being flown by Charles Green and Edward Spencer. Robert Cocking had been concerned with finding a safe parachute system for several years and has been awarded a medal by the Society of Arts in 1814 for his work. The demonstration on 24th July ended fatally for Robert Cocking however since he had not included the weight of the parachute in his calculations. The parachute fell to earth like a stone when freed from the Great Nassau Balloon, and Cocking died of his injuries in an inn near Lee, Lewisham, South London, where the balloon descended.

Gabrielle Enthoven Collection

Location: In Storage

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