1780-1787 - Artillery Ground (City of London)
Hot air balloonist Vincenzo Lunardi was born in Lucca on 11 January 1759 into a family of minor Neapolitan nobility. He moved to England as secretary to the Neapolitan ambassador to the Court of St James. He secured permission from the Honourable Artillery Company to use their ground at Moorfields and on 15 September 1784, in the presence of some 150,000 spectators, he made a successful balloon ascent.
The flight from the Artillery Ground travelled in a northerly direction towards Hertfordshire, before eventually bringing the balloon to rest in Standon Green End. The road junction in Welham Green, near to the site where Lunardi made his first stop, is called Balloon Corner. The twentyfour mile flight brought him instant fame (he was billed as the ‘Daredevil Aeronaut’) and began a ballooning craze that inspired fashions of the day. His balloon was later exhibited at the Pantheon in Oxford Street. He made a number of other flights in Britain (in Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh) attracting huge crowds. In 1786 he published An Account of Five Aerial Voyages in Scotland. Lunardi left Britain in August 1787 after a disastrous flight in Newcastle in which an assistant was killed. He died in Lisbon in July 1806.