Friday, 10 November 2017


a group I had never heard of,

until now, English aeronaut Henry Tracey Coxwell became a minor celebrity in 1862 from a feat of derring-do, He and the meteorologist Dr James Glashier decided to carry out an experiment on behalf of the British Association for the Advancement of Science to investigate conditions of the upper atmosphere, in short, they were going to take a hot air balloon (which, technically, at that time was not full of hot air--they used hydrogen at this period) up as high as they could go, just to see what happened, Coxwell and Glashier reached the highest point anyone had ever flown by this point--they were estimated to have reached somewhere between 35,000 and 37,000 feet, 

unsurprisingly, Glashier lost consciousness and Coxwell lost all sensation in his hands. Coxwell was only able to save them both by pulling the valve cord with his teeth, the balloon dropped rapidly, but they landed safely, Coxwell was lauded as a hero, 

two years later, Leicester held a fete in which 50,000 people showed up to take a ride in Coxwell's new balloon (and his largest one to date), Britannia, someone in the crowd, for motives unknown, decided to spread the rumour that Coxwell's balloon wasn't his newest or largest, but an old and small one, Coxwell later reported to the Times that this was "a cruel libel", but the damage had been done, the crowd started to turn on him, thinking he was trying to fool them and eke money out of them for rides in a sub-par balloon, the balloon was torn to shreds and leaving Coxwell blooded and bruised, it was latter written, "It set him down on Monday amongst a horde of savages as fierce and untamed as South Sea Islanders and differing very little from them except in their habitat, which was at Leicester, it is humiliating to think that after all the civilising influences which have been exerted upon them, so much of the savage should still linger in the blood of our working classes." so for a short while in 1864, thanks to Punch magazine, the people of Leicester had a new title - Balloonatics.

No comments: