Mural in Vauxhall Remembers Hot Air Balloon Record

A mural painted by the street artist Nerone pays homage to a hot air balloon record made in Vauxhall. Held by Charles Green, a professional ballonist. He flew 480 miles setting off from the former Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens to Nassau in Germany.

Supported by Network Rail, the mural can be found on the corner of New Spring Gardens Walk in Vauxhall. For the artist Nerone it represents a different style. Normally known for his bright patterning and blending of flowers and faces. His mural in Vauxhall takes on a different more illustrative style. Featuring the balloon itself, it sits against a pink background with the words ‘Love Different, Love Vauxhall’. The piece is in support of the ‘Be In Vauxhall‘ campaign.

Balloon Mural in Vauxhall

The Balloon Mural by Nerone in Vauxhall
The mural by Nerone on New Springs Garden Walk in Vauxhall

Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens

Celebrating Charles Greens historic balloon flight. The journey started from the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. In its time it was one of the most famous pleasure gardens in 19th century London. The flight too was a record. Setting off on 7 November 1836. It lasted almost 80 years until February 1914 when the record was finally broken.

Originally called ‘New Spring Gardens’, the gardens first opened to the public in 1661. Then as London grew pleasure gardens started to appear. These were places which required a ticket to enter and which were targeted at the growing middle class. Vauxhall’s was established in 1729 and lasted until 1859. You can read more about the history of the gardens here.

the admission fee theoretically guaranteed that patrons would not have to rub shoulders with the lower classes of the city.

Danielle Thom, Museum of London
Love Different Love Vauxhall a mural featuring a balloon by Nerone
Mural by Nerone remembering the flight by Charles Green from Vauxhall

Charles Green and his Balloon

Charles Green was a pioneer of aviation. The balloon was called the ‘Royal Vauxhall Balloon‘ and the flight took over 18 hours to make the journey to Germany. By the time he made his record making voyage he had already completed 220 hot air balloon flights. Throughout his lifetime he would achieve over 500 balloon ascents.

Two other men joined him on the flight. Thomas Monck Mason, an Irish writer and Robert Hollond, a lawyer and politician. Mason would go on to write a record of the journey and Hollond had been with Green on the test flight two months earlier. They were all pictured together in a painting by the artist John Hollins. That painting is held by the National Portrait Gallery and is below.

A consultation prior to the aerial voyage. A painting by John Hollins featuring Charles Green
‘A Consultation Prior to the Aerial Voyage to Weilburg, 1836’ by John Hollins. From left to right the image shows Walter Prideaux a lawyer and poet; John Hollins the artist, Sir William Milbourne James, Robert Holland, Thomas Monck Mason and Charles Green. This image is licensed by Creative Commons via the National Portrait Gallery

Nearly 2,000 yards of specially-woven Spitalfields silk was used, and the other statistics, like the 85,000 cubic feet of gas contained by the envelope, fall into line behind this. The original wicker-work gondola or ‘car’, supported by ten ropes, and draped with purple and crimson velvet, was just 9 feet by 4 feet, decorated at each end with a large gilt eagle’s head.
The mural by Nerone in Vauxhall

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  1. It’s not a hot air balloon it’s a gas balloon, filled with coal gas from the Vauxhall Gas Works, many gas balloon flights started from there and other gas works for that reason.

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