Accident "Royal George" Gas Balloon Unregistered,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 193577
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Date:Tuesday 25 May 1824
Type:Silhouette image of generic BALL model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
"Royal George" Gas Balloon
Owner/operator:Thomas Harris
Registration: Unregistered
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Beddington Park, Carshalton, near Croydon, Surrey -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Vauxhall, Southwark, London
Destination airport:Beddington Park, Carshalton, near Croydon, Surrey
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Thomas Harris died while flying the balloon "Royal George" from Vauxhall, London, on 25 May 1824. An account of his death is given by L. T. C. Rolt, who states that it is likely that as gas gradually escaped from the balloon, the cord connecting the gas discharge valve to the gondola tightened, releasing the gas. In the resulting crash Harris was killed, and his travelling companion, an eighteen-year-old woman named Sophia Stocks "from the Haymarket", was badly injured.

From Vauxhall, the wind had carried the balloon towards Croydon, where it crashed into an oak tree at Beddington Park near Carshalton. The accident was later blamed on Harris's own valve. The crash was observed by a gamekeeper, who gave evidence at the inquest:

He heard a report resembling distant thunder, and on looking up at the instant in the direction of the sound, saw the balloon descending with great velocity, striking the branch of a tree in its descent; and on proceeding to assist the sufferers, he found the Female almost in a state of insensibility, and Mr. Harris quite dead in the bottom of the car, with a black mark upon his neck.

Harris's companion, Miss Sophia Stocks, was described by journalists present as an intrepid girl and was reported to have got into the balloon's gondola "with but slight appearance of fear".

The coroner's jury brought in the finding that "death might have been occasioned by the broken ribs, &c."

According to a less plausible theory of the cause of the crash, the release valve got stuck in the open position, thus releasing the hydrogen. In an attempt to prevent the balloon falling, Harris threw out all the ballast and even the woman's clothes. In the end, he jumped to his death, making the balloon light enough to save his companion's life


3. Warwick William Wroth, Cremorne and the later London gardens (1907), pp. 57-58
4. Aerostation: Death of Mr. Harris', in The Literary Gazette: a weekly journal, vol. 8, p. 362

Revision history:

13-Feb-2017 23:27 Dr.John Smith Added

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