Poster advertising entertainment at the Royal Vauxhall Gardens, London.

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A poster advertising or the Royal Vauxhall Gardens in 1848.

Cremorne Gardens in Chelsea opened in the 1840s, with a thousand flickering gas lights, a theatre, firework displays and an American bowling alley – claimed to be the first in London. The army made soldiers available to perform in massive pageants there. In 1855 they were re-enacting the storming of Sebastopol in the Crimean war. They advanced with their bayonets fixed. The scaffold collapsed, and they fell, impaling themselves on their bayonets. Nine years later in 1864 Goddard, the famous hot air balloonist, rose to 5,000 feet above Cremorne, but he misjudged his descent and his balloon landed fatally on a church spire in Chelsea. People being fired from cannons, ‘French female velocipedists’ (riders of early bicycles) wearing short trousers – they could all draw the crowds. – See more at: http://www.bl.uk/victorian-britain/articles/popular-culture#sthash.3RRMRYPN.dpuf

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