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IN THE NEWS
TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
23rd April 1959 1st heliport in Britain opens in London
23rd April 1925 1st London performance of operetta Fasquita staged
23rd April 1881 Gilbert and Sullivan's opera Patience produced in London
23rd April 1775 Artist J.M.W. Turner was born in Covent Garden, London.
23rd April 1705 Richard Steele's Tender Husband, premieres in London
23rd April 1702 The Coronation of Anne I in Westminster Abbey.
23rd April 1685 The Coronation of James II (and VII of Scotland) in Westminster Abbey.
23rd April 1661 English king Charles II crowned in London
23rd April 1661 The Coronation of Charles II in Westminster Abbey.
The First Human Cannonball
The amusement park where the Great Farini performed his acts.
Location: The Royal Aquarium, Tothill Street, Westminster, SW1H 9NH
Description: This is where the first ever human cannonball act was performed. The showman and tightrope walker The Great Farini (real name William Leonard Hunt) performed his various daring acts here from 1877.
The 14-year-old human cannonball, a young girl called Zazel (real name Rossa Matilda Richter), who was launched by Farini-designed contraption. The perceived danger of these acts caused protests and put the venue's licence in doubt but continued to drew crowds. Zazel later toured by PT Barnum's infamous circus.
Lectures soon were superceded by other musical hall and variety shows, and a zoo in part entertained the crowds.
The aquarium itself suffered from plumbing difficulties and did display a dead whale at one point but very few fish, much to the ridicule of visitors!
The Royal Aquarium and Winter Garden was a grand amusement place opened in 1876, and later demolished in 1903. The building was designed by Alfred Bedborough in a highly ornamental style faced with Portland stone. At the west end of the building was the Aquarium Theatre in 1879 named the Imperial Theatre.
It's now the location of Westminster Central Hall.