The Tragic 1897 Charity Bazaar Fire or the Bazar de la Charité in Paris

Front elevation of the Bazaar and layout inside. Courtesy of

An annual charity event known as the Bazar de la Charité was organized by the French Catholic aristocracy in Paris from 1885 onward. However, the best known or infamous of these charitable events was the tragic charity bazaar fire that occurred in May of 1897. It had been organized by Henry Blount, the son of Sir Edward Blount and opened on Monday, 3 May 1897. It was scheduled to last four days and was held in the 8th arrondissement at Rue Jean-Goujon 17 that lead from the Avenue d’Antin to the Place de l’Alma in the Champs Elysées quarter. Continue reading

Paris Opera House Fire of 1763

Fire at the Opera House of Paris in 1763, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Over the years, several fires happened in Paris, but one of the most interesting was the Paris Opera House fire of 1763. Columns of thick black smoke were noticed at the Opera House the day after Easter on 6 April around midday. Word quickly reached officials, and they immediately rushed to the Opera House hoping to put it out. Unfortunately, by the time they arrived, the building was beyond help. Within an hour and a half, the Opera House was completely consumed by fire. Continue reading

Mineral Springs and Watering-Places of Georgian Times

Mineral Springs and Watering-Places of Georgian Times
Unidentified Mineral Springs from the 1600s. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

From early times, mineral waters were used to remove or alleviate disease. Waters at watering-places were often ascribed to the occult and sometimes said to be miraculous in their abilities to cure disease, both chronic and acute. Some people had such belief in the mysterious agency of mineral waters they entertained exaggerated notions of their capabilities and power and used mineral waters whenever they were ill. However, other patients found that mineral waters did not alter or alleviate their sufferings, and these people tended to claim that such waters cured people because of a “mere change of air, scene, and mode of life.” Continue reading

Prominent Theatre Fires in the 1800s in Europe

Theatre fires in the 1800s: Example of a Theatre Fire
Example of a Theatre Fire in 1881, Public Domain

Theatre fires were a big problem in the 1800s. Some fires happened after hours when theatres were closed, but fires also occurred when people were in the building, on stage, or seated in the auditorium. Fires with people present were the most worrisome as lives were endangered and people were often injured or killed.

Among some of the most prominent theatre fires in the 1800s were seven that occurred in Europe. Below are the statistics on each of these fires, including where, when, and how the fire started, as well as how many people were killed or injured and the contributing factors that resulted in the injuries or deaths. Continue reading

The 18th Century’s First Fatal Balloon Accident

First Ascension in a Free Balloon by Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d'Arlandes, Courtesy of
First Ascension in a Free Balloon by Pilâtre de Rozier and the Marquis d’Arlandes, Courtesy of

The first air hot balloon of manned flight occurred in a balloon belonging to the Montgolfier brothers on 21 November 1783. This flight left from the garden of the Château de la Muette in the Bois de Boulogne with pilots, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes, and covered about 5½ miles in 25 minutes. It landed between windmills on the Butte-aux-Cailles.

Rozier decided to leave the ground again on 23 June 1784. This time he was accompanied by Joseph Proust, an actor and a French chemist. The June flight involved a modified version of the Montgolfier’s first balloon, and it was christened La Marie-Antoinette after the French Queen. The balloon took off in front of the King of France and King Gustav III of Sweden. It flew north at an altitude of approximately 1.8 miles and traveled over 32 miles in 45 minutes. The cold and turbulence forced the balloonists to descend just past Luzarches, which is near the Chantilly forest. However, the flight was still amazing because it set records for speed, altitude, and distance traveled. Continue reading

Versailles Railway Accident of 1842

Louis Philippe I, by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Louis Philippe I, by Franz Xaver Winterhalter. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Sunday, 8 May 1842, was the day scheduled to honor Louis Philippe I in the Gardens of Versailles. Among other things, waterworks and fireworks were scheduled. About 5:30pm, after the waterworks finished, many attendees went to the Versailles Left Bank Railroad to depart for home. The train was unusually long that day. It consisted of at least 17 carriages and 3 engines, two up front and one in the rear.

When the train left the station it was hauling no less than 640 passengers who were locked into their cars. The train was clipping along at about 25 miles an hour and everything was fine until the train began to descend near Meudon. Apparently, at that point, according to one newspaper report that is when the trouble began:

“[T]he engine now commenced wabbling, and as the train proceeded, the weight behind and the pushing forward of the six-wheel locomotive [caused the train’s speed to increase, which rendered the train unsteady] … and in avoiding a curve it pressed violently on each side of the rail [and caused] … the axle [to snap off].”[1] Continue reading