Welcome Page
This Webpage is dedicated to “Blondin” (Jean Francois Gravelet),
Funambulus,
Equilibrist (Tightrope-Walker), Aerialist
and Acrobat Extraordinaire
It also contains a History of Tightrope-Walking [funambulus/funambule] by way of ‘Anecdotes
and Quotes Through the Centuries’ and videos of various modern-day funambule
The trust seek to commemorate his life by giving talks, lectures and tightrope events.
Our aim is to preserve and honour his memory and raise funds to renovate and
maintain Blondin’s grave and monument.

Serving to commemorate “Blondin”
Born 28 February 1824 - Died 22 February 1897
“BLONDIN”
Funambulus (Tightrope Walker)
Born Jean François Gravelet on 28 February 1824 in Hesdin, France.
Blondin on the high wire
The famous “Blondin” on the tightrope
“Funambulus” comes from the ancient Greek: from funis, a rope, and ambulare, to walk.

Blondin learnt to walk a tightrope from a very early age.

At the age of 35 on 30 June 1859, he first accomplished the feat of crossing the gorge below the Niagara Falls - a distance of around 1100 feet using a tightrope, thus creating his celebrity and fortune. The tightrope was 50 metres (160 feet) above the water, nearly half a kilometre (over quarter of a mile) long and just 7.5cm (three inches) in diameter. Blondin’s obsession with the Niagara Falls continued and he actually made a further 16 crossings, each one more daring than the last:

He crossed it blindfolded, pushing a wheelbarrow; once he carried a stove, stopped half way across and cooked himself an omelette and on another time he crossed on stilts. In August 1859 he crossed the gorge with his manager Harry Colcord on his back.

According to legend Colcord claimed that the trip was truly terrifying with broken guy ropes causing the rope to swing violently and Colcord had to dismount half way across. In 1860 the Prince of Wales watched Blondin cross Niagara Gorge. He was asked if he would like to be carried on Blondin’s back for the return journey. He refused.

In 1861 he first appeared in London at Crystal Palace and toured the United Kingdom and Europe, subsequently ending his performances with one in Belfast, Ireland in 1896

He died on 22nd February 1897, having married three times, and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London, England.

Charles Blondin
“Blondin”
The Blondin Memorial Trust

The members of the Trust meet once a year at Blondin’s Grave in Kensal Green Cemetery to honour his memory with a Toast.

All who are interested are cordially invited to attend.

The trust seek to commemorate his life by
giving talks, lectures and tightrope events. Our aim is the renovation and
maintenance of Blondin’s grave and monument.

We seek funds in order to
renovate the tomb of Blondin.

Next Gathering:

Saturday, 25th February, 2017, 2.00 p.m.

All are Welcome

 

Sculptor Louis Inigo Russel   Blondin’s grave

Above left: Louis Inigo Russell. Below: Tim Demirer
Tim Demirer
Map of Kensal Green Cemetery
Map of Kensal Green Cemetery (please click for larger version).
Nearest Tube Station: Kensal Green.

Please join with no fee if you support our aims. Donations are appreciated to upkeep the Kensal Green grave.

Any person wishing to join our small group, or who are interested in booking a talk or lecture or tightrope event, please use our contact e-mail page

Places of interest:

Kensal Green Cemetery [Grave No 13198 Square 140 Row 1]
Niagara Falls & Public Library
Ladywood Middleway Birmingham - Statue erected 1992

Blondin on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/102094985459/

Interesting and Unusual Facts:

Kensal Green Cemetery was the first public Cemetery in London and was established in 1827 in a 70 acre site with separate Chapels for Anglicans and Dissenters.

Blondin Orchard, in Ealing, West London, covers around a fifth of a 2-hectare allotment that has been owned by the London Borough of Ealing since 1926. Before that it was part of a local family farm estate and from 1750-1834 formed part of the Brentford Nursery, which specialised in fruit trees and held more than 300 apple varieties. The whole area is named after the Frenchman Charles Blondin, Niagara Falls tightrope walker, who settled here upon retirement. His feats (and a couple of apple varieties) are celebrated in local road names.

‘Blondins’ were a type of aerial ropeway named after the famous tightrope walker “Blondin”. They were employed in open pits in the slate quarries in Wales to transport wagons loads of rock between locations.

Books of interest:

“The Tightrope Walker” by Hermine Demoriane
1989 Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd
[160 pages about the art of tightrope-walking and a biography of the Author]

“Everybody‘s Heard of Blondin” by Ken Wilson. Available at Amazon.com

“Two Hundred Years of the American Circus” by Tom Ogden

“Daredevils of Niagara” by Andy O‘Brien

Website Created by Bluey Brattle February 2008