MAURICE AND STEVE'S
VIRTUAL FIREWORK MUSEUM
Steve's son, then aged 2, learns his love of fireworks in 1983
Here is a copy at 1:1 of the firework code of 1970 from an Astra box. Here however is a pyro scene to bring back many memories for me, mid 1980`s and my son is on his own pyro-fest, even tho` he is only 6 years old! He holds a Standard size 20 Chain of Stars parachute rocket, here it goes.....whooosshhhhh, those traditional Standard rockets, the big size 15 and 20 could easily go to 900feet, and with such elegance. At this time the large Standard rockets were as big as my son! This shows how a chain of stars works, with a parachute at either end of a cord that supports several small gerb type cases. A close contender for the rank of best rocket in about 1986 or 87 was the Mega rocket from Brock. A truly huge plastic beast it really went sssssshhhhwhooooommmmmmm. I was not too close, these were taken by a long focus lens. This photo shows a Standard size 4 rocket, this a pair of I believe Esco siren rockets, they really were loud. This fine shot shows a group of Standard size 5 rockets sunbathing in the warm autumn sun in 1986, and a mixture here of Standard, Esco and Weco. My son really loved these, one of the first words he said was "stick" after he had seen me in a November 5th pyro frenzy....I`m sure you understand! Actually it was "tick" the "s"coming by Christmas. This Standard "Turbo Jet" is from the same era.
This little lot really does it for me, these are Standard sky rockets, size 15, look how they are beautifully wrapped in tissue..as if precious, a very plain box hides the beauty within..and here the "jewels" are taken out for us to admire .Next to it is a Standard size 20 chain of stars parachute rocket, and here are all 4 of them with a Benwell rocket from the 60`s second from right. Here is seen a fine mixture of large Standard sky rockets from about 1988, the last of the stock before the British Standard came in. The Standard rockets with a flat top would have whistles or airbombs in them, or wiggly things called "tadpoles"...these effects having a somewhat dark name of "devices." This photo shows fine and beautiful large Standard rockets in centre, they really smelt lovely and felt divine....left are Astra rockets from the early 90`s and right is a packet of Black Cat bangers and another Astra rocket from the same period.
I like old traditional Standard sky rockets so much, I have these inert examples nailed to the wall of my study...why not, others have hunting trophies..stag`s heads...I have spent fireworks!! This plastic bodied Weco rocket is from 1990 and is for comparison.
Some of you in Gallery One may have seen the boxes of old Brock`s fireworks from the very early 1970`s. Well I forgot I had this box, a £2.80 box...you will love this, I do...they are scanned big at 100k but you will be glad about that. OK..here we go....1.....2.....3......4......wow! or what. On 1 you can see a fair few of Wilders fireworks lurking in the Brock`s box.
Let`s look at some consumer fireworks boxes, this is Standard from about 1983, Benwell..as made by Haley and Weller from 1984, Brock`s...and look inside too.......from the early 1990`s, let`s look inside this other Brock`s box.......Standard from the mid 1990`s, Cosmic Fireworks and Standard from mid to just a little later 1990`s, Brock`s, Cosmic and Black Cat from mid 1990`s, Bright Star from late 1990`s...here is a peak inside the large Bright Star box..with a new 1997 item a large Proton air bomb alongside......lovely jubbly. These Cosmic fireworks boxes are from 1996. Very often these boxes are made out of glossy card which tends to cause unwanted reflections in photos. These Brock`s point of sale card firework "models" are from the early 1990`s and would be used in shop windows in the 3 weeks before November 5th when fireworks are allowed to be sold in high street newsagents etc....fireworks in UK may be bought at any time through the year via mail order pack and display companies or from specialist retailers.
Sadly 1997 saw no Astra fireworks for sale in the UK, apart from stock in hand. This small Astra box from early 1990`s shows Astra with at least some items made in Britain, so was this lovely Astra box, although bit by bit the percentage of items manufactured in Malaysia increased. However before too long the inevitable happened and it all went west....or rather east, as the Orient took over. This middle size Astra box from the mid 1990`s tells all. Here is a close up of the goodies. A brand under the name of "Red Lantern" came out of the foundering Astra stable, all eastern imports of course, but I have seen little of this brand in the far south west of England where I am.
Bangers have now been banned by the Govt. Dept. of Bans...how long before air bombs go? These bangers from the mid 1990`s and these from a few years earlier are now pyro history.
In recent years, those of us who get our fireworks from mail order display companies may have been intrigued in the various forms of fireworks that come in a plain brown paper wrap, basically looking like a brown paper bag...with just a little manufacturers sticker on , and a small scissor cut photocopied name sticker.....all very obviously Chinese. I like these...a bit of mystery as to what is in the bag...sort of...have a look at these, although very plain and uninspiring...these cakes are tremendous. The candles are pretty good too, so as it is said do not judge a book by it`s cover. Also very plain and dull looking are these fountains, the second and third from left being Australian...but they are stunning, especially the Aussie ones. But they are big, fat, ugly....and beautiful.
This little lot here is more of a brown cardboard box than a bag..but hide superb pyrotechnics.These are now banned in UK as they exceeded the new 10kg maximum weight...some were up to 28kg!!!However we are assured by the suppliers that new weight to pyro ratio items will soon be available. These are from recent years past and are taken to show you how it works...several large calibre tubes up to around 65mm, are fused together in a box with a single point of ignition. Note on two of the photos the size of projectile it fires...these are super cakes, called in the UK a Finale Module. They are terrific and truly a display in a box. Look at these...1. "BLOSSOM AFTER THUNDERING"...2."ROARING LIONS"....3.."CANNONADE"..these are all fired, the card disks that hold the projectile in and provide compression were picked up after a display as were the projectiles. Due to the high standard of manufacture that has now started to come from China, these passed the British Standard and WERE available for public sale.This one, not for public use as far as I am aware, and actually is in a wooden box!! and is called "SILVERY FLOWER." Compared to them, this large cake of about 400shots (I guess)..looks weedy, however that is not so, as a cake such as this burns for a long time and allows rockets or roman candles to be very effectively fired over it.
These two photos of dead and fired cakes show how beautifully they are constructed , the dead projectile units looking like a pipe organ as they stick out of the tubes, and in this shot, you can even see how well and often very complex the manufacture of the projectile units is. Lots of little cakes here from the last five years or so.
Talking of plain items...and large..these Roman Candles are up to 65mm bore, the black one in the middle is a "Blockbuster" from Vulcan and at 30mm is now banned in the UK, a replacement coming in at 28mm....is 2mm worth banning..or have I missed something? The one on the far left is a large Standard Roman Candle, probably the biggest in bore, but not length, that would be bought in the high street. Many of todays Roman Candles consist of 4 or 5 smaller candles fused together. This fired example looks good on a wash, new tape and replica fuse and a clean used cover!...some people stuff fish, or make model aircraft..I DO THIS as well as the fish and plastic planes!! This is the way that Standard did this some years ago, with some smaller oriental candles at right and a large blue tubed Astra mine in mortar from a few years ago.
I like parachute items, they do go everywhere and anywhere..as the wind blows, but if you have space, they are fun. Here is a fired and reconstructed Spinning Parachute Battery and this is in pre shell ban days a pair of parachute shells, both fired and reconstructed...even down to the muslin bag that held the lifting charge....now filled with tea leaves that makes a very passable gunpowder substitute! the hard part is to get the parachute back....not impossible, just very hard. See the weight that stabilises the descent of the parachute with a flare burning inside.NB. if you want to reconstruct a shell, collect all the bits after a display and one day you will have enough bits, soak in water and mould......if you are lucky, some shells split into bigger bits than you`d believe. These have teeny weeny mini parachutes...what a joy.
Chinese crackers were banned here in the UK late in 1997, before that happened, we have this one in it`s box and bought in a local hardware shop, or this big long red thing, from another shop, and some crackers sent to me inert from France and Spain as they are banned here. The little ones are 3mm by 20mm and called "Mini Tonnere."
CHINESE NOVELTIES..are here and mixed in with German items too, are here, here, and here, and here too. This is a "Happy Lamp"...I would like some more as this one is very toasted.
Mines are what we Brits now have that the shells are lost to us..quick nostalgic look at last lot of shells...boo..hooo These range from 5in to 1.5in. and the white one is plastic. So, back to mines, have a look at this lot, with two shells left and right for comparision, and then this little pre-fused collection of 6, each in a pot, with a Twitter Glitter and Singing Birds for company.
As we now all know, apart from a few irons in the fire, the manufacture of bulk consumer fireworks in the UK is as dead as a do-do.This shot has the UK items at left, and the invaders at right. Look at these lovely British items, remember....remember the 5th of November...well not enough did, so we have lost our home industry. Close up memories...and more....and more...and still more here, with the invader at right, and just look at these.
Sometimes in pyro land, things are not what they seem. This large fat tub item is a Standard item from about 1993, it is called an "Artillery Barrage", but after firing, an inspection showed it to be a Chinese Twitter Glitter, much smaller than the outer container..hmmmm, would that be marketing? the item at left is a Singing Bird...the spent noise units are placed in their original tube positions.
Catherine wheels are now just about extinct...apparently they cost too much too make....so here we have a large sparkling wheel, a 4 gerb fountain, 5in shells with tails,an Australian 4in canister shell and lovely 5in Chinese shells with that beautiful brown varnish on, also note the lump on them that contains the fiery tail that follows the shell upwards as it ascends into the night sky.
This photo has a lot in it, Astra mine, Astra fountain, Brock`s Roman Candles and a Astra pre-loaded 40mm shell in mortar.
ROCKETS, ROCKETS, ROCKETS
Three large rockets from 1997, black and red is a German Lunig, yellow is Standard, black is Golden Lion, at far right is a Bright Star Maroon rocket, at left are two all plastic Brocks rockets from the early 1980`s. These rockets had a proper solid fuel, like in real rockets...plasticised, like Aerotech model rocket motors. A large black head rocket, and a small one from Happy Dragon and Bright Star, NOT a shell on a rocket, but the one with the silver head IS a SHELL on a rocket from Cosmic fireworks...a little wobbly in flight. At right is a small Spanish maroon or signal rocket, and a large blue shell head rocket from Vulcan, the smaller rockets at left are the new CHINESE rockets from BRITISH Standard. The large black rocket is a German Moog rocket, with Weco rockets to left (Apollo) and the last of "British" British Standard fireworks Mega and Lunar rockets that in the mid 90`s returned to card from plastic construction. At far right is a Ricardo Caballer of Spain signal rocket.....note resemblance of body to Standard Lunar rocket. These last two show in this one a double break shell head Vulcan rocket at left,an Astra rocket from a little earlier...actually a German Comet rocket with an Astra label over it, two Weco signal...loud or what...rockets, one is a and the other plain card colour,a medium Spanish flash rocket from an unknown manufacturer, another Vulcan rocket at right, and another Lunig rocket followed by a small "Tomcat " Vulcan garden rocket. Last but not least is this Weco "Turbo Rocket" beast with two amazingly loud whistle...screech is a better word, ..units on it, a medium Black Cat rocket and at left are two Brock`s rockets from the 60`s.
Every time I think that is all, I find more, like these two: Small rockets from the early 1990`s, Black Cat, Standard, Black Cat, Zink. Here is a lot of small garden rockets, Standard, Brock`s, Black Cat, Astra.
if you can think of it, next time you have a pyro-fest, please keep a few of the empty boxes (flat pack them), labels, wrappers, and any dead, fired, inert or even slightly toasted items, novelties, toys, flyers and rockets minus stick....just two or three....put in a packet, mark as toys and empty tubes for customs, and mail SURFACE mail, with a note inside saying that contents are dead or empty - to -
Maurice and Steve's Virtual Firework Museum, 7, WOODLANDS LANE, MANOR PARK, PLYMOUTH, PL6 8AS, DEVON, ENGLAND