Dynamic Fireworks, based in Colchester, are part owners of the exciting new Planet Fireworks brand which is responsible for importing some very nice pyro to our shores including many classy new effects from the Brothers’ stable. Needless to say then we were very excited at the prospect of spending a day with them (that’s our polite technical description, translated into enthusiasts-speak it means “Spending a day rummaging around their stock room and fondling fireworks”).
But we weren’t quite prepared for the sheer volume of fireworks we were about to see, from antique collectables through to some of the largest Cat 4 money can buy. After a whistle-stop tour of no less than a shop, a workshop, a store and two huge bunkers, it is safe to say that we left slightly dazed but very, very happy!
Savour the ambience of tons of fireworks in close proximity:
The Dynamic Fireworks shop, which is open all year, is situated in Colchester. On the map it appears to be slightly out of the way but in actual fact it is only a short drive from the A12. We were popping in via London and it was a very straightforward drive from the M25, so the shop is an attractive destination for enthusiasts not just from East Anglia where we are but from the south east too.
Having come off the A12 it was time to put their “How to find us?” map to the test. Despite a large number of roundabouts and other junctions we found it without getting lost, a major bonus for us. Once in the industrial estate the Dynamic Shop stood there like a glowing church, calling the faithful to buy fireworks. OK so maybe it was just an industrial unit but it did have a nice “FIREWORKS” sign on it.
Click on any thumbnail to view a larger image:
The shop itself was bright, simple in design and nicely laid out with what looked like the whole Planet Fireworks range neatly displayed in glass cabinets. Effective presentation of fireworks with clear descriptions helps the customer greatly and it was nice to see that Dynamic had descriptive cards next to most of their fireworks.
With a good brand like Planet and particularly when it’s nicely displayed like this, you can be overcome by urges to spend money (evil grin) and fill your car with pyro. Dynamic like most shops today always have a good range in stock, and more on hand if required. Still, we always advise you to phone ahead if you are after a particular item (or a large number of one item) to check availability.
While we were looking at the stock on offer a number of customers popped in. A few of these were picking up packs or collecting orders, these were already boxed up for the customers to take away. The others, clearly fireworks lay people, needed guidance for a display and the Dynamic staff were actually very good at getting to the root of the customer’s requirements and suggesting the best fireworks. I must apologise but I did interrupt two sales to “force” the customer to purchase the Best Buy Stampede, it would have been a crime if they had left the shop without one.
With the afternoon rush out of the way it was time to get down to the serious business of drinking tea, eating biscuits and nattering about fireworks. Nigel, the boss, is totally into fireworks and his interest also extends to firework memorabilia, his collection of “Ye olde” pyro was fascinating (but I don’t know how people collect fireworks, I would not be able to keep a firework longer than a few weeks without letting it off).
And then what we had been waiting for, the guided tour. We tried not to leap out of our chairs too fast, playing it cool as if this was just a day’s work for us, but inside this is where the excitement starts. There is nothing quite like – to an enthusiast at least – seeing huge piles of fireworks. I don’t know what it is, maybe we need treatment.
First stop, the basic store which serves the shop. This contains the working stock for the day to day needs of the retail outlet, so it had a little bit of everything. It was great to see all the fireworks featured in the brochure to get a better sense of scale, some were actually quite a bit bigger than they looked on paper.
Next stop was the workshop. This was mainly concerned with preparations for their bigger professional shows, with racks of cabling and firing boxes. On the main bench was some lancework being made to order. The timber frames for these are created in the workshop before being taken to their process shed to add the actual pyrotechnics.
As you will have gathered so far, Dynamic cover virtually every aspect of fireworks from a shop through to mail order, and professional shows too. The more we looked around, the clearer it was becoming that Dynamic were a far, far bigger concern than we had realised. This is an interesting point because many companies blow their own trumpet, Dynamic seem to let their service and products do the talking.
Just when we thought it was over, and the fat lady was about to sing, Nigel asked us if we wanted to take a look around one of their main storage sites out in the country. Er, no thanks Nigel I need to get back to wash my hair. OF COURSE WE DO!!! You have not seen two people leave the shop and get back into the car quicker than this (passers by must have thought we had just robbed the place)…
FIREWORKS BUNKER # 1
So after enjoying a tour of the shop it was now time to explore one of Dynamic’s licensed firework stores. To comply with regulations these have to be very sturdy and a certain distance away from the public so the majority of these are situated out in the country. So that we cannot reveal the location of Dynamic’s store in the event of enemy capture, we had to drive blindfolded, using Nigel’s occasional pip of the horn from his car in front to make sure we did not leave the road, heheh…
It is true to say however that when we got there I did not have the slightest idea where we were. Reassuring then to find out that the store was in fact a genuine ex-war bunker! If we didn’t know where we were and we followed someone in a car, no wonder the Luftwaffe didn’t get to it.
I’ve frequented quite a few large storage magazines in my time (is that legal?) but even so each new one is a real treat, seeing shelf upon shelf of fireworks. The amount of boxes in these things can be mind boggling. Luvagoodbang though was a “bunker virgin” and his jaw just dropped when the lights went on. Box upon box of fireworks, in every direction. Not just any fireworks, but UKFR Best Buys there too, in their dozens or even hundreds. I think LGB wants to start his own fireworks business now just so he can walk around a magazine all day.
I mentioned above that the magazine was a genuine ex-war bunker. A little bit of exploring showed it was far more than that. Nigel explained that it was used as a control centre for allied bombing, and on the wall behind us he pointed out a quite amazing sight – the original WW2 mission status board. The success – or failure – of allied missions would have been charted here. Frankly it was quite a humbling sight. Many, many men much younger than I had less than a one in six chance of survival so the likes of you and me are free today to enjoy life – and fireworks.
We had a brilliant time looking at loads of fireworks and the historical connection was fascinating too. Nigel then happened to mention that he had another store not far away, but he did not even have to ask if we wanted to check it out. We were already in the car waiting to follow him before he had finished locking up.
FIREWORKS BUNKER # 2
Onto the second “bunker” now and an even larger set of stores designed to supply the professional display and wholesale side of Dynamic. Our first port of call was a smaller store containing a number of mortar tubes and racks. It was the large number of these that gave the best indication of Dynamic’s professional pedigree, there were literally hundreds in all sizes.
In the corner of one of these stores were a few that caught my eye because of their physical size. No less than twelve inches wide in fact. You could almost stand in one (I almost tried to for a photo but thought better of it, it is some years since my waist was that thin! I can just imagine the headlines: “Fire brigade rescues firework enthusiast from large tube”).
And then our final tour, the large magazine full of cat 4. This had just about every conceivable type of professional firework inside with the emphasis being on aerial shells, boxes after boxes of them.
This was probably the most pyro in terms of quantity that I had seen in one single day. Overall we’d seen everything from category two up to category four, from sparklers to huge aerial shells. Having walked into Dynamic’s shop and thinking they were a “smallish” operation, I had to admit that even I was taken aback by the sheer scale of things. And I still think what we saw was just the tip of the iceberg.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS & THANKS
After a natter outside it was time to say good-bye, with Nigel, myself and LGB going our separate ways. We had a brilliant day with Dynamic, who gave us quite a revealing insight into a large scale retail and professional operation. Their hospitality was fantastic and we’re looking forward to our “Another day at Dynamic…” feature already.
Huge thanks then to (from left to right in this photo) Roy, Nigel and Bob and the rest of the team at Dynamic for their hospitality and time.
BONUS PHOTOGRAPHS (2022 REFRESH)
The following images were not used in the original feature back in 2004 but have been retrieved from the archives in this 2022 refresh which also sees all the original media above uploaded in higher resolution: