Plymouth Fireworks Championships 2001
My report from Day 1 of the national competition.
In August 2001 Tony and I made the pyro pilgrimage to Plymouth for day one of the fireworks championships featuring Vulcan UK, Pains and Jubilee. Sit back and enjoy loads of pictures and some fantastic video clips.
Each year six professional display teams gather in Plymouth to fire over two nights – three teams per night. At stake is the coveted prize for the best display. In addition to providing some of the year’s best pyro action, the public can view for free! Quite simply it is one of the most spectacular firework events in the UK and well worth the long journey.
The teams fire from Mount Batten Point, a long concrete jetty. Note that this area is restricted access over the two days of firing and the public are not allowed near it.
If you’re spectating, the best place is from The Hoe. This is easy to get to being near central Plymouth and gives really nice views of the whole area. It looks a long way away – but the distance is ideal considering the size of the pyro being fired.
You can click on an image to view it larger:
Fireworks isn’t always fun! Here I (Pyro Pete) shelter from one of many squalls. Although the competition takes place in August, being exposed to the sea breeze late at night can be quite cold – take warm clothes, waterproofs AND FOOD! Note the wall here provides a good area to set up cameras etc and ensures no-one with a large hat stands in front of you (heheh…). Tony got soaking wet taking this 🙂
It’s a long day for the teams and being exposed to wind and rain doesn’t help.
Whoops! Did we mention that wind? Anything that wasn’t secured was blown away. Here a member of Jubilee’s team who looks uncannily like Jaws from the Bond films recovers a mortar tube (although I wasn’t going to call him that to his face, heheh…). I don’t know who had it worse, Jubilee at the end or Vulcan UK downwind and working in both wind AND sand blown down from everyone else’s sandbags.
On to Vulcan UK now. Sadly not quite as happy to see us (nothing personal, UK Firework Who?) and they were very busy. In fact the lady there practically told us to get lost. This is a shame, their display turned out to be the most entertaining. Anyway not deterred we took this picture of their Aqua shells pointing out to sea. Then we went back and chatted to Jubilee again.
This display was one of the most entertaining and magical of the night. Magical because they had two sublime sequences of parachute flares (one silver and one coloured). Entertaining because they almost broadsided the judges’ boat (from the angle we viewed it) with aqua shells and then set fire to the hill behind the display area. The locals thoroughly enjoyed the arrival of several fire engines 🙂 We gave this a ten out of ten for enjoyment! Naturally the judges did not see it this way (we need a clapometer rather than judges) and Vulcan did not make it on to the podium.
But enough of the normal crap. Let’s have loads of salvos of aqua shells, dambuster style. Did this thrill the audience? Listen to the video clip. It was awesome. Before each salvo was a hanging canopy of persistent glitter, it took your eyes to the sky then brought them down again to water level with the shells. Brilliant.
Afterwards, and the hill is still on fire. Seriously, this was an amazing mix of pyro and for me, the hanging effects gave this the edge. What made this entertaining for the crowd (the fire and broadside) do reflect how our opinion of an entertaining display is somewhat different from the judge’s. Mind you I was not in that boat while those aqua shells went off. The only display on the night to beat this with sheer “ooomph” was Jubilee’s.
Pains had quite an act to follow and they pulled it off. We enjoyed this display which had a definite emphasis on creative effects rather than raw power, with sequenced candles and mines. This was the “thinking man’s” display, but sandwiched between the fluke crowd pleasing mayhem of Vulcan UK and the seasoned sky-splitting of Jubilee, it was up against it….
After these three displays another three followed the day after. We weren’t there to see the second night however one of those displays – Shellscape – were crowned the winners. Congratulations to them.
Jubilee’s display, shown above, came second. Well done to Chris and his crew.
Thank you once again to Jubilee and Pains for their hospitality on the day and for giving us access to their firing site.
Use your “back” button or click here to go to UKFR’s home page.