Reader Fireworks Displays in 2002

After the popular Reader Displays 2000 and 2001 sections I am pleased to launch the 2002 page. If you had a display – or attended one – at any time during 2002 please write to me so I can share your experiences here. Any pictures and video gratefully received.

Please be patient this section will take some time to load!

[Editor’s note 2022: This update makes the original feature mobile-friendly. Note that in 2002, cameras and smartphones were virtually unheard of, as was a fast internet connection. This explains the lack of photos plus the warning of slow load times above, for what in effect would now load in just a few seconds on a modern connection! And an appeal for video is for actual physical camcorder tapes to be sent in. How times change.]

Chris Hartley

Just to let you know had a great evening yesterday (Saturday) Fired the complete stash off… will write a more in-depth post soon, but a couple of things for people to be aware of:

– Firstly, one of my (ten) Shellscape Skyshock rockets detonated at about 15ft above ground level, instead of the usual 100ft+, deafeningly loud, and also dangerous, as it expelled burning fragments at high speed to ground level.

– Worse still, one of my Lunig Ball rockets (Multicoloured one I think) completely short circuited the motor and detonated the main payload at ground level. Very fortunately there were no injuries, both firers had their backs to the rocket as they made their retreat from lighting them, and the crowd were a good 25 metres away.

However, both I and my assistant firer were somewhat shaken up, especially as both these events happened in the opening volley of the display!!

Apart from these two opening incidents, the rest of the display went off superbly well, and when I have watched the video through, I will give a more detailed post on my opinion of the pyro. One thing that has to be said though, is that the F1 and F3 fan cakes from Shellscape are TRULY SUPERB!

Have a great and safe display, everyone who has still let the jubilee stash go!

Cheers, Chris.

Pyro Pete says: I’ve had a look at your incredible pictures which follow below. I must congratulate you on your safety because despite two major failures your crowd were 101% safe and from the reactions even thought the effects were intentional. It saddens us here at UKFR that when someone has a similar accident in an unsafe setting, and causes an injury, it is widely publicised and used against fireworks. Yet you manage the same thing with an eye for safety and should be congratulated by proving that even when the biggest cat 3 rockets fail, if you follow the instructions, you’re safe.

Above: Wow, a Lunig ball rocket detonates at ground level.
Above: Check out the tree for scale. This is why these are skyfillers (in the video clip, the others launch OK). I know to a lot of people images like these are worrying. We include them here with pride because they prove that even the BIGGEST cat 3 rocket, if used with common sense safety, does not pose a risk even in a worst case scenario like the one shown above.
Above: Heheh... the crowd thought it was great!
Above: This is a stunning picture and ironically is a brilliant advert for Shellscape's rocket because it shows that it doesn't just BANG, it creates a massive sphere of glitter too. Notice a) no spectators nearby (even the cameraman is a long way back) and b) the firer is safely away. An incident like this will make most firers colour their pants, but we point out again that Chris and his firers enjoyed the above two mis-fires in their opening sequence and NO-ONE was injured. Well done Chris.

DJ Liam

Yep, I finally managed to let off my fireworks after loads of delays due to rain, wind and relatives (don’t worry though… they were all stored in metal containers).

Favourites proved to be the Mt Apo silver cone, the Discovery Rocket Pod (which looked much better than the one reviewed due to the 60% increase or whatever), Silver Dragon and the large sparkling wheel.

Disappointments? Four or five of the shots in the Shellshock cake didn’t bang, the green strobe candle wasn’t what I expected after seeing other strobes, and the Rio giant salvo blew apart halfway through!!!!!! Good job I was well away from that one. Only half of it remained intact.

Also, the Lunig ball rockets weren’t as good as I expected either. The silver one especially didn’t seem to have the same sky filling impact as the one reviewed, although they did seem to go higher. Instead of paying £100 for 5 rockets, I could have got 60 Medusa rockets or 5 rocket pods (35 rockets) These would have been much better in my opinion. I think this was my last time of using large single rockets.

However, Red Palm Tree, followed by Triple H Bomb, followed by 2 Crazy Horses, Blue Brocade and Shellscapes Golden Jubilee Cake all together make for a superb finale (and the cheers from the crowd afterwards were the icing on the cake). If only someone had brought a video camera – it really did look awesome!

Now all I need to do is loads and loads of overtime at work to get my bank balance back to a respectable level! And I’ve been told we need some more to let off in a fortnight. AAARRGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, and one more thing – you can never have too many portfires (or any, if like me you forgot where you put them!).

Just been to the first of three displays on our towns harbour, and forgot to take camera/video camera. It was quite good as well – about 10 mins duration with a bit of everything thrown in. It started with some weird shells too – they broke to form a vertical line of about 6 or 7 stars which floated slowly down. Nice! Then there was all the other fireworky gubbins (technical term).

It would probably have been even more enjoyable had it not been pouring down, but with 3 tall ships as a backdrop and the reflections in the water it looked magical. In fact, it has furthered my need to do it for a living, so I am offering my services to anyone that wants to employ me. I have a valid drivers licence, am able to relocate and am nice to get along with. Any interested parties can send me an email.

Now I have to wait till this Sunday to let my few off. And then I have to wait another 6 days till the next professional display. And after that I have to wait another 2 weeks till the NEXT display. Such a hard life!


I first heard of MLE Pyrotechnics from I the UKFR forum in 2000. I had been speaking to Mat and talking about what pyro people do! I was basically asking millions of questions and seeing what like is like from the side of the trade i.e. a professional point of view, and of course trying to show my competence with pyrotechnics in the hope that someday I would help MLE with a show!

A few months passed he invited me to a show in Essex, I of course jumped at the chance and we agreed that I would help set-up during the day, and film the event in the evening. I was also invited to see some of the MLE stores, its amazing to see piles of boxes full of pyro. It makes my ‘small’ November show look pathetic!

Whilst speaking to Mat, I was given some pointers and safety guidelines that were to be followed, this I had anticipated since it was something that is always hammered in to your head from UKFR “SAFETY FIRST!” Working with MLE was no exception and they took this very seriously.

June 2nd: I arrived at Essex and Mat had arranged for Julian, who fires MLE shows for MLE Essex, to meet me and show me the site until he arrived from Rugby with the rest of his crew. Whilst we were waiting I assisted Julian carry firing racks over to the site this involved carrying several heavy tubes and rack across a field in the hot sunshine! Lessons 1 don’t wear a white T-shirt! It was quickly covered in old pyro from previous shows!

Mat arrived shortly after and we spent an hour unloading / chatting about the show, which had been designed and choreographed by a nice bloke called Ian 🙂

The show was to be fired electronically from a system that made my DIY pin board look so basic! I took note of this for future ideas for my own hehehe
2” to 8” shells were to be used, with a few MLE specials that they designed in China… This was some new stock and there were high hopes for these that were well lived up to once the show had got underway!

The day was spent arranging shells and other fireworks into firing racking, nothing is preloaded as it is considered too hazardous to transport. Still this was interesting and during the day we were fed and watered by the organisers of the show, which was great! Its not often people bring you food whilst you are working on something you enjoy!

The show was organised in a way that all the large shells were placed at the back of the field with an extra-added distance for the 8inch shell. It’s so cool, seeing it all set up.The Roman candle barrages were placed near the front of the site with smaller cakes, and there was also a mine sequence there.I almost forgot to mention this show was to be done to sound! It was after all a Jubilee show. The PA guys arrived with an EV audio rig (I like my audio also) so I had a quick look at the set-up and then continued helping with the show.Around 7-8 PM we were ready to do continuity checks and all tested positive, which was nice! It was then time to for me to relax (!!) get my DV cam ready whilst Mat checked and rechecked everything just to be sure about what was going to happen and when.One of the highlights of the day was a test fire on a ground maroon these were to be used in the 1812 overture for the cannons. Do not ever underestimate the power of flash powder!! The maroon only contained 25g but I nearly had an out of body experience when the thing was fired! I got it on video and you can see how I jump its quite amazing, Apparently these things go to 600g but I have no idea what they would be used for, except to leave a massive crater!

So everything was ready I had set up my old tripod and I stood ready for the show.

It started with two of MLE’s acclaimed strobes! These were placed behind the trees and created a nice silhouette.

I’m not going to write about the whole show, only my highlights, since this is not a review of the show. If you want to see any of this then you can d/l it from me or I can even provide a DVD if you want, if you cover cost of the media and postage.
I think perhaps my favourite section was the Z cake this was a new one and worked really well. The 2.5 inch tiger tail shells were excellent also. I don’t understand why rockets cannot be this good at this size. Also of interest were the Whistling dragons teeth approx. 1000 were fired, and the effect was excellent! I cannot wait till I help again with the next show, perhaps one day I shall make it to be a Pro firer!

I hope this was interesting, I know its not that detailed, but I only have so much time!



Saturday, 8pm, the skies were alight.

Wow, what a display, 25 minutes of pure skyfill. Absolutely superb. Haven’t seen the videos yet, but by all accounts they came out superb as well. The guy who filmed the show is burning the video to CD for me, and I should have this by the end of the week. I’ll take some frame grabs and post them up when I get it.

The 4 of us arrived on site about 11:00am. Spent all day staking things in, setting up the sound system, protective barriers, lighting etc etc etc. About 6:30, drizzle started. PANIC. Waterproofed all exposed fusing etc. wrapped everything with tin foil. After 45 minutes, the drizzle stopped. Sigh of relief. 8:00pm, we kicked off. 10 MLE strobing flares to the sound of PPK, Resurrection, with ground mines lit to flash on or about the louder parts of the music. After that, first rocket barrage of 28 assorted rockets, mostly shellbursts, some shockwaves.

And so the show went on, multiple candle barrages set off together, Crown of Rubies, Crazy Horses and Lake of Sapphires lit together – twice!! 2 MLE Z-Firing cakes fired one after the other with candle/mine accompaniment. Shellscape F3, Sandling Giant Candle/Mines Finale, 28 Large shellburst rockets (2 Big Mamas, 12 Goliath, 5 Lunig Ball among them) as the finale. 6 Shellscape 7 way rocket barrage units lit together were absolutely stunning.

One rather unfortunate incident was caused by the failure (the one and only live failure of the evening) of one of the medium sized shell rockets during the finale – The fuse bypassed the lift motor, and blew the display charge in the launch tube. This led to one of the firers being thrown to the ground, with a skin burn slightly larger than a fifty pence piece to his neck, just below the ear. Finale was stopped while we checked he was OK – he was taken away from the firing area, and the final few rockets were set off. He was treated by the first aider and nurse onsite. Of all the PPE we were wearing, we didn’t have hoods. A very hard lesson learnt there. Will definitely have total neck coverage next time. We managed to get the rocket stick from the launch tube and the rocket motor from the ground. This was burnt out, so it would appear that this was burning when the rocket exploded and fell to the ground – this I can only guess is what caused the burn as the firer also got knocked to the floor. The scorch marks on the overalls would also back up that theory. Other than that, nothing else went untoward.

Overall the show was a great great success, other than that incident. The audience were totally amazed by the size of the display, and all went home happy people. The rain started proper about 20 minutes after we’d finished.

As soon as I get the video of the event, I compile a full list of pictures, but here are a couple taken during the preparations…

Above: The stash
Beginning to stake out (behind the trees in the medium background is the River Thames).
Above: More Staking out.
Above: The prepared ground after dark.
The firers left to right. Me, Graham, Martin and Kevin (who received the injury).


6th July 2002 and a (small) wedding display in the grounds of a hotel near Maidstone, Kent.

Arrived on site around 3pm for a display between 9:30 – 10pm, no worries! RULE No 1 – NEVER take a crowd control rope to an event in its plastic wrapping, ALWAYS pre-load it onto a drum or reel. You would not believe how much time a 250m rope will consume if it tangles after say, 2 seconds! So now I’m behind schedule…I end up having to drop a couple of items and finish setting up with minutes to spare. This is NOT a good omen!

The Pyro:


Set-piece – twin gold rings with the Bride and Grooms’ initials
Black Widow rockets (x6)
Trojan Rockets (x2)
Challenger pod
Discovery pod (x3)
Ice wheel
Shanghai red star candles (x12)
silver star candles (x12)
gold comet candles (x12)
Defender gold and red barrage candles (x2)
Sidewinder red palm candles (x2)
crackling to crackling rain (x2)
Skyflash red star to salute (x2)
gold to lilac palm (x2)
silver to crackling chrysanthemum (x2)
Red palm fan cake
Gold dragon cake
Valencia cake


Golden Lion Sky monkey with exploding coconuts cake
Kimbolton Monster & Giant wheels
Kimbolton 24mm fountain
Golden Lion Wild geese running amok cake
Kimbolton Medusa rockets (x4)

The Display:

The crowd is lined up and noisy, the beer is taking effect. “Play it cool son…” I light the first (of five for a ten minute display) Portfire.. and it goes out…”Damn..” I can hear the crowd getting restless as I swear and scramble for a second fire-stick…”Please light…” There’s a spurt of green flame, followed a few seconds later by a double rush as two Black Widow rockets roar into the sky then burst with thunderous bangs. The crowd is momentarily silenced then cheer and I begin to recover from the urge to run away and hide.

Next up the set piece for the happy couple (and their parents!), which I let run for a few seconds to fully develop then light the Skymonkey behind it. This one seems to be going on forever and the crowd love it, but I decide to bail out and move onto the next item as it’s supposed to be a short display!

Now for my “cocky bit”, I’ve rigged up a wooden cross with the ice wheel on the main upright just below the cross-member, I light it and pray! It’s superb and what’s more the cool sparks show no sign of igniting the other fusing – “Yes!” On the ends of the cross-member are the two KB wheels, while the fountain sits at the top of the vertical pole. As the ice wheel begins to fade I light the fountain and it springs into life, followed a few seconds later by the Monster Banshee wheel.

I’m getting into it now, time for a bit of impact… light the Challenger rocket pod then head for the rocket rack and the third Black Widow. DISASTER.. the pod functions perfectly but the fuse cover won’t come off the widow! I curse and try another…it’s stuck too! “Calm down, leave it and move on”.

It’s time for the first big sequence, so I try to get the heart rate under control. First up the two Skyflash salute candles, which I’ve staked as a pair pointing directly upwards. Now the two Sidewinder red palms (V-formation) and immediately on to the first of the Shanghai bundles. I have three bundles of four red star and two silver star candles in a fan. They all light and I relax a little, becoming aware of the racket going on above me – it’s the salute candles, Wow! No time to look though as I’m counting seconds and making my way to the Red palm fan cake. As the battery of phuts from the Shanghai’s ends I light the cake and move quickly to the two Defender barrages and light them as well. The multiple thumps tell me that the cake is functioning ok so I sneak a look at the Defenders, an array of fine gold comets with nicely saturated red-star heads, pretty. I have to find the Wild Geese so I keep my eyes low to avoid tripping or walking into anything hot!

As the noise dies away I light the cake and head off towards the rocket rack and the waiting Medusas. I’ve plenty of time to get the covers off, so I decide to have another go at the Widow covers. The first one is still stuck fast, as is the next. I’ve a thick glove on my right hand (which is also holding the Portfire) and my firing list in my left, so I’m a bit ham fisted. I decide to check on the Wild Geese… According to the crowd one of the Geese “Flew into the air, turned round and followed you across the field. It was really funny!” All I know is that as I turned to look over my shoulder the damn thing blew up right next to my head! As I returned to the ground I thanked the guys on my BTEC course for introducing me to the Peltor lumberjack helmet with built in ear defenders and wire-mesh face shield. “That was fun!” With the adrenaline now coursing through my system I tried the fifth Widow rocket…STUCK! “Damn, blast and many other four letter words!” I grab it harder, pull – and the head comes off…”Aaargh!” Try number six and guess what, it’s also stuck. At this point I become aware that it’s getting quiet, “Shit, the cake is nearly finished!” I abandon the Widows and fire off the Medusas in pairs, four bangs then loud crackling, “Yes” I got the order right.

Time for the final sequence. First the Gold dragon cake and the Skyflash gold to lilac palms. There are plenty of phuts and bangs so I assume everything is working and start counting for the second Shanghai sequence. This time I have four bundles of three gold comet and 2,1,1,2 silver stars, again fanned. They all light and I resume counting and move on to the Valencia. I vaguely recall a loud bang during the previous activity, but everything appears to be functioning. I light the cake and move quickly on to the final candles. I have two Sidewinders and two Skyflash cable-tied onto one of those garden trellis fans, all crackling types. I still don’t see much as I have to make for the rear of the site and the first Trojan rocket. The air is full of pops, crackling and another strangely loud bang, but what the hell, it’s nearly over and I have a rocket to prepare! The Trojan is completely OTT, a huge gold-plastic bomb with the fuse cover formed into fins. I light it and it surges upwards. I wait expectantly for the “Gold silk Willow effect” and ” OH NO! a weedy colour burst, I’ve wasted £16 on a weedy colour burst?” Then the sky above me erupts in a spread of crossette breaks…”Oh wow, brilliant!” “Yes, Yes, Yes – PANIC!” The crowd are roaring, they think it’s all over – and I notice that my Portfire is about through and I haven’t lit the finale!!

I just make it to the last Portfire in time. The finale consists of three Discovery pods (21 electric blue and silver brocade rockets), three of the now defunct Black Widows and the final Trojan – a blue ring with silver brocade core. I didn’t see the pods go but apparently they were really impressive, especially the one rocket that turned through 90+ degrees and flew past the crowd (luckily about 20m off to one side) and hit a hotel window! It must have travelled all of 70m as I had the pods staked at the rear, 50m from the crowd line! By the time I reached the Trojan I knew the lost Widows were going to leave a slight gap, so I pulled the cover, lit the fuse and legged it – I hadn’t extended the fuse and knew I was short. The engine roar was something else, I just had to turn and look – the burst was huge, a great ball of silver and a near perfect electric blue ring – “YES!” The crowd were clapping and cheering while I, posing like a “good-un”, launched the remains of the Portfire across the display area. Heart thumping I walked to the front where the brides mum was fighting back the tears (I think it was joy, but she might have been thinking of the money she had just blown).

All in all it went well and I learned a lot – PPPPPPP, especially concerning crowd ropes! The two bangs towards the end of the show turned out to be two of the candles that had blown apart. Strangely, although one had gone about halfway down and the other about a third of the way, they still functioned. There were no unfired items in either candle!


Many thanks Bob for a superb report from the firer’s perspective. You did really well to fire all that yourself which shows your excellent preparation! Shellscape have addressed the issues regarding the fuse covers in our forum after you raised the point there – Pete

Bob at Lewes 2002:

My first time at this event……WOW.

The people taking part are stark staring, raving, bonkers mad. This is some spectacle, a MUST for any pyro nut. The parade is unlike anything i’ve ever seen in this country. Yes, they have burning torches, banners and wear fancy dress, but they also have blazing barrels, flare torches and three rows of burning crosses – all within a few feet of the crowd.

We watched three pro-displays, then decided to leave. Walking back to the car a couple of smaller displays kicked in, then another two pro-ones. As we left at 10:30 another pro show was just starting up, I don’t think the main Cliff display had even begun and one society were still marching around the streets!

And its all free from the town centre, must book tickets for the main event next year.

Andy H

A milestone of my pyro career – my 10th pro display! This was a wedding display at a hotel, and a good start as the sun broke through the clouds as we arrived. The previous day had been alternating between, light showers and heavy downpours.

The hotel manager greeted us, and we drove the van carefully onto his well tended lawn at the rear. We cheekily requested afternoon tea and biscuits for later, which to our pleasant surprise arrived as we were doing the risk assessment.

Then to work, loading the shells into the racks, staking out, waterproofing, etc, and lots of time drooling over the pyro we were going to fire in the 8 minute show. For the record this consisted of :

63 x 2.5″ Shells
27 x 3″ shells
3 x 3″ mines
5 x 4″ shells
1 x 5″ shell
24 Candles
1 Barrage Mines
4 Cakes
1 Fire drawing

All the candles and cakes are from the Crown collection.

This is how setting up a firework display should be, sunshine, soft ground for the stakes, plenty of time and free tea and biscuits followed by sandwiches (which it has to be said were pretty awful, but we didn’t feel we had strong grounds to complain !)

1 Hour to go : Have been sitting around for the last 2 hours, but now we go over our positions and timing again, and some nerves start to creep in ? I’m on candles and cakes, which means I won’t get quite the same adrenaline rush as firing the shells, but I will get to see some of the display.

30 min to go : Time to get the overalls and boots on, get the helmets with visors and ear defenders ready, and give the rope on the fire drawing a first soaking of paraffin.

10 min to go : As the 100 guests start arriving, the rope gets a final soaking, check we have all got enough portfires, and put the helmets on.

3 min to the fireworks, and the rope drawing is lit by flaming torches (metal stakes with a bundle of paraffin soaked rope burning at the end).

Cheers from the crowd as they see the bride and groom’s names in flames, then we start a countdown. On the count of 2 we hit 2 candles (whistling parades) either side of the fire drawing, and a barrage mine (Skydance). The mine starts with 100 pearls in 20 sec, then a massive 20m eruption of bombettes, palms and thunders.

Into position at the candle rack, any nerves have now gone, and I’m loving being so close to the exploding shells and candles, bit of a surprise as the 4th candle blows its top off, showering me with stars, but great fun. I light the first cake, Devious, a busy 100 shot 30 sec cake, with some very attractive bouquets with tails. Have a chance to catch some of the 2.5″ and 3″ shells going off every 5 sec through the smoke.

Continue to work through the candles and cakes, the Paradise 2 cake is one of my favourites, producing beautiful silver coconut breaks with a bright long burning blue comet in the middle. The Best of worlds is another excellent low sky filler cake, with 100 shots in 4 colour changing phases. Light my final cake, Pandemonium (fan cake 10 rows of 5 shots in 30 sec), and stand back to watch the finale. This consists of 8 x 2.5″ blue ring shells on an instant, followed 2 sec later by 3 x 4″ multi-colour chrysanthemum shells, and a 5″ golden willow.

It looked great to me, and I think the crowd enjoyed it, we got a huge cheer, and later a £40 tip for our trouble ! Clearing up was quick, and a free drink at the bar, rounded off an excellent day.

Andy H

Tim's Display Diary

From our forum:

I will be firing 3 Cat 3 displays this November. One of these displays is for our local primary school where I head the PTA team organising the event.

I thought it may be interesting to note the arrangements for this years school display as they happen.

September 9th

This will be the 8th year & the 6th that I have been involved in. I joined the PTA when my daughter started at the school and immediately volunteered to help with the fireworks display, after a couple of years I found myself chairing the organising committee. Five years ago the event made £800 for the school, last year’s display made £3400 and is a well established as a community event.

There are a number of basics that were completed before the summer holidays. The date was set for the display, Friday 1st Nov and an organising committee established. I asked for a fireworks budget of £1700 this is slightly up on last year. (I also agreed the same budget for my second display for Dr Barnardos on Sun 3rd).

So here’s the good bit I now have £3400 to spend on Fireworks. Add the £150 for my third smaller display and that’s just over £3.5K. I have used the same firework supplier for the last 10 years and although they don’t always get good press here I reckon they are good value and give me good service. They also supply a number of “Best Buys” and always have some surprises.

Like most amateurs I was disappointed to loose the use of mortars a few years ago, however what CAT 3 lacks in aerial fire power can be made up with set pieces and a more intimate display. I have spent many a happy hour thumbing through the catalogue looking for the old favourites and new pyro. I have ordered a number of candle, cake, and rocket packs plus some mines, wheels, set pieces and a waterfall.

We have our first main meeting Thursday, so if you like I can keep you informed as the arrangements unfold.

September 11th

Risk assessment. Ever heard of one? Five years ago I hadn’t, now if the public are involved you can’t blow your nose without having one. Clearly safety is paramount and it will be top of our agenda for tomorrow’s meeting, blowing up members of the public is not acceptable any more!

So I have spent some time today checking last year’s RA and bringing it up to date. Basically with a RA you list all of the possible hazards involved with your event you rate the chances of hazard causing a problem and list what you are doing to minimise the risk. So our RA includes hazards such as “burning” caused by: Barbecue, fireworks, bonfire and even by serving coffee too hot. There are other hazards such as food poisoning, electrocution & marquee guy ropes. The RA shows that we have thought about possible dangers and are doing things so we don’t poison, electrocute or impale someone on a tent peg! Heavy stuff.

Ticket prices will also be discussed.

September 14th

We had our first meeting on Thursday. There are 8 of us on the committee and 7 of from last year and 1 new volunteer. We discussed the event as a whole and split the responsibilities such as Safety Officer, Head Steward, Gate, BBQ, Bar, Stalls, Publicity, Ticket sales, Refreshments, Bonfire, Sound/Power. I will mention some of these in more detail in the future.

Thanks for the advice on ticket prices we discussed them for ages and eventually agreed to £2.50/£1.50 adult/child in advance and £3.50/£2.00 on the gate this is 50p more for the child prices over last year’s prices. So 2 adults + 2 children can get in for £8 which I reckon is good value and is less than the other local (Cat4) displays, one by Pains and one by Dynamic Fireworks. From my records we sold two thirds of our tickets in advance last year. We also have a lot happening on the field and raise 50% of the total profit from BBQ/Bar/literopes etc. A few years ago we decided to open the gates earlier and have the fireworks later to allow more time for our spectators to spend their hard earned cash on the field.

I got my tape measure out last weekend and measured the spectator area. We are getting more and more spectators each year so I thought I should work out the capacity of the field. I have read in guidance notes that you need to allow .5 of a square meter for each spectator. Spectator area is 60*60 so 3600m2. This gives a theoretical limit of 7200 however much of this space is not usable & taken up with rides, BBQ, marquee etc. Having made allowances I think 3000 is a more realistic limit.

September 25th

Sound and Light. I am told that the first couple of displays at the school had a strip light in the marquee and one light on the gate. Announcements were made using a PA run off a car battery with a couple of horns.

Things have moved on. I used to run a mobile disco so have some experience of sound and light, I also have an uncle who has experience of power and floodlighting. The school field is across the road from the school, with no power of its own. The local scouts allow us to take a 60amp supply from their hut and we also use a 13 amp supply from an old peoples homes at the other end of the field. The PA is 100 meters from either supply.

We now put up floodlighting for most of the field and have plenty of light around the entrance, BBQ and other stalls.

I have been talking to the PA company today about hire of equipment. A few years ago I would beg/borrow speakers and amplifiers and made a reasonable 1k PA. This was OK but it was quite a lot of effort to get it all together, and quality wasn’t great. As our profits went up I decided we could afford to hire in a professional system so last year we paid £150 for a 4K PA, it sounded great but really needed more than a 13amp supply to run it.

This year I have hired the same PA but I have also hired a 3*60 amp diesel generator. As I now have plenty of power I have also hired in some extra lighting, including some synchronised colour changing flood lights to light the wooded area to the side of the field. Total cost to hire £300. It’s money that could have been spent on fireworks but we should look and sound good.

October 5th

Just under 4 weeks to go now and counting.

General Issues: My wife, Jayne, deals with the admin side of the event and does a great job. She has been contacting all the helpers from last year and press ganging them into helping again. We are starting to get calls offering help on the BBQ, bar etc. Most of the people who staffed the bar last year want to do it again, can’t think why. We have an A5 help request to put out to all parents next week.

I have checked our insurance and our annual PTA insurance covers us, that’s quite a relief I am still waiting to hear if we definitely have our wood supply for the fire. I am also concerned about the marquee that we have had free use of in the past. The company who help us no longer have children in the school. I have 2 double gazebos with sides to use instead but the marquee would be better. I have confirmed our booking with the children’s rides, more below. Nothing to do with fireworks or bonfires but a popular addition to the evening.

The main aim of our display is fundraising for the school, we also try to make it an enjoyable community event. You can make a significant amount of your profit from attractions on the field. So it’s a good idea to have plenty for spectators to do before watching the fireworks. I approached a ride operator at a fair ground and they agreed to come along with a couple of roundabouts and give it a go. We get a donation from the ride operators (£50-£100) depending on how well they do. They are very popular with the children and also brighten up the field. We have a policy of keeping all our prices reasonable. We don’t want our spectators feeling ripped off, just lightly fleeced. The rides are 50p a go.

October 10th

Beer: Today I ordered the beer for the bar, I have also been to Sainsbury’s and bought 5 cases of bottled Stella, it’s cheaper than Cash & Carry. We also make our own mulled wine, it’s really popular. I’m a bit of a Real Ale fan and have an account with our local brewery “Crouch Vale” and this year we will have four 9 gallon casks of their finest ale. I always hide some away before the fireworks so I can be sure there is some left for me at the end of the show. We now make more money on the bar alone than we made on the entire event in its early years. The only problem being the number of staff needed to serve it all in an hour and the lack of toilets on the field.

I was right to be concerned about our firewood, the company who supply it say if we want it they will deliver it this weekend. That means I have to store it somewhere, the obvious place is on the field but I am concerned it will get tampered with! Watch this space.

October 21st

Sorry for the delayed response I have been away from my PC and the forum for nearly a week. Gates open at 18.00, Fireworks 19.45.

I have sorted out the music to use with the display, here is an update I prepared last week.

There have been a number of posts on the forum about music and fireworks. I think they go really well together and have used music for my displays for a number of years. I keep an ear out throughout the year for suitable pieces. I have chosen “Enigma, The Gate” to start the show it lasts 2 minutes and is really atmospheric, it will work well with some MLE strobes. My other find for this year is “Zorba the Greek” from “Lock, stock & 2 smoking barrels”. It’s Greek dance music and starts slowly increasing in tempo at 30 sec intervals to a noisy finish here’s my plan; I hope to raise a few smiles.

1 * 8 shot Cat 2 candle
2* 25mm Red Comet candle
2* 28mm Blockbuster
2* 140 shot candles
1* 5 bar crackling pearl candle with 2 thunder barrages.

Full music list:

Enigma The gate 2.03
Star wars, Phantom Duel of the fates 4.12
Galaxy Quest Main Theme 1.08
Harry Potter Hedwig’s Theme 4.50
Lord of Dance Lord of Dance 4.46
Lock Stock Zorba the Greek 2.56
Vanessa Mae Can Can 3.40

I will save the best for last, the finale will consist of:

2* Triple H Bomb
2* 3 bar blockbuster
2* 5 bar Whistling Pearl
2* Tower of power, standing 2’ tall
1* Thunder King
2* Crazy Horses
6* 100 & 75mm mines
4* Big Mama Rockets
6* Aftershock report rockets
2*Shockwave report rockets

All fired in the last 3 minutes.

I received my small MLE order on Sat 12th, hand delivered by Mat. I couldn’t resist trying a strobe. What an excellent firework, long duration, great effect and it even makes a funny noise. I like the warning on the side of the “Strobing Flare”: “Warning this firework strobes”!

October 23rd

Just over a week to go now and the big day is constantly on my mind. We have a lot to live up to after last year’s very successful and profitable display. I am conscious that I have spent more on fireworks and sound/lighting hire and we will also have to pay to hire the marquee this year, to counter that we have added 50p to the child ticket prices. I guess at the end of the day it will be the weather that will make the difference, fingers crossed.

I have tried to do as much as I can in advance, I have now either got or ordered most of the stock we will need for the bar and BBQ. A friend of mine has spent today turning 25lb of mince into chilli for the Chilli Bar, that will now need freezing.

Jayne is still trying to drum up extra help, we work a 2 shift system 18:00-19:30 19:30-21:00 we need around 70 helpers to staff all positions. So far only the bar is fully staffed. Stewards and car parking is less popular.

We have had an offer of 20 pallets for the fire which is a welcome start, we are still waiting to hear from another possible supply, transport is the main problem. I am pleased that the FBU will not be on strike on the 1st not that I plan to need them! We have also confirmed that St John’s Ambulance will be able to attend.

I have been to local shops to put posters up, in some cases I was the 3rd display poster to be put up and the other posters are bigger, Doh. I also sent a press release to the local papers, TV and radio. I will scan this weeks papers to see if we get a mention.

October 26th

D Day: Delivery day, lots of lovely boxes all full of fireworks, and sack loads of polystyrene chips. I have always used the same supplier for my fireworks and buy a mixture of candle, cake and rocket packs, these are much better value than buying individual fireworks. By buying like this I have paid the equivalent of £30 for Crazy Horses (RRP £40). It does however mean my choice is more limited but I have always been happy with the overall quality of the fireworks. There are some “Best Buys” amongst them, some that I have had for several years plus some new. The Missile attack looks interesting with 150 pen lid size projectiles, I am looking forward to firing the enormous “Tower of Power” 24’’ tall containing 19 candles in each.

I have spent a day unpacking and checking them. I then armed myself with a stopwatch, CD player and clipboard. I have already thought of some sequences but need to fill in the gaps and use all the pyro. I play each piece of music and select the fireworks noting the firing time. When I am happy with the plan I label each firework with music/time and re-pack them.

October 30th

Adam and Stillsy, look foward to seeing you both if you make it, good luck on Saturday.

I have been doing the final preparations over the last couple of days

I have a trailer loaded with equipment for the bar and BBQ. The burgers (400) and sausages (30lb) will be collected tomorrow from our local butcher.

The fireworks are all bagged and labelled with firing time.

Britvic soft drinks are based in Chelmsford, they are providing the pallets for the fire. So a big thanks to Britvic.

Advance tickets are on sale at various outlets, I am told we have sold around 500 so far.

My main worry now… the faffing weather, rain could halve the attendance to the display and at the moment Friday isn’t looking too good!

This may be my last update before the display. I will let you know how it goes next week.

November 2nd

So the big day finally arrived, along with the rain although we were fortunate that it stopped raining at 16.00. I don’t have any figures yet but I am sure some people were put off by the weather.

The field looked great, subtle floodlighting with sodium lights, coloured lighting around the children’s rides and marquee. I had lit the wooded area to the side of the field with special colour changing architectural lights, it looked really good. I used the 7.5 ton truck that we had used to collect the pallets as a “stage” for the DJ and more stage lights. The PA sounded great filling the whole field with sound.

Our own outlets did well, the bar sold out of beer and the new chilli bar was a great success. There was even a queue at the ice cream van! We had a bit of bother with unofficial traders selling lite ropes etc outside the gate, but these gave up when we stopped their trade by asking people not to use them.

We held off putting out the fireworks for as long as we could. I was worried we if we waited for the rain to stop we may not have time, it was a little tight but we were ready with time to spare. The show went nearly according to plan. I missed a couple of queues for the mines at the end of the display because the noise from “Tower of Power” and “Thunder King” meant I couldn’t hear my monitor speaker so we over-ran the last bit of music. We got a good cheer and applause at the end and lots of people told me they had really enjoyed the display. I certainly enjoyed myself. The treasurer is still doing his sums but I’m sure we made a good profit.

November 7th

I heard from the treasurer tonight, we made a total profit of £3000 with 1500 people attending, most of our ticket sales were in advance although 400 were on the gate despite the weather. Our best outlet on the night was the bar making £650. So a great success and we can now order a new climbing frame for the playground.

Thanks to all who have been following my diary, roll on next year!

Keith M (US reader)

I realize that almost none of the fireworks on your site are available here in the states, but I can get lots of ideas from your comprehensive reviews. I do not mind paying for such quality and obviously time consuming work.

Your laws do seem strange to say the least, but listen to this. In my state, (Pennsylvania) almost all fireworks are prohibited to be sold to and used by PA residents, but if you are an out of state resident you may buy just about anything from PA vendors provided you do not use the items in PA. This leaves an enthusiast with no choice but to travel to neighboring states to buy items and use them at risk. Equally as strange, we are allowed a variety of small and medium sized rockets (which suck compared to the ones I have seen on your site) and mortar shells up to 1.75″ in diameter. The
mortars are my favorite, being the most potent and predictable for the money. We do have mines but they are hard to find and not as impressive as yours. The largest cake we have access to are 500g repeaters. These are equally as expensive as your large bore cakes but perform quite well, especially in combination with other large cakes or fountains.

The photo shows an overall shot of the goods I used on July 4 and is a good example of what is available to consumers here in the US. Most of the tubes you see are 1.75″ display shells which we can get here. You will also see the stations I created with cakes, mines and mortars. I used Visco fuse to link them up and time the firing of each piece. I realize this is a no-no in the UK but it is a safer alternative to hand firing. I placed these stations over a small, artificial beach at my friend’s lakeside and peppered fountains and roman candles between for saturation. I ran around with a flare to anoint each piece and got nearly 20 minutes of nearly continuous effects!

I am a member of a large pyro club called the Crackerjacks, located near Washington, DC. If you are ever in the US I would be glad to take you to one of our shoots as my guest. There are 3-4 shoots per year and would give you an opportunity to rub elbows with many enthusiasts, as well as get down and dirty with setting up and shooting a professional display if you wish.

Thanks Keith it’s always great to hear from non-UK members! – Pete


We had pre-prepared rocket launcher/racks, my Blair Witch projectesque candle rack and lots of pre-glued planks of wood for the cakes and mines. Set up three stations for the cakes, fountains & barrages and a separate one further away for the rockets.

Started with a mix of Comet, Space Gem and Bulldog rockets, rocket launcher meant that we could send off 5 together. Excellent start, not too big that people would get bored in the middle, but big, colourful & noisy. We lit up the sky for a long way!

Three of us then started lighting the smaller fountains, BC Waterloo and mines while one concentrated on an almost constant burst of rockets. A blowtorch came in really useful here as the concentrated flame meant multiple launches were no problem.

Followed with Armageddon and more Comet and Space Gem rockets. Wow, it was fantastic, the sky was lit and the noise was incredible.

We then fired Dragons Pearls, War of the Worlds and Firestorm. Crowd were cheering and shouting for more. We set off some Bulldog candles and smaller Bulldog barrages whilst the main rocket rack and cake rack was reloaded.

More fountains, Grasshopper, Sky Monkey along with Atomiser looked fantastic.

Happy Monk and Pheasant rockets and fountains went off and I had to stop firing to watch. Happy Monk was great, multiple launches of different effects, most of which turned into a whizzing silvereffect at the top of their range. As Monk finished, another Sky Monkey was lit, woo hoo!, we were on a roll!

Kind of lost track of exactly what was being fired after that as we picked up the pace and went for it. We had acquired approx 50 extra spectators who were all cheering and clapping. One shouted where’s the music, so I told him to start singing!

Finished all the other cakes, fountains & mines then decided to go to the finale and not send up the rest of the rockets(we still had about 50 left and the wind was starting to pick up)

As a finale, 2 multi shot Firework Factors barrages followed by Big Bens, Orb and Whoppa and Electro something or other.

It was a great evening with no incidents, accidents, trips or falls! Everyone enjoyed themselves and, while I did miss quite a lot of the effects due to keeping my head down concentrating on firing orders, I would definitely do a display on this scale again. Next year I will concentrate more on multiples than individual effects as there was a bit much going on at some points.

There were five of us on operation clean up so it did not take too long ( having the cakes etc secured on planks made clean up a lot easier).

Went into local pub then for drinks and hearty meal. Bar staff said it was a great display, they were really impressed ( pub manager was a bit grumpy as he lost a lot of trade when half his customers came out to watch).

All in all it went very well. Cant wait till New Years. (will probably send off the other 50 rockets on GF night, no way I’d be able to keep them till New Years!).

Paul W's fireworks stash

Paul at Lewes 2002:

It was unbelievably good, you could never describe to anybody that has never been what it is like, anyone that loves pyro has to go, it’s like the shrine of pyro, forget display competitions this is mad pyro nuts getting hold of every conceivable bit of pyro ever made and launching it skywards in a breathtaking display.

The parades are excellent and the atmosphere is fantastic.

I went to the legendary CLIFFE bonfire started late finished even later and was amazing, the Pope got pelted with the usual array of firey things and then was blown up, this years tableaux was a huge figure of George Bush that was so big it had to be towed in by tractor and this again is blown to pieces but at the end of the show. The Cliffes fireworks were put on by Cliffe Pyrotechnics Ltd who did a fantastic job,my ears are still ringing it was that loud.

Yes yes yes I enjoyed it can’t wait till next year hope more members go, you won’t be disappointed. Long live the legendary Lewes Bonfire!

Steve Jones' fireworks stash

Big Dook

Just a quick note regarding my night. Bought more than ever before (see previous forum posts), but can say some were ace, some were poor.


Black Cat SIB Agincourt
Battle Of The Cyborgs (cake come SIB)
3x Sky Monkeys ( hell yeah, went on for ages, and filled so much sky with 3 going off at once)
Weco Ultra Rocket (expensive, but one of the best and biggest breaks I’ve seen).

AND FINALLY!! = 3xDragon Has Scourned Fury Roman Candles from Golden Lion

FANTASTIC!…..over and inch bore size, 2.5 ft tall, strapped 3 on a stand I made and the fuses were extra long, so could light them with plenty of time. The cost £4 each!, and 3 going off at once was brilliant, maybe 6-8 shells per candle, with good breaks and report. DEFINITELY buying loads next year.

Now for the poor ones:

Few problems with Golden Lion/Cosmic fuses going out 1/2 b4 they start, especially on a Super Nova…..lets just say, Istill have ringing in my ears.

God Of Thunder & Mother Of Thunder (related?), ok, but very boring, just single shots, with a bang. Probably good, when accompanied with something else for effect.

Andorema Fountains from Tesco , definitely not buying these again, very poor.

Got pissed wet whilst firing everything, but apart from the odd fuse problem, everything was great…..and most importantly SAFE!

Final note RE port-fires. I bought six….should of bought 60!, never used em before, buy are ESSENTIAL when firing multiple items, no pissing about holding the crappy tapers to fuses waiting for a spark. Just touch the fuse, and move onto the next, not a single problem using em.

Andy P

I didn’t mention this before as there was a chance it wouldn’t happen, but last night I also got the chance to assist at a pro display, with about three hundred 3, 4 and 5 inch shells, shedloads of 2 inch shells, mines and candles, and several set pieces, lancework etc. mostly electrically fired and set to music.

And what a day it was! I arrived on site at 10am and finally left at 00:30 with only one cup of coffee and one pee all day. I had heard that the life of a pro-firer isn’t all the fun and excitement that we all hope it is, but I hadn’t realised that it was slave labour!

Also I have honestly never been so wet in my life. It started to rain at about 10:30 and didn’t stop all day and night. Keeping the pyro as dry as possible became the main concern of the day, so the first job of loading up all the 3 and 4 inch shells was done in the relative shelter of the tailgate of the lorry rather than in situ.

All the shells had been pre-fused together in sets of 10, and tied in bunches labelled with the piece of music they belonged to and their place in the firing order. I had to split these bunches, drop the shells into the mortar racks, and tie off each fuse to the side of its tube with an elastic band (usually this is done with tape but nothing would stick in the wet conditions). Then each completed rack was covered with kitchen foil and industrial clingfilm, labelled with a marker pen and added to the growing heap under plastic tarpaulins. I was also given the job of fixing several mortar racks onto angled wooden shapes to make fans and ‘hedgehogs’, so my carpentry skills to the fore!

My next task, and one which was to take most of the afternoon, was to help setting up the electric firing system. Once the racks had been moved out into their final firing positions and covered with tarpaulins again, this involved running lengths of bell-wire from the detonators attached to each set of shells (done by me), connecting the wires to the correct circuit on the multicore cables back to the control panels (done by the boss), and checking that the circuit was OK by the LEDs on the firing panel (relayed back to us via radio by his daughter in the van). Apart from the fact that I kept dropping the wire strippers because they were so wet and my fingers were numb with the cold, this was fairly straightforward as my normal line of work is as an electronic engineer, until it became apparent that something was seriously wrong. Eventually the boss twigged that all his newest reels of multicore cable had been wired in reverse order, so that circuit 1 became circuit 12, 2 became 11 etc. Also, the ‘permanent’ marker pen labels on several of the racks had washed away in the rain, meaning people had to be pulled off other jobs to find out what was where. By the time we had everything sorted the boss’s stress levels had risen a few notches, and time was getting on!

Most of the others then went off to check on the PA system that had been rigged the night before but was causing concern because of power fluctuations, leaving me and one other guy to set up some of the set pieces and other items that were to be manually fired. Most of these were to be mounted on tall posts and included two ‘flying pigeons’ which would chase each other along two parallel strings, accompanied by a song called Follow the Leader; a 20 foot waterfall and flares for the slow classical music section; and a large lance-work picture of a bus with two large catherine wheels for the wheels (no prizes for guessing which childrens’ song went with that!) This time it was Boy Scout skills required because the sodden ground and the threat of higher winds meant that everything had to be supported by extra guy ropes and stakes. A few rope burns later and we were ready with minutes to spare.

The audience were in place, the covers came off, the boss had his finger on the walkie-talkie to tell the MC back in the clubhouse that we were ready to start, when the unthinkable happened. A rocket was fired over the boundary fence and exploded right in the middle of the pyro. We reckon it must have been fired deliberately, judging by the angle it travelled at, but we could only stand and watch as several volleys of shells went up prematurely. The crowd just thought we had started already, so the CD was set running and we were off. Meanwhile frantic rethinking was going on to see if we could fill the gaps during the musical sequences with hand-fired stuff.

As I wasn’t to be doing any actual firing (maybe next time!), I could stand back and watch the show. My pigeons performed beautifully, the waterfall matched its music to the second, but there were several shells that broke rather low for my liking (so that’s why we have safety distances) and the wheels on the bus didn’t go round!

To be honest I don’t think the audience minded too much, my colleague said the applause at the end made it all worth while, but for me it was all those lovely stomach-grabbing launch thumps that were music to my ears.

So that was it, only another 3 hours of making safe, clearing up and loading the van and I could fall into bed, and dream of a Radox bath. Today I’m so stiff I can hardly move. I think I’m getting too old to get involved with all this!

After helping at the electrically fired display on the 2nd, and the wonderful anarchy at Lewes on Tuesday, I finally got to light something myself last night.

A small gathering of friends in one of them’s back garden (can’t use mine, it’s too small). Most of the pyro supplied by myself and my partner in crime/obsession Ted. Rain held off (just) and all but one cake fired with no problem. It was a “Bring one firework” do, so we had the problem of not knowing where to fit other peoples’ stuff into the firing order, but in the end nearly everyone bought a pack of rockets and a couple of tiny (by our inflated idea!) cakes, so we just set off all their stuff first as an overture, then had some food before starting up again.

Here’s the list:

Screech rockets x5
Shanghai Gold Comet Candle x3 (Shellscape)
Emerald Spray Cake (Kimbolton)
Comet Rocket x3 (Millennium)
Saturn Missile 100 shot Cake (Devco)
Hawaiian Blossom Fountain (Vulcan)
Midnight Sun Rocket (Maverick)
Missile of Star 9 shot Cake (Devco)
Beautiful Blue Brocade Cake (Imperial FW)
Rockets x5
Firestorm 16 shot Mine/cake (Black Cat)
Zodiac Wheel 3 gerb (Devco)
Medusa Rocket x3 (Kimbolton)
Swallow Fancake (Shellscape)
Thundering Bouquet Mine (Sovereign)
Flaming Fireball Cake (Men Shun)
Rocket x5 (Maverick)
Midnight Sun Rocket (Maverick)
Aurora Borealis Cake (Kimbolton)
Zodiac Wheel 4 gerb (Devco)
Sky Monkey with Coconuts Cake (Golden Lion)
Thundering Bouquet Mine (Sovereign)
Challenger Rocket pod (Shellscape)
Laser Beam Weapons Cake (Devco)
Shan Dian Jing Hun Fountain (Sovereign)
Lake of Sapphires Cake (Kimbolton)

Firing was all done one after the other so we could watch too, but I still spent most of the time preparing for the next one so missed a lot. Ted had the firing order on his laptop (now there’s organisation!), but we couldn’t find anyone keen enough, or sober enough, to type in their comments as they watched!

My success story of the evening was a chefs’ creme brulee blow torch. Piezo ignition and instant switch-off, small powerful jet of flame that lit sparklers in an instant. It wouldn’t survive really strong gusts of wind, but was so quick to relight it wouldn’t matter much. Ted’s rocket rack, (a souped-up version of the one posted on the forum) was great for multiple firings, and a big fence post fixed into an old Black and Decker workmate handled the wheels.

As to the fireworks:
1) I thought the cakes with loads of shots (Saturn Missiles, Sky Monkeys, and even (dare I say it ) Laser Beam Weapons), were a bit too repetitive and would work better in conjunction with something else.
2) The one failure was Sky Monkeys, but luckily, after all the fuss in the forum, I’d bought two extras for my son’s birthday, so could bring on another straight away.
3)The mines and fountains from Sovereign were brilliant. Not a name I’d seen before.
4) The wheels were very popular as always. Why are they so difficult to find in any variety these days?
5)Midnight Sun rockets from Maverick were very good, but the little cakes I mentioned at the beginning were theirs, and they were useless.
6) Missile of Star and Laser Beam Weapon were good fun and made the kids laugh, and Beautiful Blue Brocade and Aurora Borealis were very pretty.
6) What can I say about Lake of Sapphires! Pure class. Worth every penny, just wish I’d got Crown of Rubies too!

And I’ve still got some stuff left over for the son’s birthday next month, Yippee!

Andy P at Lewes 2002:

I went with my 12 year old son, and we both had a fantastic time (I wouldn’t take anyone much younger than that though).

We were so lucky because we were given a map by a fireman as we walked into town, which mentioned that the Cliffe display was by ticket only. Then as we were watching the processions, the Cliff Society stopped right next to us and we asked one of the guys if tickets were still obtainable. He looked doubtful but told us to try a pub called the Lewes Arms, and sure enough they had them!

As said before, the processions are amazing and the Cliffe display was second to none. Incidentally I think the clergymen on the stand (very brave men!) were supposed to be the archbishop of Canterbury etc. because they burnt/blew up the Pope (and George Bush this year)!
If you can go, go!!! (but don’t forget your camera like I did).


Nov 2nd 10 am. Got to the site nice and early, no wind and it was clear and sunny, I thought this was going to be a good day. We pulled up with a van full of cat 3 pyro inc:

2002 Firework list


12 x 3 bar blockbuster Candle Bouquets, 6 types
2 x Silver to coloured bombettes
2 x Golden rain bombettes
2 x Coconut tree bombettes
2 x Gold tails to green bombettes
2 x Silver comets to red bombettes
2 x Gold tails to blue bombettes

2 x 9 bar blockbuster Candle Bouquets
Both Golden rain bombettes

2 x Tropicana Display cakes
2 x Great Western Cakes

Great Northern Fireworks

2 x Ack Ack Barrages
2 x Wild blue ocean cakes
2 x Golden Willow Cakes
2 x Glittering Brocade cakes
2 x Daughters of the sea fanned cakes
1 x Thunder spider cake
1 x Spring message sib
1 x Comet flower thunder sib
1 x Golden Crossette cake

World of Fireworks

2 x Lake of Sapphires cakes
2 x Crown of Rubies cakes
2 x Kimboltons Gold mine cakes
3 x Giant Hawaiian cone fountains
2 x Siamese fighting fish cakes
2 x Colour crackling chrysthanthemum cakes
2 x Red Glistening star cakes

MLE Pyrotechnics

2 x Wizard spell cakes (Brocade)
2 x Wizard spell cakes (Blue peony)
2 x Edge of Distinction cakes
2 x 25mm Z firing fan BARRAGE CAKES
2 X Future guy cakes
2 x Aerial striker cakes

The Chinese Firework Company

2 x Crazy horses cakes
2 x Happy Monk cakes

Fireworks International

4 x Triple h bomb cakes
2 x Lazer Bombard cakes
2 x Mosaic cakes
2 x Galactic Invader cakes
2 x Mighty Phoenix cakes
1 x Oriental Emperor sib
1 x 21st Century sib
1 x Waterfall Setpiece
1 x Flying pigeon setpiece

God I was so looking forward to this. 11 am after unloading and marking out the sight, it was time to stake out these beasts to my site plan, and for two people this was a lot, as I found out.
12pm The first clouds started to appear, and by the time the first rain drops landed we had all the bouquets staked and waterproofed, next the ack ack barrages, right at the back.

1pm. The rain is now really coming down and it is getting more and more windy, I am piss wet through, and my PPE gear is so wet it has stuck to my body so every time I bend over I crush my ghoulies.

2pm. I have enlisted the help of two 50″ fishing umbrellas, that’s better, now I can rattle through the cake and sib sections. Had to laugh at the caterers trying to put up a canvas roof in the wind, it must have took them 2 hours, still it cheered me up a bit.

6 pm. It’s pitch black, pissing it down and the wind is changing direction, bugger and I still have the fountains and waterfall and flying pigeon to do, and I am knackered.

6.15 pm. The wind has changed, and is going towards the far corner which is a bit close to my spectator area, so we do some more roping off and cut down our crowd capacity which ended up at just over 300. Also with the wind I decided not to use the waterfall and fountains due to the placing near other fireworks thus injuring me or my other firer.

6.30 pm. The fire is lit, but it doesn’t want to go, I wonder why? To cut a long story short, the fire finally got going, but only due to the expertise of my mate Dave (he designs weapons for a living) and his big bag of tricks.

7.15. Its now my turn, the rain is still coming down but the wind is dying oh GREAT! First I started with 2 ack acks (600 airbombs in 30secs) and a 9 bar bouquet bloody excellent and they actually worked, my confidence was starting to rise. Then gnf’s thunder spider cake and golden crossette cake(they are the best cat 3 fireworks i have ever seen), truly awesome, the crowd were cheering, excellent.

Then the start of the duds first a happy monk then a lake of sapphires then 2 out of 4 triple h bombs, SHIT but the show must go on, it was time for some blockbuster magic, 2 silver to red and 2 gold to blue bombettes, who ever said blockbusters are past it was lying these are awesome. After more cakes and pairs of blockbuster bouquets their were more none shows, I am sorry to say it Mat at MLE only 6 of my order went off (2 wizard spell, both z fire cakes, 1 future guy cake and 1 aerial strike cake didn’t go), this was due to the rain and nothing else, as soon as the bag was cut open the fuse pulled out and lit the rain kept putting them out.

Anyway the show must go on and it did, 2 crazy horses, 2 daughters of the sea fan cakes, simply sky filling, then 2 gold mine cakes and 2 coconut tree bouquets.

Now it was time for the finale, 2 red glistening stars, 2 fighting Siamese fish cakes and 2 wild blue ocean cakes plus 4 blockbuster bouquets (multi colour and golden rain)over 2 mins then 1 oriental sib, 1 ack ack barrage, 2 glistening brocade cakes, 1 21st century barrage and the last 9 bar blockbuster bouquet in the last minute it can only be compared to world war three then applause! And I was still gutted.

At the end people come up and congratulate you on a great display but it could have and should have been better, if only.

7.45. I go on site to check all fireworks, and start the clean up with the other firer and it’s pissing down, out of a grand total of 80 fireworks, 22 didn’t go off, bollocks.

9.45 pm. After taking out all the stakes, collecting cake boards, bagging spent fireworks and doing a litter sweep I was ready for a beer.

As for the ones that didn’t go off including a comet flower sib,flowering comet thunder sib,a great western cake,1 lake of sapphires cake,6 MLE cakes, 2 triple h bombs,1 lazer bombard,2 crown of rubies cakes, 1 tropicana cake the list goes on, a total value of £1000. These are now in a secure metal box in my store under the guidance of cat 4 professionals, two of my friends who fired the annual Bethesda show down the road for Fireworks International are both cat 4 and very experienced, they are going to fire them for me tonight as they still have external wicks (just),even though I am training for cat 4 I’ll leave it to the professionals.

As to the footage I promised, there is around 10 mins on tape (due to the weather playing havoc with the recorder) it includes the finale, I’ll send it Pete as soon as possible I hope you like it.


Alas, ours was a washout.

At 8pm there were maybe 50 people waiting, compared to hundreds last year.

We started after a 15 minute delay (we gave the publican a choice of a mini display saving some for next Saturday but he decided to let us send them all up a little later).

This display is historically based around a load and fire regime rather than a dig in, we have 3 wooden firing boxes and a lot of bricks as well as the rocket rack. Another reason is bonfire proximity (more-or-less 25m from the crowd and the firing zone beyond that on a long narrow strip). The fireworks are laid out in firing order in the back of the landlord’s Range Rover and there is a team of two prepping the boxes whilst I fire on a round-robin basis.

It worked very well last year (with minor gaps where I underestimated how long some barrages would last) but this year the rain and wind nobbled us. It wasn’t raining when we started but we lost box 2 with a dud on the 5th firework. We lit a couple more then it started raining heavily. Then portfire 2 refused to light from portfire 1. We lit some rockets with matches and I tried to light portfire 3 actually in the bonfire after several failed matches but had to give up as my face was getting scorched. Portfire 4 crumbled in my hands and I couldn’t even find portfire 5 by that time.

I was amazed how quickly the fuse became unviable in the rain, less than 30 seconds and it would not stay lit. Some of the Golden Lion ones had fuse guards but the Premier stuff did not.

The portfires burned very poorly, more charred ash than white flame. These were Cosmic ones and don’t seem at all damp tolerant.

I think a blowtorch might have helped and now wish I had got hold of a box of portfires for fallback.

Still, never mind. No-one was hurt and the landlord ended up with most of the best ones to be hopefully used next Saturday (and as there won’t be a bonfire we could dig them in).

Paul Sergeant

Lousy weather in the NE, however, I did catch a lull and managed a decent garden job.

Some that impressed included-

Cosmic’s Radiation Outbreak (49 large shots at a good pace, with some very unusual red twinkling effects! if you’ve got any you shouldn’t be disappointed).

Kimbolton’s ‘small’ Rainbow ground mines (8 quid for 5! but be careful with your distance – the burst was large and very LOW!).

Bright Star Flashing Thunder (good in a pair, however, somewhat overshadowed by the enormous ‘THUD’ of Cosmic’s Mega Airbombs – these are serious, if you can find them they’re a must. I don’t know of anything louder within reason!).

Red Dragon’s Clustering Bees (good mix of most effects).

Cosmic’s Plutos Moon ( I’d forgotten just how good these are. For £6 you get 25 enormously high shots with a good visual burst and super report – again, if you’ve got ’em you’ll be happy!).

Kimbolton Medusa Rockets (excellent value for 5 different effects).

Golden Lion’s Jumping Grasshoppers (nothing to say except ‘brilliance’). Blossoming Garden was ok but not as good. Dragon Candles did well also.

All of the other stuff performed well . We had no failures or other ‘mishaps’. I might just afford myself a pat on the back.

Pyro Sean

Just finished the day after clear up operation.

Well what a day!!!! First it started with 8 hours of nonstop rain then some of the worst wind I have seen and to top it off low cloud!

But then all of a sudden my luck changed. At around 6 O’Clock the cloud lifted all rain stopped and the wind dropped considerably. After setting up successfully and staking, waterproofing and erecting poles I was ready to continue. I send up a tester rocket and all was fine.

The 350+ audience had arrived and were spending all their money helping support the several charities!

At 7 the fire went up and here it was 7.30. Months of planning and hard work was about to pay off. The first rockets went up and they certainly opened the show. (1 x big mama, 4 Mega Travellers and 4 x bang rockets). Then off went the cakes. The whole display was amazing, just as planned. the display was fast paced throughout and only 1 gap (as I recall anyway). The wheels all span round and I had no duds! The waterfall was spectacular also (a great crowd pleaser) I also let of a waterloo behind which was spectacular. Then came the finale, 2 x crazy horses, 3 x happy comets, 1 x space invader, 2 x 56 shot barrage and 2 x double break rockets, 2 x mega travellers, 2 x victory rockets and 2 x big mamas) well what can I say, I loved it and so did the crowd. FANTASTIC!!!!!

Thanks for everybody who helped in making this memorable event. Thanks Pete, UKFR readers and the hundreds that gave money to our charities. But above all thank you FIREWORKS INTERNATIONAl for providing me with the best pyro around!!!!! What a show!


Attempted to fire a public display on Saturday. Despite everything being covered, bagged, taped etc, we really struggled thanks to the rain that constantly fell from 1pm onwards.

Managed to fire around 3/4 of what we had set up, although we took the decision not to put out all of the material bought. This was mainly due to the fact it was a charity do and we anticipated attendance being dramatically down(I was firing the display for no fee, as I’m connected with the Group).

It was really disheartening and all the plans of set orders went out after the failed attempt at lighting a series of MLE’s strobing flares in the opening seconds of the display.

Was mightily impressed with the Crown of Rubies which successfully fired. Well worth the money. Just a pity we lost so much of the rest.

These things happen I suppose. Just have to have an excuse to fire the rest sometime soon!!


I was invited to my friend Murray’s house at the weekend, who said he was having a fireworks do on the 5th, and would I like to go along, silly question really!

Murray did not know I was ‘in’ to fireworks, so we spent a good afternoon chatting about it, and me giving him a few tips etc along the way, how to set them up, what to do during and after the show etc etc.

I went round this afternoon to help him set up, we had use of the farmers field next door which was a godsend as he had just been out and got himself a couple of hundred pounds worth of pyro that afternoon, all cat 3 and far too big for his garden, Also a £99.99 beast from Firework factors, Tornado Destruction I think it was called

We collected everything together in his garage, and sorted out the pyro into separate lidded bins, rockets in one, cakes / barrages into another etc etc, and worked out a rough plan on how to fire the display.

We could not lay everything out, as guests all had to bring one ‘good’ firework each, so we whipped these into the garage as they turned up (20 or so guests) and sorted these out too.

We decided that I would fire the cakes/barrages, utilising garden planter boxes filled with gravel to bed the cakes in. I had 2 of these around 6′ long and 5 metres apart, set 30m from the spectator area, I also had stakes set out to cable tie taller items to.

Murray fired the ‘smaller’ stuff from another planter 5 metres in front of me, and we enlisted the help of another friend Keith to fire the rockets, which were set off to one side of the display area due to wind direction.

The plan being Keith would let off a rocket to start the display, as this went off Murray would fire off his Tornado, as this went out I would fire a cake, as this expired then Keith would fire a rocket or 2 and Murray would fire something from his stash, so while this was happening I then had chance to empty the fired gravel planter, and move across to the other planter ready to fire another cake/barrage, this proved a very successful way of doing things, we all knew who was next in the firing order, the way it rotated meant that Murray had no fallout from my pyros at the back of the display, and we had a ball

The Tornado was awesome if very expensive,

I cant say what else we fired namewise really, apart from that, as although we had sorted out the pyro according to type/category etc, we had no firing order as such, it being a ‘lucky dip’ as to what we pulled out of our respective boxes as the show went on.

But it was great fun

I had taken along some Portfires which was good as the cork type things are no use to anybody at all, we still managed to run out half way through though, so I had to leap over the fence to my car and get some more.

I had got some wax torches from Wyvale, to light the Portfires from, Keith had one, Murray had one and I had one, they supposedly burn for an hour, but mine had gone in 10 minutes! so I had to remember to light Portfires from the existing one before it went out!

Towards the end the rotation went a bit off, as Murray ran out of pyro before I did, so he and Keith fired off rockets to fill in while I worked alternate gravel troughs with the cakes. We all thoroughly enjoyed it, learned a lot, took note on what to avoid next time, and played safe all the way through, not rushing for continuities sake, just working our way steadily through what we had.

Several duds, makes – I dont really know them all

Several Portfires burned the fuse then expired, I had got these from a shop that sells Golden Lion, so not sure if they were made by them or not. I had some from Firework Factors, different coloured cases, these did not last too long, but performed faultlessly.

1 cone failed as the fuse burnt away, and I remember 2 Screaming Happy Fruit Bat Rockets were no use, as the fuses pulled out when the safety cover was removed.

All of these are now languishing in a large bucket of water with the lid on.

We also had some old fireworks from a selection box someone had bought 5 years ago. We took these and said oh great – thanks very much, and left them in the garage, they are now in the water bucket with the duds! As some were decidedly battered in appearance and had no ratings or descriptions on them.

The people watching loved every minute of it, congratulations were handed out to us as we trooped back in from the field, and we are already thinking of the next one!

We cleared up the field as best we could in the dark, leaving only hundreds of cardboard discs everywhere, there is no livestock in this field so they will soon rot away. I dont have any photo’s though and I dont think anyone else had a camera either, which is a pity, as it would be nice to have seen what our mini display looked like.

The weather was brilliant in the end, a light breeze, no rain.

The only downer to the night was that someone had eaten all the chilli before I got back in, so I did not get any

A great time was had by all, firers and spectators, now we will have to do better next year !!


Well due to a couple of delays with people not arriving on time and insisting on eating first I finally got out at 9:10pm and had everything ready, my cousin became permanent helper for the whole display and all fireworks were lined up in house in their firing order so they could be taken and quickly set up. At the end I will sum up what was excellent and what was disappointing and give you my firing list for reference, hope it all helps for your future purchases.

Once everybody was in place at the very back of the garden I started with 1 Super Blitzknall, 1 B52 Rocket, 2 Big Boom Battery, 1 Pack of Proton Bombs and 1 Pack of Mega Airbombs. Well it was quite incredible everything got lit by the two of us with portfires(obviously there were distances between different fireworks for effect and of course SAFETY!). The rockets were lit about eight seconds before the Big Boom Battery’s finished and exploded as they finished, the effect was stunning, got a big round of applause for the very first set. Next was Bomb Blast Missiles which was fired on it’s own yet still pleased the crowd although nobody was over enthusiastic. On to Silver Jewel Mine and 2 Earthquake Mines nothing special caught the crowd by surprise though, just keeping it small and building up in size!

Next were some Standard cakes which on their own would of been shit however they were fired four at a time and provided a great mass of colour, noise and were of a very high tempo which went down well with the audience. Next we decided to let off all 8 Demon Detonator Rockets at once, the screams all went off together and were so harsh on the ears one of my ears went death, got a clap for that! Devil Crash and Happy Festival Mine were both very mediocre.

It was time to pull out some noise cakes and God of Thunder served the purpose to go with Pluto’s Moons and Star Trooper. This worked very well some severe noise with about a thirty second duration of constant colour and noise, very impressive. Round 9 was very much the same as round 8 a great combination to keep the crown entertained.

Next came the disappointment in my eyes of the night, Judgement Day Rockets, they were bloody awful, really poor but you learn from your mistakes. 2 Sky Monkeys were up next, they just didn’t stop! People found them very amusing because they went on for so long, personally I thought they were rubbish but that is just my opinion and I can see why many people would think they are nice as most of my crowd did. A Super Blitznall and a Black Widow up next, provided a nice bang that everyone appreciated. Cyclone Wheels were up next, we ended up erecting the post in an already 3 foot high giant flower pot, so the three wheels were lined vertical on a post, what can I say they were superb, they all went off at the same time so the screech was really evil, all in all a pack I would recommend to anyone. Next was a round of Airbombs, Pyro pete is spot on when he says airbombs are pants in a display they only work when let off with other fireworks as I did at the beginning.

More offerings from Bright Star up next in the form of Galactic Storm and Thundering Ion Storm, very very good indeed, mass of colour and noise at a high pace, pleased with that round. Then came my first appreciation of just how good rockets can be: 2 Whoppas, 2 B52’s and 2 Black Widows and a Super Blitznall as one was left over, the rockets broke one after the other as all were let off at once and they filled the sky, got a round of applause from neighbours, my crowd and some people who had gathered in the nearby park which is just across the road. 1 Packet of Medusas next all let off at once, what can I say very disappointing.

Now the display really started to hot up with 1 Flashing Thunder, 2 Castle Attack and 1 Thunder Devil, personally it was my favourite round of the night, the pace was quite unbelievable and the noise was something shocking, a real crowd pleaser got a massive round of applause, can’t recommend those high paced Castle Attacks and Flashing Thunders enough when used in quantity or combination. 2 Super Novas next up, quite clearly the individual firework of the night, I’m a big fan cake fan already, this is one serious piece of pyro for the money even at 20 pounds as I paid £15.99 for each one at Sainsburys. The colours are stunning spreading all over the garden at a nice low-ish height and then severe reports to finish. 20 was much the same as 8.

Round 21 was exceptionally good, fast paced, some nice colour from Pluto’s Moons and stunning noise from Big Boom Battery and Castle Attack. 23 was shit! Those were good when I was on selection boxes but those mines have no place in a display of this calibre(not trying to sound toffy but they were not appreciated by anyone they really were pants!).

On to big things that I had waited weeks for!

The 1st Finale all got lit and what can I say, the noise was something special, it went on for a long time as well, it was hard to work out what was that in that barrage but I believe the one that stood out was either Armageddon or Mars Nuke Attack something in there was seriously loud and stood out every couple of seconds but the whole effect was one of extreme noise making proton bombs seem like selection box material!

2nd Finale got like a minute clap from my crowd, the three biggies were set apart about 3 foot and when they went off the whole garden and above was filled with colour and noise you could not see through the mass of it, I stopwatched it and at 38 seconds lit the rockets which went off as the cakes finished, the bursts filled the sky and everyone gave nice long applause and came over to congratulate me after saying three cheers for Nick which I followed by three cheers for Richard my cousin who I asked them to thank for his kind assistance being as much a part of the display as I was, not liking attention I quickly got out of there got a drink and relaxed while everyone went inside for the party which went on till around 3, by the time I got to bed at 4 I was knackered!

Now for my summing up!!!!

Standard Cakes are shit! They were good when I had two with a selection box as a child, people liked them because they were let off in quantity but I was disappointed would never touch them again.

After hearing all the rockets, bangs and those Black Widows, Super Blitzknall put them all to shame, they are the greatest bang on a stick I have heard and the boom is just stunning, Shellscape Black Widows were so poorly made, tops fell off fuse covers almost break the whole firework when you take them off and I am now very sceptical about touching their pyro again, which is a shame as it seems like good stuff although Black Widows didn’t impress. Demon Detonators were buy one get one free for a pack of 5 at £2.50 that is 25p a firework for something that when fired in combination is better than Black Widows, the screech is pure evil and the report when fired like 5 at a time are superb, can’t recommend them highly enough. Big Boom Battery, almost as loud as Mars Nuke, 19 shots I believe, there are actually two types as one has a fuse cover and one doesn’t and one has clear plastic on top one doesn’t, well one of them burst with gold colour as well as a tail o the way up and very loud, there quite simply is not better value firework I have ever seen at £2.50 which is what I paid.

Best Value Firework: Big Boom battery.

Best Individual Firework: Super Nova.

Best Round: Obviously the final barrage of Crown of Rubies, Kruger and Crazy Horses and some rockets.

Best Rocket: B52, all burst twice with a huge burst, for £6.99 they were bloody amazing, made the whoppas look crap when fired in groups.

Best Brand on the Night: Bright Star by a mile.

Disappointments on the Night: Judgement Day Rockets, Medusa Rockets, Standard Mines.

Now to settle one thing, the car alarm debate! No fewer than fourteen cars within my road had their alarms set off straight away, most with brain switched them off but some idiots left them on and on six occasions alarms were set off, the house opposite have an elaborate security system, cameras panic buttons all that and their house alarm went off, luckily they were in and they turned it off for the display as it is connected to a security firm and the police! Thank god they were fine about it well they did all watch from their windows! So in a word yes car alarms in metropolitan areas most definitely can be set off and in the case of the neighbour across the road some house alarms if they are expensive enough!

I learnt a hell of a lot from this display, one thing I know is I disagree with Pete on one thing! Rockets, would never anymore buy the cheaper rockets as they didn’t do the job, I received a catalogue from Great Northern Fireworks yesterday and they do the Weco German stuff so I am going to get a load of those big ones next time and also the Ack Ack Barrage from Ammo Store think they are or Munitions Store that look like my dream firework! I would also buy more bigger cakes and less small ones as I prefer the effects and will shorten the display, I am going to be partying New Year’s Eve I found out so I’m having my next display in May for my birthday, gonna stretch to a grand and get massive rockets, loads of Maroons and big cakes!

Must say a big thank you to everyone at the UKFR for their help, my appreciation goes out to all of you for putting up with my amateurishness, I ended up with a superb display thanks in particular to Pete, Tony Webster, Graham Mann, PaulSergeant, Clawton, Dj Liam, Pepsi, sorry if I left you out just trying to think of all the people who chipped in and advised, than you!

Nick’s Back Garden Display 2002,



Fired half my stash last night in almost perfect weather conditions in South London. No dud fireworks for the first time in years. Raised £500 for the terminally ill ward at a local hospital so some people were impressed anyway.

Most of my fireworks came from one big order from Dynamic Fireworks in Colchester who I rarely see mentioned on this site (is there any reason for this?). I have always had excellent service from them and get full refunds for any misfires and duds I return to them. They seem to get their fireworks from the same place as Great Northern as their catalogues are almost identical.


Missile of Stars
Devco Double mine
3 X Sky Monkey
Anglers Ambition fan cake
Rule Britannia
Silver Tails
Happy Holiday
2 Single Star Mines
Colourful Bees Cake
Whistling Tornado
Wild Blue Ocean
Purple Chrysanthemum Cake
3 Minute Spectacular

2 Champion Rocket volley
Atlantis Rocket (Devco)
Neon Rocket (Devco)
Dream Rocket (Devco)
Palm Tree Rocket (Devco)

Review of fireworks

1)On the rocket side the Devco Rockets were superb as always but the Champion Rocket volleys were rubbish – poorly made, difficult to secure and hardly worth the effort.
2)Sky Monkey – First time I have fired this and I let three of them off. Fantastic firework if a bit long. Absolutely imperative that spectators are the required distance. My crowd were well over 30m away and this firework came pretty close to them!
3)Devco double mine – Short but so sweet. This was my first firework of the night and you could say it woke the crowd up. (Half of them were expecting a £50 box of Standard fireworks!)
4)Wild Blue Ocean – Fantastic Blue effect firework. Now have to get a Lake Of Sapphires to compare.
5)Whistling Tornado – Did not appear in this years brochures but was given as a freebie. 1000 shots of colour, noise and total chaos in one minute. Excellent.
6)3 minute spectacular – Nice firework to finish with as it does all the work for you.
7)The others did what they said on the tin but did not last in the memory.

Having not been allowed any air bombs last night I now have to work out how to integrate an Ack Ack Barrage, Thunder King(another freebie), Thunder Peony and 2 packs of Proton Bombs into my New Year display. Apologies to anyone on the Suffolk coast at that time!!!


What a night!

Firstly thanks to Matt at MLE and Nigel at Galactic Fireworks for some great gear…

Sunday night, daughter’s 11th Birthday party and my largest ever display (started at £300 and slowly rose over a the last month to closer to £500)

The weather was very kind, lovely clear sky all day, which had helped to dry up the site a little (though was still wet underfoot) but more importantly meant that it was good viewing and firing weather!

A rack was built for the rockets (just under 50 of them, including Medusa’s, Whoppas, Whoppa Deluxe, Orb etc etc) from timber and 22mm Overflow pipe and the 8 wheels were attached to substantial timber cladding on my daughter’s playhouse (sorry – will repaint it – honest)

I started with some MLE dinosaur mines and a couple of MLE Roaring Dragon Rockets, both met with the customary aaahs and oooohs, we then followed with a couple of Sky Monkeys that went down a treat and then built up through Alien Attacks, Halle Bops, Hang Dynasty Cakes, etc etc building up the noise and effects with the larger Slime Swap cakes from MLE (excellent) and larger bore candles (Titanium Thunders) amongst many others, intermingled with a couple of Catherine wheels and rocket volleys… seemed to go on forever!!

I had an audience of around 40 who were actually at the party plus about 15 other houses that back on to our house had come out to watch. We (myself and fellow firer, Danny), were met with a huge round of applause and cheers once the finale of two Waterloos, the Lake of Sapphires and 3 large rockets (Whoppas and Orb) had finished.I’ve never experienced anything like being in the middle of such a display, truly awesome, the noise and the power of some of these fireworks is truly awesome awesome.

The help, hints and tips that I have managed to gather from this site have been invaluable in ensuring that the whole night went off without one single hitch. From hints on personal safety (mine and the audience), setting out the fireworks to getting timings from the reviews sections – and much more beside, all invaluable and well worth the subscription –

Thank you, keep up the good work.


Just like to say a big thankyou to everyone who has contributed to the forum and the UKFR itself. I fired the stash earlier this evening (the rain held off all through the day and till after my display finished despite me spending hours staking, waterproofing, foiling tops and fuses on just about every single item) and it was a raging success.

I cant get to sleep I’m still on such a high! Just about everyone at the party made a point of telling me how fantastic it was and I’m sure it would not have been so good had it not been for the advice and info you guys have given.

Everything went without a hitch, no duds, everyone home safely (despite the Laser Beam Weapons blowing itself to pieces on the penultimate shot).

One person said they had been to a local insurance company firework display in the week (a £2k 25 minute Cat4 display which has quite a good reputation locally) and mine made it look quite ordinary. They said it honestly knocked spots off it.

I was absolutely knackered and on such an up I couldn’t eat any of the grub we got in for the do so I sat quietly nursing my aching everything (I really never knew just how much hard work it takes to do it properly) as everyone else tucked in to the grub. All I could hear was everyone talking about how this was the best firework display they had ever been to. Well you can imagine how I am feeling right now, I’ve got such a huge grin I’ve got face ache.

I’ll try and post a proper report when I’ve recovered and got the video done for those who are interested. Anyway, thanks again to everyone & UKFR, you all played a big part.



Well I’ll skip the intro as my shopping list says it all. And I’m getting Chris from Blackpowder to set the whole lot off on Saturday night at a local school.

The Display will go off at 7.30pm and Chris will add a bit of Cat 4 material. And I will try to catalogue and film all of the fireworks (whoever ever gave the tips for camera settings thanks).

4 x Trojan Series Rockets
1 x Defender Gold and Red Barrage
1 x Defender Green & Crackling Barrage
1 x Century 3000 Cake Pack ( 2 min )
1 x Silver Chrys & Crackle & Strobe Mine Pack
3 x Jupiter Fountain
1 x 72s Scorpion Cake Pack ( 72 secs ? )


6 x Standard Fireworks Super candle ( 30 seconds each )
3 x Hastings Cakes ( 2- 3 min )
2 x Jubilee Cakes ……. Supposedly hastings substitutes but they appear to be a bit bigger ( I’m not complaining )
1 x Showstopper ( Display in a crate concept ) ( 2 – 3 mins )
10 x Whoppa rockets ( Metal Cases )
4 x Trafalgars 2 min ( Set all 4 off at once )


12 x whopper Rockets (Fantastics not standards )
1 x Water Fall silver
1 x Bang in the Box (Fantastic ) 2 min ( Roman Candle Mine unit )
2 x Glitter Splitters 30 secs
4 x Silver Snakes ( Fantastic Fireworks )


1 x silver Target Wheel
6 x 100mm Disp Mines
1 x Cascade Wheel
10 x Sandlings largest Rockets
1 Monster Golden Bouquet ( 3×3 ) blockbuster candle set
2 x Giant battery Candles Pack A ( Contains 8 pods each with 4 block busters )
2 x Vulcan comet worlds 40 secs
2 x Vulcan Finale Crossettes 40 secs


1 Spiders roman candle wish I had 3 …

Golden Lion

1 New year Festival !!!!

250 Glow Sticks multi coloured

So if anyone would like to come along feel free if you are in the Milton Keynes area.

Chris at Blackpowder added: “I have booked myself in for a few nights in hospital following from firing that lot, We are also bringing along an assortment of shells of various shapes and sizes, including some nice titanium salutes. Bring yer earplugs! “


What can I say !!!! Wow what a spectacular show Blackpowder put on for us.

The best way to describe the event was the guys set off the fountains and then we went onto a 20 min finale.

The show would have not been out of place in Shugborough

If anyone is looking for a great crew I can highly recommend these guys.

Thanks again Chris.

Chris at Blackpowder replies: “Many thanks Kitty, I have to say though that it isn’t hard to put on a good show when you’ve got a huge amount of fireworks! Kitty invested a lot on good quality product and the results spoke for themselves, especially with a sixty shell finale up to 6″ with a smattering of titanium salutes and 100mm mines. The crew had a fab day to end the week, with us being showered with tea, coffee and pizzas!”.

Sedgley Kev

Thanks to all the advice received here over the last few weeks I managed to waterproof and set up successfully in the p*ssing rain on Saturday afternoon.

£500, 100 fireworks, no “incidents” and only one dud (one of 5 Men Shun Titanium Thunder candles that I had arranged in a fan as it happens). Oh, and 20 minutes the lot.

So many good fireworks went up on the night, including:

Crazy Horses
Crown of Rubies
Gold Mines (Kimbolton)
Thunder Kings (Imperial)
Medusa Rockets, and of course
Sky Monkeys (x4)

Just one thing, is Lake of Sapphires the business OR WHAT! This is the best blue firework I have ever bought … possibly the best firework I’ve ever bought for that matter.

The Roberts Family

Just to say the Kimbolton fireworks were excellent, the wind was blowing in the right direction. As our neighbours were setting up their party the smoke from the fireworks was billowing over their garden. I set the big firework you gave us out front on the drive (Aurora Borealis), it was very colourful and loud. Once again thank you, we saw your display from Old Catton! Tim, Ange, Dan (who was in charge of order of display ), Melissa and Nathan (who was in charge of the torch).