Tag Archives: brock’s fireworks

Old Skool Fireworks

Being ideally positioned just off the M1, in the middle of the UK makes our showroom the ideal spot to meet up. It is no surprise therefore that avid firework collectors come over to see us regularly. They meet up to exchange goods, chat about recent ‘acquisitions’ and of course to establish what else they are looking to find and add to their collections.

Fireworks have been around in the UK for literally hundreds of years but they were widely popularised in the mid 18th century as a result of a London-based company, Brocks Fireworks, the company responsible for an annual fireworks display from 1865-1936 covering a period of more than 70 years. The company was so popular in years gone by that they even appeared on a Pathe Newsreel detailing how they made lancework and Catherine wheels.

Collectors of history and ephemera spend an absolute fortune on their collections and are pretty much aware of what other avid collectors of pyro paraphernalia have in their collection and are in the process of adding.

One such collector is Maurice Evans, a man who is well into his eighties now and yet his fascination with fireworks shows no sign of dwindling – i reckon (just like myself) he used to be the one with his face stuck to the window of the local fireworks retailer on the run up to Bonfire Night.

Today, he has some real treasures, all fine examples of fireworks from years gone by. He is proudest of his exploding ‘firework fruits’ with a price tag of 2s and 6d (30p to those among us who can vaguely remember buying a Mars bar on changeover day and was gutted that it cost all of my shiny 2p coin) and more worryingly some WWII shells and mortars.

He said during a recent interview for a magazine article confirmed that the majority of the fireworks are either dummies or have had their gunpowder removed. However, it wouldn’t be possible to do this with Catherine wheels and bangers without damaging them. I would add that this is an accepted practice amongst firework collectors.

Collectors, whether the passion be for stamps, coins or fireworks as in this instance are a new breed altogether. Fireworks are brightly coloured, with a unique smell and are very tactile which of course adds to the fascination.

If you do have some fireworks hidden away that you would like to share pictures of, if you could let us have a few shots we will put them onto our Facebook and web pages.

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The Pyrotechnists Arms – Best Pub Name in England?

Here is a pub sign you won’t see every day unless of course, you live in Nunhead Green in London where you would probably pass it every day.

There is a little bit of a background story to this pub name. There is even a legend that Guy Fawkes himself drank there, although this is hard to prove.

The Pyrotechnists Arms was named as it was very close to what is thought to have been the oldest British firework manufacturer, Brocks Fireworks.

Brocks was founded in the early 18th century in Islington by John Brock.

The company moved to south London, to South Norwood and Sutton and developed an association with Crystal Palace, devising spectacular free public displays (popularly known as “Brock’s Benefits”) and taking on “Crystal Palace” as a brand name.

The 1887 and several subsequent editions of Whitaker’s Almanack have advertisements for Brocks, under an earlier name: it provided for the Crystal Palace company, the UK War Office, Government of India, and many other bodies.

Brocks Fireworks was only bought out by Standard Fireworks in 1988, but the name lasted into the 21st century as a brand name for some imported products.

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Old Firework Poster – Brocks ‘Crystal Palace’ Fireworks

Brock’s Fireworks was founded in the early 18th century by John Brock. Brock was one of the major players in the drawing up of the Explosives Act of 1875 which is the standard still used to this day for the manufacture, storage and transportation of explosives.

In the early 20th century, Henry Brock built housing and a Sports and Social Club for his workers to ensure that they maintained a certain standard of living which unfortunately was lacking at the time.

The company remains historically linked closely with London as they put on a series of spectacular free displays, referred to as ‘Brock’s Benefits’ from 1865 to 1936 in the grounds near the Crystal Palace, hence the reference on the poster above.

In 1988, Brock’s manufacturing in Scotland was bought out by Standard Fireworks and all production moved to Yorkshire.

Brock’s Fireworks Ltd is still closely connected with the fireworks industry although the company is not currently trading. They state that their aim is to bring firework production back to the UK shores to continue the legacy of Brock’s through the 21st Century.

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