Tag Archives: gunpowder

Bonfire Night Is Coming

So it has come to our attention that BBC 1 has revealed that it will be showing a three part drama called ‘Gunpowder’ and it has to be said we are all very excited about. The series is to be set around the early 17th century and is all about the evolution of the plot that could have seen King James I assassinated when Robert Catesby came up with his plan to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

Guy Fawkes Mask box, Bar at the End of the World, Paris, France

The mini drama will not be based around Guy Fawkes but more around the mastermind behind the plot, Robert Catesby. Catesby who will be played by ‘Game of Thrones’ very own Kit Harrington will narrate his story in the lead up to the gunpowder plot. What pushed him to come up with such a daring plan and how he managed to get as far as he did without detection. Harrington has also revealed that Catesby is actually a direct ancestor on his mother’s side and that is what led him to play such a role and tell the story not many people know.

Liv Tyler, Tom Cullen and Shaun Dooley will also star in this 3 part drama as Catesby’s cousin Anne Vaux, Guy Fawkes and Sir William Wade respectively. This all-star drama really has us all in anticipation as it shines a new light on the plot and tells the story from the plotters point of view rather the widely known facts that we relate to 5th November. It also shows us how Catesby managed to get Fawkes, the man you think of as soon as Bonfire night is mentioned to join such a plot as well as showing the roles of the other conspirators that did their part to blow up the King in 1605. The caption for the series is ‘Behind every plot, Is a mastermind’ and we hope that this series will show us why we today celebrate November 5th as Bonfire night!

Guy Fawkes, "Next Time, I'm Using Epic Fireworks"

GUNPOWDER

We all know that fireworks contain gunpowder but what else can it be used for?

Gunpowder was accidentally discovered in China by a Monk over 2000 years ago. It was originally packed into bamboo canes, which when lit released a noisy crack which in turn was thought to away the bad spirits that surrounded them.

Years later its potential was realised and very soon weapons of all kinds were designed from cannons to muskets, grenades to rockets. It wasn’t until the battle of Mohl in 1241 when Europeans first witnessed its explosive power. Just imagine seeing this magical powder for the first time; it must have been absolutely terrifying and perceived at the time as the work of the Devil. The Mongols had now been using gunpowder for some time for blowing up fortifications, firing exploding rockets into castles and of course cannons, the first ever recorded use of a cannon happened at this battle.

Skipping forward to the 14th Century records show the first instance of gunpowder being manufactured in England. Obviously it was a closely guarded secret at the time, so needed to be kept in a secure location. The Tower of London became the English Crown’s primary factory of gunpowder with a number of other castles later being hastily provisioned to allow stocks of the powder to be made and stored, mainly for cannon and musket use.

Gunpowder goes BOOM! Lego goes click-click

Nowadays, although there are many more powerful explosives available, black powder is still used in some quarries as high explosives detonate with a supersonic wave, when all the mass explodes together it is known as detonation, where as black powder deflagrates (burns much slower) therefore does not smash up the rocks into small pieces making gunpowder preferable due to bigger rocks selling at a higher cost.

During the Napoleonic Wars (1803 – 1815) it was commonplace for the soldiers to eat salted horse meat.  When the salt ran, out gunpowder was used to cure meats as it contains various salts – what it tasted like was a different matter but better than starvation.

Imagine the scene ….. you are a sailor on board a ship and have recently been in one or two skirmishes and have an injury which appears to be ‘going’t wrong way (as we say in Yorkshire) as a result of which, the ship’s surgeon tells you he will be amputating your leg but has ran out of alcohol but he proclaims that it will be fine as he can use gunpowder as an antiseptic instead – job done.  The sailor might just have managed to sneak a small amount away for later use but what would he use it for?  The next day he could be sporting a Jolly Roger tattoo as they would use pins to mark out the design, then rub black powder into the open wound to permanently colour the marks black.

If the sailor at their next port of call picked up a barrel of brandy or run and he overindulged a little, he might just sprinkle a little gunpowder into his drink to cure his hangover.

In 1673, Christiaan Huygens, a noted mathematician, built the World’s first internal combustion engine which was powered by gunpowder not very successfully, as it kept clogging up the exhaust vents with the sooty deposits.  Unfortunately, to date, nobody has managed to successfully build an engine powdered by gunpowder, unless you know better.

Today, gunpowder (or black powder) has been used in the following guises:

  • FIREARMS – in bullets and cartridges
  • SPECIAL EFFECTS IN FILMS – explosions
  • EXPLOSIVES – for quarrying
  • FIREWORKS – across the board
  • FUSING FOR FIREWORKS AND EXPLOSIVES – quick match etc to enable professionals to fire a number of pieces at the same time without the delay
  • MEDICINE – as both an anaesthetic and as a hangover cure
  • FARMING – farmers use small amounts of explosives to rid their fields of stumps

It just goes to show, from the humble beginnings of an accidental discovery to curing ails and meats and of course winning wars, gunpowder is a truly wonderful thing.

Statue of Litian, the Godfather of fireworks

Li Tian Statue at Fireworks Museum

The man, the myth, the legend…. and now the statue.

Fireworks were discovered quite by accident many many centuries ago and they were discovered by this great man here.

This huge statue of the godfather of fireworks is part of the Fireworks museum in Liuyang City, Hunan, China. Litian is given full credit for bringing fireworks to the world and is a popular figure there. There is a shrine in the museum where hopeful pyrotechnists pray to him for good fortune and to keep all their fingers intact.

The great man himself was a monk and lived about 1000 years ago. Want to learn more about him? Epic Fireworks have got it covered. Read The origin of fireworks

Forefather of fireworks Li-Tian #LiTian #Li-Tian #Fireworks

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