Astra Fireworks Poster - Retail Price List
As someone who was born in the 60’s I can still recall Astra Fireworks being everywhere although, like many of the time, we were very much in the ‘Standard’ camp.
The company was founded in Bromley, Kent 1946 by two men from Eastern Europe called Bertie Yellin and Dr Paul Lax. They moved to bigger premises in Richmond in 1948 and manufacturing got under way.
They created a brand which would take the UK by storm and in the 60s and 70s every newsagent appeared to stock them. Not the most inventive in relation to the names of the fireworks but they hit the nail on the head as they did indeed describe either the firework or the type (as in fountain). With names like Crackling Cauldron, Vesuvius, Mount Stromboli and Astra Bangers, there was little doubt about the effects you were about to see.
In the 1970’s they took over Rainbow fireworks and continue to grow and this is not least as a result of some pretty impressive marketing. Their innovative approach to advertising included London bus tickets, flyers and most unusually nationwide newspaper coverage. They didn't just stick to the local areas as newspapers up and down the country and most of the big nationals featured advertisements for the firework supplier which was to reach 20 million people in the UK.
In 1951 you could buy an Astra Catherine Wheel for between 3d (3 pence) and 4.5d (4 and half pence) and an astonishing 3 shillings for a gross (144) sparklers.
Astra also owned the brands Red Lantern and Cleveland Fireworks (named after their Head Office in London – surprisingly enough on Cleveland Street) and continued to delight children and adults alike with their fireworks until the company closed in 1996.