Martin Weselby explains how this website came about:
A lifelong enjoyment of fireworks led me to start collecting memorabilia relating to the great British firework manufacturers which I remember with much enthusiasm from the garden displays of my childhood in the 1960’s and 70’s. There was always a huge build up to the annual Guy Fawkes Night celebrations with fireworks first appearing in shops in late September and promptly disappearing again after November 5th. Counters would appear in virtually every newsagent and toy shop crammed with colourful, carefully designed fireworks of all shapes and sizes, with evocative names such as Humming Spider; Witches Cauldron; Banshee; Mine of Serpents; Barrel of Demons; Crackling Torch and Little Terror! Queues would form, particularly after school as children and parents made their selections of the individual fireworks which they liked, unlike now where you can only buy them in selection packs. There would usually be ever increasing activity at the firework counters in the build up to the big night. On the night itself a quick look out from an upstairs window confirmed you where not alone in your enthusiasm - in the area I lived you would literally see dozens of small garden displays taking place with the air full of streaks from the many small rockets being sent up and the crackle of fireworks and bonfires.
Sadly the great British brands such as Astra, Benwell, Brock’s, Lion, Pain’s, Rainbow, Wells, Wessex and Wilder’s are now a distant memory as these names have nearly all disappeared and those which remain such as Standard simply import all of the fireworks sold today for garden displays. This is not to say they are not excellent fireworks but they are definitely of a different nature to the British ‘Blue Touchpaper’ type fireworks which finally disappeared in the mid-1990’s.
As my collection of firework memorabilia grew, I noticed I had built up quite a collection of the adverts for fireworks which appeared in comics, newspapers and magazines to accompany the annual celebrations. I remembered several of these well and decided to try to build up my collection as they are a good aid to dating fireworks, boxes, etc., and also portray a great social history. At this time I never realised just how many there were to collect and my collection grew until today I have over 500. There are still approximately 20 adverts which I know about but have not been able to find and I am sure there are quite a few additional adverts to be found.
If you have any of the missing or additional adverts and would be interested in selling them or simply providing a scan with any other details you have, please get in touch as it would be great to complete the collection and enhance this site. Adverts missing from my collection are indicated as WANTED. I hope this site is of interest to the many collectors of firework memorabilia as well as those with an interest in nostalgia and this once great British industry. In an attempt to rescue the last remnants of this industry the UK Pyrotechnics Society, who are a group of firework enthusiasts, are working to move some of the firework production sheds from the old Wells Firework Factory in Dartford to preserve and set them up as a permanent exhibit at Amberley Working Museum in Sussex. Articles on firework history and memorabilia can also be found in the brilliant Fireworks magazine, edited by John Bennett who has also produced this website for me.
Special thanks must go to my fellow firework memorabilia collector Kevin who has tirelessly sought out these adverts for me with great success. His website Para-Phenalia has some great adverts for sale as well as many other interesting items.
Start to search the wonderful world of firework ads by clicking on the manufacturers' names on the left panel.
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