Brocks Fireworks

BROCK’S FIREWORKS

The original Brock’s was by far the oldest and most respected Firework companies and one whose very name is synonymous with the National and International face of the British Firework Industry.

1677
John Brock, (1677- 1720), born 1677, St. James parish, Clerkenwell.
Married Eleanor.

1700
John Brock, (son of John and Eleanor) , born 1700.
Married Martha. (1700 – 1750).

1698
Brock’s was founded in Islington in 1698 by John Brock and was the oldest British Firework Manufacturer.

Thursday, 25th November 1700
Thomas Brock, (1700-????), born 1700 who made the first distinctive position in the history of “Brock’s Fireworks”.

Tuesday, 5th November 1720
Brock’s Star, issue 2, page 3, June 1939
“John Brock, who was buried on November 5th, 1720, at St. John’s Church, Clerkenwell.
Possibly the rush of buisness, induced by the approach of Guy Fawkes Day, had cost him his life, besides injuring his daughter, Mary, so badly that she was buried in the same grave a fortnight later.”

1725
Brock’s Fireworks Ltd. Established in 1725.

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1728
Benjamin Brock, born 1728.

1750
Thomas Brock, (1750-????), born 1750, (later opened  a factory at North London).
Married Mary Shute.

1756
Thomas Brock (1756-1819), son of John and Mary Brock)
settled in Spitafields, the home of an entire colony of fireworks people.

Wednesday, 17th February 1779
William Brock, (1779-1849), son of Thomas and Mary Brock.
Married Elizabeth in 1800.
Established a factory to the east of the City of London, and where the earliest recorded accident in the firm of Brock appears to be that of 1825, when “seven persons were seriously injured”.

Thursday, 29th September 1814
William Edwin Brock (the son), (1814 -1869), born.
Married Mary Ann Isabella Miller, (born 1st Dec 1838).

Monday, 1st August 1814
Fireworks (Brock’s?) burned down the Pagoda in Green Park, London.

1st aug 1814 burned the pagoda in green park

Monday 5th August 1816

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Sunday, 4th September 1825 – Bell’s Weekly Messenger

DREADFUL EXPLOSION IN WHITECHAPEL.

Yesterday morning, about half-past eight o’clock, Whitechapel Road, and the numerous streets that abound there, were thrown into the greatest state of agitation, by the inhabitants experiencing a most tremendous shock, as if caused by a volcano or an earthquake. The houses for a considerable distance were deserted by their inhabitants,
and men, women, and children were seen running about in all directions, under the impression that the world was at an end. It was soon ascertained that their alarm was pro-
duced by the explosion of the factory of Mr. Brock, the artist in fireworks, at No. 11, Baker’s Row, Whitechapel Road, nearly opposite the London Hospital.
[See full text]

Monday, 10th July 1826
After passing through the control of several generations of the Brock family the company became world famous for presenting what would become forever known as ‘Brock’s Benefits‘, displays for the enjoyment of the public, the first of which was fired on July 10, 1826.
The ‘Brock’s Benefits’ term for the free firework displays has long since passed into the English language as denoting a spectacular display. Transferred to the battlefield, as earlier news reports attest – “could draw attention to the paradoxical beauty which war could offer”, here by means of the colours and brilliance of the bursting shells set against the dark skies of the Western Front.”

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January 1841
John Robert Brock
, born in Whitechapel.
(son of William Edwin Jonathan Brock and Mary Ann Isabella Miller).
Managed the factory in Harold Wood, Romford (1886 – 1906).

Wednesday, 17th May 1843
Charles Thomas Brock, born, and baptised on 15 Oct 1843, in Clerkenwell.
(son of William Edwin Jonathan Brock and Mary Ann Isabella Miller).
Married Rhoda Ann Garland, on 16th Dec 1865, in St John of Jerusalem.

Tuesday, 29th June 1858
Arthur John Brock, born,  he established the factory at Sutton.
(son of William Edwin Jonathan Brock and Mary Ann Isabella Miller).
Married Ann St. Hill Dewdney.(1959 – 1949).

1858
The explosion at Madame Coton’s firework factory, Westminster Road, London.

1858 The explosion at Madame Cotons firework factory Westminster Road London

1860’s
Chevalier Blondin was a very highly paid entertainer guaranteed to pull in the crowds.
He was paid the enormous sum of £1,200 for twelve performances at the Crystal Palace.
These were the talks of London and Charles Dickens proclaimed: ‘Half of London is here eager for some dreadful accident’.

Blodin the Human Fireball at Crystal Palace.

blondin  human fireball

Wednesday, 12th July 1865
The Directors of Crystal Palace Company, who had more than once been applied to for permission to hold displays in the grounds, eventually, after many months of delay, consented to make the experiment, and the favourable result of the trial.

1865
From 1865 onwards became a regular attraction at the site of The Crystal Palace. (These Brock’s displays continued regularly with just a decade long break between 1910 and 1920).
So connected with the palace was the company that it was renamed C.T. Brock & Co’s ‘Crystal Palace’ Fireworks in 1865, a reference that would live on long after Paxton’s famous glass and iron strcture had gone

1865
The “Grand International Pyrotechnic Competition” among six of the best fireworks manufacturers,” took place at the Crystal Palace in 1865.

The brainchild of  C.T. Brock, was held at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, it was a spectacular success, with over 20,000 people attending. Thus began a series of magnificent displays at this prestigious venue, continuing until 1936. It can be argued that the first “contest” at the Crystal Palace was the forerunner of other fireworks competitions, which have, particularly in recent years, become popular once again with members of the public. It is interesting to note the “rules” laid down for the first Crystal Palace competition – The competition was won by CT Brock’s father.???
[See full text]

Brock’s Firework Display material at the Crystal Palace probably exceeds in one season the whole of the other private and public displays in the United Kingdom during the year.
Calculations based upon official records show that the amount paid by the public to see the Fireworks at the Crystal Palace since the great Competition of 1865 is 2,250,000, which justifies the newspaper statement to the effect that “there is no form of entertainment which pleases so many persons far and near at so small a cost as Fireworks.”

Saturday, 16th December 1865
Parish Register Marriage:
Name: Charles Thomas Brock, aged 22, (born: 1843).
Father Name: William Brock (died. 29 Jul 1869, aged 56).
Spouse Name: Rhoda Ann Garland, aged 22, (born: 1843 Whitechapel).
Spouse Father: Edward Garland.
Event Date: 16 Dec 1865 Parish St John of Jerusalem, South Hackney, Middlesex.
[Church of England Marriages and Banns, London, England, 1754-1921].

1866   – First ‘official’ mention of Brock’s in NUNHEAD.
Cited: “A Brief Account of the Parish of Camberwell, Its History and Antiquities” in 1877.

As a result of the company’s success at the Crystal Palace, CT Brock built extensive works at Nunhead and produced larger and larger fireworks and set pieces grew from 12 feet to 300 feet. The set pieces sound extraordinary: sea battles were created including the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the Battle of Trafalgar, famous buildings were reproduced including Worcester and Salisbury Cathedral and natural disasters such as the Destruction of Pompeii.

 

Thursday, 18th Sep 1868
Islington Gazette London, England, Thursday, 18th Sep 1868
London City Press London, England, Friday, 19th Sep 1868

A Magnificent Display of FIREWORKS and ILLUMINATION FOUNTAINS.
MONDAY NEXT, SEPTEMBER 21st
This great display Messrs. C. T. Brock and Co., of Nunhead, the Pyrotechnists the Crystal Palace will consist of the following;
PART I Aerial Maroons. Illumination Water Temples.

Thursday, 5th November, 1896
Brock’s in Nunhead Referenced in article about South Norwood.
The Windsor Magazine [v4 #5, November 1896] (London: Ward, Lock & Bowden)
Apropos of Fireworks Day, in the Windsor Magazine for November Mr W. J. Wintle
gives an account of a visit to Messrs C. T. Brock and Co.’s firework factory.

IN FIREWORK-LAND – By W J Wintle
Illustrated by STEPHEN REID and C. M. WATTS.
Page 583.
Their connection with the Crystal Palace dates from 1865, when the famous C. T. Brock
 was successful in a competitive display for the position of pyrotechnist to that well-
 known place of amusement. Three years later the manufactory was established at Nunhead, and by that time the business has increased by leaps and bounds
(Later Printed in the Manawatu Herald, 5th January 1897 – New Zealand)

1870
A branch factory of Brock was established in Turkey in 1870 by command of H.M. the Sultan.

Tuesday, 1st February 1870
THE LONDON GAZETTE  page.621
NOTICE is hereby given, that the Partnership between us the undersigned, Charles Thomas Brock and Robert Milner, as Pyrotechnists, under the style of C.T. Brock and Co., at No.3, Percy Terrace, Nunhead, S.E., was dissolved by mutual consent, as from the 1st day of January, 1870, the said Robert Milner having sold his share in the business to the undersigned, Charles Thomas Brock.
All debts and liabilities due to or owing by the said firm will be Deceived and discharged by the said Charles Thomas Brock, who will continue to carry on the business as heretofore under the same style of C. T. Brock and Co.
—Dated this 1st day of February, 1870.
Charles Thomas Brock.
Robert Milner.

1870 – In 1870 Brock’s made 2m cartridges tubes for the French army in the Franco Prussian war.

Sunday, 2nd April 1871
CENSUS – 3, Percy Terrace, Nunhead
Charles Brock, Head, age 27, pyrotechnist, from Surrey.
Rhoda Ann Garland, Wife, age 27, from Lower Hill Middlesex.
Isabella, Sister, age 21.
Mary A, Sister, age 16.
Sophia Clay, Adopted, age 14, Colchester.
Julia Morgan, Servant, age 18, Islington.
Emma King, Servant, Bury St. Edmunds.

Sunday, 2nd April 1871
CENSUS – 6, Bath Terrace, Nunhead Green.
The Pyrotechnist’s Arms  (Owned by Noakes and later Courage).
(2016 – 39, Nunhead Green, SE15).
(1934 – 38, Nunhead Green).
Thomas Mortleman, Clerk, age 41, Harwich, Essex.
Lucy Mortleman, Wife, 42, Rochester, Kent.
Lucy Mortleman, Daughter, age 17, Rotherhithe, Surrey.
Thomas Taggart, Grandson, age 4, Camberwell, Surrey.
John Dearing, Servant, age 17, Bedfield, Suffolk.

Thursday, 28 March 1872 –  London Daily News (First mention of Nunhead Green)

london-daily-news-thursday-28-march-1872

Thursday, 4th April  1872. Extract from:
PYROTECHNICS: THE HISTORY AND ART OF FIREWORK MAKING – (page 68)
by Alan. st. Hill Brock, (published, London, 1922)

brocks-book-cover

EXPERIMENTS WITH FIREWORKS AT NUNHEAD
(In a Field near Messrs. C. T. Brock & Co.’s Firework Manufactory),
On Thursday, April 4th, 1872.

THE OBJECTS OF THE EXPERIMENTS ARE –
1. To determine if the distance between Firework Sheds, as at present laid
down by law, viz. 20 yards, is amply sufficient to prevent an explosion in one shed
communicating to other sheds situated at the statutory distance.
2. To determine the liability of Fireworks to ignite by concussion or friction.
3. To determine the liability of Fireworks to explode en masse if from any
cause they should be accidentally ignited.
4. In the event of Fireworks exhibiting a liability to explode, to determine the
area of destructive effect of such explosion.
5. To determine, with reference to the conclusions which may be arrived at as
to points 3 and 4, the degree of danger which attends the transport of Fireworks
by rail, barrier or other public conveyance.
6. To determine at what distance from dwelling houses stores of Fireworks
may be safely established.

PROGRAMME OF EXPERIMENTS.
1. Explode 30 lbs. of loose Firework Composition in a Shed, another Shed being 10 yards distant. Screen between.
2. Explode 30lbs of Composition in Fireworks in a Shed, another Shed being 10 yards distant. Screen between.
3. Ignite a Box of ¼ cwt. of mixed Ordinary Fireworks in open air
4. Ditto ditto ditto in contact with another Box of ditto.
5. Place a Box of ¼ cwt. of ditto in a bonfire.
6. No. 3 repeated, with mixed Fireworks bought over the Counter.
7. No. 4 ditto ditto.
8. No. 5 ditto ditto.
9. Hammer various sorts of Fireworks — Wood on Wood.
10. Ditto ditto Wood on Iron.
11. Ditto ditto Iron on Iron
12. Run a Railway Truck over some of the different sorts.
13. Repeat such of above as may seem necessary with “ Parlour Fireworks.”

V. D. MAJENDIE, Captain R. A., H.M.’s Inspector of Gunpowder Works , Spc.


Monday, 8th April 1872 – As reported by the London Evening Standard

brocks-in-nunhead

Thursday, 16th May 1872
Charles Thomas Brock Sangster was born.
(16 May 1872 – 18 March 1935) was a British engineer and industrialist.
Born in Aberdeen and named after his godfather, fireworks manufacturer Charles Thomas Brock. He attended school in Aberdeen before continuing his education at King’s College London. He was apprenticed to Messrs. Linley & Biggs, noted cycle engineers and makers of “Whippet” spring frame cycles at Clerkenwell Road, London.

Wednesday, 25th December 1872
The South Australian Advertiser (Adelade, SA). page 3.

EXTRAORDINARY DISPLAY OF FIREWORKS
The Times reports a wonderful display of fireworks at The Crystal Palace. The verbal description is exciting, but the spectacle itself must have been marvellous.

The Times says:
The occasion was rendered the more attractive from the fact that it was announced to be for the benefit of Mr. C. T. Brock, of Nunhead, who for some years past has provided all the displays of this kind for which the Crystal Palace has now become so famous, and that for this reason the fireworks were to be, if possible, unusually remarkable and splendid.

The display had been fixed to be held a week earlier, but the sudden rain threatened to spoil all the set pieces, and rendered the affair a inisemblic failure, and it was consequently determined to carry out the original programme in its integrity last night.
[See full text]

?? ??? Original –  DATE ????
PYROTECHNICS: THE HISTORY AND ART OR FIREWORK MAKING – (page 47)
By Alan st Hill. Brock, (published, London, 1922)

INTRODUCTION
My excuse for adding another volume to the literature of the art is that I am of the eighth generation of a family of pyrotechnists, whose work, I venture to claim, has not been
without its effect. If I succeed in interesting, and in some degree enlightening, my readers, I shall feel I have not written in vain; if I fail, I shall know it is not in my choice of subject
but in my capacity for dealing with it.
Alan St. Hill BROCK. – Sutton, August, 1922.

“The success of the fireworks at the Crystal Palace having become an accomplished fact, I built extensive works at Nunhead and commenced manufacturing on a scale never previously dreamt of in the trade – the vast expanse of the locale of my displays obviously necessitating extraordinary expenditure of material”


Saturday, 18th October 1873 (and Saturday, 1st November 1873)
The Bedfordshire Times and Independant
Ad:
CRYSTAL PALACE FIREWORKS (by C.T. BROCK & CO, of Nunhead Green, London) for the FIFTH OF NOVEMBER.
BROCK’S CRYSTAL PALACE FIREWORKS, Sold only in Bedford by B SAVAGE, 1 DAME ALICE STREET. Every article bears clear instructions for firing and the name….

Saturday, 28th February 1874
The Nautical Magazine for April 1874 – (Pages: 286 to 290)
OUR REPRESTENTATIVE
SIGNALS OF DISTRESS, PRIVATE SIGNALS AND LIFE-SAVING GEAR.

Sir, – On the 28th of February last, I represented you at the Crystal Place, to witness and exhibition of
pyrotechnic distress and other signals fired by Messers. C. T. Brock & Co. of Nunhead Green, London, the sole pyrotechnist to the Crystal Palace Company. The exhibition-and a very beautiful and complete one it was-was very private, got up by Messrs. Brock for the delectation, as stated in the programme, “of the assistant secretary, the professional officer, and the chief surveyor of the Marine Department of the
board of Trade”…

 

Tuesday, 7th July 1874
The Theatrical Observer and Daily Bills of the Play. 1874
No. 16,289. TUESDAY, July 7, 1874. Price 1d.

MR. BROCK AND THE LICENSING SYSTEM
At the City Sessions on Saturday Mr. C. T. Brock applied for a license to keep and sell fireworks at 109, Cheapside, applicant said his manufactory was at Nunhead, and that he supplied the Crystal Palace with fireworks.
He had been in business nine years, and during that time no accident had occurred to any of his employes.
His fireworks were not liable to spontaneous ignition, or to explosion by concussion.
There were, he had heard, nine persons licensed to sell fireworks in the City, and as they were not manufacturers they kept large stocks on their premises.

His fireworks, to be limited to 56lb., would be kept in one of Chatwood’s safes, and the quantity of powder in them would only amount to 6lb.
He wanted to use his Cheapside premises more as an office than a store room, there to show samples, for he would have a telegraphic communication with his manufactory at Nunhead, and in that way execute large orders.The area of the destructive effect of his fireworks was limited.

The Bench thought they would not be doing their duty if they granted the application, for how were they to tell that no more than 56lb. of these inflammable things would be kept ou the premises at the same time?  Mr. Besley said “his client would assent to an inspection of his premises at any time, and would reduce the weight of the fireworks to be kept on the premises to a point below that of 56lb. The Bench refused to grant the application.

We think the magistrates, in Mr. Brock’s case, were a little too cautious. His application was reasonable enough, and there was no difficulty in the way of granting it: the more especially as Mr. Brock explained that his fireworks were subject neither to spontaneous combustion, nor to explosion by ignition. are the nine licenses granted and the tenth refused? This is one of the things that must be placed in the category of those that can neither be explained nor understood. Verily, magistrates, in their collective wisdom especially, are something wonderful to contemplate.


Saturday, 21st November 1874 – Greenwich & Deptford Chronicle.
A visit to Brocks Factory:
“Our visit extends to a point beyond the eastern end of the Green, where we enter upon a rather desolate region. On the left is a brick-work, and on the right a grass field, with an area of about seven and a half acres, used for grazing and occupied for another of its uses, as Messrs. Brock and Co.’s Fireworks Manufactory”

C T Brock and Co.’s – Advert 1874
“Dispalys undertaken in any part of the world.”

Friday, 29th January 1875
THE LONDON GAZETTE ISSUE 24175
247. To Charles Thomas Brock, of Nunhead, in the county of Surrey, Pyrotechnist, for the
invention of “improvements in apparatus for displaying fireworks.”

Monday, 14th June 1875
Explosives Act 1875 (1875 CHAPTER 17 38 and 39 Vict).An Act to amend the Law with respect to manufacturing, keeping, selling, carrying, and importing Gunpowder, Nitro–glycerine, and other Explosive Substances.Charles Thomas Brock played a major role in the drafting of the Explosives Act of 1875.

1876
Brock’s Fireworks Series at Philadelphia Exhibition in 1876, for which £1,000 per display was paid, brought 250,000 payers to the turnstiles in one day, and founded the knowledge of and taste for Firework Displays on the American Continent.

Monday, 12th March 1877 – Brock’s in Woodside, South Norwood.
The Times, Mar 12, 1877
At the second attempt, Charles Thomas Brock, pyrotechnicist, succeed in his application for a licence to establish a fireworks factory in South Norwood[More details]

1877
In the 1887, and several subsequent editions of Whitaker’s Almanack, there are advertisements for Brock’s, under an earlier name. It provided for the Crystal Palace company, the UK War Office, Government of India, and many other bodies.

1877
Extract from “A Brief Account of the Parish of Camberwell, Its History and Antiquities” The firework factory of Mr. Brock has introduced a still further disturbing element to the tranquillity of the place; and Nunhead has become, in spite of itself the head quarters of pyrotechny.
There are about eighteen grand displays of fireworks at the Crystal Palace in the course of the year, or in the season of six months.
Since 1866 in the quality and effectiveness of Mr. Brock’s displays, of the marvellous delicacy, variety, and brilliancy of his coloured lights, the heights to which they are propelled, and the great distances they are made to float in the upper air ;—

“And fiery darts at intervals
Flew up all sparkling from the main,
As if each star that nightly falls.
Were shooting back to heaven again.”

As regards the comparative magnitude of the grand displays now made at the Crystal Palace, it is within the truth to say that they are now four times larger than the most ambitious attempt of 1866, nearly two tons of combustible matter being fired on every occasion of a grand display.

1878
Stanfords 1878 map of London, shows a section of Nuhead. The Brock’s factory is mentioned in a 1860 text, as being: “in a field between Nunhead Green and the railway embankment in Evelina Road, off Slough Lane” (now Kirkwood Road).

stanford68b-nunhead-1878

This structure, with its 8 seperate ‘sheds’ and a path leading up to where the Pyrotechnicans Arms Public house is still located today, at the corner of Kirkwood Road (previously Surrey Lane), seems to be the Brock’s “manufactory?”

stanford68b-nunhead-1878 - Copy

Friday, 25th March 1881
Charles Thomas Brock died, aged only 38.

March 1881
Athur Brock, brother – suceeded Charles Thomas Brock.

Sunday, 3rd April 1881
The 1881 CENSUS shows that one of Brock’s “artist in fireworks”, William Harrison, aged 63, from Newinton Butts, resided at No.4, East Terrace, Nunhead, with wife, son, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, daughter and grandson.

LNDRG11_683_687-1091- 1881-5-east-terrace-peckham-camberwell

Sunday, 3rd April 1881
CENSUS
The Pyrotechnist’s Arms  (Owned by Noakes and later Courage).
1871 – 6, Bath Terrace, Nunhead Green.
(2016 – 39, Nunhead Green, SE15).
(1934 – 38, Nunhead Green).
James Vickers, Licensed Victualler, Widow, age 61, Ashbrittle, Somerset.
Ann Bennett, Housekeeper, age 39, Frome, Somerset.
Kate Baker, Barmaid, age 20, Billingshurst, Sussex.

Friday, 25th March 1881
Charles Thomas Brock died – Reigate, Surrey.

Friday, 12th August 1881
Probates for England and Wales, Will of Charles Thomas Brock Proved.

Monday, 22nd Mar 1886
Alan St. Hill Brock born, (son of Arthur John and Ann Brock).

1886
Henry Brock & Son, later Charles Thomas Brock & Co., opened a fireworks factory at Harold Wood, Romford –  It was about ½ mile south of the railway station, in the area of the present Prospect Road. The factory was managed by John Robert Brock (died 1906), and seems to have closed soon after his death.

Friday, 29th June 1888
Frank Arthur Brock, son of Arthur Brock of Haredon, Sutton.
Born: 29th June 1888, Cheam, Surrey, England.
Died: 23rd April 1918, St George’s Day, (aged 29), Port of Zeebrugge, Belgium.
Wing Commander Royal Naval Air Service 1914–1918, Zeebrugge Raid.
UK OBE 1917 military BAR.svg Order of the British Empire.
Victory Medal MID ribbon bar.svg Mentioned in dispatches.

Wing Commander Frank Arthur Brock OBE was a British officer of the Royal Air Force who devised and executed the smoke screen used during the Zeebrugge Raid on 23 April 1918, in the British Royal Navy’s attempt to neutralize the key Belgian port of Bruges-Zeebrugge during the First World War. [Read More on Brock’s WW1 Munitions]

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1893
At South Norwood, a serious accident involving the death of one workman and the injury of another, was caused by a barrel of chlorate of potash being delivered and marked nitrate of potash (saltpetre).
Its use in a composition containing sulphide of arsenic (orpiment) produced a mixture approximately to that used in some fog signals and designed to fire by percussion.
The natural effect was the serious explosion that followed.

August 1893
In August, 1893, a man was fatally burned whilst simply emptying a small quantity of crimson stars from one tray to another; the slight friction so caused was sufficient to ignite the stars and thus fire the whole contents of the building.

This unfortunate accident took place at the works of C. T. Brock and Co., then at South Norwood, surry and seems even more unfortunate when one learns that with the exception of this particular crimson, they had practically eliminated chlorate and sulphur colours.

1894
As a result of the accidents the year beore, the South Norwood in Surrey and Harold Wood in Essex sites were both found to be inadequate and the factory works were moved to Sutton in Surrey.

c: 1900
Created for publication in a newspaper, probably in ‘The Penny Illustrated Paper’.
The illustration shows a firework display at Crystal Palace as sketched from the Royal Balcony. Crowds of men and women has gathered to watch ‘The Niagara of Fire’ which has been organised as part of ‘Brocks Benefit’ at Crystal Palace.
A head and shoulders, profile of Mr. C.T. Brock has been included in the top left hand corner. The painting is not dated but has been signed by the artist, Sydney Higham.

The Penny Illustrated Paper illustration of Crystal Palace CT Brock top left c1900

1901
The area between Gander Green Lane, Windsor Avenue and Marlow Drive, once farmland, was purchased in 1901 by C. T. Brock & Co. ‘Crystal Palace’ Fireworks Ltd.
The site was chosen for it’s remoteness and space which enabled safer production of fireworks. Sheds and bunkers were dispersed across the site and connected to the central building by a light narrow-gauge railway. Brock’s continued to operate on the site until 1935.

Friday, 4th October  1901
Henry Brock died in 1901, aged 53, and was buried at Holy Trinity Church, Leverstock Green, Bedmond Road, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire.

Saturday, 9th August 1902
Brock’s Displays had been closely linked to many great events and amongst the more memorable have included The Coronation Display of King Edward VII.

Monday, 24th September 1906 – Brock’s Benefits, Sutton, Surrey. (one Shilling Day!)
Postcard from Brocks Fireworks Ltd, advertising their “Illuminations” at Crystal Palace postcard 1906 featuring animals, including spider, pterodactyl, and dinosaurs. It also includes a model Diplodocus. These animals were not fireworks, but “illuminations” – electric light displays place in and around the fountains.
Brocks Fireworks were famous for their Guy Fawkes night fireworks displays.

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Thursday, 22nd June 1911
Brock’s Displays had been closely linked to many great events and amongst the more memorable have included The Coronation Display of King George V.1461358190

Saturday, 19th July 1919
Brock’s Displays had been closely linked to many great events and amongst the more memorable have included the Official Peace Display to mark the end of World War I.

C.T. Brock & Co's Crystal Palace Fireworks 1920

1922 Listed Exhibitor (Stand No. F.26)
British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of World-renowned ‘Crystal Palace’ Fireworks, Unique Christmas Crackers, Novel Popular Joke Bombs, Sports Goods, Strong Wooden Toys. Speciality – Toy Cricket Bats and Sets.
http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/1922_British_Industries_Fair

1929 Listed Exhibitor (Stand No. D.5)
British Industries Fair. Manufacturers of the World-famous ‘Crystal Palace’ Fireworks, Firework Displays in any part of the World, Sparklers, Indoor Fireworks, Firework Novelties and Christmas Crackers, Sports Goods, and Toy Cricket Bats and Sets.
http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/1929_British_Industries_Fair


1933
From 1933 until the early 1960s, Hemel Hempstead was the home of Brock’s Fireworks. In the late 1930’s Brock’s employed nearly 500 in the town. Henry Brock built housing and a Sports and Social Club for his workers to ensure that they maintained a certain standard of living, near to its 207 acre site on the north eastern side of Hemel Hempstead.
(the site is now the Woodhill Farm housing estate).

Setting Up At The Crystal Palace 1930s
Setting Up At The Crystal Palace 1930s

Monday, 6th May to Sunday, 12th May 1935
Silver Jubilee Celebrations- His Majesty King George V and Her Majesty Queen Mary.

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Monday, 30th November 1936
All of the fabulous firework displays ended when The Crystal Palace was completely destroyed by fire in 1936, an event which spelt the closure of this traditional and hugely popular firework institution.
The Daily Mirror reported: “Spectacular to the last, the Crystal Palace, famous for its magnificent firework displays, went out in the greatest and most awe-inspiring show in its history.”
Ironically, one of the exhibits on the world trade display inside had been a new, ultra-modern fire engine, lauded for its capacity to produce a more forceful stream of water than ever before. It was named the Princess of Wales.

Monday, 24th June 1946
Brock’s Displays had been closely linked to many great events and amongst the more memorable have included the Official Peace Display to mark the end of World War I.
Brock’s produced ‘The World’s Largest Firework Bombshell’ which is shown below, being loaded into its mortar which had a 25″ diameter.  When the shell was projected and exploded in the air, it created a canopy of coloured stars over a quarter of a mile radius.

Brocks worlds largest bombshel hemel hempsteadpg

Thursday, 15th August 1946
Brocks Firework Factory at Woodhall Farm, Cupid Green, Hemel Hempstead.
Houses were built locally to house 300 Brocks workers and named Ranelagh Road and Vauxhall Road after the London Gardens where Brocks fireworks displays were held.

15th Aug1946- Brocks Firework Factory at Woodhall Farm Cupid Green Hemel Hempstead

Tuesday, 2nd June 1953
Brock’s Displays had been closely linked to many great events and amongst the more memorable have included The Coronation Display of Queen Elizabeth II.

Friday, 7th October 1955 – Firework factory for Swaffham (From the Eastern Daily Press)

brock2

1961
Brock’s bought the Wilder’s Fireworks Company in 1961 and continued using the name as a distinct brand.

 

Thursday, 5th August 1971 – Blaze at firework factory (From the Eastern Daily Press)

brock1

1961
Brock’s bought the Wilder’s Fireworks Company in 1961 and continued using the Brock’s name as a distinct brand.

1971
The Brock business undertook its relocation to two factories, one in Sanquar, Dumfriesshire, Scotland and the other at Swaffham in Norfolk, remaining there until 1981.

Tuesday, 23rd March 1976 – Brock`s factory closure `only temporary`  (From the Eastern Daily

brock3


Sanquhar, Scotland which is still an explosives factory (postcode DG4 6JP)

Brocks-Explosives-Ltd-Gateside-Factory-Sanquhar-03

1988
Brock’s was bought over in 1988 by Standard Fireworks, when all firework production was transferred to Yorkshire, Standard was then itself bought out by Black Cat Fireworks.
All firework manufacturing was transfered to China, due to the much cheaper wages of workers.

Jan 2013
Brock’s Fireworks Limited trading once more. Their professed aims are “to produce quality Pyrotechnics back in the UK and to protect the history of the UK fireworks industry”.

BROCKS MANUFACTORY WORKERS

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Further Reading:

http://brocksfireworks.com

http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Brocks_Crystal_Palace_Fireworks


26th Jan 2018 @ 15:44

 

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Arthur Brock

Arthur Brock, The Ivies, South Norwood (c:1890).

Guy Fawkes’ Day, according to some, is a dying festival; while others
. . . Don’t see no reason,
Why Gunpowder Treason,
Should ever be forgot;

Even although the original significance of the pyrotechnic commemoration that takes place on the 5th of November, has somewhat faded from memory. In one respect Guido de Fawkes may be considered a national benefactor, since from the annually recurring date of his ignoble attempt has arisen the pyrotechnic art of today; an industry, the effects of which startle and delight equally the civilized and savage, throughout the world. South Norwood is especially identified with pyrotechny.

The Firework Manufactory of Messrs. Brock was originally commenced in London, nearly one hundred and seventy years ago; Mr. Arthur Brock, the present head of the firm, claiming to represent in his own person, “the concentrated essence of seven generations of fire-work manufacturers.”
Until a recent period the making of fireworks was a mere hole and corner affair, recklessly carried on amid crowded thoroughfares, with frequent loss of life, and grave damage to property. But all this is altered; and, through the Explosive Act of 1875, an d the searching supervision of the Explosive Department of the Home Office, firework making has now become comparatively as safe as undoubtedly it is a healthy occupation. By an Order in Council of June, 1894, the use of firework compositions containing chlorate of potash and sulphur was prohibited; and thus, danger has been finally reduced to a minimum.

The connection of the firm of C. T. Brock & Co. with the Crystal Palace dates from the year 1864.

Messrs. Brocks firework manufactory at South Norwood occupies about fifty acres of land; the firm have another large work at Harold Wood in Essex, besides quantities of explosives stored in magazines elsewhere, and in the floating hulks off Gravesend. Scattered over the South Norwood acres, referred to, are numerous small wooden, brick, and corrugated-iron buildings, of peculiar construction; at some distance apart from each other.

A large portion of the field is carefully fenced off; for here are the magazines; strongly built iron structures, each protected by a screen. The remaining widespread area is more closely dotted over with slightly-built wooden sheds, each averaging in size 16 feet by 12. Their interiors are varnished, and the floors covered with lead or linoleum, fastened by copper nails. Any artificial light they may require is to be obtained only from gas jets, burning outside their windows. Throughout, the most scrupulous cleanliness is enforced, so as to avoid grit.

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Every precaution also is taken with the work-people. On entering the factory each person undergoes a search; and dons a non-inflammable guernsey, and overshoes of brown leather without nails. Government regulations, exhibited by the door of each shed, indicate the number of persons allowed in it; and prescribe the kind of work, and quantity of composition, permitted. If the work-people want anything they must hang out a red flag, and an attendant comes. Hydrants, and buckets of water, are in every direction. The Magazines are supplied with carefully tested lightning conductors. Both Magazines and forwarding departments are connected by a system of tramways. All is silent; save a low tapping sound, emanating from some of the sheds.

In the paper stores may be seen shells twenty five inches in diameter, and upwards of two and a quarter hundredweight. Paper cylinders, of all sizes, from tiny tubes used for squibs and crackers, to the massive cases of the largest rockets, are made in the rolling sheds.

Close by are the carpenter’s and fitter’s shops. In one building the ingredients are cautiously mixed; in others, various kinds of rockets are filled; the composition being driven home by taps from a box-wood mallet. At one shed are made those brilliant stars that tall in showers from rockets and shells; they consist of small cubes of composition, moulded with methylated spirits and shellac; and afterwards hardened.

Another hut is devoted to the manufacture of quick-match; this is simply cotton wick, steeped in a mixture of gunpowder and starch; it is the necessary link between the coloured lights in set pieces.

In the trenches of the Crystal Palace are the mortars, fired by means of slow matches, whence arise the huge shells, fabricated at this factory, which hurtling through mid-air, and bursting at heights of from 700 to 1,000 feet, finally descend in showers of corruscating stars. For large set-pieces a huge framework is first constructed, and divided into convenient square sections. On this the artist makes an immense design, the same being outlined in lath and cane. With the aid of wire nails, many thousand coloured lights are then arranged along the design; all being connected by quick-match. The set-piece having been hoisted into position, by means of an ingenious hydraulic contrivance, amid the darkness of night, is then fired; when, to the delight of gazing thousands is revealed, it may be ” Jack and the Bean Stalk,” wherein figures the cow, sold to the artful butcher for a sack of beans, which, duly sown, a giant bean-stalk springs upwards and burns, whilst Jack, a real man, clad in asbestos and enveloped by lighted fireworks, nimbly climbs to its summit. Perhaps the set-piece may turn out a huge fiery Chrysanthemum; or, greater
pyrotechnic achievement still, a colossal sea-fight,— “The Battle of Trafalgar,” or “Battle of Manila Bay.” These, the largest set-pieces ever made by Messrs. Brock, each measured about an eighth of a mile in length. In the set-piece of the Battle of Yalu River, between China and Japan, the engagement was represented to scale, the masts being 105 feet high; whilst the entire tableaux measured 600 feet across.

A very considerable amount is annually spent in fire-works. At the rejoicings attendant on H.R.H.The Prince of Wales’ tour through India, in 1875, Mr. Brock visited that country, in order to let off the fireworks, of which some hundreds of tons were then used; ten separate displays being given, at costs varying from £1,000 to £2,500 each.

Of Historic Displays, the largest ever prepared by this or any other firm, was that, given at Lisbon, in 1888, on the occasion of the visit of the King and Queen of Sweden. The fireworks were let off on the river Tagus, when three iron-clads with ten other craft, drawn up in a line extending a mile long, were placed at Mr. Brock’s disposal. The display cost £3,500. But this amount was much exceeded on the marriage of the Duke of Braganza, when no fewer than 10,000 large rockets were simultaneously discharged. Roughly speaking, a Crystal Palace display, on an ordinary night, costs 10s a minute; and on a benefit night, about £10 a minute ; the display usually lasting half an hour. After witnessing one of Messrs. Brock’s Crystal Palace Displays, Li Hung Chang declared that the fireworks for which China is famous were completely eclipsed by the splendours of English pyrotechny.

It is not only for purposes of amusement however that fireworks are formed, since here were made those rockets utilised by the Niger Company during their late African War. These require no match; a string is merely pulled; and the rocket, reaching its destination, fastens on whatever it touches, and sets alight all within reach. For the same expedition also, was invented, and made at South Norwood, a peculiar kind of friction light. Attached to these is, a long string which can be stretched across a path, so that an enemy approaching in the dark, and pressing the string, ignites a fire, which lights up the surrounding country: or, hung on trees, at some distance round the zareba, at sound of the enemy’s stealthy approach, the string of these friction lights can be pulled in camp, when the blacks are instantaneously lit up, and effectually surprised.

As if in contrast to such murderous devices, at South Norwood are manufactured enormous quantities of lights and rockets to be used as distress signals by ships at sea, or in cases of shipwreck, by the coast-guard, and the brave fellows who man our Life-Boats. Five hundred tons of fireworks is the ordinary annual output of the South Norwood Manufactory.

The average number of persons employed here is two hundred, of whom about seventy are females.

Arthur Brock


26th April 2016 @ 16:20

South Norwood

Brock’s in South Norwood


From 1864
Charles Thomas Brock supplied the huge spectacular displays at the Crystal Palace Park. They also manufactured flares for distress signals, and pyrotechnic devices for the military.

14th July  1867
Explosives of a more powerful kind. Alfred Nobel hired a train to carry guests from Charing Cross to chalk pits at Merstham to witness his second UK demonstration of his recently invented dynamite.
His aim was to convince his guests, railway officials and quarry owners, that dynamite is both very safe but when detonated, was a very powerful explosive. His train was routed through Croydon, but the dynamite went separately by road.


1877
In or about 1728 a member of the Brock family set up a fireworks factory in London, which was for a while near Peckham (Nunhead), but moved to South Norwood in 1877.

It was not, like most factories, a single large building, the whole of which might be destroyed in seconds in the event of a major fire or explosion. Rather, the Brock’s establishment consisted of many small sheds scattered about over a large area, said to have been about 50 acres, purchased in 1873 (more than three times the size of South Norwood recreation ground).

If one shed caught fire or exploded, the idea was, that all the others would be reasonably safe. The sheds were all linked by horse-drawn tramways. Steam locomotives and their sparks are not a good idea near explosives.


According to an entry in KELLY POST OFFICE DIRECTORY 1878 [page 2482]…

CT Brock’s residence was:-
Brock Charles Thos, The Lodge, Birchanger Road, Woodside, Sth. Norwood, Surry. S.E.


The South  Norwood works was set up according to rules laid down in the Explosives Act of 1875, and suffered no major disasters, using the results from testing at the Nunhead manufactory by Charles Thomas Brock – C.T.Brock ‘Crystal Palace’ Fireworks & Co.

Brock’s was said to have been the largest fireworks factory in the world at the time, employing 200 men and women, and making 500 tonnes of fireworks every year.


Explosion at Messrs. C. T. Brock & Co.’s Firework Factory, South Norwood, on 13th March 1893. (Explosion, No. 16, 1893.) (Colonel Majendie, C.B.)

Explosion at Messrs. C. T. Brock & Co.’s Firework Factory,
South Norwood, on 19th August 1893. (Explosion, No. 63, 1893.) (Captain Thomson, R.A.)


There is nothing left of the works to see today. It was partly built over (Birchanger Road) and partly excavated for brick clay (Woodside brickworks).

brocks south norwood

 


1894 OS Map
London XV.SE (includes: Beckenham; Croydon St John the Baptist; Penge.)
Revised: 1894 to 1895, Published: 1894 to 1896
http://maps.nls.uk/view/96805083

Shows CT Brock’s Crystal Palace Firework Manufactory – Birchanger Road, Woodside, South Norwood.

brocks-crystal-palace-firework-manufactory-woodside-1894


27th Jan 2017 @ 14:55

Firework Competion 1865

Grand Competition of Pyrotechnists,  1865

The history of Brock’s Fireworks dates back to before 1720, but it was during the 19th century that the Brock family established themselves as leaders in the field.

The Crystal Palace displays became a national institution, and any public event worthy of such recognition was accorded a pyrotechnic celebration there on a scale hitherto unattempted.

The credit for the original introduction of fireworks at the Crystal Palace must belong to the late C. T. Brock, who succeeded in inducing the Directors to institute a competition among pyrotechnists in 1865.
It may be interesting to give in his own words an account of the matter, taken from an article written by him some few years later:
(FROM CT BROCKS OWN WORDS)

“It occurred to me that of all the places of public resort suitable for the inauguration of a new era for pyrotechny, none offered such glorious advantages as the Crystal Palace, then at the height of its popularity.”

“Its terraces, fountains and foliage offered unrivalled advantages for the display of grand effects. The Directors of the Crystal Palace Company, who had more than once been applied to for permission to hold displays in the grounds, feared that, inasmuch as fireworks had been recently associated solely with gardens of the Cremorne class, the Palace itself would be degraded to the same rank if consent were granted. I urged that the Exhibition of 1862 had afforded no opportunity for competition among firework makers necessarily excluded by the nature of their trade — although almost every other branch of manufactures were embraced, that such a contest might with reason and advantage be held at Sydenham, and that fireworks were really not of an immoral tendency. I further agreed that in the event of the result being unfavourable, either financially or from a social point of view, no second display need take place, but if, as I felt confident, there should be a large attendance of the better classes, then other exhibitions might follow.”

“The Directors, after many months of delay, consented to make the experiment, and the favourable result of the trial on July 12th, 1865, far exceeded my most sanguine expectations.”

“The result was an unlooked-for success, 20,000 people being present on the occasion. Three more displays took place that year upon a small scale, but always with successful results.”

“The first display was produced jointly by my father and Mr. Southby, the winner of the first prize, and continued to the end of that season by my father alone under my management.”

“The success of fireworks at the Crystal Palace having become an accomplished fact, I built extensive works at Nunhead, and commenced manufacturing on a scale never previously dreamt of in the trade — the vast expanse of the locale of my displays obviously necessitating extraordinary expenditure of material.”

“By degrees the set pieces grew from twelve feet in diameter to 300 feet. Shells for which the Crystal Palace has been renowned grew to one hundred times more than the ordinary shells of my early days, and thousands of pounds weight of material was gradually introduced to increase the effectiveness of these displays.”

C T Brock.

https://archive.org/stream/ldpd_10754280_000/ldpd_10754280_000_djvu.txt

 

In 1865, a “Grand Competition of Pyrotechnists”, the brainchild of Charles Thomas (CT) Brock, was held at the Crystal Palace, Sydenham; it was a spectacular success, with over 20,000 people attending. Thus began a series of magnificent displays at this prestigious venue, continuing until 1936. It can be argued that the first “contest” at the Crystal Palace was the forerunner of other fireworks competitions, which have, particularly in recent years, become popular once again with members of the public. It is interesting to note the “rules” laid down for the first Crystal Palace competition. Each participant was required to display:
1. 25 coloured lights; each 2” in length and 2” diameter, 5 each of white, yellow, green, blue and red.
2. 12 rockets of ½ lb calibre.
3. Three tourbillions.
4. 12 shells of 5” diameter.
5. one set-piece.
6. a finale of 200 rockets of ¼ lb calibre, 50 containing bright stars; 50 tailed stars and 100 coloured stars.

Each company was allowed up to five assistants. No work could be done on-site prior to the day of the show. Use of rockets or shells of calibres greater than those specified would lead to disqualification. Even in those days there were strict “ground rules” that had to be obeyed by each competitor so that a level playing field could be established. Significant advances in chemistry during the 19th century gave rise to a greater spectrum of colours in pyrotechnics, and it is no surprise that the first fireworks competition at the Crystal Palace included a demonstration of “coloured lights” (bengal illuminations) — one of the simplest pyrotechnic devices. This would enable the judges to assess the colour purity and intensity achieved by each competitor’s products.

It is interesting to note that in 1875 the Explosives Act was introduced, which laid down detailed regulations for the manufacture, sale and firing of fireworks. This was subsequently strengthened by later legislation and effectively replaced, in 2005, by the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations. Prior to 1875, regulation of fireworks-related activities had been poor although centuries earlier, in 1685, an Act of Parliament limited the manufacture, sale and display of fireworks. It was largely ignored. The latter part of the 19th century, leading up to the First World War, was a “golden age” for firework displays. Brock’s had become established as the leading lights in the UK and were contracted to provide shows throughout the world for all manner of celebrations, often associated with royal events. Other companies such as Pains and Wells also strengthened their reputations during this period, but Brock was pre-eminent. Their displays would invariably include huge and complex set-pieces; massive lancework devices depicting royal portraits, Heads of State or triumphant scenes such as battle victories were very common. This necessitated great expenditure and considerable manpower requirements, in contrast with modern displays that tend to be more economical in terms of personnel.


25th April 2016 @ 16:07

Extraordinary Display

Wednesday, 25th December 1872

The South Australian Advertiser (Adelade, SA). page 3.

EXTRAORDINARY DISPLAY OF FIREWORKS

The Times reports a wonderful display of fireworks at the Crystal Palace. The verbal description is exciting, but the spectacle itself must have been marvellous.

The Times says:
The occasion was rendered the more attractive from the fact that it was announced to be for the benefit of Mr. C. T. Brock, of Nunhead, who for some years past has provided all the displays of this kind for which the Crystal Palace has now become so famous, and that for this reason the fireworks were to be, if possible, unusually remarkable and splendid.

The display had been fixed to be held a week earlier, but the sudden rain threatened to spoil all the set pieces, and rendered the affair a inisemblic failure, and it was consequently determined to carry out the original programme in its integrity last night.

The postponement was, perhaps, fortunate, for the display passed off yesterday with the most complete success.

The amusements yesterday in the building were also very varied, comprising, as they did, performances by the fine orchestral band of the company, under the direction of Mr. Wiw and the band of the Coldstream Guards, under Mr. F. Godfrey; a, billiard match in the concert room between Mr. Cook, the champion of England, and Mr. Bennett, a well known professional player; and the representation in the Opera Theatre of the harvest fairy fable ‘Autumn Leaves,’ and the farce, ‘The Spitalfields Weaver.’

By the late trains in the after noon, from the city and elsewhere, large numbers of visitors arrived, and as the time for the commencement of the display approached, the whole building became very crowded.  The reserved seats in tbe coridors and upper galleries were packed with spectators, while on the terrace slopes and throughout the grounds a great concourse of people had assembled.

The Coldstream Guards Band were stationed on one of the terraces, and played some popular airs during the displays. Precisely at 8 o’clock the fireworks began, there being first of all a Royal saints of aerial maroons, and afterwards the park, fountains, basins, high jets, and water temples were suddenly illuminated by 400 large lights of changing colors.

The effect was magnificent in the extreme, and the constant variety in the shades of the colomn was particularly noticeable. A shont of applause greeted this fairy-like spectacle. The volume of smoke thus produced having gradually died away, a discharge of great rockets succeeded, some of them bursting with a loud explosion and discharging into the air falling stars of all kinds, tints, and colors. Almost simultaneously two splendid magnesiam balloons ascended, lighting up vividly the Palace and the whole of the grounds, and scatterine myriads of shooting: stars and rockets.

There were next displayed a series of twinkling and floating stars, and these were followed by a grand discharge of 20 shells, with a view to show the variety of colors used. This part of the display was extremely pretty, and among the colors shown were crimson. light and deep blue, amber, pead, emerald, and pale green, mauve, orange, pink, purple, yellow, lilac, rose, and violet. An exceedingly good effect was produced, first by a so-called flight of fiery pigeons to and from their cote, and next by a splendid golden cloud, caused by the timoltaeneons firing of 30 ISO-pounder shells, each said to bo 10 inches in diameter.

Much cheering followed this portion of the exhibition. The grand set-piece of the display, portraying the Palace of tile Escurial, was then lighted, and caused an outburst of applause. The lancework covered an area of 2,000 square yards, and the [«1f»ta^w] of the marvellous grill-shaped building were represented with much minuteness. It was first shown in pure white, but it underwent before it expired several exquisite changes in color. This was indeed, the masterpiece of the display, and it reflected the greatest credit on Mr. Brock and his men.

Several other magnesium balloons were sent off, and there was then another discharge of large shells, some of them being six inches in diameter, Olustmting many combinations of colors. An explosion of 50 jewel mines followed, and then a person representing the demon of fire passed along the whole length of the lower terrace, amid a blaze of light; discharging all along his course a number of rockets and other fireworks. A magnificent result was obtained by tbe firing at one moment of 100 immense shells, which, bursting simultaneously, filled the air with thousands of stars, and it was stated that this arrangement had only been perfected once before.

A still greater novelty, however, was next exhibited in the shape of an immense cascade of fire, 300 feet long, dropping firework jewels, and lasting nearly two minutes; and also in that of a comet of great brilliancy, which left the summit of the northern water tower. After a number of minor items in the long programme had been satisfactorily passed, the display concluded with another illumination of the park and fountains the latter being in fall plly discharge of no less than 600 Roman candles and 1,600 large colored rockets.
The applause at intervals was very hearty, and at the end some cheers were especially given in honor of Mr. Brock. The weather, which was somewhat threatening during a part of the evening, fortunately held out, and nothing of any consequence happened to mar the display.

A number of special trains from all the stations conveyed the visitors back to town. The admissions were — by season tickets, 5,890; and on payment, 12,519, making in all 18,439.

http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/73060912


25th April 2016 @ 14:12

Capitol Punishment

London’s historic sites of Execution
(A look at Capital Punishment around the Capitol)

Capital punishment in the UK was used until the creation of the state in 1801.  The last executions by hanging were in 1964. Originally, there were around 220 crimes that held a sentence of death by execution as a penalty. The state would use executions to deter citizens from committing crimes. Some of the most notorious hangings would lure crowds of around 200,000.

Exectution Sites Locations
Execution Sites Locations

Many of London’s streets have an air of grandeur about them – but a new interactive map reveals their macabre past.

Historians have pinpointed the precise locations of the capital’s most notorious execution sites, where crowds of up to 200,000 would gather to revel in the gruesome spectacle of seeing people put to death.

The map, compiled by Historic UK, shows how many of the sites are clustered around the centre of the city in places such as Charing Cross, Kennington Common and Wandsworth.

The hallowed ground of St Paul’s Cathedral also saw its fair share of death by hanging.

There used to be some 220 crimes that were punishable by death including being in the company of gypsies for a month, being out at night with a blackened face and damaging Westminster Bridge.

The state would use the public events to wield its power and ultimately put large crowds off from taking their first steps into less than salubrious careers.

Although the death penalty in England was abolished in 1965, here are some execution sites in London that you can visit for a spine-chilling day out.


1 – Tyburn
Tyburn Gallows was a busy place for public executions, with as many as 12 hanging days a year. The scaffolding here was designed to accommodate 24 people at once.
When highwayman Jack Sheppard was hanged there, Historic UK said, the event attracted an audience of 200,000 people. The gallows here were last used in 1783.

2 – Charing Cross
King Charles II took revenge against eight people who’d killed his father, Charles I, by subjecting them to being hanged, drawn and quartered at Charing Cross.
These executions took place in 1660, with the site popular for public floggings long after, according to Historic UK. A statue of King Charles was erected in 1675.

Charing Cross

3 – Banqueting Hall Balcony
Banqueting Hall balcony was the location for King Charles 1’s execution in 1649.
He was put to death on specially designed scaffolding after being convicted of high treason.
A black mark next to the number two on the clock face at nearby Horse Guards, said Historic UK, serves as a reminder of this most high profile of executions.

This engraving shows the execution of Charles I on a scaffold outside the Banqueting House in 1649.

Banqueting Hall

4 – Old Palace Yard
Four Gunpowder plotters were hanged, drawn and quartered in Old Palace Yard, which is just outside the Palace of Westminster. This illustration by George Cruikshank shows Guy Fawkes climbing the ladder to the gallows in 1606
Four other Gunpowder plotters were hanged, drawn and quartered in Old Palace Yard, which is just outside the Palace of Westminster.
Sir Walter Raleigh was also executed here, a few years later in 1618.
He was heard to shout ‘strike, man, strike!’ before the axe fell, according to Historic UK.

Old Palace Yard

5 – Lincolns Inn Fields – then known as Cup Field
It may be a tranquil spot now, but Lincoln’s Inn Fields used to be a macabre site where very gruesome public executions took place in Tudor times.
Enemies of the state were dispatched here, usually by the method of being hanged drawn and quartered, according to Historic UK.
It said: ‘Although there is no plaque to mark the exact site of these and the several other hangings that followed at Lincoln’s Inn Fields, consensus suggests that the current bandstand marks the most likely spot.’

Lincolns Inn Fields

6 – Fetter Lane (NO OLD PIC)
According to Historic UK there is some evidence to suggest that this site was a popular place for executions before the Reformation, and remained in use until at least 1733.
Among those executed was Christopher Bales (Bayles) an English Catholic priest.
He was hanged and quartered on 4 March 1590 ‘for treason and favouring foreign invasion’.

7 – Newgate Prison
Newgate prison was built by King Henry II in the 12th century and it remained in operation until 1902. Between 1790 and 1902 over 1,000 people were put to death at Newgate. In 1782 its notoriety increased significantly when London’s public gallows moved there from Tyburn. The site today is occupied by the Old Bailey.

This drawing shows an execution before the debtor’s door at the prison.
Newgate Prison

8 – The Elms Smithfield
Smithfield was a popular entertainment area during medieval times, hosting jousting, summer fairs and sometimes the occasional execution. This engraving shows the martyrdom of Thomas Loseby, Henry Ramsey, Thomas Thirtell, Margaret Hide and Agnes Stanley there in 1557
A few small flowers and a Scottish flag serve as a clue as to the identity of the person who was executed at The Elms – William Wallace, also known as Braveheart.
He was put to death in 1305.
Later, between 1555 and 1558, over 50 protestants were burned at the stake here, during the reign of Queen Mary 1 (Bloody Mary).

The Elms Smithfield

9 – St Paul’s Cathedral Churchyard
You may not associate St Paul’s Cathedral with capital punishment, but its churchyard was an execution site reserved for extreme criminals.
It may be a sanctuary of peace these days, but in the past, extreme criminals were put to death there, sometimes in a most gruesome fashion.
Four of the infamous Gunpowder Plotters – Sir Everard Digby, Robert Winter, John Grant and Thomas Bates, were hanged and disemboweled here on January 30, 1606.
This drawing depicts the hanging of Richard Hunne in 1514.

St. Pauls

10 – Execution Dock
Execution Dock was where The Admiralty hanged pirates in front of huge crowds, their plight worsened by the use of shortened rope, which meant they died from suffocation instead of a broken neck, according to Historic UK. The organisation said that the bodies remained suspended until three tides had washed over them.
One of the most famous pirates to be put to death here was the inspiration for Treasure Island – Captain Kidd. He was hanged in 1701.
Execution Dock

11 – The Tower of London and Tower Hill
The Tower was where Anne Boleyn (1536), Catherine Howard (1542) and Lady Jane Grey (1554) were put to death.
An expert swordsman was brought over from France to make Boleyn’s death a quick one.
The Countess of Salisbury, on the other hand, was struck 11 times before she died.
Tower Hill, meanwhile, was the site of countless public executions, according to Historic UK, including George Boleyn, the brother of Anne, and Thomas Cromwell.

The Tower

12 – Kenington Commom
Until the late 1700s executions south of the river took place at the Surrey gallows at Kennington Common.
A speciality of the gallows here was putting highway robbers to death.
And when it wasn’t being used for public executions, the site was often used for cricket matches, as it is today.

Kenington Common

13 – Horsemonger Lane Gaol
Between 1800 and 1877 135 convicts were executed here, including four women.
According to Historic UK, Charles Dickens witnessed one of the public hangings.
He wrote about his experience in a letter to The Times, describing the sight as ‘inconceivably awful’.
This jail used to be the biggest in the country – but nothing remains of it now.

Horsemonger Lane Gaol

14 – Wandsworth Prison
When Horsemonger Lane Gaol closed in 1878, Wandsworth Prison stepped in and took up its execution duties.
Here 135 people were put to death, including 10 spies from the two world wars.
The most infamous of these, according to Historic UK, was William Joyce, the WWII Nazi propaganda broadcaster known as Lord Haw-Haw.

Wandsworth Prison

15 – St Thomas-a-Watering (NO OLD PIC)
St Thomas-a-Watering on Old Kent Road used to be a way point on the pilgrim route to Canterbury.
But it had a hellish connection with executions, too, with many Catholics and dissenters put to death here during the reformation, including Wales’ most famous Protestant martyr, John Penry.
His crime? According to Historic UK he had done nothing more than ‘issue strong words of warning’ against the Queen, Elizabeth.

16 – Holloway Prison
Between 1903 and 1955, a total of five women were put to death by hanging at Holloway, which became the main detention centre for woman after Newgate prison shut.
The first to be put to death were Amelia Sachs and Annie Walters in February 1903, Historic UK said. The pair had murdered at least 20 infants.

holloway-prison

17 – Pentonville Prison
When Newgate Prison shut in 1902, its hangman’s gallows were re-assembled at Pentonville.
This prison not only became the main execution site for men in London, but a training centre for would-be hangmen, who were taught the ‘art of hanging’.
The most famous of the 120 men hanged at Pentonville between 1902 and 1961 was probably Dr Hawley Harvey Crippen, who poisoned his wife.

Pentonville Prison

Stratford-Le-Bow
Stratford-le-Bow was the site of the infamous Burnyng of the Stratford Martyrs that took place on 27 June 1556.
Historic UK said: ‘Watched by a crowd of more than 20,000, eleven men and two women were tied to three stakes and burnt to death on a single fire. The 13 ordinary folk that were executed on that black day included a blacksmith, a woodworker, a brewer, a weaver, a tailor and a labourer.’
It added: ‘As one of the women was pregnant at the time, perhaps the death toll should read 14.’
The deaths were ordered by Queen Mary – known as Bloody Mary – as she tried to convert England back to Catholicism following Henry VIII’s split with the Roman Catholic Church.

Stratford-le-Bow

Shooters Hill Crossroads (NO OLD PIC)
Shooter’s Hill in Greenwich was a common haunt for highwaymen – and many of them met their makers right here, where they plied their nefarious trade.
The popularity of the spot for putting them to death here may have been because this is one of the highest points in London.
The Shooter’s Hill hangman was kept busy right up until the early 19th century with highway robbers, according to Historic UK.

Salmon and Ball pub, Bethnal Green (NO OLD PIC)
Between 1763 and 1769 silk weavers in their thousands protested about poor working conditions – and a militant trade union movement became established that fought their cause.
The ringleaders were eventually arrested and four sentenced to death.
Two of them, John Doyle and John Valline, drew their last breath in front of the Salmon and Ball pub in Bethnal Green on December 6, 1769.

St Thomas-a-Watering (NO OLD PIC)
St Thomas-a-Watering on Old Kent Road used to be a way point on the pilgrim route to Canterbury.
But it had a hellish connection with executions, too, with many Catholics and dissenters put to death here during the reformation, including Wales’ most famous Protestant martyr, John Penry.
His crime? According to Historic UK he had done nothing more than ‘issue strong words of warning’ against the Queen, Elizabeth.

Read more: http://www.historic-uk.com/


6th Mar 2016 @ 14:50

Dreadful Explosion in Whitechapel

4th September 1825 – Bell’s Weekly Messenger, appears the following account:

DREADFUL EXPLOSION IN WHITECHAPEL.

Yesterday morning, about half-past eight o’clock, Whitechapel Road, and the numerous streets that abound there, were thrown into the greatest state of agitation, by the inhabitants experiencing a most tremendous shock, as if caused by a volcano or an earthquake. The houses for a considerable distance were deserted by their inhabitants, and men, women, and children were seen running about in all directions, under the impression that the world was at an end. It was soon ascertained that their alarm was produced by the explosion of the factory of Mr. Brock, the artist in fireworks, at No. 11, Baker’s Row, Whitechapel Road, nearly opposite the London Hospital.

The following particulars relative to this direful disaster have reached us
— Mr. Brock has resided for the last five years in Baker’s Row, and at the back of his dwelling house is his repository for fireworks, where they are manufactured. This building is about 50 feet by 20 feet, and contains three magazines, which are lined with lead, and would be perfectly secure from fire, should it occur, on any of the adjoining premises. In these receptacles were deposited all the powder, composition, and, in fact, all the combustible matter, and Mr. B. was remarkable for the method he had taken to prevent any accident occurring on his premises. A few weeks since he had taken two boys out of the poor-house to instruct in the art of firework making, and he kept them chiefly employed in filling and ramming the cases of the sky rockets, serpents, squibs, etc.

The latter part of this stage of the work is done by a funnel, or piece of tin made in the shape of an extinguisher, and a small piece of iron wire, about a foot long, which is used as a ramrod. The small end, or nipple, as it is called, of the extinguisher is introduced into one end of the rocket or squib, and the boys ram the powder and wadding down with the ramrod. Yesterday morning, at the time above stated, Mr. Brock and his men left the factory to go to breakfast, leaving the two boys engaged at the work-board, ramming the sky-rockets. They had scarcely sat down to their meal when they, as well as the inhabitants around them for some distance, heard a sort of rumbling noise as  if of some distant thunder, and the next moment a tremendous and deafening explosion followed, and the air was illumined with lights of various descriptions, and accompanied by continued reports. The concussion thus occasioned was so great that the inmates in the different houses were shaken from their seats, many of whom were sitting at their breakfast, and the tables and tea-things were upset and broken to pieces.

The window frames were all forced out, and the brickbats and materials were flying about in every direction. The roofs of Mr. Brock’s manufactory, and the factory of Mr. M’Devitt adjoining, were blown to a considerable height, and the falling materials did considerable mischief. After the agitation was somewhat subsided, an inquiry into the cause of the accident took place, when it appeared from the statement of the two boys (who were blown a considerable height and were much injured) that they were at work, ramming the rockets, when the ramrod struck against the funnel, and the friction caused a spark, which flew into the bowl of gunpowder that stood near them; this soon exploded, and ran like a train to all the other fireworks in the factory, and at length communicated to the magazines, which caused the disaster.

Mr. Brock, however, declares that it could not have arisen in that way, as the nipple of the funnel was copper, therefore a friction would not cause a spark. One poor woman, sister to the beadle, who lives next door to Mr. Brock, was so dreadfully injured by the broken glass that she lies in the London Hospital without hopes of recovery. Ten houses were seriously damaged, and over sixty had their windows broken from top to bottom.

It will be seen from the foregoing that Brock was in advance of his time as regards precautions against explosions, which, however, in this case proved to some extent ineffective.


21st April 2016 @ 19:49