Brocks 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.

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

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

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.”

Brock’s Fireworks Ltd. Established in 1725.


Benjamin Brock, born 1728.

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

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


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


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.”


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).

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

1858 The explosion at Madame Cotons firework factory Westminster Road London

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.

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

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

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.

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)

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

Tuesday, 1st February 1870
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)


Thursday, 4th April  1872. Extract from:
by Alan. st. Hill Brock, (published, London, 1922)


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

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.

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


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.

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 ????
By Alan st Hill. Brock, (published, London, 1922)

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
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)

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.

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
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.

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]

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.

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.

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).


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
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).

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]


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.

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

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.


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.

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.

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.


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)


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)


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

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


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


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”.


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Further Reading:

26th Jan 2018 @ 15:44


20 thoughts on “Brocks Fireworks

  1. John Bennett June 10, 2016 / 8:09 am

    This is absolutely fascinating. As editor of Europe’s only periodical devoted entirely to fireworks, I am interested in the accounts and the illustrations. I wonder if there is any information about Mr Barker and his interest in fireworks?


  2. Barry Sturman November 30, 2016 / 6:29 am

    Wonderful stuff! Congratulations, and thank you so much for making this excellent material available. I noticed an error – the move from Sutton to Hemel Hempstead did not happen until 1933, not 1910 as stated here. See Grace’s Guide for evidence that Brock’s were still at Sutton well after 1910. The 1911 price list cover shown on your page clearly gives the address as Sutton.


    • Freddy Barker January 26, 2017 / 4:38 pm

      Sorry only just seen your comments!
      Appreciate any additions or corrections you can providelete!
      many thanks..


  3. Stephen Oxford January 26, 2017 / 2:29 pm

    Fantastic historical research. Thank you.
    As a member of the Norwood Society I am researching Brocks in South Norwood. Does anyone have any relevant information, especially a map of location?


    • Freddy Barker January 26, 2017 / 4:41 pm

      More than happy to exchange any info!
      will contact via your provided email.
      Replying to you on a Tablet, no date displayed to sorry not replied sooner…


    • Barry Sturman January 27, 2017 / 12:45 am

      I have a map from 1894 showing the factory. It was in a large field between the Brighton and South Coast railway and Birchanger Road. To the southwest was Hermitage Farm, to the south east there was a brick works. A laneway separated the factory from the back yards of the buildings along Birchanger Road. Hope this helps! Would love to see your ‘Tons of Fireworks’ article…


      • norwoodian1 January 27, 2017 / 11:49 am


        Hi Barry

        Thanks for that pointer. I now have the 1894 map and have located the factory.

        I Have attached the article, no source known.



        > On 27 January 2017 at 00:45 Interesting History > wrote: > Barry Sturman commented: “I have a map from 1894 showing the factory. It > was in a large field between the Brighton and South Coast railway and > Birchanger Road. To the southwest was Hermitage Farm, to the south east there > was a brick works. A laneway separated the factory from the” >


  4. Stephen Oxford January 26, 2017 / 2:31 pm

    I have a copy of an article ‘Tons of Fireworks’, source unknown about Brocks in South Norwood happy to share.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Steve Allison July 17, 2017 / 10:25 am

      Would love to read the “Tons of Fireworks” information you have.


  5. John Bennett January 28, 2017 / 8:40 am

    I should mention my interest in Brock’s; I am editor of the magazine Fireworks (, for which Barry Sturman is a regular writer. All this information is fascinating and would make excellent material for an article in Fireworks if co-ordinated into an article. Freddie (Pete?) has contacted me and kindly sent images although, for some reason, I was unable to open them. This is very sad because those reproduced above are superb. Your views please!


    • Freddy Barker January 28, 2017 / 11:13 am

      Hi John, I did leave a link to the photos ‘live’ for about a month, then deleted sorry!
      I’ll send a new link to your email later today
      Regards Freddy.


  6. Peter Brock Ashby July 3, 2017 / 7:49 pm

    Wonderful job. I am a distant relative, a great grand son of Mary Ann Brock, sister to Charles Thomas Brock.


  7. Geoff Boden February 24, 2019 / 7:06 am

    Hi, I cant help wondering why the Skelmersdale, Lancashire factory isnt mentioned. It was a big employer in the 1960s in Skelmersdale…..Regards…Geoff Boden


    • Freddy Barker February 24, 2019 / 10:16 am

      Hi Geoff – that’s a good point you’ve made and I’m not sure I was aware of Brocks in Skelmersdale, but will now investigate.
      The Brock’s info is always been a ‘job in progress’ so any new information is very welcome!
      Best regards: Freddy


    • Freddy Barker April 13, 2019 / 1:17 pm

      We have found some information and a few photos for Skelmersdale now, but not had the time yet to add to the Brock blog.
      Please message me if you’d like to see the photos. Best Regards


      • Geoff October 4, 2019 / 9:08 am

        Sorry for the delay but could I see the photos please


  8. Meryl Bindon April 12, 2019 / 8:26 am

    We are developing a memorial chapel in Romford Cemetery to tell the stories of some of those buried there and I want to include John Robert Brock reportedly the artist brother of Arthur Brock. i understand he was made manager of the small works Brocks factory in Harold Wood 1886 to 1906 when he died. I have a lovely obituary for him but wondered whether any of the photos above were taken at Harold Wood and if so whether I could obtain permission to use them. Brocks was a household name when I was a kid but when I ask people at work if they have heard of them they knew nothing of the co.s history!!!


  9. Gill Golding June 19, 2019 / 5:14 pm


    This is incredibly interesting. You’ve posted a section of an 1881 census return for William Harrison ‘Artist in Fireworks’ (April 3rd 1881) and mention that he worked for Brocks. He’s my great, great grandfather and I’ve been searching for a link to Brocks for a long time. Can you lead me to where that link is please? My mother who’s 97 now, has always talked about fireworks in the family – my searches have confirmed this with the family moving from Mile End to Nunhead at a similar time that the Brocks manufactury was created but I’ve never been able to confirm that he actually worked for Brocks.

    Best wishes



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