The purple crossettes looked appropriate, but the Orgasmatron? Did the Bishop know? What would the Bishop say if he saw the six Orgasmatrons lovingly erected outside the front door of his Cathedral? Maybe he wouldn't notice them in the dark, but I'd seen them during the day. And now there they were, waiting to add their contribution to the event. It was time for the Christmas firework display and carol service at Blackburn Cathedral.

The venue presents something of a challenge to display planners and photographers alike. Blackburn Cathedral is right in the city centre, surrounded by buildings some of which are just a few yards from its walls. It's also on a smallish plot of land which is peppered with trees. Fortunately, Steve Martin, Millennium Pyrotechnics' display manager, was up to the challenge. As for me and my camera, well...

A daytime reconnaissance seemed to be called for. My choice of place to watch and film from would depend on the kind of display being planned. So I'd 'phoned folk at both the Cathedral and Millennium, hoping to glean some helpful information. That resulted in an invitation from Steve to have a closer look at things on site. I'm grateful to Steve and his crew for the time on site in the afternoon and for the display in the evening.

- Click on any thumbnail to view the full-sized image -

Steve's plan was to fire a symmetrical display from both sides of the Cathedral using the Fire One system and plenty of Pyroclock to keep things synchronised. To that would be added a barrage of shells fired from a third firing site behind the Cathedral. Then in front of the Cathedral there'd be an array of candles, cakes, mines and some lancework. To keep within the confines of the site, no large shells were going to be used. But there would be plenty of shells up to 4" in size. Rack upon rack of them had been brought together in a preparation area in front of the Cathedral by the time I arrived on site. These would later be moved to their firing positions - but not before I'd had the chance to look at and photograph them.

It looked like a pyrotechnical allotment - a plot of fireworks. There were rows of shells in racks and clumps of cakes. There were stands of rather special Spanish candles, reflecting gold as they caught the afternoon sunlight, and near to them a small bed of Orgasmatrons!

Companies have been heard to say of some of their consumer retail range, "We use these in our professional displays". Those Orgasmatrons were the proof that it's true - at least in Millennium's case! But there was more discreet proof, too. A selection of cakes in plain brown boxes from the Platinum Professional range were to be used. For this display they'd been made with fusing for electrical firing in mind. But Steve explained that Millennium also makes the same pieces for the retail market with the type of fuse more usually found in category 3 display fireworks.

He showed me a couple of other cakes that he'd added to the recipe for this display. One was a tasty looking lemon cake which was new to the range and which really did produce a gorgeous bright lemon yellow effect in action. The other one to get excited about was a brocade crown with blue comet creation, fused to fire its 600 shots in just 17 seconds! Despite having quite a small bore, it produced a very attractive high flying display with sprays of gold fanning out to the right and left of a column of blue comets.

I'd thought of watching all these from the rooftop of a nearby multistory car park. But that only had views of the cathedral roof - shops and offices blocked the view of the ground based effects Steve had briefed me to expect. Those same buildings prevented me from getting a ground level view from a good distance from the fireworks. So I opted for a vantage point at the very front of the spectator area.

It was closer than I would have liked for photography, but it did put me close to the PA system carrying the Christmas music that would accompany the display. If I've identified the tracks right, these included Christmas classics like Slade's "Merry Xmas Everyone", Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmas Time", State Of The Heart's "Last Christmas", Bing Crosby's "I'm Dreaming Of A White Christmas" and more besides.

So there I was, one Vicar with two cameras and my three children outside a Cathedral waiting for fireworks! And we got them - starting in a low key way with a lancework Christmas tree bursting into life before a veritable barrage of mine and shell bursts all but drowned out the music. The Cathedral was at times lit up as if floodlit and at times shrouded in smoke in the still air. In one relaxed pace sequence pairs of wonderful golden tailed comets lazily arched across the Cathedral from opposite sides in perfect synchrony, crossing each other above the roof. At other times the sky was filled with a fast and furious barrage of pyrotechnic effects in just about every possible colour.

But they say a picture paints a thousand words, so have a look at the photos and video and see for yourself! All I can say is that it was a most satisfying addition to my Christmas season and I'm hoping for another display like it next year!


Full display : The complete fourteen minute display. Includes festive lancework, wall to wall pyro and the best Christmas tunes to get you moving! Please right click and save complete file before opening and playing. 110Mb Windows Media clip in ZIP format.


Source pictures and video courtesy and ©2004 Rev. Julian Hartley ("RocketRev").
This presentation ©2004 UK Firework Review. All rights reserved. To return to the main site
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