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
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
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!
pictures and video courtesy and ©2004 Rev. Julian Hartley
This presentation ©2004 UK Firework Review. All rights
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