This display was going to be a first for us in
that it was the first display we'd be reporting
on where the fireworks were set up and fired from
a roof! This was going to be a good opportunity
to see what differences, if any, there would be
with the layout and preparations.
The display, by Skyscenes, was to celebrate the
turning on of the Christmas lights in a town called
Dereham in the middle of Norfolk. Carnivals, stalls,
music and merriment would take place in the main
square, while behind this the fireworks would
launch from a strategically positioned rooftop.
Finding Dereham was easy enough, finding the
roof of Woolworths was not, particularly with
half the main square closed, so we had to pull
over and generally obstruct traffic while I called
through to the team en-route for the directions
again. On the third attempt we made it, and had
a look around the site while we waited for the
fireworks crew to arrive.
wet and squidgy rooftop of Woolies. I think PeteB
trying to spell out "SOS" to get away
from Gerry's latest jokes.
- You can
click on any thumbnail to view a bigger picture
Here is the site, split into two levels covering
two rooftops. The main items would be fired
from the roof of Woolworths, the bigger shells
would be fired from the lower level for extra
The first challenge of a rooftop
site is how to get the fireworks - some of
which are very bulky and heavy - on to the
roof. Now this may not look a large distance
but the only ladder was a sheer vertical fire
escape surrounded by a guard. Luckily, there
was plenty of rope to hand in the van!
Of all the displays we have covered, this
crew was the most appreciative of the helping
hand we could give. PeteB pulls on the rope
while Gerry contemplates which of his vertebrae
is going to go first.
Unloading the van and the large
quantity of support items is evident here
including tubes, racks, timber, tools, fire
extinguishers and fuse.
Gerry: "Right that's the van unloaded,
whose turn is it to get the tea?". Steve:
"Don't look at me, I got it last time".
PeteB: "On yer bike!".
The upper level as you can
see in this shot provided a flat, if wet,
surface. The main restriction here is that
- for obvious reasons, heheh - you cannot
bang stakes into the roof. Apart from that,
the fireworks were set up in almost the same
Three candle fans rest against one of the
many strange vents, openings and protrusions
on the roof. Luckily this one was closed because
it looks a bit terrifying.
PeteB helps out by getting
some of the timber frames started.
Great! Gerry's batteries have run out again
and he's just seized up completely! We had
to get the jump leads out to get him going
A great new candle effect for
2003/4, "Ditto", heheh... In the
background you can see the Church.
A look right down a plastic mortar tube at the shell
View of the mortar tubes and racks for this
display. It had been quite wet as you can
see, so a fair amount of wooden boards and
waterproofing were required on most of the
We weren't the first ones up
here! "Jason Vince" if you're reading,
I hope you have since swapped your spray cans
for an academic pursuit! I do hope your mum
isn't reading this!
Wider view of the site looking back towards
the fire escape. Plenty of room to move here.
Checking the setting up order
with the firing list. The very big cake in
the foreground is "Assorted Rings"
which as the same suggests is a ring cake.
Very nice it was too, you can see it in action
in the video clips below.
Steve gets the shells loaded into their tubes.
The yellow connector between each shell is
a line of fuse, so it will burn along to light
each shell one after the other.
Pants! We hoped we had seen
the last of any fog at the previous display.
Here comes a right pea souper! For good measure
the temperature dropped by about ten degrees
Gerry does his own version of David Copperfield's
disappearing Statue of Liberty. Here with
just a few bits of pyro and timber, he makes
Dereham church slowly vanish!
Almost complete now and you
can see this section has a good assortment
of fanned candles and cakes.
Although cakes are bottom heavy and normally
stable on flat ground, they are secured to
be 100% safe. This will prevent them from
falling over. Notice each item is waterproofed
too (including the fuse).
Night time now, and the mist
is illuminated by the street lights of Dereham
in this night shot of the upper firing site.
waiting for the display start time, contemplating
Dereham's team of stewards were
brilliant. For the most part they appeared to consist
of teenagers in military uniform, so I assume they
were army cadets or similar. And did they kick butt!
They made short work of clearing the cars from the
adjacent car park and then guarded the area with
enthusiasm, running to intercept incoming cars and
shouting "HALT!" loudly. Well done and
I wish the stewards at every public event where
I wasn't too optimistic about the
weather, but as the firing time drew nearer, milder
conditions moved in and the fog lifted. By the time
the display was due to start the conditions were
pretty good considering the pea soup fog earlier,
and the show was on!
For this show we decided to pick
a spot fairly close to the action, and chose just
to video it rather than take still images too. A
good choice as it turned out and we captured some
nice video as you will see.
shell breaks give Dereham a display to remember.
Video stills (click to enlarge):
: Edited video clip showing
the highlights of this display
(two and a half minute clip).
6.5Mb Windows Media clip. Highlights
for broadband part 1 : Edited
video clip showing the highlights
of this display, up to and including
the ring shell cake. Higher
quality 720x576 video. 11Mb
AVI file, DivX required. Highlights
for broadband part 2 : Edited
video clip showing the highlights
of this display, the final noise
and then shell sequence. Higher
quality 720x576 video. 4.7Mb
AVI file, DivX required. Short
clip 1 : Opening shell sequence.
624Kb Windows Media clip. Short
clip 2 : Crackling golden
flowers followed by aerial shells.
1Mb Windows Media clip. Short
clip 3 : Multicoloured crossettes
sequence (very pretty). 920Kb
Windows Media clip. Short
clip 4 : Ring shell cake
(this also looked really good).
930Kb Windows Media clip. Short
clip 5 : Lots of noise,
screeches, crackles and the
final shells. 1.24Mb Windows
was gorgeous, a sequence of crossettes but in a
of pretty colours.
We really enjoyed this one, it was
a good mix of shells and visual effects. The ring
cake was awesome, the multicoloured crossette sequence
was magical, and the finale barrage looked and sounded
amazing from where we were. Not surprisingly, it
was described in the local press later as "the
most spectacular ever".
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