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.

The wet and squidgy rooftop of Woolies. I think PeteB is
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 safety.

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 way.

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 again!

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 below.

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 items.

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 too.

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.

Steve waiting for the display start time, contemplating the fog.

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 as good.

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.

Multiple shell breaks give Dereham a display to remember.

Video stills (click to enlarge):

Highlights : 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 Media clip.

This was gorgeous, a sequence of crossettes but in a range
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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