Time to get off and grab myself a coffee and
a bacon sarnie and try and shake this hangover
off before I have to start work. What's this?
The crane is up - it wasn't supposed to be ready
until 9.30 there goes my breakfast!!! Oh well
better go inside and meet up with everyone.
"Hi my name is Sarah Mackie and you are?".
"Graham Mann." I replied. "Where is everyone?".
"Oh they are out getting breakfast" DOH!!!!!!!!!!
Halifax as seen from the roof of "The"
Well the rest of the crew turned
up a few moments later and I introduced myself to
them before the head of security whisked us off
on a tour of the building. Now take lift X to floor
X go down this corridor up the stairwell and, around
the bend, in the event of a fire use the exit on
this level should you be in the old building use
the stairs and the exit over here.
Now let me get this straight in
the event of a fire one of two things will happen:
1. You will die in the fire because you are trapped
like a rat in a maze or 2.You will die of heart
attack running around looking for a fire exit. OK
I'll just sit here have a fag and wait for the flames
to come and get me.
Security talk over it was time to
get on with unloading the gear and get it in the
crane bucket so it could be lifted on to the roof.
- You can
click on any thumbnail to view a bigger picture
The stash in one of the vans. Lots of pyro
but lots to move too.
Unpacking the van. Wilf Scott
is pictured on the right.
This is me standing next to a large pile
Filling the crane bucket. Better
than using the stairs!
Shot of the huge crane from further back.
Oops sorry I was getting carried
away! What's going on? A few weeks ago it came to
my attention that the Halifax Building Society were
having a fireworks display off the roof of their
headquarters in Halifax to mark their 150th anniversary
and none other than Pyrovision (of Buckingham Palace
Jubilee fame) were doing the show. I couldn't pass
up an opportunity like this so I phoned them and
spoke to Wilf Scott explaining that I would like
to do a feature for the UKFR and that I could also
help out in anyway they wanted, lo and behold two
months later here I am unloading gear from the vans
ready to set up on the roof.
Unloading commenced; cake after
cake after cake, candles racks, sundries firing
equipment etc. But where are the shells? Not a single
one in sight what's going on here? Wilf explained
to me that due to strict HSE guidelines shells could
not be used instead it was to be an artistic display
spread across the 2 buildings; this should be interesting
All the pyro is now on the roof, time to
set it out.
Kimbolton's Panzera candles
being set up.
Mines and candles. Notice how they are all
primed to be fired electrically.
More candle fans.
A couple of big candle fans and these are
for me to set up!
Well after 20 odd years of waiting
I was about to find out if the rumours of gardens
and a swimming pool on the roof were true
door opened and
it was a plain old boring roof,
humph the rumours that go around when you're a kid!!!
Now it was time to start putting
all the pyro in their respective firing positions
that were marked out along the roof. This was rather
confusing at first because everything had letters
and numbers on them, after much head scratching
and trying to figure out the firing plan things
started to fall into place. There were 12 primary
locations with many intermediary sites, the idea
being each place would be firing the same kit at
the same time creating a wall of explosions and
General view and here you can get a good
idea of the amount of wiring needed for a
display like this.
Another part of the roof and
here are the Lightning Thunders.
Another general view also showing the surrounding
And another view, here down
the side, with Halifax in the background.
More pyro. More wiring.
A big view from way back gives
some idea of the huge scale of this display.
One of the firing boxes.
I got my head down and got on with
the job at hand and before I knew it, it was lunchtime.
We headed off into town to get some grub in Yates'
wine bar. I just wanted to get back to work as I
was falling asleep at the table absolutely knackered
from "The Summer Wedding Shocker" the
night before. Dinner finished and we went back to
Wilf Scott, Mick Amabilino of www.uniqueshows.com
and I went up on the old building roof to set everything
out up there. This took a couple of hours and then
it was fusing up time here is where I had my first
taste of wiring up an electronic show, it all seemed
very confusing at first but after a while it all
made sense and was rather easy. After a few hours
of this it was quitting time. I couldn't leave it
at that though and just had to ask if I could watch
the show from the roof next day and much to my pleasure
Wilf agreed and that was it time for home and sleep
ready for the show next day.
Graham gets to grip with some electrics
I arrived Monday evening took the
last of my photos and got ready for the show. Things
were getting serious now I was given a radio and
told what was expected of me. I was to be on fire
watch with Wilf keeping an eye out for cake fires
and to watch for burning stars landing on a rather
large rubber part of the roof no problem I thought.
Little did I know what was to come.
The time was ticking away final
radio checks were made everyone was ready the last
thing Wilf said to me was don't be a hero then with
a pop of the detonators the first of the flares
turned the whole of the roof red next up went loads
of comets. No problems with burning stars here this
should be easy I thought.
The first mine sequence lights the whole
roof up in a bright red light
WHUMP WHUMP WHUMP waves of dozens
of mines filled the air ACK I was met with huge
clouds of embers all coming my way I quickly turned
my back and... Oh heck!!! I was met with an impossible
situation the entire roof was covered in burning
stars shit how am I going to put this lot out!!!
Fortunately they were only small and posed no threat
so I got back to running around like a looney trying
to take ground zero cake pics and aerial shots whilst
watching for fires and burning embers. The end of
the first sequence was now firing and the whole
of the sky above my head was erupting like mad it
Stunning shot of the action from the street
by Mary Burridge.
The second sequence started up.
Fountains started this one with mine cakes all going
off together creating a wall of green fire across
the entire rooftop, the electronic firing made a
huge difference to what I was used to and overlapped
cakes and comets to perfection this must have looked
great from the ground but I was in my element up
here with everything going off so close to me. Each
separate sequence coloured the building a different
colour and the colours were accompanied by various
comets whilst all the time the sky was full of golden
brocades, towards the end the blue panzera candles
created a giant X in the sky to symbolise the Halifax
building societies logo and then the whole place
Sixteen 100 shot cakes all fired
into life all around me, now try and imagine this
1600 shots and 1600 breaks in 1 minute that's about
27 breaks per second all above my head. We have
all heard loud fireworks - the chest shaking boom
of big shells and titanium salutes - but they were
nothing compared to this it was absolutely deafening.
Wilf was stood about two metres in front of me and
I was shouting at the top of my voice that we had
a cake fire and he couldn't hear me!!! Loud. The
sky above me was like nothing I had ever experienced
before so many golden breaks there wasn't a clear
patch of sky it was an unbelievable sight and one
I will never forget. At the very end thirty huge
blue comets rose into the sky and the sadness of
the end came all too quickly.
View of the fireworks from ground level
Time to clear away. Everything was
checked for miss fires then I ran around like a
looney taking everything back to the crane bucket.
I wanted to get home as soon as I could so I could
look at the photos - I bet I did four miles running
back and forth. I had this horrible feeling we were
going to have to sweep the place up too thankfully
they had people contracted to do this though. Good
I thought this was a serious amount of crap and
would have taken ages.
The litter build-up can be seen here. This
will need plenty of sweeping!
Can someone please give us
a hand with this lot!
Everything was done in about two and a half hours
Sarah Mackie from the Halifax congratulated us all
and we all received a very nice bottle of 10-year-old
scotch as a present. Much to my pleasure Wilf congratulated
me on a sterling job and said they would be in touch
if they were doing a show in the area again. That
was it home I went very happy having helped out
on a high profile show with a display company that
is internationally renowned.
Big thanks to Wilf Scott of Pyrovision
for sticking his neck out and having me along I
learned a great deal and had a wonderful couple
of days good luck in all your future shows.
Many thanks for that great report
Graham and to you, RocketRev and Mary for the additional
picture material. A big thanks from us too, to the
guys at Pyrovision for letting Graham loose on the
roof! - Pyro Pete
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