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" Halifax

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 of pyro.

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 I thought.

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…the 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 fire.

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 countryside.

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 the site.

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 was awesome.

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 went MAD.

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.

More close-up action shots from the roof.

 

View of the fireworks from ground level by RocketRev.

 

More pictures by RocketRev.

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.

T.L.G.

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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Images endorsed ©TLG - source images ©The Legendary Graham, used with permission. Images endorsed ©RR - source images ©RocketRev, used with permission. Images endorsed ©MB - source images ©Mary Burridge, used with permission. This feature produced by and ©2004 UK Firework Review. All rights reserved.