It's Christmas time at Gt. Yarmouth,
the jewel of the East Coast's resorts and on hand
with the pyrotechnics to celebrate it were Boots rooftop-regulars
Skyscenes Pyrotechnics. Our look behind the scenes
at the previous rooftop venue (Dereham) was clearly
just a rehearsal because one look up at the building
from ground level showed we would be about eight floors
up! The good news is that they had a lift. The bad
news is that it stopped one floor from the roof and
the crew had to carry the gear up two flights of stairs.
Still, the view was worth it when the sun set...
centre of Yarmouth enjoys late night shoppers and
of Christmas. Views like this made the hard slog worth
In the same way that a firework display
is the end result of a lot of hard work, the photo
above is the result of a long day in otherwise less
than comfortable conditions. For the most part the
weather was cold, damp, windy, damp and cold. The
sort of penetrating cold that you only seem to get
on the Norfolk coast.
The venue itself was the rooftop of
a central department store next to the main square.
As we saw in the previous display to this one, a roof
poses few obstacles to a professional team. However
whereas the Dereham venue was surrounded by roof space
on all sides, this roof was right next to a public
area. For this reason, the Yarmouth display was the
one most at the mercy of the weather out of all the
ones we have covered - quite simply the wind had
to be blowing towards the fall out area (the
huge roof areas behind) or it could not go ahead.
to reality and before the "feel good" view
of the Christmas lights we
had to in fact brave a cold, damp roof as you can
see here. It's no good Captain,
I cannot see a chip van up here anywhere!!!
- Click on
any thumbnail to view a bigger picture -
View of the main roof area. As you can see
it was a bit grey and grim. If only it had been
in the middle of August and not December! What
this shot does not show is the number of bones
on the roof. Apparently the seagulls scavenge
food and scraps from the market below and the
bones are the remains. Yuk!
View over the edge looking down
at the main square, and the all important chip
stall has been spotted. We flagged this up to
Steve as an "urgent issue".
The other side of the square, and a large TV
screen has been installed to keep shoppers interested.
A view of the market itself.
In the distance, you can just about see the
coast through the murk. If you've ever been
to Yarmouth as a tourist you might only have
seen the sea front complete with the expected
attractions, the town centre though is very
large with a market and an indoor mall. It has
come a long way in the last decade.
View further into the distance, looking at
the market strip. Loads of stalls and things
gets to work fusing the shells together.
In this picture it looks like
Gerry is frantically holding the pyro down to
stop it getting sucked into the vent behind!!
Steve at work with the mortar tubes getting
them cleaned up and ready for action. Note the
angles here to ensure the fallout goes to the
right place, just one of many safety considerations
in a professional display.
Up close and personal with an
aerial shell. Many members have only fired category
three (consumer legal fireworks) and will rarely
see professional fireworks except in action
at organised displays. This is an aerial shell,
you can see these are "no frills"
fireworks in terms of presentation.
Small bore candles make superb fireworks if
you use enough of them. Here a fanned bundle
is waiting to be fused. In this case the visco
fuse (the slow burning green fuse added for
the public's benefit) was removed and will be
replaced with quickmatch so they all start together.
Re-fusing fireworks is something that only professionals
should do, of course.
The pretty Christmas lights in
Gt. Yarmouth! For a few minutes the spirit of
Christmas touched me. Only for a few minutes
though, because I had a date with the hot dog
stall that I intended to keep.
Another "night view" of a side street.
Despite the cold and damp I really enjoyed this
venue, the views were a nice bonus.
After the sun had set and we'd had
our fill of chips, hot dogs and tea (you can't go
to Yarmouth and not have some chips!) it was
time to make the final checks. At this point we noticed
that the wind was getting up a bit. Not too strong
to display but sadly blowing in exactly the wrong
direction. No matter how many bits of small paper
we threw up, they all went in the same direction -
towards the crowd.
With minutes to go (to see if conditions
changed) the horrible decision was made to cancel.
This took a lot of guts considering the large and
expectant crowd in earshot below. But, I have to say
well done to Skyscenes, the risk simply could not
be taken. It was a hard decision to make and an even
harder one to understand below where the crowd were
sheltered and could not understand what the problem
was. It was the right decision though.
So, after lots of hard work it was
time to dismantle and un-fuse everything, lug it all
down the stairs again, and reload the van <sounds
of sobbing> but never fear, we'd be back the following
week! Apparently it is not unusual for this specific
display to be cancelled, as Steve explained, the previous
year's took three attempts because of the weather.
The following week we repeated the
same process over again. This feature therefore is
actually a compilation of two nights, the setting
up shots are from the first attempt, and the actual
fireworks are from the second - successful - attempt!
The weather on the second attempt was perfect in terms
of wind but the dreaded fog had come back to haunt
us. The fall out all went to the right place and the
fireworks looked great but as you will see from the
pictures and video, the conditions have played havoc
with our equipment. Fog or mist is very hard to compensate
for, finer details are lost, and too bright an exposure
can result in large glowing balls of light. Still,
it will give you an idea of the great display that
Skyscenes managed to put on.
The fog! It looked great to the eye but
posed the cameras some problems!
Video stills (click to enlarge):
Many thanks to the team for letting
us have a look behind the scenes at another really
interesting display, and also a big thanks to the
staff at Boots in Yarmouth, who were a really friendly
and helpful bunch. Having worked in retail over the
Xmas period I know what a strain Christmas shoppers
can put on you, so a fireworks crew needing access
might have pushed some people over the edge - but
they couldn't have been more helpful. Finally a big
thanks to the people of Yarmouth for their understanding
when the first display was cancelled.
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