A year after my previous festive visit to the rooftops of Gt Yarmouth and I'd just about thawed out. Same location again this year for the annual Christmas lights switch-on, same rooftop, same cold wind, same mist, same damp. But one major difference this time: I was armed with military grade long johns and a better hat! No hypothermia for me this year!

I met Fully Fused just in time to help them carry half a tonne of gear up six floors (Doh! Make note to myself: Arrive later next time) and through a maze of corridors in Boots, whose roof we were using. That's a problem with rooftop displays, having to carry a lot of gear a long way up.

On the roof and we had a gloriously dull view of the surrounding town. Not because it's Yarmouth, but because it's that time of year when everything looks drab, particularly through the permanent layer of gloom that rolls in off the North Sea.

It's grim. But hey, make the most of the constant wind! Mist arrived shortly after this shot.

Time to start having a think about the pyro and the placement of it. Rooftops are incredibly challenging venues particularly in built up areas. In previous years, wind blowing in the wrong direction has meant postponement of the display so there is always an element of luck with this particular location.

1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7:

1: View of the square and Christmas shoppers 2: Lots of chip stalls under there! Yum! 3: Jim gets the racks ready. Hands-on-hips man is Gerry (see below). Doesn't he look pleased to be stuck on a roof? 4: Getting the racks secure 5: Mmmmm 6: Assorted shells and mines 7: More shells and mines

To make good use of the front of the building, Jim and Cliff explained that this display would feature some mine sequences which would be electrically fired, to create a moving wall of colour. I did a double-take when I saw the mines though - they looked like shells! I'd never seen this type of mine before (most are cylindrical containers). But these shells don't take off though, they explode their mine contents out of the top of the tube. Behind these, an array of beefy Cat 4 cakes and of course a number of shell racks which always deserve a closer look especially as I had carried half of them up.

1: 2: 3: 4: 5: 6: 7:

1: It's a mine Jim but not as we know it 2: Stand up the real shell 3: Eight balls crossette, a cat 4 candle 4: Great view of a rack with electrical ignitors in place 5: Cliff gets things ready 6: Wide view of the rooftop 7: Another view

At this point a welcome face arrived - Gerry from Skyscenes. Fully Fused had bought Skyscenes and this is one of the displays on their books. Gerry arrived to have a look around and see the show for old time's sake.

Several hours of hard work followed, securing racks, loading tubes and fusing everything. It's hard enough work in the summer at a nice venue but even worse in the middle of December in the cold. And always that nagging thought at the back of your mind - if the show is cancelled because of the wind, it'll all have to be dismantled and rebuilt the following week from scratch.

1: 2: 3: 4: 5 : 6: 7:

1: Wired in and ready to go 2: Final touches to one of the main racks 3: Shells and mines wired in 4: Note all the wires and cables - tread carefully 5: Main square again this time in darkness 6: Er, found another fish and chip shop looking down from the other side! 7: Crowds gather

As the darkness fell, the Christmas spirit arrived thanks to a local radio roadshow in the square below and the many festive lights around. Time to pop down for some chips and a warm cup of tea. Slightly influenced by the proximity of unlimited hot food, I decided to stay down in the square to film. I wanted to see the mine sequence - well that's my excuse anyway!!

More like Xmas, and the mist has retreated in time for the fireworks.

Then, none other than Father Christmas himself arrived. I thought it might have been some fat bloke in a costume and I was suspicious of the reindeer that looked like horses. But, the assembled children seemed convinced so who am I to argue?

With camera rolling, the show commenced. Over now to the stills and video which is well worth a look to see how effective mines can be in this type of show.

With the last shell over and the crowd going away buzzing with appreciation for an excellent show, it was time to do the honourable thing and pop up to help bring some gear down (via the chip stall). Another great day behind the scenes, another top class display. Well done, and thanks to, Fully Fused Fireworks.
Roll on next year - and yes - long johns really do work.

Return to main fireworks site

©2005 UK Firework Review. All rights reserved.