Fireworks are not just for bonfire night

PUBLISHED: 00:01 05 November 2013

BFWA9K Fireworks in the night sky North Yorkshire England UK United Kingdom GB Great Britain. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown. LEAD PIX DPS

BFWA9K Fireworks in the night sky North Yorkshire England UK United Kingdom GB Great Britain. Image shot 2009. Exact date unknown. LEAD PIX DPS


Fireworks are not just for November 5th or to welcome in the New Year. They are great for proposing marriage too, as David Marsh discovers

‘Remember, remember the 5th of November gunpowder, treason and plot, I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.’ It’s a rhyme that has been popular with generations of schoolchildren at this time of year and of course the deeds of one of York’s most infamous sons, Guy Fawkes, and his co-conspirators have certainly not been forgotten. Over 400 years later their failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament is still celebrated with fireworks and bonfires upon which effigies of poor old Fawkes are burned, although not at St Peter’s School in York where, unsurprisingly, it’s considered bad form to throw an old boy on to the fire.

It is thought the first fireworks were made in China around 2,000 years ago. The first recorded fireworks in England were at the wedding of King Henry VII in 1486 and they gained popularity during the reign of Henry VIII. While small neighbourhood bonfire and fireworks parties are still popular, over the past few decades there has been a move towards larger, organised displays and fireworks have become a global industry that can involve some hefty sums of money.

It is reckoned about 35,000 fireworks were used during the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics in a display costing over £30m. An even bigger display was organised to mark the opening of the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai. But you don’t need pockets as deep as a Russian oligarch’s to put on a display and these days fireworks light up the sky not just on November 5th but at a host of social, entertainment and celebratory events all year round, with New Year’s Eve particularly popular.

November remains a traditionally busy time for Driffield-based The Fireworks Ltd, a company which both sells fireworks and puts on displays, but weddings and other celebrations are an increasingly important part of their business. Sally Bates, the company’s display coordinator, said: ‘Fireworks have become a popular part of all sorts of occasions. We put on displays at a variety of venues for a wide range of celebrations such as birthdays, anniversaries and New Year. We did a 90th birthday this year and weddings are a massive part of our business. This year we will do 110 displays and 80 of them will be weddings.’ And while some say it with flowers, it seems there are those who say it with fireworks. One romantic client opted to propose to his loved one with a display involving fireworks attached to a frame spelling out, ‘will you marry me?’

Even so, at this time of year the retail side of the business is one of the busiest. Sally said: ‘Rockets are always popular and last year it seemed everyone wanted Catherine wheels. People still ask for bangers but we are not allowed to sell them in the UK any more. In France you can still buy them at the tobacconist.

‘I have a great job working with fireworks. I love designing displays for people. It’s nice to be part of someone’s important occasion and make them happy.’

Share your bonfire night with us by uploading your pictures to our website or tweet your images @yorkshire_life, we would love to see them. And remember handle all fireworks with great care.


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