I have mentioned earlier in this quarters Journal of a visit I paid to a Peter Crosier, a Croydon post card collector, this is a reproduction of a programme he owns of a Brock Fire Work Spectacular held on 3 June 1909 and illustrated with some post cards Peter has of the event.
Programme of Novel Fireworks
To be fired on the
Village Green, Crystal Palace.
THURSDAY, June 3rd, 19O9.
1. Signal Maroon. 14. Geometrical Device. The Saxon
2. Novel Illumination of the Village, Squares.
Illustrating the Seasons,-Winter, 15. Salvo of Coloured Magnesium
Summer, and Autumn. Shells.
3. Salvo of Coloured Shells. 16. Colossal Display of Diamond
4. Batteries of Coloured Roman Mines.
Candles. 17. Devices. The Stars of India.
5. Living Fireworks, the Sword versus 18. Salvo of Magnesium Shells.
Bayonet. 19. Batteries of Electric Spray Roman
6. Salvo of Shells, Coloured Comets. Candles.
7. Batteries of Radium Roman 20. Salvo of Shells, Electric Meteors
Candles. with Jewelled heads.
8. Devices. The Chromatrope Wheels. 21. Batteries of Iridescent Bubble
9. Salvo of Radiating Bombs. Roman Candles.
10. Batteries of Jewelled Cluster Roman 22. Device. The Juggernaut Car.
Candles. 23. Salvo of Jewelled Spray Shells.
11. Living Fireworks. The Hornpipe 24. Device. The Avalanche of Snow.
Competition. 25. Batteries of Lightning Flash
12. Salvo of Shells, Liquid Rubies. Roman Candles.
13. Batteries of Pearls of Light Roman 26. The Fairyland Glimpse.
Spectacular Fire Drama
Or, “A Battle of the Future.”
Invented and Produced by C. T. BROCK and CO.
The scene represents a quiet Surrey Village where a number of Territorials are encamped. It is drawing towards the end of a bright summer afternoon. The villagers are gathered together with their wives and children on the village green to witness the Territorials drill. They are also to see the first trials of a newly invented gun which, it is claimed, will make invasion by airships and aeroplanes impossible.
While they are waiting the arrival of the Officer in command the business of the village, proceeds. The mill is seen to be busy and the miller’s men are transporting sacks of flour from the mill to the Inn barn preparatory to loading the vans for despatch early the following morning.
Gathered on the Green near the Inn are the Territorials, some of them listening to an old . Chelsea Pensioner who refights his battles.
Interest in the old man’s story is broken by the arrival of donkey carts with costers and their wives and children out for the day.
While the men attend to the donkeys the coster party afford amusement to the crowd by their dancing and singing, after which they are invited by some of the Territorials to partake of some refreshment, but as they insist upon entering the Inn with their children, the Village Constable, in full knowledge of the latest Acts of Parliament, intercepts them, and the ladies present him with their babies and enter the Inn, leaving the Constable the butt of the local wits.
The costers with their families and donkeys being refreshed, move on. At the same time there appears on the road a Gipsy caravan.
It will be noticed that accompanying the Gipsies is a mysterious individual who is disowned by the Gipsy Captain, who repeatedly drives him off.
Meanwhile a Suffragette bicycles on to the Green bearing a banner with a Strange Device. She endeavours to urge her cause and suffers a great deal of chaff and rough play from the villagers and Territorials and she retaliates as well as she can. She is eventually persuaded to go away by the Village Constable.
Ultimately the Constable catches sight of the mysterious “hanger on” to the Gipsy troupe.
At this moment the Territorial Officer arrives. The “Assembly” is sounded and the men fall in. They are then put through the drill with the machine gun and the new aerial gun. While the drill is proceeding the Constable who has been watching the mysterious stranger observes him taking notes. He seizes him and conducts him to the Officer by whose command he is searched, and incriminating papers and a revolver being found upon him, the spy is accordingly, secured in the Village lock-up. Subsequently the local firemen and Village Constable are shown by one of Brock’s employees the method of using aerial Fire Alarm Signals. The apparatus being duly installed, some signals are fired. The drill being over, the gipsies attempt to earn a little money by a short entertainment, after which the crowd disperses in various directions.
TWO HOURS ARE SUPPOSED TO ELAPSE.
The Church bell rings for Evensong, and, as darkness sets in lights appear in the houses of the Village, and the Church is illuminated. Some of the villagers enter the Church, while those less.-seriously disposed and the Territorials carouse at the Inn.
The service in the Church having finished, the villagers disperse to their homes, and as the evening draws on the revellers at the Inn go home. The lights are gradually extinguished in the houses and the Constable remaining on duty after a long and arduous day, who shall blame him for resting for a while on the bench outside the Inn.
Whilst he meditates, the spy, finding that all is quiet, proceeds to make his escape, which he does just as the Church bell chimes the hour of midnight. He goes to the middle of the Green and peers anxiously into the sky, and, being apparently satisfied that his search is satisfactory, he draws from his boot a secreted portfire, which he lights and. waves in a peculiar manner. The Church chimes, however, have awakened the Constable from his meditations, and, upon seeing the spy, he creeps cautiously up to him, and eventually succeeds in rendering him senseless. Seizing the portfire, he lights the alarm signal, and the cry of “Invasion!” breaks the silence of the night. Just at this moment balloons bearing searchlights, pilots of an invading fleet of warships, pass across the sky. The alarm is given, the Territorials rush out from the encampment buckling on their accoutrements, windows are thrown open, women and children scream, and as the aeroplanes and dirigible balloons pass towards London on their errand of destruction, they drop high explosives promiscuously on the village. The Territorials, who by this time have mounted their machine gun and aerial gun, have improvised a fort with bags of flour. A gigantic aeroplane appears near the Bridge, and immediately a body of invading soldiers take up their position and commence an attack. With a deafening crash the Church tower, with its peal of bells, that has stood since the time of the Conqueror, falls through the roof and the sacred edifice catches fire. As the aeroplanes continue to arrive in the distance, the invaders increase in numbers and. the village is rapidly becoming a heap of ruins as one after the other the principal buildings become demolished. The Mill, the Inn and the Barn are on fire, and blazing furiously, the women are running, with their children screaming, not knowing where to go for shelter from the destruction which is raining on them from all sides. The Territorials, many of them seriously wounded, gallantly defend the village, and endeavour to drive back the invaders. Some of them have crossed the Bridge, but as their opponents gather in force they are compelled to give way and retire to their improvised fort. Before doing this, however, a young brave rushes forward and successfully plants and fires a mine underneath the Bridge. The Territorials then rush forward with bayonets fixed, completely annihilating the enemy, with ringing cheers for KING and COUNTRY.
Post cards of the Brock firework show ‘Invasion’.
(No. 1.) (No. 2.)
(No. 3.) (No. 4.)
(1.) No title. Invasion. (Cannon in centre firing at night, soldiers with small gun at right.) Back inverted.
(2.) No title. Invasion. (Group of soldiers at attention, brick bridge at right.)
(3.) No title. Invasion. (Soldiers raising their hats on rifles up in the air, sand bags in foreground at night.)
(4.) No title. Invasion. (Cannon pointing upwards on right, and multi barrelled gun to left. Back inverted.)
(5.) No title. Invasion. (Cannon in centre behind sand bags, and four wheeled cart on right at night.)
The Village, which extends a length of about 1,000 feet, has been painted by Mr John England and Mr Herbert G. Wallis. These gentlemen certainly deserve the highest praise for so magnificent a work. To Mr J. M. East (stage manager) and Mr P. S. George (Manager to Mr Brock) thanks are due for so energetically helping to perfect what is one of the most remarkable spectacles of the kind ever seen in this country.
In addition to the gigantic Spectacular Fire Drama on the Football Ground on Thursdays, there will be a colossal novel Firework Display on the Terrace on Saturdays. As usual, Messrs Brock have been able to include in their Saturday’s programme an extraordinary number of novelties, several on topical Subjects. The main set piece consists of a colossal piece of pyrotechny, 200 yards in length, representing a vividly realistic naval battle between three Dreadnoughts and an attacking fleet of pre-dreadnought battleships; torpedo boats and submarines. These latter craft will be seen moving, endeavouring to reach their mammoth opponents with their deadly missile. Amid the deafening thunder of the battleships and the rattle of the quickfirers the engorgement closes with the total or partial destruction of the pre-Dreadnought battleships and the annihilation of many of the smaller vessels.
Many novel mechanical devices will be shown, such as the blossoming flower bud, the snakes and butterflies, the mammoth gyroscope wheel (250 feet in circumference), and the Mexican marvel a wondrous scheme of flashing light. Living fireworks have been brought up to date by a Salomé dance in fire, in which the undulating movements of the celebrated exponents are faithfully reproduced.
In aerial effects, as was demonstrated on Friday, the 28th May last, before the scientists assembled at the Crystal Palace for the Chemical Congress, extraordinary progress has been made. Many marvellous colourings, combinations in effects, weird, indescribable flashings and scintillations will be shewn to fully maintain the prestige of these wonderful and unexcelled world-renowned feasts of fire.
© Exhibition Study Group 2009