Vintage Firework Brands

There has been a few Vintage Firework Brands in England that have created their own labels. But, Who was the first company to produce fireworks? What company would have sold the black powder for the Gunpowder Plot? That’s what this timeline explore here.

Vintage Firework Brands

Oldest Vintage Firework Brands

The brands in this article hold a very special place in the fireworks community. We explore the master companies who produced England’s finest fireworks during their time, and what happened to them during the years of their trading.

Pain’s Fireworks

The story of Pain’s Fireworks begins in the 16th century, around 1593. John Pain created a company as a merchant of gunpowder manufacturer and armourer, near Bow Bridge East London.

History suggests, that he was the supplier of the gunpowder acquired by the plotters, to blow up King James and his lords.

It is also claimed, in the 17th century, a French family member of the Pains moved to London. During this time, pain received many customers.

In 1862, Pains did their first ever show at the Cowes Royal Regatta. Even today this show is still performed by the company.

Pains Fireworks Cowes Royal Regatta

From 1872 the Pains move to a new factory in Mitcham in Surrey. During this time they were formerly known as James Pain and Sons Lt.

Up to the early 1960s Pain held many firework displays In the UK and around the globe. Such as the opening of The Statue of Liberty and King George V coronation, Just to name a few.

But they had a take over by a The match company Bryant and May. When 1964 came around, they were known as Pains Wessex and were based at High Post, Salisbury.

Pains Wessex Fireworks selection box design
Image: Firefiend

John Deeker, in the 1980s, bought Pains Wessex, and who goes by the name pains fireworks who still today operated from Whiteparish in Salisbury. They own offices all around the globe and still to this day play their part in the market, as they have done over the century.

1974-76 - Pains-Wessex Poster - Guy Fawkes on Rocket
1974-76 – Pains-Wessex Poster – Guy Fawkes on Rocket. Image Firefiend

Pains and Brock’s family worked together, with the Italians (firework masters). They came over to England for the growing demand of firework displays wanted by the royals. During this experience, it is said one of the Pains received enough insight to perform their own displays. These displays were in Parks and Gardens of London in the late century.

Brocks Fireworks

Islington, London in 1698 was the birthplace of Brocks Fireworks formed by John Brock. It is Britain oldest Firework Manufacturer. On the 5 November, in 1720, at age 43. John Brock passed away.

 C.T. Brock & Co's 'Crystal Palace' Fireworks
Brock Fireworks Acclaimed Newspaper clipping

1825 and Brocks factory was nicely placed in a residential area in Baker’s Row, Whitechapel, London. As the story goes, There was a local boy, who was ramming gunpowder into fireworks, he accidentally created a spark what ignited it.

With a shock, he threw the firework and ran away while the fireworks exploded. It ignited 50 pounds of gunpowder and other ingredients and it blew the factory up.

The Brocks Company become very famous for Brock’s Benefits. These were public fireworks displays enjoyed by the locals. The very first one was on July 10, 1826, This is when the UK saw the very first Grand Competition of Pyrotechnists.

From 1865 Crystal Palace saw displays become a popular attraction. The company was renamed to  C.T. Brock & Co’s ‘Crystal Palace’ Fireworks. These displays carried on attracting thousands up until 1936.

Brocks built many factories from 1868 until 1971. One interesting fact during the early 1930s in Hemel Hempstead. Brocks generously built many homes and sports clubs, for its workers, close to the 207-acre site on the northeastern side. During 1987 Brocks was bought out by Standard Fireworks.

Brock’s Fireworks Limited what is trading today, is in no way connected with the brocks formed by John Brocks of 1698 to 1987.

Standard Fireworks

During 1891, James Greenhalgh founded standard fireworks in Huddersfield. They made millions of fireworks, they are still to this day one of the most popular brands in the industry.

On 1910, they moved to its current site in Crosland Hill. When world war 1 and 2 hit, they made munitions for the war effort.

Standard knew how to advertise, this was made very clear in the 1930s. They made beautiful eye-catching posters to capture this grand British feel. This carried on all the way to the 1980s.

With the company manufacturing millions of British made fireworks. In the 1950s, they set out to target the Bonfire night market. They targeted children, this shows with their posters having young boys holding fireworks.

The 1970s hit, and standard fireworks were dominating the UK. They produced many advertising posters towards the youth of its time. It also claimed they advertised in comic books throughout the 60s and 70s.

Standard Fireworks Vintage Sky rockets 1980s
Standard Fireworks Sky rockets 1980s from little to large up to largest size 20

Standard Fireworks classical selection box from the 1980s range. including classics such as ‘the traffic lights’, ‘silver fountain’. Remember the ‘blue touchpaper’? This is now a past thing. As all current modern fireworks have a green fuse, AKA, Visco fuse.

Vintage Firework Brands Standard boxes from 1980`s.
Image by cyber-heritage

When the year 1998 hit, Standard fireworks went into receivership. They were purchased by the Black cat fireworks company based in China. This was the year all the UK fireworks manufacturing end. China is the main production county for all of the standard/black cat range. Standard still hold UK headquarters for Black Cat in Huddersfield.

To this day, Standard Fireworks is still considered the top family favourite firework brand for the bonfire night season.

See also

Further reading:

Bonfire Night Traditions