Brocks Fireworks

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Brocks Fireworks Limited
TypeLimited company
Founded1698; 323 years ago (1698) in Islington, London
FounderJohn Brock

Brock's Fireworks Ltd is a manufacturer of fireworks, founded in London and subsequently based in Hemel Hempstead, Dumfriesshire and Norfolk.[1]

Brock's was founded in 1698 in Islington by John Brock, and is the oldest British firework manufacturer. John Brock died on 5 November 1720 aged 43 and is buried at St James's Church, Clerkenwell, London. In 1825 the factory was located in a residential area in Baker's Row (now Vallance Road), Whitechapel, London: it was destroyed when a boy who was ramming gunpowder into a firework accidentally created a spark which ignited it, and threw it aside as he ran out in fright. Fifty pounds of gunpowder and a large amount of saltpetre exploded immediately, blowing the roof off, setting fire to the building, and smashing every pane of glass in most of the adjoining streets.[2]

In 1868, the company built a firework "manufactory" in Nunhead, south-east London, not far from where The Pyrotechnists Arms still exists. It was then referred to as C. T. Brock & Co, "Crystal Palace" Fireworks. In 1970s?, Brock Street, was built on a closed section of nearby Tappesfield Road.

The company moved to south London, to South Norwood and Sutton and developed an association with the Crystal Palace, devising public displays (known as "Brock's Benefits") and adopting "Crystal Palace" as a brand name.[1][3]

The 1887 and several subsequent editions of Whitaker's Almanack have advertisements for Brock's, under an earlier name: the company provided fireworks for the Crystal Palace company, the UK War Office, the Government of India and other bodies.

The company moved to Hemel Hempstead in the early 1930s and stayed there until 1971. During this time it opened an additional factory at Swaffham in Norfolk. During World War 2 they made the famous "target markers" used by the RAF's Pathfinder Force (PFF). These guided the bombers so they could drop their ordinance more accurately. In the early 1970s it moved from Hemel Hempstead to Sanquhar, Scotland.[1][3] In the 1930s, Brock's built homes and a sports club[fn 1] for its workers near to its 207-acre (0.84 km2) site on the north eastern side of Hemel Hempstead. The street names (Ranelagh Road and Vauxhall Road) reflected earlier associations with the 18th-century London Pleasure Gardens where Brock's was contracted to display fireworks.[4] Henry Brock died on 4 October 1901 at age 53, and was buried at Holy Trinity Church, Leverstock Green.[4]

Brock's Fireworks was bought by Standard Fireworks in 1987, and Standard Fireworks were bought by Black Cat in 1998.

Brocks Fireworks Ltd are now back in the hands of the Brocks family


  1. ^ The former sports club site is now the ground of Hemel Hempstead Football Club.


  1. ^ a b c Mayfield, Beowulf (20 October 2005). "New light on the fireworks industry". Watford Observer. Retrieved 5 February 2009.
  2. ^ "Dreadful Explosion". The Examiner. London: John Hunt. 1825. p. 566. Retrieved 9 February 2018.
  3. ^ a b Fleming, M. (2005). "The Companies: Brock's". Firework Art. Archived from the original on 31 March 2010. Retrieved 5 February 2009.
  4. ^ a b "The Street Names of Hemel Hempstead (T to Z)". Hemel Hempstead Gazette. Retrieved 5 February 2009.[dead link]

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