Everybody is talking about the Fillace Park fireworks display and everyone has a question about it – starting with How Did They Do It?

The show on Friday was put on by Sky Rascal Fireworks of Weston Super Mare, run by John Bender and his partner in a local garage there, Roger Vickery. The fireworks business started as a hobby but they now run half a dozen other teams of two to put on displays like the one in Horrabridge – £1,250 last Friday, a good bit more this week.

Everyone seems to think the firing was computer-controlled, but that is not the case. The self-propelled rocket on a stick has been replaced by a line-up of tubes, diameters ranging from two and a half to five inches, firing a succession of mortar shells into the sky. The tubes are loaded manually. and the firing is done by switching on an electrical current or, sometimes, by applying a flame from a hand-held “Portfire” . Then the flying shells are exploded by a radio signal to a tiny detonator and the last of the propellant goes up with them.

“The idea is to have everything happening in the sky,” John said today, in a brief pause between assignments. “The only debris, after we have cleaned up around us, is a few bits of cardboard.”

He and his mate set up the Horrabridge show personally. It took four hours to set up and used about 110 mortar shells in a quarter of an hour, with a firing tube for each, plus six large ‘barrage cakes’ of explosive, 11 smaller cakes and 11 big “roman candles”.

He buys the components for a display from various sources, modifies some and does his own calculations on height and colour and timing for the effect he wants. But there are computer programmes which help and he is looking at one which synchronises music into the performance.

The takings from Friday are still being counted but in spite of a crowd of probably 400 or so, they will not cover the costs and were not really expected to. Some sponsors will get their money back but the parish council and the London Inn will probably have to make do with compliments like the one on Horrabridge Noticeboard on Facebook which said: “If there was a cup for village fireworks displays, Horrabridge would just have won it.”

The Recreation Fields Committee has considered expanding the event and trying to bring in more visitors but that would mean running an outside bar and parking problems. Meanwhile, the pub was packed after the show.

Sky Rascal’s complete video is being made ready for posting and a link will be posted on this and other local sites as soon as it is available. Find Sky Rascal at


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Editor of The Horrabridge Times.