A double first at Oxford

Posted on June 30, 2018

exeter-college-fireworks-1Firework companies enjoy a challenge and we’re no different. So when Exeter College, Oxford, asked us if we could help them celebrate their 700th anniversary this month we were delighted to help. What we didn’t realise was that the college is right in the middle of Oxford with no nice wide open space for fireworks. In fact there had never been a fireworks display in all its 700-year history! All we had to work with was the top of the clock tower and a long, narrow gulley on the top of floor of a student accommodation block. On the face of it the mission looked impossible. But nothing’s impossible with Fantastic Fireworks.  Using our skill and expertise we were able to come up with a plan. Instead of using fireworks which would have showered the audience below with burning debris we were able to call on our inventory of zero-fallout roman candles and mines. Even then it was not straightforward. To get to the 30m long gulley we had to climb through the small windows of the student rooms, fortunately, they were empty, while over at the clock tower the fireworks had to be handled up a long narrow staircase and out on to the roof through a tiny door. To his credit, Karl Chapman, the college’s Health and Safety Adviser, put aside his natural concerns about how all this could be achieved without burning the historic Grade 2 listed college to the ground in its anniversary year! We wrote a comprehensive risk assessment, supplied details of our £10 million insurance and he accepted our assurances that we could produce a memorable display. And for all the right reasons. We didn’t let him down. ‘Absolutely amazing, I don’t know who was more nervous, me or you,’ said Karl afterwards. ‘Everybody loved it. Thank you on behalf of everyone here at Exeter College.’

On the same night, just 500 metres across the city, we were staging another first – the first of two displays celebrating 750 years of Merton College. By contrast, they were able to provide a large green field so there no constraints on the type of fireworks we could send up. Using the width of the playing fields we were able to fill the sky with a spectacular celebration. We filmed the display using a mini-helicopter drone equipped with a hi-def camera. Watch the video for a bird’s-eye view of the breathtaking results.
‘It was absolutely amazing,’ said the college event organiser Caroline Massey. ‘I loved the bit when Jerusalem ended and the audience thought it was all over. I knew there was still William Tell to come and that made me smile!’


Are you organising a college summer ball or celebration? Call 0845 272 3550 or email [email protected] for a friendly chat about how we can help.