Discussion in 'Fireworks Nostalgia, Collectables And History' started by Escht, Feb 5, 2017.

  1. Escht

    Escht Supports UKFR

    A bill of sale from the FIREWORKS & PUBLIC DECORATION COY. LTD. dated 1998 for a firework display at a Cycle Race meeting for £25. 10/-. According to this they had a factory at Earlsfield, Surrey...... just love the telegraphic address top right "SQUIBBING, LONDON ".
    Another piece of the jigsaw fits into place........
    1895 bill326.jpg
  2. That's a fascinating piece Kevin, real history. Earlsfield, Surrey and Wandsworth appear to be pretty much the same place. The only factory that immediately comes to mind is Mrs Randles Firework Factory, Wandsworth - but this place was primarily concerned with amorces. There was another Small Firework Factory there though, I found a reference to it a while back in an accident report but can't recall the name of the place. My guess is that this is the likely candidate but I could be miles off track.
  3. Escht

    Escht Supports UKFR

    Could well be the place that had the accident, maybe with this company name you can backtrack through the records to find out.......... they were obviously making fireworks here by the name they use on the telegraph address.......... this stuff keeps on surfacing in the most unlikely of places.....
    Tiggy Walls and spectrum like this.
  4. When pallet loads of evidence has been destroyed, items like this are priceless Kev. Real history. I take it there wasn't any labels.....!!
    Tiggy Walls likes this.
  5. Charlie

    Charlie Pro Firer/Crew

    Bazza likes this.
  6. None of the names register with licensed manufacturers of the day. This is not to diminish in any way the firms involved, but it does make a strong point as to the record keeping and controls of the day. Really fascinating and important stuff - factories that were perhaps working ten years or so after the Act had passed were still operating maybe without having been affected. I could and probably have got this wrong but the surviving archive records are not solving the mystery. The "Fireworks and Public Decoration Coy" certainly appear to have been both bona-fide and substantial and yet below the RADAR as it seems to have existed at that time (according to records we have now)
  7. Hello, I am a descendant of the Randles Firework Family. Both Sarah and George had died by this date and the factory, on the very big bend of Garret Lane had passed to their Nephew, Harry Cadwell. Following a horrific accident where three Girls died,about 1888 the factory was sold to Wells Fireworks. They went bankrupt and the factory then went through a few other companies. The site of the factory is where the Henry Prince Estate is now located. The big house was called Riversdale house. It is shown clearly on the reproduction ordnance Survey maps published by Godfrey. Harry Cadwell also had a factory on the otherside of the Wandle in the Osiers. He started out as a Limelight operator. In their hayday, they did very large displays al over the country.
    I would welcome any extra information or images, as the research is ongoing.
    Richard Lane, Bazza, blackbat and 3 others like this.
  8. Hi Tiggy.

    I suspected that Harry Cadwell was connected with Randles but couldn't find the proof (hadn't given up looking though!)

    I know Mrs Randle had a factory and mistakenly suggested earlier in this thread that it was a SFF (small firework factory) licensed slightly differently and through the local authority under prescribed footprint and weight limit restrictions. I can't recall where I picked up the information on amorces - I seem to recall a fire involving these being reported and investigated but I may have made an assumption here and a wrong one at that.

    Mrs Randles factory was indeed licensed by the Explosives Inspectorate, license numbers were issued chronologically and hers was number 57. To put that into some perspective she was licensed after Shaws (Lepton - no. 32), after Jessops (Lepton - no. 55) but before Pains and Brocks, 73 and 78 respectively. I will be able to confirm more closely when her license was applied for and approved in due course, she may have been awarded a license by continuing certificate if she was operating before 1875, again I will hopefully be able to establish this.

    Cadwell, Mr H.J., did indeed have two operations in this area, one at Southfields, Wandsworth which was possibly a Toy Firework Factory (TFF) in which he had an accident on the 3rd August 1888 and also a Small Firework Factory nearby. Toy Firework Factories were licensed by arrangement with the local authorities under relaxed terms owing to restrictions in explosive weights, they were the places where amorces, christmas cracker snaps etc. were made - it may be the case that I mis-read my earlier notes confusing Mrs Randle with Cadwell and attributing his accident wrongly to her. There were four TFF's in London in 1888, in the year preceding this five - TFF 15 (fire 24th July 1884, TFF 7 (explosion involving Silver Fulminate Sept. 1884, TFF 16 again Silver Fulminate a year later exploding in a china cup in a house licensed as a TFF, same year TFF 13 - fire cutting amorces and twice in 1886, TFF 18 again cutting amorces.

    The last TFF closed in recent years in Hertfordshire - by then the license had been converted to full factory licence number 75.

    Don't know when the accident occurred but records made on 5th November 1895 show it in the occupancy of Wells, I thought this was a mistake until I read your post.

    At my former place of work in Kent there was a beautiful old engraving of the fire at Mrs Randles framed and hanging on the wall in the offices - it was very unusual really because memorabilia there wasn't valued in any way.
  9. Hi Spectrum,

    The notes I wrote previously I was at work, so did not have my folders.
    The licensing sounds really interesting, I have not come across those before. Are they n the National Archives?
    What I have from my research is that William Randle was an artist in Fireworks, first in King Street Lambeth (Now under Waterloo Station) then he move to Vauxhall Walk. (1861 census) His wife was "Foreign" Possibly, if family legend is correct, a Jew escaping from Rotterdam No proof.

    His Son George 1824 -1875 carried on the business. He married Sarah in 1852. They moved to Wandsworth Garrett Lane 1874 after the explosives act. Sarah died at the end of 1884. I have both their wills, Sarahs is the more intersting. In it she states that her Nephew is to Manage the factory although her children were old enough. There is a codicil naming her daughter as manager so it is all a little confusing.

    Harry Cadwell is the son of Sarah's sister.1853 to 1929. The information on his factory at the Osiers was in a little book on Industries of the Wandle. Can't find reference at the moment.
    The worst accident was in 1889 and there is a Parliamentry Paper about it as well as dozens of references in many different newspapers. The accident was due to one of the girls cutting the amorces into strips and dropping them into a barrel. Sadly she cut through an exra large one and it caused a spark which resulted in the whole barrel igniting. The following year, The Royal Paper Mill opposite tried to sue for blowing out their windows!

    I have found an advert in a street directory , but as has been said ephemera is very rare! Do you know if the engraving still exists? I would love to see it. Here is the map of the site from the Godfrey edition map. It was quite extensive.
    Kind regards "Tiggy"

    Attached Files:

    Bazza and Charlie like this.
  10. Hi Tiggy,

    The adverts say established 1783. Any ideas about this far back?

    Much of the information came from the National Archives but there's not a great deal there. If as you say they moved to Garrett Lane in 1874 this actually pre-dates the Explosives Act by a year - or its introduction at least - work started on changing things well before that though in 1871 with nationwide information gathering undertaken to establish who was doing what and where they were doing it beforehand. Anyone legitimately in business before the deadline was allowed to carry on with a continuing certificate provided they met the requirements - distances etc. If not you had to apply - and the industry hated it. Your ancestors would have been right on the deadline but from my notes I reckon they probably applied from scratch which could mean that they applied through the Justices for a licence under the 1860 Gunpowder and Fireworks Act (their application would have been heard at the Petty Sessions) and awarded after the process had been concluded. I need to complete my research on that side of things and suspect the time taken to secure a licence would have varied from one place to the next. I suspect that applications received in the lead up to the 1875 Act would have been handled sedately to allow the new law to take over, if your ancestors had experienced any difficulties this would probably have gone against them.

    Much of the push for the Explosives Act was based on disdain for firework factories in densely populated areas, particularly London - so there would have been an awareness of their situation on the part of the authorities. When the information needed had been gathered, it is said that Vivian Majendie completed the draft of the act in a single weekend - he wrote at an astonishing pace and his achievements put the Inspectorate as it stands today completely to shame.

    If I am wrong and your ancestor was operating in some way ahead of the introduction of the Act, they would have been contacted and presented with a questionnaire. The authorities in the area would also have been contacted and asked to provide a list of operators they had granted licenses to but the chances are the operators would not have known that. From the copies of a great many letters I have read this certainly seemed to be the case. Many lied and claimed to have held a licence, applying for continuing certificates in the process only to find that they had been snooped on already!

    Those contacted were invited to share information relating to their operations, this information influenced the draft of the act.

    The engraving is long gone, probably nicked at the time of closure, there was another one alongside it featuring a balloon with fireworks attached, again very old. I thought I saw something similar, possibly identical on ebay though a while back and thought about buying it.

    Tiggy Walls and Richard Lane like this.
  11. Hi Paul,

    As far as I have found out, William Randle, Sarah's Father in law was a firework artist when his children were born in the 1820's.. Parish registers of St Mary Lambeth on Ancestry.

    The Balloon advert I found on an industrial history website, The one showing the firework display of the Prince of Wales wedding is in a London Street directory in the National Archives book section.
    Yes the date is a little confusing, but I think the clue is in the words late Madam Hengler and Coton. I did look them up a while ago and they were in premises very close to where the Randles were living. There seems to have been accidents, fire and a lady who could not escape as she was too fat! As a guess, I would say that William worked for her and then took over her business. But I expect a lot of the facts and evidence are lost in time.

    I should also say after the Randle factory changed hands, My Great Grandfather Reyneir Randle moved to Mitcham around 1897, and worked for Pains. The other side of my Mothers Family were also involved in Fireworks, My Grandfather and his two brothers worked at Pains My Grandmother used to roll firework cases at home. My Mother said Pains had machinery from the Randles Factory and I was also given a small pair of black scissors by my Grandmother, when I was a child, that were supposed to have got stuck on her brothers fingers and they were used in the firework factory, I still use them but I do not know if the story is true.

    spectrum likes this.
  12. Hi Celia,
    The 1783 date corresponds to the earliest date for Madam Hengler's husband displaying fireworks in England.
    Here is some information about Madam Hengler, from the PGI Bulletin

    The story of Madame Hengler’s fireworks begins in or around the year 1780 with the arrival in England of a German former artilleryman Johannes Michael Engler (ca. 1750 – 1802). Engler, who was known in England as John Michael Hengler, married Sarah in 1782. Sarah’s maiden name is not known, but she is believed to have been born in Surrey around 1765, making her only 17 years of age at the time of her marriage. The couple had three children, born in 1784, 1786 and 1788. The middle child (Tobias Joseph Hengler, 1786-1786) died in infancy, but the surviving son (Henry Michael Hengler, 1784-1861) became a famous tightrope artist and a founder of Hengler’s Circus. The daughter (Magdelen Elizabeth Hengler, 1788 – 1846, married name Jones) carried on the firework business after her mother’s retirement.

    John Michael Hengler was working with Philip Astley as a pyrotechnist by 1783, styling himself ‘Signor Hengler’. Five years later he was evidently travelling around England staging firework displays as ‘Mr Hengler, Artist in Fire-Works and Professor of Natural Philosophy, from High Germany.’ He also advertised that ‘Any Gentleman may be supplied with FIRE-WORKS on application to Mr Hengler.’ By 1796 he was advertising himself as ‘The very ingenious Signior (sic) Hengler , of No. 4, Edward’s Place, St George’s Fields, Artist and Engineer in FIRE-WORKS to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales.’ In 1798 regular firework displays began at the famous Vauxhall Gardens in Surrey, with displays by Hengler and by Joseph Neale of Jamaica Row. John Hengler’s Vauxhall displays continued from 1800 until his death in 1802. The Hengler firework business was then continued by his wife, Sarah.

    Sarah Hengler (nee Sarah Cannon, (1761-1845)), who had worked with her husband at Vauxhall and occasionally enhanced the displays by walking a tightrope through the fireworks, provided firework displays at Vauxhall from 1803 to her retirement in 1825. During this time she married a Mr William Feild (17??-18??, marriage to Sarah 6th December 1808), but she retained the stage-name ‘Madame Hengler’. Such was her fame as a Vauxhall pyrotechnist that the poet Thomas Hood (1799 – 1845) wrote a lengthy and humorous “Ode to Madame Hengler – Firework Maker to Vauxhall”, published in 1830, that included such lines as

    Thou workest, Queen of Fire, on earth and heaven,

    Between the hours of midnight and eleven,

    Turning our English to Arabian Nights,

    With blazing mounts, and founts, and scorching dragons,

    Blue stars and white,

    And blood-red light,

    And dazzling Wheels fit for Enchanter’s waggons.

    Thomas Hood, The Comic Annual (London: Charles Tilt, 1830).

    After her retirement, evidently in 1825 at the age of 60, Sarah Hengler lived upstairs at 4 Asylum Place, where her daughter, Mrs Jones, ran the firework business. The fireworks were made at a factory at nearby Kennington, but smaller goods (such as were sold to the general public for Guy Fawkes’ Night) were finished and stored at 4 Asylum Place. In 1845 Sarah had reached her eightieth year. Once the lithe tightrope-walker, she had become so obese that she was described as being crippled. She was accustomed to sit in an armchair at the window in the front room of the first floor, while her daughter and others worked in the same room on such tasks as covering roman candles and binding catherine-wheels. On Thursday, 9 October 1845 a youth of 15, by the name of Thomas Henry Rivers, was applying touchpaper to some squibs in the workshop below when he adjusted the wick of an oil lamp to give more light. A spark from the lamp fell among the squibs, igniting them. The fire spread rapidly and soon the whole building was ablaze. Madame Hengler managed to struggle from her chair to the window above the street, but all efforts to rescue her were in vain and she burned to death.1
    1. Sturman, B. "The Early Use of Potassium Chlorate in Pyrotechny: Part II. John Forster, Sarah Hengler and the Original Chlorate-based Green Fire." PGI Bulletin (Bulletin of the Pyrotechnics Guild International, Inc.), no. 185 (July 2013): 70-78.
    I have been researching the Cannon family tree on Ancestry.com but so far have not found any Randles.
    Tiggy Walls and spectrum like this.
  13. By the way, the PGI piece says that Sarah's maiden name was not known. I have since found that it was Cannon. I added that in later but neglected to delete the now incorrect remark about her maiden name being unknown. Sorry!
  14. Richard Lane

    Richard Lane Supports UKFR

    Bazza. .... .Love Hoods poem..reminds me of an ode in one of Brocks publications..
    "The shell ascends the heaven's vaulted dome
    Dimming the long forgotten stars een there..
    The lightning flash and rolling thunder dare
    Alas ..calm heaven!"....
    Bazza, TerenceFawkes and Tiggy Walls like this.
  15. Hi Bazza,
    Wow, what a lot of Info on the Henglers! I havent looked at the earlier firework history that I have on the Henglers for quite a while. Other threads of research, not to mention Life, have taken over. Most of what you have written is , I am sure is new to me. Just the awful accident and poor Madam Hengler being too fat to escape, I had found.
    None of the names you mention appear in my Randle family tree, However, and it may be a total red herring, on Williams 1841 Census there is a two year old boy called William Jones staying with the. There are too many "hits" for that name to work out who he is. ( https://search.findmypast.co.uk/record?id=gbc/1841/0006248551 ) The Find My Past reference.

    Do you think it is feasable that My William worked for the Henglers and then took over?

  16. Hi Celia,

    As far as I have been able to find out, after Madame Hngler died her firework business was carried on by her married daughter (Magdelen) Elizabeth Jones, who was still making fireworks (under the name Elizabeth Jones) at the time of the 1851 Census. There was an extensive Jones family of firework makers but I have not found any connection between them and this Elizabeth (Hengler) Jones... I guess that Mrs Jones would have not taken too kindly to anyone claiming to be a successor to Madam Hengler, so presumably Mrs Jones was out of the business by the time your ancestor made his claim. As you say, the name Jones is so common that research is very difficult.

    Claiming to be a successor to Madam Coton is another puzzle. Madam Cotton was actually Frances Ann Bennett (her married name) and she died when her Lambeth factory blew up in 1858. I have had no luck at all in tracing her. The fire at her factory spread to the neighbouring works of one Henry Gibson, but again I have not found anything about him.

    It would be interesting to know if your William had worked for Jones and then 'Coton' - if so, he had two lucky escapes! On the other hand, a claim to be 'successors' to somebody can mean nothing more than that you offer the same services as those named, who are no longer in the business. It still happens...

  17. More of the poem quoted by Richard can be seen here:


    It is way down the page, but well worth a look. The little book that it comes from was on sale by an on-line bookseller a few years ago at an exorbitant price. Someone must have bought it - but it wasn't me!

  18. Richard Lane

    Richard Lane Supports UKFR

    Bazza ......never seen it in its full style and format...great stuff ..many thanks...I saw it originally in the
    Back of what I believe to be a rare Brocks booklet..which is a generalised mini compendium showing some of the types of retail fireworks which the company were selling during the 1950's.
    I was sent a copy by Alan Brock at the same time that I received a copy of his work 'A History of Fireworks'...but that's another story!
    Bazza likes this.
  19. Richard...you knew Alan Brock? Please, tell the story!
  20. Richard Lane

    Richard Lane Supports UKFR

    Bazza..I'm away at present...when I'm back ..ten days or so..I'll tell the story..it's really quite axmusing!
    'Till then