See below for a picture of Brocks women workers displaying some fireworks.
Brocks famous firework factory was founded in the early 1700's. It came to Hemel in the 1930s. It was where Woodhall Farm estate is now. Seeing the plan of the factory with all the little sheds it and must have employed hundreds of people. Firework factories were sited outside the town in case there was an explosion and where there was cheap labour.
Houses were built locally to house 300 Brocks workers and named Ranelagh Road and Vauxhall Road after the London Gardens where Brocks fireworks displays were held.
Splat! Which would make the most fantastic explosion? An explosion at Buncefield or an explosion in a firework factory?
In an effort to combat the Zeppelin threat, one member of the Brocks family invented an incendiary device that would explode the helium gas.
In WW2 Brocks made star shells, these exploded in the air illuminating the ground to reveal the position of the enemy. Local people were worried about all the explosives stored at Brocks but were assured that they were dug deep into the ground, the blast would go up in the air. Unlike Buncefield!
One member of the Brock family, a Mr Smith, lived in the Woodhall Farmhouse which is now the Woodhall Farm Community Centre.
Soldiers were stationed in Cupid Green in barracks to service the searchlight at Holtsmere End. There were fears that the Enemy planes would shoot down the searchlight beam and hit the farms.
There was another firework factory in Cherry Trees Lane, the Phoenix Firework Factory started in 1948. Although reported to have 140 employees this is in doubt. The Phoenix Snow Storms evidently 'blew up'. After complaints of poor quality a Home Office inspector made them line up a row and light them and a number of them just exploded on the spot. the company had various owners and traded under various names and was finally liquidated in 1963.
This information and photograph by permission of www.fireworks-mag.org.
I have received a request for anyone who has recollections of working for Brocks Fireworks or Phoenix Fireworks or has pictures, posters etc to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.