History of London Fireworks

History of London Fireworks

Courtesy of Austenonly

Collette Cameron here today!

The Fourth of July is just around the corner, and I thought it would be fun to share a few historical tidbits about the history of fireworks in London.  

Fireworks display at Vauxhall, 1800s. Courtesy of Jane Austen’s World

Chances are, if you’ve been reading Regency historicals for any length of time, you’ve read a passage or two about a fireworks display for a grand occasion–perhaps at Green Park, St. James Park, or over the River Thames. Vauxhall Gardens, as well as the other well-known gardens, were famous for their regular pyrotechnic shows too.

As you can imagine, in the days before regulations and standards, these shows were often quite dangerous. In 1746 three people died and 10,000 fireworks were destroyed when a rocket accidentally hit the Temple of Peace where the fireworks were stored for the War of Hanoverian Succession Celebration.  

Temple of Peace courtesy of Jane Austen World

 

 

 

 

 

 

A fire resulting from fireworks burned down the gas lit Pagoda in St. James Park in 1814. The crowd unaware the  “display” wasn’t planned, applauded wildly in approval.

A view of the Chinese pagoda burning. Image @British Library

 

 

In The Wallflower’s Wicked Wager, I based my hero’s injuries on the explosion that occurred at Brock’s Fireworks in 1825. A young lad became frightened when he accidentally created a spark while ramming gunpowder into a firework.

Panicking, he  threw the firework aside as he ran from the building, and the rocket ignited gunpowder and saltpeter causing a huge explosion. The blast not only set fire to the building, it blew the factory’s roof off and shattered every window on adjacent streets.   

Read the excerpt from The Wallflower’s Wicked Wager

 

With swift, strong strokes, he swam to her. He’d regained most of his strength after the explosion–something that had seemed impossible in the early days of his convalescence. Other than several hideous scars, reduced hearing in his left ear, and the loss of an eye, he was restored.

Physically.

His highly-coveted position in the 1st Royal Regiment of Dragoons, on the other hand…

Fortune hadn’t smiled on him in that regard.

While he’d been unconscious and no one had known whether he’d live or die, his sire had taken it upon himself to retire Morgan’s commission.

Now at eight-and-twenty, he had nothing to go back to.

Nothing to look forward to.

No purpose. No direction. No rudder to steer his life and guide him.

Unless—until—he found employment. He’d become a societal parasite, dependent on the goodwill and generosity of his friends and sister, for he refused to accept a guinea from his father, Ruben Le Draco.

Damned lucky to have survived.

So Morgan had been told over and over.

And over.

The blast had killed five, maiming and wounding dozens more, but he—

Stow it.

As he approached, the girl turned her head. The gratitude in her expression transformed to incredulity when she spied his eyepatch and the vicious scar’s jagged path to his mouth, pulling one corner up at a grotesque angle.

After a year, he ought to have been accustomed to the stunned reactions. Yet, he still cringed inwardly when people—women, especially—flinched and gasped or hastily averted their gazes.

And when children’s faces crumpled in terror—

Enough.

But this profoundly unique creature didn’t look away. Instead, her attention shifted to his remaining eye, and such sympathy blossomed on her porcelain face that his thrumming heart battered against its bruised walls.

Struggling to stay afloat, she managed a timorous smile, full of kindness and empathy.

In that instant, through some sort of preternatural instinct, Morgan knew she’d suffered too. Here she was, her pulse raging at the base of her delicate throat, in very real danger of drowning, and instead of turning away in disgust or revulsion, she’d shown him compassion.

Where the hell would she go, man? It’s not like she has any choice at present.

My son is the cover model for The Wallflower’s Wicked Wager.

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Thank you so much to everyone who has already reviewed! Here are some of my favorites so far.

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“Beautiful chemistry … You’ll cheer for these star-crossed lovers.” ~ Christy Caldwell-USA Today Bestselling Author

 

He loved her beyond anything and everything—precisely why he couldn’t ever marry her. 

A wounded hero.

Love—sentimental drivel for insipid, weak, feckless fools.

Since an explosion ravaged Captain Morgan Le Draco’s face and cost him his commission in the Royal Dragoons, he’s fortified himself behind an impenetrable rampart of cynicism and distrust. Now destitute and shunned by the very society that once lauded his heroics, he’s put aside all thoughts of marrying and having a family. Until he risks his life to save a drowning woman. At once, Morgan knows Shona’s the balm for his tortured soul, but as a wealthy, titled noblewoman, she’s too far above his humble station and can never be his.

An intrepid wallflower.

Love—a treasured gift reserved for those beautiful of form and face.

Scorned and ridiculed most of her adult life, Shona, Lady Atterberry believes she’s utterly undesirable and is reconciled to spinsterhood. She hides her spirited temperament beneath a veneer of gauche shyness, until a strapping, scarred stranger saves her life, and she can’t deny her immediate, powerful, and sensual attraction to him. Despite how ill-suited they are and innuendos that Captain Le Draco is a fortune-hunter, she cannot escape her growing fascination.

Two damaged souls searching for love.

Others are determined to keep them apart, and Shona is goaded into placing a wicked wager. One that sets her upon a ruinous path and alienates the only man who might have ever loved her. Is true love enough to put their pasts behind them, to learn to trust, and heal their wounded hearts?

Caution: This book contains one devilish, seemingly irredeemable rogue, an on-the-shelf wallflower who dabbles in wicked wagers, an unexpected and most enticing swim in a lake, a villainess you’ll want to shove into said lake, and a cast of captivating secondary characters with their own tantalizing romantic tales.

For a heartwarming, inspiring story about the power of love, purchase your copy today of THE WALLFLOWER’S WICKED WAGER, the fifth installment in Collette Cameron’s romantic historical Regencies A Waltz with a Rogue Novella series.

THE WALLFLOWER’S WICKED WAGER

the fifth installment in Collette Cameron’s romantic historical Regencies A Waltz with a Rogue Novella series.

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Follow Collette Cameron:

Author

USA Today Bestselling Author, COLLETTE CAMERON pens Scottish and Regency historicals featuring rogues, rapscallions, rakes, and the intelligent, intrepid damsels who reform them.

Blessed with three spectacular children, fantastic fans, and a compulsive, over-active, and witty Muse who won’t stop whispering new romantic romps in her ear, she still lives in Oregon with her husband and five mini-dachshunds, though she dreams of living in Scotland part-time.

Admitting to a quirky sense of humor, Collette enjoys inspiring quotes, adores castles and anything cobalt blue, and is a self-confessed Cadbury chocoholic. You’ll always find dogs, birds, occasionally naughty humor, and a dash of inspiration in her sweet-to-spicy timeless romances.