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There'll Be Fireworks

Updated: Nov 9, 2023

There'll be fireworks at the Beach Hotel all right, but not the ones you'd expect!

‘It’s very mild for November,’ said Edie, as she and Lili stood outside the perimeter wall of the hotel, looking out across the common during their afternoon break.

‘Still doesn’t mean we’ll get a firework display tonight.’

Edie looked at her friend, who was crossing her arms in frustration. ‘It’s getting overcast now, anyway, so probably wouldn’t have been a good evening for one.’

‘It’s not fair, the government banning them. We’ve had such lovely ones here at the hotel.’

It wasn’t the first time she’d heard this grumble from staff members and was getting a little tired of it, even though it was Lili who was moaning. However, she kept her voice light as she said, ‘I’m sure it would have been lovely, and we’ll have them again after the war.’

(A New Start at the Beach Hotel, chapter 12)

Edie Moore’s been at the hotel five months, and the Great War’s been raging for the last two, when November 1914 rolls around and she hears several times how disappointed the staff are that the hotel won’t be holding a firework display, due to them being banned by the government. The lighting of bonfires was also banned, as it was feared they'd act as a signal to enemy zeppelins and aircraft.

It seems that the fireworks they would have had before the war, would have been very similar to those today. In recent years, reds, blues and greens had been added to the colour scheme, where previously fireworks had been only yellow and orange. There were Roman candles and rockets, which we’re still familiar with today. Around this time they also had fireworks called Italian streamers, maroons (producing a single bang), cobras (a fountain) and shells (a burst of light). Only a few years before, in 1897, the official display to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, included a ‘shower of cowslips’, will o’ the wisps, fiery rip rags, glow worms and fiery night birds. They sound wonderful, though I’ve not been able to find out what they actually did!

I have no idea whether the Beach Hotel, a real establishment in Littlehampton up to the late 1980s, ever held a firework display. I was never aware of such an event in the 1960s and 1970s, when I was growing up there. However, the vast common, between the hotel and the beach, would have been a spectacular place to hold such a display. When the war has ended in the Beach Hotel series, I think I’ll have to include one.

Even without the firework displays for the five Novembers of World War 1, there are still plenty of 'fireworks' for the characters of the Beach Hotel!

Happy Bonfire Night!

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