A new book on the British fireworks industry during the 20th Century has just been published and throws an intriguing light on lost Hertfordshire industry.

The book, called Firework Art, is a collection of firework posters, labels and packaging produced by British firework manufacturers, including Brock's Fireworks, Phoenix Fireworks and Britannia, which were all based in Hemel Hempstead.

A companion website, www.firework-art.com, provides several essays by the book's author, Mark Fleming, on the history of the British firework industry and firework production in general. According to the site, Brocks was the oldest British fireworks company, established in the early 18th Century by John Brock in Islington. The company moved to South Norwood, then Sutton and established strong links with the nearby Crystal Palace through spectacular firework displays there and even renamed the product C.T. Brock & Co's "Crystal Palace" Fireworks. The company moved to Hemel Hempstead in 1910 and remained there until 1971 before moving to factories in Norfolk and Dumfriesshire, Scotland. The company was bought out by Standard Fireworks in 1988.

Phoenix Fireworks, produced at a site close to the Brocks factory in Hemel Hempstead, is believed to have grown out of a company called Gray's Fireworks, which is thought to have been established in 1938 by Kenneth Gray.

According to Mark Fleming, Gray's was sold in 1948 to Alfred Goldstone and Philip Rose, who introduced the name Phoenix Fireworks. Philip Rose left the following year to start up Wizard Fireworks in Suffolk, which became famous for its penny bangers.

Back in Hemel Hempstead, Phoenix apparently suffered some accidents and "a spate of exploding Snowstorm fireworks" which incurred bad publicity and prompted a re-launch under the name of Britainnia Fireworks in 1950. However, the company only lasted another four years and was sold to another local firm, Continental Industry, which manufactured sparklers.

Mark Fleming tells me that there may have been other firework manufacturers in the area and explained that the history of the industry in general is sketchy.

He writes on the site: "For some of the companies, all that now remains to show the effort, skill and energy of the workers are their labels, their posters and a few price lists and brochures. This is the reason why these bits of paper and card are so important to preserve, record and study."

Firework Art by Mark Fleming was published by Rumble on October 1, price £19.99.

Do any readers have recollections of working for Brocks Fireworks, Phoenix Fireworks, Britannia Fireworks, Continental Industries or any other firework manufacturers in the area? Do any readers possess any pictures, posters or other memorabilia associated with the local firework industry?