Here’s why people were injured at the 2016 Verulamium Fireworks

PUBLISHED: 15:14 24 November 2016 | UPDATED: 15:14 24 November 2016

St Albans Fireworks 2016 by Richard Holt

St Albans Fireworks 2016 by Richard Holt


A manufacturing error caused fireworks to shoot into the crowd at a major display, a report into the incident has found.

St Albans Fireworks 2016 by Richard HoltSt Albans Fireworks 2016 by Richard Holt

A small number of spectators at the Verulamium Park firework display in St Albans on November 5 sustained minor injuries and shock after a number of fireworks shot into the front row of the audience.

An investigation into the incident was launched by Fantastic Fireworks, the company St Albans Cathedral employ to put on the annual display, shortly afterwards.

The report, issued yesterday (Wednesday), found that the ‘aqua cake’ firework, which launches 35 units for approximately 28 seconds, was the firework that shot into the crowd.

The units are designed to land on water, right themselves into a vertical position and fire into the sky. The individual units should typically travel 50m before landing on the water - with their landing position 45m from the audience.

But the investigation found that some of the projectiles must have contained a higher amount of propellant, altering the landing position to closer to the crowd.

The report reads: “This is clearly a manufacturing error which they could not have predicted.”

Fantastic Fireworks reached that conclusion after testing one of the remaining items of the same batch on dry land and measuring the distance of the projectiles - with five travelling considerably further than stipulated.

They have since removed the remaining items from the batch from all future public displays.

Managing director of Fantastic Fireworks, Jon Culverhouse, said: “We strive to select only the highest quality fireworks from a very small number of suppliers with whom we work to produce exciting effects and reliable performance and on this one occasion we have been let down. As a matter of urgency we intend to raise the matter with the supplier.

“Fantastic Fireworks has been safely firing the St Albans display for more than 25 years in which time it has built up a reputation for being among the best displays in the South East.

“We apologise most sincerely both to members of the public affected by this incident and to St Albans Cathedral Chapter for the adverse effect on the reputation of the Verulamium display and we are determined to work closely with you to restore that reputation.”

The report specified that Fantastic Fireworks had carried out a site specific risk assessment and produced method statements in accordance with the best-practice guidelines laid down by the British Pyrotechnists Association.

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