Fireworks On Blackheath


The weather may have been unseasonably mild but the Blackheath fireworks were as good as always. For us the real highlight of each year’s show is to see the village full of people, bars and restaurants packed and business booming. There’s also something strangely thrilling about being able to work up the middle of the Tranquil Vale free of traffic.

Anyway, back to the firework display and some highlights for us from last night:

– the final segment was pretty spectacular made all the more exciting for the fact that there was a brief pause beforehand which only served to build the anticipation (and to those of you who left thinking it had ended already, shame on you! We Radicals held firm).

– the music was a welcome addition and generally worked well, though it could probably have been even louder and under no circumstances should Coldplay ever be used again! It’d be fantastic to hear some classical music accompany the show next year.

– not really a highlight but it has to be said that the attempts by the women on the public announce system to warm up the crowd before the show lacked, erm, sparkle.

– the band playing outside the Crown afterwards were excellent – anyone know who they were?

And of course thanks are due to the volunteers, sponsors, the local police team (and those from further afield who came in to help) and Lewisham Council for making it happen. It seemed like there was a veritable army of stewards there this year – are thrre normally so many?

One reflection after the event: each year the fireworks see, apparently, around 80,000 people descend on the village for an unticketed event that lasts about 30 minutes start to finish – with many arriving just before and attempting to leave just after. Rightly this event is supported by the Blackheath Society, and others, who do a great job raising money for it.

Compare this to the opposition, including from the Blackheath Society, to the OnBlackheath concert. A ticketed event attended by around 25,000 people, mostly families, across two days which was well stewarded and could not have been more careful about litter and the like (there are never anywhere near enough bins at the fireworks). When you add to this the fact that there is normally a fair ground in town for the fireworks display (which it has to be said is pretty awful) then the contrasting attitudes to the two events is as confusing as it is capricious.

It will be interesting to hear what the reaction is to OnBlackheath at the post event public meeting this Thursday (6th November at the Greenwich Hotel). If the pre event meeting is anything to go by there could well be fireworks! Look out for our report.


6 thoughts on “Fireworks On Blackheath

  1. I’ll take the bait.
    OnBlackheath is run for the personal financial gain of just a few people, and it inconvenienced quite a number of locals for quite a few days in the process of providing product placement opportunities and live music for ~25,000 paying people.
    Blackheath fireworks are run by a public body for the amusement of the general public, and it inconvenienced quite a number of locals for just a few hours in the process of providing oooohs and aaaahs for ~100,000 people.
    Am I missing something?

    • What are you missing? The fact that this lot [few?] are unlikely to live anywhere near the “festival” site, so will not have been inconvenienced by the noise and transport diversions. They are also likely to be recent arrivals, so they seem bemused by the fact that locals [and the dreaded Blacksoc] have happily welcomed the fireworks, fairs and circus for many years because they are short, sharp shocks rather than drawn-out weekenders.

    • Thanks, G. It’s good to see articulated what we’ve long suspected is the real reason behind opposition to OB and the like – nothing to do with damage to the grass (acidic or otherwise) but rather an ideological difficulty with ‘profit making’. Fair enough. Though it’s worth remembering that tax revenues pay for the free fireworks and ultimately come from firms and the people firms employ. Terribly vulgar but true. Still, at least OB was sponsored by John Lewis – a partnership…

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