Brock’s Illuminations and Fireworks might be celebrating Crystal Palace Dinosaurs in their famous and rare 1906 postcard promoting their “Illuminations” at Crystal Palace. It’s possible, but I think that is a tenuous. The postcard features many animals. Among these are two Diplodocus. That’s notable because a cast of Diplodocus had just been presented to the British Museum (Natural History), now the Natural History Museum, as a gift from Andrew Carnegie, see Nieuwland 2010). Possibly the animal to the right of the frog is meant to be a variation of the Megalosaurus. Possibly, too, the animal in the lower right centre is an antiquated version of a pterodactyl, possibly inspired by sculptures n the park. As for other animals, there appears to be a turtle in the pond, a frog on the shoreline, and a spider web along the trail.
The connection to animals is strong in Brock’s Illuminations postcard. I think the connection is tenuous to the sculptures in the Park. That’s not a negative in my book. It shows the sculptures as a kind of artistic muse: there are fascinating things in the park, including sculptures, electric light displays, and so much more. The sculptures serve to amplify the attraction.
These animals were not fireworks, but “illuminations” – electric light displays placed in and around the fountains at Crystal Palace Park. Illuminations were popular attractions at a time when electric lighting was far from common. I suspect Brock would have needed to organise their own power supply, for example.
Brock’s Fireworks at Crystal Palace
Brocks Fireworks were famous for their Guy Fawkes Night fireworks displays. The company distributed postcards about these events – flagships for the company. Another one is shown below. Another copy of the same postcard is available.
Brocks Fireworks Ltd is still in business. It begin in 1698 (history).
This article on Brocks Illuminations at Crystal Palace in 1906 first appeared on the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs History Blog in July 2013. Thanks to Dr John Taylor (NHM) for donating the Illuminations postcard.