Ghost number one bang to rights

first report on archival research for Ghosts in the Garden... we need real people with real stories, which is a tough call...

eighteenth century fireworks

John Invetto, fabled Italian firework-maker migrated to Bath c.1785, assured of regular employment lighting the sky at gala events, especially at Sydney Gardens and on an extraordinary scale. He was the best and these were no ordinary fireworks... One display in 1799 recreated 'a Sea Engagement between La Sybille of 44 and La Forte French Ship of 52 Guns in the Indies - The illumination will be most brilliant', and another 'a Diamond Piece of Chinese Fire with a Curious Wheel', and 'a Curious Fancy Piece composed of Rain Fire with a Wheel at the Centre'. One in 1800 featured a 'grand horizontal wheel representing a cascade with Chinese trees and a Jack in the Box in the centre'. Signor Invetto was a regular at Sydney Garden Galas to celebrate royal birthdays, and before Sydney Garden forced them out of business, he also picked up lots of work at Bath's other two pleasure gardens, Grosvenor Gardens (upriver near Larkhall) and Spring Gardens (nearby in Bathwick but destined to be built over as the Pultney estates expanded early in the nineteenth century). But his public fame was tinged with personal tragedy - first in 1789 when an explosion killed his first wife and son as they made fireworks in their lodgings at the Grove Tavern. Invetto came home to find the top floor completely destroyed, all his possessions gone and his family dead. A relief subscription was got up for him - as being Italian he had no settlement rights at Bath and could claim no parish relief. ‘While the distresses of Signor Invetto are mentioned and spoken of in every house, in every company, and are echoed from the Pump Room to the Crescent' noted one local paper, 'the subscription lists for his benefit remain almost without a subscriber...’ - after which money came in pretty steadily. Invetto died in 1809, and his second wife followed him a year later when, after taking over the business she was blown to pieces by another explosion while making sky rockets for another Sydney Gardens Gala. 

Here's a spectacular eighteenth century firework picture from Richmond in 1749 I found on my friend Katrina Navickas's blog pages... Must have looked a bit like this...

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