The Gods that failed

Sydney Gardens firework galas just kept on getting bigger and louder - here's one that got a bit too ambitious for its own good...

The Gods that Failed

The King's Birthday Gala in June 1813 was to feature a 'truly classical' GRAND SCENE 'at the IVY TOWER in the ruins of the old castle... Nothing in description can here be detailed to describe its effect: it must be seen to elicit the admiration which it will deserve - clouds will be brought down on the turrets and as they disperse, the Heathen Deities will commence their operations. In conformity with the Mythology of the Ancients, Phaeton will descend in a FIERY CAR whose wheels, in rapid rotation will set the world on fire, AND THE WHOLE GARDEN WILL APPEAR IN ONE MIGHTY BLAZE! And as this impetuous youth is returning to the Ivy Tower, he will be struck with a thunderbolt by JUPITER into the River Po whilst a Cascade is playing through its Gothic battlements, producing altogether a most impressive and wonderful effect!’

But things did not go quite as planned. As the Bath Journal explained, everything at the Gala went well 'excepting the grand scene at the gothic caslte; unfortunately a total falure happened in the machinery; neither Jupiter nor Phoeton having condescended to appear in their clestial abodes to gratify the expectations of the numerous assemblage of mortals whose curiosity had been raised to the highest pitch! The whole of this pompous scene rather seemed to terminate in Tartarean darkness than to exhibit a magnificant disply of Heavenly brightness, suited to a council of the Heathen Gods assembled on mount Olympus! The disappoointment however, was recieved with much patience and good humour...'

This good humour did not extend to the firework maestro in charge of this extravaganza, signor Vicento de Mortram, 'engineer to the Prince Regent and artist in pyrotechnics at Vauxhall, London'. Greatly embarrassed by the debacle, and convinced he had been the victim of sabotage, Mortram penned an explanation to the Bath & Cheltenham Gazette: ‘The confusion accompanying the descending of the Car to let off the fireworks was occasioned by some malicious person unknown who wantonly set fire to one of the Fountains of Fire in the trees before the men appointed to execute the plan could possibly  press through the crowd to their respective places frolm the Cascade and therefore the effect of the exhibition was lost’.

I so hope we can work this in somewhere!

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