The macchina was a huge temple built of wood and canvas in which an orchestra was hidden, along with equipment to launch fireworks. Unfortunately, an hour into the display, one of the pavilions where the fireworks were kept caught fire, setting off some of the stored fireworks and ruining the display. “After the fiasco of the display in Green Park the Duke of Richmond opportunistically bought the remaining fireworks,” Feluś reveals. “Two weeks later… the Duke staged his own display in the garden of Richmond House and the adjoining Thames.”
The second Duke’s show was a huge success by all accounts. A contemporary engraving (pictured above) depicts some of the pyrotechnic devices used. Sadly, history does not record what type of music, if any, accompanied them. For Michael Lakin, director of Starlight Design Group, the company that has created Goodwood’s firework shows for the past 23 years, music is always the starting point. “I cut the music track first and have in mind the kind of fireworks that will go with it. For something soft and tinkly it might be white flickering stars, while a slow passage might have a Golden Kamuro, with cascading, glittering tendrils.”
When it comes to Goodwood’s displays, as many as 2,000 individual fireworks can be used, launched in time with the music by means of a computerised firing system. The largest fireworks used at Goodwood are 8-inch “shells” – the diameter of a football – fired from mortar tubes. “A fireworks display is like a cabaret act that assaults the senses,” Lakin adds. “Done well, it’s like painting magical pictures in the sky.”
A spectacular fireworks display takes place on the Friday night of August Bank Holiday Weekend at the Goodwood Racecourse.