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3 June 2010

Booklet detailing the life of Bernard Wells available: details of sale on

A 67-paged book (with 15 illustrations) on the fascinating character, Bernard Wells, published by the Daily Mail in 2005, is to be auctioned on ebay and all the proceeds will go to the Amberley Project, whereby buildings from the disused Wells' Fireworks Dartford factory will be re-erected at the Amberley Industrial Heritage Museum. This worthwhile project will eventually see the creation of a firework museum.

Only 20 copies were printed and only two have ever been sold outside the Wells Family.

Bernard was a member of the Wells Fireworks family and was one of the pioneers of fireworks in America.

Before the Second World War an idea was floated that was eventually to take Bernard to America and see Mickey Mouse on the label of a firework. The following is a quotation from the book:

'At this time we were approached by Mr Kay Kamen, who handled merchandising of all Disney-inspired products. Kamen was a master salesman and sold various manufacturers on the possibilities of big profits in Disney by-products. The Ingersole Watch Company put the mouse on their watch faces and used Mickey's hands as watch hands. The Lionel toy train company had made a wind-up Mickey which ran round a track'. Bernard signed for the sole rights in England and in the following year Wells' were able to produce a special box of Mickey Mouse Fireworks.

The labels used for these fireworks are now exceptionally rare. They comprise: Mickey Mouse Bangers, Donald Duck Torpedoes, Minnie Mouse Fountains and more. Fred Holman, the man who created all Wells artwork, drew the labels.

But Bernard's is a fascinating history without the Walt Disney element. He took over Wells' Fireworks in 1912, left his family business in the early 1950s and worked for and with various American firework companies. He became very successful with the Atlas Firework Co. and then, in California, with his own Pyro Spectacular Co. He persuaded Walt Disney to use fireworks at Disneyland and was the organiser of huge prestigious events like the 1984 Olympics and Centennial Celebrations. He was California’s greatest pyrotechnist and well known to American readers.

Bernard Wells left behind, when he died, a manuscript that he intended to publish. It is full of anecdotes, and contains descriptions of fireworks; a history of Wells Fireworks and Bernard’s own story.

And now you have a chance to obtain a copy. Check first with the website where the date of the sale will be announced.

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