Fireworks were born out of an accident during a kitchen experiment in 10th century China.

In the strictest sense, fireworks could be traced back to flare signals used during ancient times.

Their origin could also be traced back about 2,000 years to firecrackers made from roasting bamboo and used to ward off evil spirits.

However, it is generally accepted fireworks were invented when a Chinese cook accidentally discovered how to make explosive black powder -the early origin of gunpowder - during the 10th century.

It is said the cook accidentally mixed three common kitchen ingredients - potassium nitrate or saltpetre (a salt substitute used in the curing of meat), sulphur and charcoal and set light to the concoction. The result was colourful flames.

The cook also noticed that if the mixture was burned when enclosed in the hollow of a bamboo shoot, there was a tremendous explosion.

After this fireworks were used for entertainment and became a staple part of marking special occasions, such as births, deaths, weddings, coronations or new years.

It was later that people began to realise the powerful new explosives could be used in warefare.

Fireworks arrived in Europe in the 14th century and were first produced by the Italians. The first recorded display was in Florence.

Fireworks spread around Europe after this and became an accepted form of entertainment, even a status symbol, used during the celebration of royal marriages, coronations and victory in battle.

The first recorded fireworks in England were at the wedding of King Henry VII in 1486. They gained popularity during the reign of Henry VIII.

Queen Elizabeth I appointed someone in charge of organising grand firework displays and James II even knighted his fireworks master after an excellent show of fireworks at his coronation.

After Guy Fawkes and the gunpowder plot in 1605 fireworks became part of the November 5 celebrations.

Fireworks have continued to develop over the centuries, becoming the loud, colourful and elaborate spectacles we know today.