From fishing to firecrackers: an iconic and explosive manufacturing base
The cracking days
The 1960s were the golden days for the firecracker industry. Remote Taipa island was the ideal location: manufacturing was prohibited in nearby Hong Kong and risk for damage from sparks and fire was considerably less in crowded Macau. At its peak about 80% of the local villagers were engaged in the industry. Many brought their work home and even children joined in. As one former worker says: ‘You could easily imagine the whole family working on the fire crackers’.
Iconic Iec Long
Taipa was home to nine factories, Iec Long was the biggest of them all. From this prime production facility millions of firecrackers were exported to Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, Europe and even North and South America.
With risks attached
Firecracker production was an extremely dangerous job. Inside the Iec Long factory it was quite safe: there were huge trees for cooling down the place and a large pool to stop fire from spreading. There even was a temple on the compound to ‘protect’ workers from explosions. Still incidents did happen. One worker recalls an explosion in the early 1950s ‘It was an accident in the gunpowder room of Kuong HengTai, the entire room exploded’.