Founded just after the war in 1946 by two Eastern European immigrants Bertie Yellin and Dr Paul Lax.
They set up in Richborough near Sandwich to begin full-scale manufacture in 1948 and were one of the most popular 1960's and 70's brands. Richborough was probably chosen as it had been a munitions storage facility during WW1 with the buildings left in situ! The Sandwich site, next to the River Stour, consisted of several dozen small sheds separated by sheets of corrugated iron.
By the early 1950s they had an office in London at 102 Cleveland Street, London W.1. The street has an old claim to fame as Charles Dickens used to live at Number 22 and today the street is also home to the BT Tower!
The Richborough site itself was built on what was once a resettlement camp for dispossessed migrants/refugees. During WW2, many Jews and other refugees were accommodated here, where repatriation wasn't an option. Part of the site was also used to accommodate British troops on their way to fight on the European mainland.
Astra produced many different fireworks such as Red Fountain, Silver Fountain, Mars Rocket, Whirlwind, Flower Pot, Crackling Cauldron, Aerial Attack, Vertical Plane, Flood Light, Stromboli, Wheel, Red Lantern, Sparkling Fountain and many others.
They were forced to cease all home-based manufacture after a serious fire in 1989, but they continued with imported Chinese goods until the closure in 1997. The Sandwich site was eventually "completely" demolished. Shortly after closure the "Astra" name was acquired and still survives under the Cosmic brand label.