- "As every school-age wizard knows, the fact that we fly on broomsticks is probably our worst-kept secret. No Muggle illustration of a witch is complete without a broom and however ludicrous these drawings are (for none of the broomsticks depicted by Muggles would stay up in the air for a moment), they remind us that we were careless for far too many centuries to be surprised that broomsticks and magic are inextricably linked in the Muggle mind."
- —Kennilworthy Whisp, from Quidditch Through the Ages[src]
Broomsticks, also known as brooms, are one of the means employed by wizards and witches to transport themselves between locations. Their use in Great Britain and Ireland is regulated by the Ministry of Magic's Broom Regulatory Control.
The earliest recorded use of the broomstick was in 962, in a German illustrated manuscript. Only wizards and witches appear to use broomsticks in the Wizarding world. House-elves, for example, use Apparition. Broomsticks appear to have a bit of personality of their own, as they are able to respond to the simplest of commands, such as "up!".
Since no spell devised by wizards enable them to fly (with the exception of Lord Voldemort in 1997, and Severus Snape a year later), they had to come up with some other way to fly. Animagi who transformed into winged creatures enjoyed the sensation, but they were rare.
Long before the International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy came into force, wizards were savvy enough to realise that Muggle neighbours would seek to exploit their abilities. Therefore, if they were to keep a method of flight in their homes, it would have to be unobtrusive and easy to hide. The broomstick was ideal — portable, cheap, and it required no explanation. However, the first broomsticks were uncomfortable.
The first brooms
Records show that witches and wizards in Europe were using brooms as early as A.D. 963. A German manuscript of this period shows three warlocks dismounting from their brooms with looks of exquisite discomfort on their faces.The first brooms bewitched were neither comfortable nor aerodynamic (they had rough twigs at the end and had unvarnished handles), and in 1107 Scottish wizard Guthrie Lochrin wrote of the "splinter-filled buttocks and bulging piles" after a short ride from Montrose to Arbroath. The charms on the broom were also basic; they would move at one speed, and only go up, down, and stop. Wizard families generally constructed their own brooms, so there was a variation in speed and comfort depending on the skill of the builder. By the twelfth century, wizards began to barter services, and a skilled broommaker could trade his services for, say, the potions of a neighbour.
The racing broom and mass production
Until the nineteenth century, broomsticks were of varying quality, although the invention of the Cushioning Charm in 1820 by Elliot Smethwyck greatly enhanced the quality and comfort of the rides. However, they were still handmade by single wizards, and they were generally incapable of achieving high speeds and were difficult to control at high altitudes. They were also designed with styling and craftsmanship in mind, and not performance. Brooms such as the Oakshaft 79, the Moontrimmer, and the Silver Arrow all made an impact on the broom market, but were still made by single wizards and witches.
In 1926, the brothers Bob, Bill and Barnaby Ollerton formed the Cleansweep Broom Company, and the racing broom was born. Their first model, the Cleansweep One, was produced in large quantities and was an instant hit. Three years later, in 1929, Randolph Keitch and Basil Horton formed the Comet Trading Company and released the Comet 140 with a new Braking Charm. For several years, the Cleansweep-Comet rivalry dominated the field, until the creation of the Nimbus Racing Broom Company in 1967. The Nimbus brooms combined reliability and easy handling, and became a favourite for Quidditch teams across Europe.
Universal Brooms Ltd was a broomstick manufacturing company which was very popular in the past, but shut down some time back due to heavy losses.
At present, nearly every wizarding household in Britain owns at least one broomstick. Dedicated riders keep their brooms in top condition with a Broomstick Servicing Kit. Large groups of wizards and witches may travel by broomstick without being seen by Muggles through the use of a dose of the Disillusionment Charm. An earth-bound Muggle might then only see a slight shimmer in the night sky as broomstick riders pass overhead, which might be put down to blurred vision, sleepiness or a trick of the light.
Broomstick manufacturing companies
- Cleansweep Broom Company
- Comet Trading Company
- Ellerby and Spudmore
- Flyte and Barker
- Nimbus Racing Broom Company
- Universal Brooms Ltd
- Air Wave Gold
- Australian Flyabout
- Cleansweep One
- Cleansweep Two
- Cleansweep Three
- Cleansweep Five
- Cleansweep Six
- Cleansweep Seven
- Cleansweep Eleven
- Comet 140
- Comet 180
- Comet 260
- Comet 290
- Firebolt Supreme
- Nimbus 1000
- Nimbus 1001
- Nimbus 1500
- Nimbus 1700
- Nimbus 2000
- Nimbus 2001
- Oakshaft 79
- Shooting Star
- Siberian Arrow
- Silver Arrow
- Starsweeper XXI
- Thunderbolt VII
- Transylvanian Bare
- Turbo XXX
- Twigger 90
- Aingingein, played on broomsticks, using a ball called a Dom and a series of flaming hoops.
- Annual broom race held in Sweden.
- Creaothceann, played in Scotland, banned in 1762.
- Quodpot, played in the United States of America.
- Shuntbumps, survives only as a children's game.
- Stichstock, played in Germany and died out in the 14th century.
Behind the scenes
- From the film version of Prisoner of Azkaban and onwards, the broomsticks were seen with a crossbar to hold the legs. These only appeared on the Nimbus 2000 and the Nimbus 2001 in the film versions of Philosopher's Stone and Chamber of Secrets. The crossbars on the broomsticks aren't mentioned in the novels.
- In Philosopher's Stone, it is required for one to shout, "Up!" before mounting your broom so that it can take off. While in the first video game, Harry continues to shout "Up!" to get his broom, in all other games, books and films though, Quidditch players simply mount their brooms and fly away. It is possible, though, that saying "Up!" is an incantation to summon the broom, and that it is uttered nonverbally in the later books, films, and games.
- At least one broomstick appears in every movie.
- Although the Death Eaters use brooms to fly in the books, they are shown to have mastered flight in the films, and fly in black smoke, but in the books no witch or wizard apart from Voldemort and Snape can fly, so the Death Eaters use brooms.
- In Deathly Hallows: Part 1 most of the Order members use brooms to take Harry Potter to safety.
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (First appearance)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (film)
- Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (film)
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (film)
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (film)
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (film)
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (film)
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (video game)
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (video game)
- Quidditch Through the Ages
- Harry Potter: A Pop-Up Book
- LEGO Harry Potter: Building the Magical World
- LEGO Harry Potter: Characters of the Magical World
- Harry Potter: Quidditch World Cup
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 1-4
- LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7
- Harry Potter for Kinect
- LEGO Creator: Harry Potter
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Motorbike Escape
- Harry Potter Trading Card Game
- Harry Potter LEGO Sets
- Harry Potter: The Character Vault
- Harry Potter: The Creature Vault (mentioned only)
Notes and references
|Officials: Quidditch referee|
|Player positions: Beater • Chaser • Keeper • Seeker|
|Playing equipment: Beater's bat • Bludger • Broomstick • Golden Snitch • Quaffle|