Remember, Remember… Bonfire Nights Of Yesteryear

Gunpowder, treason and plot from days gone by.

These days, Bonfire Night in Britain has been largely overtaken in the public affections by the rather cooler Halloween, but there are still plenty of cranially-challenged people who see November 5th as the time to let off all the fireworks that their ill-gotten income allows them to buy, as we can currently hear only too well. This traditional British event – which celebrates the thwarting of an attempt by Guy Fawkes to blow up Parliament, something many might be only too happy to see succeed nowadays – was a major event when your Reprobate crew were nippers, with bonfires in the back garden and fireworks that may or may not (a) take off, (b) go upwards rather than sideways and (c) actually explode – something increasingly replaced by organised displays that were certainly safer but rather less anarchic. The build-up to Bonfire night would see kids making their Guy Fawkes effigy to burn on the bonfire (yeah, it’s pretty damn ghoulish if you give it a moment’s thought) and then demanding ‘a penny for the guy’ from strangers on the street. The more delinquent the child, the less effort would’ve gone into the Guy and the more menacing the demands as they lurked outside corner shops (and woe betide you if you took them at their word and just flipped them a penny). I imagine that this is also something rather frowned at now, except in some backward communities where effigies of public hate figures are still burned to this day.

Anyway – never let it be said that we are not down with great British traditions. Here’s a selection of vintage Bonfire Night imagery alongside a handful of suitably nightmarish public safety films spelling out the possible dangers of playing with fire.

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  1. I remember, in the early ’70s…as kids, actually sleeping INSIDE the bonfire overnight…to protect it from the nefarious
    practice of ‘Bonfire Robbing’…Crazy…

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