Senses as­saulted by gi­ant bon­fires

Herald Express - - By Gones - BY NICK PAN­NELL

El­la­combe chil­dren on top of their bon­fire ready for No­vem­ber 5, 1974

FOR­GET Hal­loween. When I was grow­ing up No­vem­ber 5 was the night to be afraid.

Weeks be­fore, the kids of ev­ery com­mu­nity would start build­ing a gi­ant bon­fire on any bit of open space, of­ten the near­est park or foot­ball pitch. Any­thing flammable was heaved on top of the grow­ing pile, an op­por­tu­nity for peo­ple to get rid of old so­fas and mat­tresses.

I sup­pose there must have been some parental guid­ance but in my area of Ef­ford in Ply­mouth it was our bon­fire and we guarded it night and day in case chil­dren from an­other area robbed our tim­ber – or tried to set fire to it pre­ma­turely.

As dusk fell on No­vem­ber 5 we gath­ered round, hoisted an ef­figy of Guy Fawkes on top and lit the base.

To this day I shall never for­get the flames and heat, shoot­ing into the night air.

If it was windy gusts of sparks show­ered the crowds. It was el­e­men­tal, ter­ri­fy­ing and awe-in­spir­ing all at once.

And when ours dimmed we jumped in the car and went to look at oth­ers still roar­ing away.

These mem­o­ries were ig­nited when I found these two pic­tures of El­la­combe’s Brew­ery Park in No­vem­ber 1974.

Neigh­bour­hood bon­fires were be­com­ing so big that of­ten coun­cil work­ers would ar­rive and dis­man­tle them.

This ap­pears to have hap­pened in the first pic­ture, which also shows tents in which chil­dren prob­a­bly slept to guard it.

The sec­ond pic­ture is cap­tioned El­la­combe Bon­fire Chil­dren’s Protest and I sus­pect they’ve re-stacked it in de­fi­ance.

If you are among the faces, or have mem­o­ries of other com­mu­nity bon­fires, please write or email in.

Brew­ery Park in El­la­combe in No­vem­ber 1974

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