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Argus Press Cutting 2012 - Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations
February 22, 2014 at 5:29 pm by v
A fiery night to remember…..
As the sun went down on the county town of Lewes last night, out came pirates, vikings and cavaliers bearing torches and barrels of fire, Feeling the heat and dodging the rookies was Argus reporter Ben James. TENS of thousands of revellers lined the historic streets of Lewes last night for the town’s annual bonfire celebrations. The six societies, dressed in their traditional uniforms and carrying their banners, marched through the winding lanes before meeting for the grand procession in the High Street.
Locals and tourists alike then split to attend the different societies own bonfires, where they set fire to the unusual array of expertly crafted effigies, including the Queen, astronaut Neil Armstrong, Olympic cyclist Bradley Wiggins and Geri Halliwell, as well as the more predictable David Cameron, Michael Gove and the Pope. The most highly anticipated Cliffe effigy depicted German chancellor Angela Merkel performing a Hitler salute over the Acropolis.
But before all that there was the calm before the storm. As the autumn sun disappeared behind the Downs, store owners boarded up their front windows and pets were ushered into the back seats of cars to be taken away for the night, A sense of anticipation spread around the town as rumours of the societies effigies began to circulate. Sussex Police were reporting that 20,000 people traveled to Lewes by train for the evening’s celebrations.
As many local pubs closed their doors to outsiders, temporary pop-up venues were serving ales and pasties well into the night, Crowds first gathered by the war memorial awaiting the arrival of Waterloo. The hordes then made their way down to the Harvey’s brewery where the always entertaining and often boisterous Cliffe society had gathered. One couple who had staked out a prime position in a butcher’s shop front were Ian, 65, and Hazel, 73, Butters. Ian said “We’ve come over from Eastbourne, It’s a fantastic family event and like nothing else in the country, We have an event in Eastbourne but that is tightly controlled by health and safety. They’ve managed to avoid that here. You can’t beat it.”
Police officers, who had obviously heeded the warnings reported in Saturday’s Argus, slipped their ski goggles over their eyes as the traditional burning barrels flew down the road, A roar erupted as a line of burning crosses came over the bridge and rookies kept everyone on their toes as revellers casually tossed them around. South Street society soon joined with their effigy of Queen Elizabeth II, Families cheered as they hung from upper floor windows as the six societies made their way to the High Street for the grand parade.
Following the traditional paying of respect at the War Memorial, the societies split to their own bonfire sites. Martin and Heather Kennard and Margaret and Steve Black, from Surrey, were at their first Lewes bonfire night, Margaret said: “It’s all so exciting and everyone is so friendly, I think it is brilliant that they can keep traditions and customs like this alive, I thought that health and safety might have ruined it by now but they can’t have let them in. They would have had a heart attack.” Heather added “It’s a bit cold but we’re having a great time. The costumes in particular are incredible. We will definitely be back again next year”.
Lewes District Council leader James Page said “It’s been a great night, a real spectacle. The event brings the whole community together and a lot of hard work goes into putting it on each year”. Regulars said the event appeared more peaceful than in previous years. As the Argus went to press last night Sussex Police said the event had been largely peaceful. One man aged 25 had been arrested and given an on the spot fine for throwing fireworks in the street. Another 25-year old man was arrested for possession of an offensive weapon and was being taken into custody for questioning as The Argus went to press. East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said it had received no calls. Pictures by Liz Finlayson and Simon Dack.
The Argus, Tuesday, November 6, 2012 www.theargus.co.uk
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