Remember, remember the Fifth of November The Gunpowder Treason
Now is the time for marching Now let your hearts be gay Hark to
Sussex Express Supp 2001 - Lewes Bonfire Night Celebrations
April 4, 2014 at 6:45 pm by v
Gunpowder, Treason And Plot…
There’s no doubt about it. Lewes holds the finest bonfire festivities in the world and Monday’s celebrations will be no exception. Bonfire Night is the highlight of the year for hundreds, if not thousands, of bonfire boys and girls who have spent months preparing for the country’s most exciting and colourful event. Despite the huge effort involved and the great costs expended, spectators will be able to enjoy all the fun in the street free of charge.
All that the five societies ask is that the tens of thousands of visitors who flock to the town enjoy them selves and support the charitable collections that pass by. Regular visitors will take the crush of the crowds and the complicated series of processions in their stride, but for first timers it can become something of a minefield, The best bet is to buy as many bonfire programmes as possible and pick the society with the route that most suits one’s fancy.
Make use of the map printed in the centre of this supplement, which lists all the firework sites. Leave your pets at home and keep an eye on your young children. The crowded, smokey, noisy streets can be quite frightening for the little ones. Above all, enjoy the spirit and occasion of Lewes Bonfire Night. People not staying in town would be wise to leave by 5pm – before the thousands start pouring in. The crowds won’t be as massive as they might be because this time Bonfire Night falls on a Monday – but they will be large enough. Say 30,000!.
The fun starts about 5.30pm when most societies hold their children’s processions. Cliffe opens with the ladies barrel run from Cliffe Corner at 6pm. Processions of remembrance take place from 6pm while the united procession, involving all the societies save Cliffe, takes place at 7.40pm. Firesite processions take place at varying times with the first, Cliffe, starting at 8.45pm. Final processions take place shortly before midnight, followed by bonfire prayers and God Save The Queen.
Safety Rules, OK?…
The areas of St Nicholas Lane, Station Street, Court Road and Mountfield Road, will be used as safety zones on Bonfire Night, as they have in the past. This will allow emergency services to evacuate spectators in the most densely populated areas of the town. Said a police spokesman: “Residents of these areas are assured that there is no intention to restrict their access, or that of their visitors. Vehicles will be impeded by barriers when road closure orders come into force at 5pm”.
It is normal for safety zones to be created at major events where large numbers of people are expected. The principles are: To create a space into which people can be immediately evacuated, To prevent identified roads (which feed directly into crowded areas) from contributing to crowd crushes. To provide a means of access for emergency services, if necessary. To provide sufficient space to marshal numbers of emergency services vehicles if necessary.
Parking restrictions will apply in Lewes town centre from 5pm until the early hours of November 6. Illegally parked vehicles may be towed away and subject to a recovery fee. Motorists who park their vehicles on processional routes should remove them before this time.
Extra Trains To Help Take The Strain…
South Central will be doubling its normal services to run 40 extra trains in and out of Lewes to cope with the expected thousands of Bonfire Night visitors to the town. A spokesman said there had been talks in the past about limiting trains on November 5 in an effort to reduce Lewes’ massive influx of revellers. But the company had a duty to cater to those who did turn up at stations expecting to get a train. It had not, however, set out to publicise the event.
The last trains out of Lewes after the bonfire celebrations will be Hastings-bound at 23.53, Seaford at 23.57, Brighton at 00.04, Eastbourne at 01.17 and Victoria at 23.59. The railway car park will be closed at 4.30pm. Any cars left there after that time will have to wait there until the next morning.
Parking will be restricted in the Greyfriars car park where food outlets will be placed and at Harveys Way where public toilets are being installed. Admission to Cliffe’s firesite is by ticket only and these can only be purchased in advance, priced £5, from Cliffe Bookshop and Elphicks in Cliffe High Street, Lewes Travel in Station Street, The Lewes Arms and The Dorset Arms. Many public houses in Lewes will be staying open but getting in them could be a problem. Space is limited and the crowds can be huge.
Second To None Is Our Motto!…
The Gunpowder Plot was discovered 396 years ago and Cliffe Bonfire Society won’t let it be overlooked. From the start, the society has prided itself on its rather individualistic reputation, including a desire for independence. This is reflected by the society not taking part in the grand procession, instead it has its own.
The tickets for the Cliffe Bonfire Society Firesite will be on sale at £5 each. If you don’t have a ticket then you will not be admitted in. The money from the ticket sales goes towards the cost of crowd safety, including lighting, fencing, barriers and security. Tickets will be on sale at Lewes Tourist Information Office, Cliffe Bookshop and Elphicks in Cliffe High Street, Lewes Arms in Mount Place and Lewes Travel in Station Street.
Cliffe Bonfire Society is one of the oldest and is certainly the biggest of the five Lewes societies, with over 1,000 paid up members. The motto reflects the enormity of the society, Nulli Secundus or Second to None. It was formed in 1853 as a way of bringing organisation to previously boisterous annual November 5 demonstrations. The dress code for the society isn’t difficult; you could be a fearsome Viking as a first pioneer, or if you prefer to dress up as a Cavalier or Roundhead you could be a second pioneer. Alternatively, you could dress independently or in the traditional garb of the smugglers.
Taking part this year as well are the 1066 Bonfire Band, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, 95th Regiment of Foot, the Expedient Jazz Band and the Sussex ACF Corps of Drums. The first event in the Cliffe’s evening is the ladies barrel run at 6pm, from Cliffe Corner to Cliffe Bridge, this is followed by another barrel run at 6.15pm. At 6.30pm the procession will start from the Cliffe headquarters and proceed in darkness to Cliffe Corner for Bonfire Prayers.
At 7.10pm the second procession will take place, starting at HQ and proceeding up to Cliffe High Street to Cliffe Bridge where the society’s custom of hurling a blazing tar barrel into the Ouse will be carried out. From there they will march up to the War Memorial and place a wreath. The procession will carry on to the firesite where the effigies are blown up and the tableaux set the sky alight. The evening will finish at Cliffe Corner around 11.45pm with Bonfire Prayers, Rule Brittania, God Save The Queen and Auld Lang Syne.
Waterloo – The Society That Loves To Entertain…
There may not be a goat in the procession, as there was 19 years ago, but Waterloo Bonfire Society still likes to entertain. The society costumes consist of Red Indians, Genghis Khan, Greek Hoplites and Greek Amazons. There will also be Tudor characters and of course the smugglers in their red and white hooped jumpers. All the costumes take months to create and are impressive to look at. The society has become one of the largest with more than 350 paid up members and a spectacular firework display to match. This year the bonfire society will be led by the King’s division Waterloo Band.
The society is based at and behind The Crown Inn and its traditions include casting the blazing tar barrel into the Ouse. Waterloo have always tried to entertain the crowd and in 1982 the bonfire society’s military band, the Welsh Fusilliers, were led by Billy the Regimental goat, which was the first time an animal had participated in the November 5 celebrations.
Waterloo Bonfire Society has tried to keep the processions interesting for all members of the family. The society have a more modern approach to their effigies, with the cartoon characters Pikachu, Squirtle and an enormous Poke ball from the cartoon Pokemon, being detonated last year. Perhaps this year there will be a Bob the Builder? The first procession starts at 5.35pm with bands, banners, the fire emblem ‘WBS’ and torches.This procession is for the children of the society. Waterloo will meet up with other societies at 7.40pm for the grand procession, where the band’s banners, torches and fire banners will be shown off to the expectant crowds.
At 9.15pm the Waterloo grand procession will start from the headquarters and make their way to the firesite for the aerial display, tableaux and of course the ceremonial destruction of the effigies following an address by the Lord Bishop. A grand effigy of Guy Fawkes will be destroyed as well as an effigy of Genghis Khan. At 11.40pm the procession will make its way to the front of The Crown Inn where the members and company will join for bonfire prayers, Auld Lang Syne and finally God Save The Queen.
Campaigning Borough’s Place In Bonfire History…
The celebrations of the Fifth are unlikely to be as riotous as those of 140 years ago, but the Borough Bonfire Society always enjoy making their night go with a little bit more of a bang than anyone else. The Borough society campaigned for the right to celebrate the Gunpowder Plot in the streets of Lewes. In 1850 this became a reality. Two great bonfires were lit, one in front of the County Hall and one in front of Cliffe Church.
It wasn’t until 1853 that the Borough Bonfire Society was fully established, making it one of the oldest bonfire societies in Lewes. The procession 147 years ago involved hundreds of people wearing the familiar striped blue and white jerseys – a tradition that still stands today. Another tradition that has been with the Borough bonfire society is the giant key of the Ancient Borough of Lewes. It was first carried in procession in 1863. The key weighs almost ten kilograms and is the symbol that, on Bonfire Night, the ‘boys’ are given the freedom of the streets.
In 1960, celebrations in Lewes were cancelled due to the excessive flooding that hit the town. However the customary wreath laying ceremony did take place at the War Memorial. Last year, the flooding that again hit the town failed to dampen revellers spirits and people forgot the problems while they celebrated. The society’s first pioneers are Zulus, in full ceremonial dress that takes months to produce. The second pioneers are ladies and gentlemen from the Tudor period. The traditional bonfire smuggler costume is blue and white will also be worn.
The first procession this year starts at Westgate Street at 6.25pm, when members will slowly march in darkness to the War Memorial for the wreath laying ceremony. From there the members will march, with torches alight and with the band playing ‘Sussex By The Sea’, via the High Street to St. Anne’s Crescent. At 7.40pm the Borough Society unites with Commercial Square and Waterloo in St. Anne’s Crescent.
All four will proceed via Western Road to Rotten Row and the High Street before Borough society diverges at the bottom of School Hill. The traditional blazing tar barrel hurling will take place over the River Ouse. Members will assemble at White Lion Lane at 9.15pm and will proceed to the War Memorial before a spectacular firework display takes place in the fire field at the bottom of the Motor Road at 9.45pm. For the grand finale, members will return to the Law Courts where proceedings will terminate at around 11.30pm with prayers and the National Anthem.
Commercial Square Promises A Unique Wild West Show…
Commercial Square Bonfire Society members know how to keep themselves warm. In the 1950s, members and supporters of Commercial Square warmed themselves even if they could not dry themselves, by dancing between processions to music relayed by a loudspeaker from the upper windows of The Elephant and Castle. The same exhilarating enthusiasm is sure to be seen this year from the society. Simon Newman, Chairman of Commercial Square, writes in this year’s programme: “We will endeavor to give you another night to remember your faith, beliefs and traditions as only you know how! Please enjoy the spirit of the moment and have a safe night”.
The costumes that the bonfire society will wear are intricately made and worn with pride. The first pioneers will be wearing their long feathered Indian Head-dresses. The second pioneers all wear costumes from the American Civil War. Following them will be a multitude of Indian Braves in their hand-made costumes of Sun Dancers, Medicine Men, Devil Dancers and Apaches in their full tribal regalia. There will also be Indian Squaws in their painstakingly constructed beaded costumes. The smugglers will be wearing their well-known black and gold, hooped jerseys.
The tableau from the society is likely to raise a smile if last year’s efforts are anything to go by. The cheeky tableau featured Charles and Camilla and was entitled Looney and the Beast. The evening starts with the children’s procession, leaving the society’s head-quarters at the Elephant and Castle at 5.30pm. The procession of remembrance starts at 6.00pm. The procession will make its way to Commercial Square with only the Illuminated Banner, and the Bonfire Prayers will be recited.
The united procession takes place at 7.40pm with the South Street, Borough and Waterloo bonfire societies. At 9.30pm the society will make its way to their firesite and for a pyrotechnic display and bonfire. The bonfire society will then proceed down to Commercial Square around 11.30pm, where the Bonfire Prayers, God Save The Queen and Auld Lang Syne will conclude the evening.
It’s Going To Be Twice As Good As Last Year!…
South Street Bonfire Society promise that this year’s display will be twice as spectacular as usual, to make-up for last year’s wash-out. Due to the floods, only the procession went ahead for the society last year. Tom Wheeler, a South Street resident, founded the society in 1913 for youngsters living in the Cliffe area. The idea was that the children in the area had a bonfire society. But the children grew up and the young at heart became more involved, so now people of all ages are part of the tradition.
Today, South Street Bonfire Society members, no matter what their age, celebrate the ideal of youth and the importance of children. The procession differs slightly to what happened 88 years ago. In 1913, three processions were held and torches were made of un-plaited rope with a bonfire behind the Thatches House Pub in South Street. In 1950, the Bonfire Boys could not afford to take time off work; torches were dipped during the evening of November 4, and then sprayed with paraffin using a mere garden spray just hours before the procession on the Fifth.
Preparations for the evening take place months in advance of the big night. Effigies are painstakingly made with the knowledge that they are going to go up in smoke. A huge amount of effort is also put into creating the spectacular tableaux that are expected each year. The first of the society’s processions is for children and will start at 5.45pm. The procession will be led by the 17 blazing cross-pieces, in remembrance of the Martyrs burnt at the stake in Lewes for their religious beliefs.
A fancy dress competition, open to all current members, will start at 6.10pm, also in South Street. The first pioneers of the procession will depict the English Civil War with members dressed in full period costumes. The second pioneers will dress in the costumes of Siamese Dancers and other Oriental cultures; there will also be the well-known bonfire costume of the smugglers.
The main procession of remembrance will start at 6.50pm and will be headed by the society wreath, carried by Mr Miles Jenner, President. At 7.05pm, the society will remember those who have made the ‘supreme sacrifice’ by laying a wreath on the War Memorial. A minute’s silence will then follow. The Town and Grand processions will culminate at 9.45pm at the Railway Lane fire site when the Archbishop of South Street, Brian Smith, will give the order to burn effigies of Pope Paul V. A brilliant firework display will end the revelry before the procession retraces its steps back via the River Ouse to South Street at 11pm.
Sussex Express, Friday, November 2, 2001 www.sussexexpress.co.uk
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