The Sussex Bonfire Societies are responsible for a series of Bonfire Festivals around Central and Eastern Sussex along with Surrey and Kent between September and November.
The societies hold celebrations to mark both Bonfire Night for Guy Fawkes’ capture and in recognition of the deaths of the 17 protestant martyrs who were burned in front of the Star Inn between 1555 and 1557, some 48+ years before Guy and his co-conspirators tried to take the lives of King James and the whole of the British parliament and supporting advisors including Judges and any number of Lords. The original structure still stands to this day and is now used as the Town Hall. Sadly, this is not the first or last death in the name of religion or ‘faith’ but let’s hope that there are lessons learned.
The societies are dotted about the region but by far the biggest celebrations take part in Lewes where they have 7 separate Bonfire Societies including Cliffe, Commercial Square, Lewes Borough, South Street, Waterloo, Neville Juvenile and Southover. Most of the members of the Lewes Societies hold their events on the 5 th November as is tradition other than the Neville Juvenile Society who hold theirs the Saturday a couple of weeks before hand.
The Lewes Bonfire Societies origins can be traced back an act declared by the King, thankful for the foiling of the plot to take his life declared that from henceforth, an Act entitled ‘An Acte for a publique Thancksgiving to Almighty God everie yeere of the Fifte day of November’ was passed in January 1606 that proclaimed the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot should ‘be held in a perpetual emembrance’ which the societies continue to celebrate to this day.
Now don’t be under any illusion that the Bonfire Society events are anything less than spectacular but they are certainly not a family night out. They burn an effigy of the Pope rather controversially and of course, a Guy Fawkes who was an ardent follower of the Catholic faith as seen in his attempts to kill of the representative of the Church of England, King James. The celebrations include huge parades through the streets carrying all manner of things including torches, burning crosses, letters spelling out the initials of their particular organisation, skull and crossbones and the Cliffe society carries massive flags saying ‘no popery’ which incidentally ‘the establishment’ tried to prevent in the 1920’s and again in 1933 the Mayor of the town wrote a very nice letter asking the society to stop such practice. Needless to say the society wrote back declining the request and again in 1950’s the other societies attempted to stop them in continuing this practice and to this day, they march alone on the ‘fifth’.
For anyone with a taste for fireworks and excitement, based around the Gunpowder Plot and the history of the Sussex area, these societies offer a fascinating insight and a never before seen way of celebrating life and long may it continue.
The world of fireworks can be more than a little confusing when it comes to the types of products that there are available and no more so than when it comes to the terminology used to describe them.
Firework Cakes come in many different sizes and shapes and our range contains different numbers of shots from as few as 16 and go up to 1500 plus. The majority of them comprise of numerous card tubes glued together and fused timed differentiated for each shot. They can have an infinite choice of effect to each shot. Once the firework cake is lit, the fuse burns from tube to tube, igniting each shot in turn, which then flies up into the air where it explodes with an effect. Thus, a 16 shot cake will have 16 tubes, a 49 shot cake will have 49 tubes and so on.
There are some who refer to Cakes as barrages as single effect all the way through whereas a cake may contain multiple effects. For example, the Whispering Palms is a 40 shot barrage offering massive high calibre palms all the way through but the colours and effects may differ very slightly with the palm glittering or strobing but it remains a single effect. Others, like the Wild Horses, maintain the same effect all the way through with no change to the overall effect.
You may call an average cake a SIB or party in a box. These types of fireworks offer a variety of effects and are usually designed by the manufacturers to produce a whole display from a single fuse. Cakes are more like a bunch of single shot roman candles if you want a more basic understanding. You will often find shops describe a cake as a combination roman candle.
There are some which we would describe as a display in a box where a massive number of tubes is conjoined but each may have a completely different sized tube, containing different compositions within. For example, The King Hell from Epic Fireworks is a fanned 100 shot multi effect cake with differing sized tubes which varies the burst, sound, colours, effects and off the cuff, this is one of the busiest cakes in our range with fanned effects, straight comet effects, peonies, spinners and crackling stars.
The upshot is, whether you want a cake a roman candle a barrage or a battery, we have something to suit every taste from super loud to really quiet they are all spectacular and are guaranteed to bring a smile to even the frostiest of faces.
When it comes to celebrations, it seems the whole world wants to celebrate with fireworks and why not; all the best, most memorable things in life need to be acknowledged and who forgets a big fireworks display.
The new Mersey Gateway, costing a cool £600 million is such an example, saving the good folk of Runcorn and Merseyside a long detour around nowadays with a small cost. Presently, most locals use the Runcorn-Widnes bridge which is in desperate need of repair. It is hoped that the opening of the new bridge will allow the closure of the older bridge, which will be revamped and opened again, but with the introduction of toll’s coming into place for both bridges, locals are up in arms already. You would think that getting an extra half hour in bed each morning would be worth the £2 toll charge, but not all agree. The residents of Halston get to pay a one-off £10 annual fee to cover the tolls, but still, think the tolls put in place will damage the local economy as it is felt that a lot of visitors will avoid the area because of travel costs.
The bridge will reduce congestion on the previously incredibly busy stretch which is again a plus for all concerned saving time and time for businesses equals money. Along with the new bridge, a new automatic number plate recognition technology will replace toll booths, easing bottlenecks with good links to the local John Lennon airport exports across the world will be easier to expedite.
Whatever your feelings are about the politics with regards to the introduction of the new toll’s, you can’t argue that the firework display was pretty impressive, with what seems to be the national colour of the area, red, starting off the show with high bursting peonies leading into trailing comets, before gold takes over to finish the display in regal style.
Let’s finally show some empathy for the poor guy left to design the show, which was seen across the World by a bevvy of international firework fans, when the realisation hit him that it was going to be held on Friday the 13th!