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Banburyshire Family History

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go back to the last page you were on Memories of the 40s : Bonfire Night


Autumn brought bonfire night. Specifically, the bonfire organised by the Holbrooks Division of the St John's Ambulance Brigade. Mother's involvement ensured an invitation -- by oversight, usually addressed only to Ringlets.

Local headquarters was an ancient wooden hut, which faced a wide area of wasteland, providing a perfect location for construction of a large bonfire. On the night, whilst mothers supplied an endless quantity of tea and sausage rolls to bolster Association funds, uniformed cadets patrolled the crowd looking for any sign of injury by unwary visitors.

Children were herded together for safety, and were usually lead by Ringlets in a frenzy of waving sparklers around in the air. Usually the only excitement was that caused by burned fingers during recovery of potatoes from the fire.

My father had recently returned from vanquishing the enemy (albeit with some help) and had commenced work in machine-tool engineering. As a surprise, he brought home some machine swarf from his jig-boring machine, and beavered away in the garden shed to produce fireworks based on screw-top aluminium cigar cases. It is fair to say that he did achieve quite a large surprise, and one, which was talked about subsequently for many years.

A previous and highly secret trial of a small version in our garden had been impressive, but the memory of that larger scale and final version lives with me still. As a result of instincts honed by years of warfare, the large crowd evacuated in split seconds so physical injuries were minimal.

The ancient wooden hut was subsequently replaced by a larger and brick-built building, which still exists today.

Contributed by Smokey