Nostalgia with Robert Heaven

BEFORE the days of Health and Safety regulations and the stricter imposition of Fireworks Regulations in 2004, many readers will remember times when most Ciren sweetshops sold fireworks without restriction to anyone who wanted them.

I can remember buying bangers and jumping jacks on my way home from school from Mrs Thornes sweetshop in Dyer street.

I think Langhams a few yards along in London road also sold them and in those days, Jack Arnold’s shop up the Beeches had them as well.

Back then there seemed nothing wrong, or dangerous, about lighting a banger or two in the Beeches road car park and letting off the odd rocket from the top of the slide at the City Bank.

As schoolboys, we thought nothing (other than fear of the cane), to letting off a jumping jack in the playground.

There were several other extremely dangerous “tricks” - including pushing a banger into a potato to watch it explode and shower everyone in bits of spud.

I don’t recall any injuries back then, although I’m sure there were - after all it was a case of children-matches-explosives!

In the 1960’s and perhaps later, there were few, if any organised fireworks events in town.

Many people had them instead in their back gardens; each with a small bonfire topped with a Guy Fawkes dressed in what could be found at the back of mum and dad’s wardrobe.

Bonfire food was rustic to say the least: spuds in tinfoil pushed into the bottom of the bonfire.

Up the Beeches, neighbours often pooled their fireworks and held a joint party.

The shared fireworks were put in a bucket or a box and lit one at a time by someone’s dad.

One year a spark from the bonfire ignited the entire contents of our collection and up it all went !

Our fireworks night was over before the spuds were warm, let along baked!