BONFIRE NIGHTS

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5th September 2016

Memories of Paul Molloy

First job on October half term week was to go plundering, with my twin brothers, and Tim and Greg Hill, who lived up the yard. Going on the other side of monument road in what we called the bombed houses, (perhaps not) this was in the early nineteen sixties.

 

Transport all the wood on a moke back to the brewhouse up the yard which was back of Addies shop, an old three-piece suite would fill up which was really the old wash house in the yard.

 

On bonfire night soon as it got anywhere near dark an adult would light a pile of timber in the middle of the yard, which would in a short time bring out all the neighbours and people up and down the middle of Clark Street.

 

Then a night of fireworks, still remember the boom of a penny banger under a dustbin lid whilst standing on it.

 

The smell of spuds on the edge of the fire going a bit black outside but a bit raw in the centre.

 

Towards the end of the night you could hear the cracking of the flagstones and throwing up bits of concrete in the air due to the heat.

 

It was one of the best nights of the year.

 

 

We lived in Cope Street, near to the junction with Stour Street from 1945 to 1961.  This meant that our yard was a “double nack” (it had entries from both Cope Street and Stour Street).  The yard had three “Brew houses”, six lavatories and about eight to ten dustbins, all to serve fourteen households.  The yard was our community centre.  It served as our football pitch, cricket pitch, rounders pitch, hide and seek area, and provided space for all the other game we played.  It was also the place where we had our bonfire.  We used to start collecting “plunder” about two weeks before bonfire night.  It may have been more or less but two weeks seems about reasonable.  I say that because we completely took over one of the brew houses to store the plunder. By bonfire night it would be full to the roof!

Prior to bonfire night we would try and make a “Guy” out of whatever we could. There weren’t too many “spare” clothes to dress a guy in. I remember one time we even used one of our mates who was rather short.  We put a bag on his head, sat him in a pushchair and stood outside one of the factories. I can’t remember whether we got any more money that year or not?

On the night of the bonfire, after great anticipation, all of the neighbours would be out taking part. The bonfire would be built around the centre “washing line” post, which was made of reinforced concrete.  After the fire had been going for a while, you would hear the concrete explode through the intense heat.  Every year the council would have to come out and replace that post. Some of the adults would be letting off fireworks, some would be watching the younger “babbies” and some (mostly men) would be just having a drink.  We kids used to try and roast potatoes on the fire.  They usually ended up burned on the outside and raw inside! We lads would get up to the usual tricks of letting off bangers behind the girls to make them squeal. Or putting them under a dustbin lid to see how high you could make it go.  We even had music.  Mr Jenks would get out his banjo and play for most of the night.

All in all we had a great night. If it was a weekend, we would stay out late till the fire was safe.  One of our old neighbours by the name of Betty Attwood has become an artist.  I am enclosing a painting that she did showing her memories of “the yard” on bonfire night.  The only figure she has purposely painted so that he can be recognised, is Mr Jenks, playing his banjo.  Betty lived with her family in the house on the far left in the painting.

 

Albert Moulsdale 

 

 

I've just seen the reminder about Bonfire Night - my brother and his mates sometimes would allow me to go with them to get "the plunder" for the bonfire - we'd spend most of the autumn half-term collecting it.  Then we'd make our Guy Fawkes and pester all the local workers to give a "Penny for the Guy", the proceeds were used to buy our fireworks (or spend on sweets!).

 

Great site, Mac, many, many memories are evoked.

 

Regards

Jo Bowkett (Josie Curley)

 

 

Now bonfire night is approaching, I look back to when I was growing up in Ladywood, and how much an occasion it was for everybody, it was more a social gathering.  The adults used to do baked potatoes, & chestnuts on the fire.

Bangers were 1/2p to 1p each, rockets 2p and sparklers a 1p a packet, mind in those days money was tight.  Us kids used to take it in turns to guard our bonfires, in case the others tried to pinch what we had collected, or set fire to them.  

 

No such thing as organised bonfires in those days, so it was up to us what we made of it.  As anyone else got any memories of their bonfire nights, or the build up to it, I'm sure the people who look at the site would like to read about them.     

 


Graham Sullivan

 

My memories were going down to my cousin's, Sheila Elliman in Shakespeare Road (the bottom end), where the bonfire stood in the yard next to a big shelter.

 

All the neighbours and kids used to gather round, potatoes were put on the fire, I never did find out if people actually eat them or indeed find them!

 

The sights of rockets shooting in the air and wondering where the stick had fallen; catherine wheels that would never go round no matter how the pin was stuck through into the post; the thought of how dangerous they were never crossed our minds in those days.

 

I used to save in a Firework's Club, which was run by a lady who owned a shop in Ladywood Road, called Millie's

 

Mac Joseph

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