Event of the Year
Bonfire night on the Greencroft was the highlight of the year for many local children. Rival gangs of children from Greencroft Street and Culver Street competed with each other to build the biggest bonfire.
Iris Evans remembers the fun she had:
“It was really funny because Culver Street where this demolition had been done, they used to have their bonfire on there. Well they’d come up and try and steal things from our bonfire and we did the same thing, it was hilarious but they still had their bonfire and if theirs burnt out quicker than ours they come up onto the Greencroft”.
In addition there may have been up to 30 individual bonfires alight at once, with families all setting off their own fireworks. Reg McGee describes the scene:
“There were some big bonfires, there were some small bonfires but it was literally a sea of fire”.
Michael Winterman, a child in Greencroft Street in the 1950s, recalls one year when disaster struck:
“And then one year we had this enormous bonfire and… it was about a week before bonfire night and someone came racing in our back garden along the alley way and saying ‘The bonfire’s on fire’ and all the children…we went rushing up the street and there was masses of flames in the Greencroft and then we heard, these bells and the fire engine rushing up Salt Lane and round the corner and up Bourne Hill onto the grass and there were these firemen there with this big hose pipe and they were just sort of watering it all down around the bonfire and we thought ‘it’s our bonfire!’ and of course when you think about it there were tyres on this bonfire, there were sort of tar barrels and things like that and this black acrid smoke, I can remember it now and the smell was unbelievable”.
Health and Safety?
The memory of those bonfire nights still linger today as Ken Edwards, who also grew up in Greencroft Street, describes:
“And it got very, very big and after a while we went to the council…’cause we kept getting told off for burning the grass, ‘Could you build a concrete square?’ and that concrete square that’s in the middle of the Greencroft now is where we used to build a bonfire and that’s what it was put there for, for the bonfire. And that shows you the sort of size that it was. ‘Cause we used to cover that and right the way up, once or twice we got told to make it a bit smaller because they felt it was a bit too big but we used to build that and even guard it. I’ve spent many a night up there in the bonfire on guard”.
With thanks to Mark Blackburn for editing the many memories of Bonfire Night. Do you have some to share?
What’s the photograph of?
The Milford Street Bridge Project held a Fun Day for the pupils of St Marks School who had been involved in the Project. As so many older residents had talked about Bonfire Night on the Greencroft, the children decided that they would like to recreate the spirit of those times by making their own “fireworks” and parading them across the Greencroft. The photo shows the results of their efforts.
Unfortunately we do not have any photos of the real Bonfire Nights held on the Greencroft in days gone by. Do you have any that you’d like to share?