Les Coppard
Many, many, many years in BBS

It is an honour and a privilege to be the president of Barcombe Bonfire Society.
I have been a member since 1948. In that year I won a prize dressed up as Bertram Mills Circus.
In those days, the fancy dress competition was judged a week before the bonfire night and if you didn’t go in the procession on the night you didn’t receive you prize.

In those days we use to have tablos and not aerial displays as we do today. I remember the 1948 tablo, which was a horseshoe, it got rather damp and had to be re-lit by torches. A few years later the tablo was an engine and carriages in the theme of the Bluebell Railway.

In 1953, Mr Churches wrote an account of how BBS came to be:

“At a Borough Bonfire dinner during the period of the late 1920,s, I was proposing a toast , when I said that I hoped to see enough support from Barcombe to warrant running a show. On Sunday 2nd November at the Lewes Bonfire Council meeting it was suggested that if I wanted to start Bonfire in Barcombe, now would be the time as as they would donate 400 to 500 torches to help us to start up. On the following Monday the British Legion (now the Royal British Legion) held an AGM, the business was brought up suggesting a bonfire night, a sub committee was formed with the understanding that they would only be responsible for a loss not exciting £5. Mr Burt Munt from Borough Bonfire Society had a meeting with the British Legion to get the event underway.
As transport was an issue back in those days we took the bull by the horns and organised a special late train back to Lewes so people could get back after the show. The date by the way was the 12th November 1930 and a profit of £10 was made which was given to local charities.
The British legion ran bonfire until the outbreak of WW2 in 1939, the last bonfire before the war a street collection was made and we raised £200 which was given to Lewes Victoria Hospital, Barcombe Nursing Association and St. John’s Ambulance.

After the war the society started again with the Royal British legion and continued until the early 50s, extra shows where put on for the silver jubilee of King George V (1935), the coronation King George VI and the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II (1953)”

In 1970 the bonfire restarted and was organised by the Fire Brigade and the Tennis Club, this continued until it could not be funded by them both.

In 1972 Barcombe Bonfire Society was formed and continues to run the event each year

I will do my up most to see BBS continues, I hope that the young generation will keep it going once we are gone.



Keep Burning,

Les Coppard