Lewes Bonfire illuminates the town

THE Lewes Bonfire Night celebrations are one of the greatest free spectacles in the world.

The annual feast of fire, colour, remembrance and tradition provides a never-to-be-forgotten experience.

Official numbers have never been established but estimates suggest that up to 60,000 take to the historic streets of the county town to mark the 406th anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot.

Last year around 20,000 people arrived by train and both British Transport Police and Sussex Police were on hand to assist the public and minimise the risk of crime and disorder. Additional fire crews and paramedics were on stand-by to attend any incidents.

Superintendent Tony Blaker, from Sussex Police Operations Department, said: “Lewes Bonfire continues to be an incredibly popular event, the policing of which involves months of preparation, planning, consultation and enthusiasm for what is the biggest annual policing commitment in East Sussex.

“As with previous years we have been working closely with the bonfire societies, district council and other partner agencies in order to minimise disruption to the local community and provide a safe environment for the participants and spectators on the night.

“On the day of the event and in the lead up to it, plain clothed officers will be on patrol in order to combat any misuse of fireworks and reduce incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour.

“Along with our partner agencies we have tried to build on previous plans and develop new ideas based on past experiences and feedback from previous bonfires. The changes in road closures in the last two years and a reduction in train services had an overall positive outcome - easing the flow of the arrival of attendees, rather then everyone arriving at the same time, and enabled emergency services to operate effectively.”

For the uninitiated, there are six Lewes Bonfire Societies celebrating on The Fifth who, with guests from visiting societies, take part in more than 30 processions through the streets of Lewes.

This includes one procession, The United Grand, which involves most of the societies and guests marching together. The event culminates in six bonfire and firework displays at various locations around the town.

As with previous years, around 400 police officers were deployed to support the Lewes community. Two police bonfire liaison officers were assigned to each of the six participating bonfire societies to act as a communication link between police and organisers and to ensure Sussex Police can respond effectively to any incident or emergency.