Lewes Bonfire: Waterloo Bonfire Society celebrates 50th year

Waterloo Bonfire Society
Waterloo Bonfire Society

2014 is set to be the Waterloo Bonfire Society’s year - its 50th since the Society was reformed in 1964.

President Cllr Mike Chartier pointed out although a Waterloo Society existing in Queen Victoria’s reign it had disappeared before World War I. The Sussex Express reported in 1877 the Society joined the ‘Town Grand Procession at Rotten Row’ and reports of 1879 and 1880 suggest the Society was going from strength to strength with an organising committee and its own ‘celebrated brass band’.

But the Society’s history goes back even earlier - in 1857 the first recorded reference to Bonfire celebrations was in Waterloo Place and in 1858 the Waterloo Bonfire Boys were reported being ‘out in great force’ with large banners, processions, blazing tubs and roches, the burning of effigies and a very large fire.

In 2011 Waterloo bought its own land which now sites all the Society’s preparations.

This year’s charities are The Oyster Project in Lewes and St John Ambulance.

To mark the 50th anniversary, the Society committee voted to award the honour of carrying the Remembrance Wreath to life members John Armitage and Marilyn Penfold. recognising valued years of service.

Renowned for music, this year Waterloo welcomes The High Society Military Marching Band, drawn from experienced servicemen from London and the South East who are joined by Waterloo’s own Scottish Drum and Pipe Band and TS Swiftsure (NTC.)

Costumes deliver unrivalled splendour including fearsome Mongolians, elegant Puritans, Greeks and Romans, spectacular Tudors, whose ruffs, crinolines and slashed breeches sport more decoration each year, and caparisoned Victorians, accompanied, as always, by the Bonfire boys and smugglers in their red and white Guernseys.