Sadness as no fire site for Southover Bonfire Society this year

Lewes Bonfire 2013
Lewes Bonfire 2013

There was sadness amongst members of Southover Bonfire Society this week as it was announced the group would not have a fire site.

The owners of the original fire site, the RSPB, suggested the society should look for a new site, as it was a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

But the group has been unable to find a suitable location to hold its fireworks display in time for Bonfire.

The society pledged to find a new fire site in time for next year’s Bonfire Celebrations when it will mark ten years since the society reformed.

SBS chairman Stephen English said: “It is very upsetting. This is going to be a one-off aberration.

“Next year will be our tenth anniversary. We will use every endeavour to ensure we have a fire site for next year.

“The decision was made by senior officers of the Bonfire Society over the last weekend.”

The old fire site was the other side of the A27 near Cockshut Road.

Bonfire Society members found a new site, but when they discovered how much it was going to cost to make it safe, they realised it was going to run into thousands of pounds and would bankrupt the society within two years.

As a result SBS made the decision there would be no fireworks display and bonfire this year, but they are hoping to celebrate Bonfire as best they can.

Stephen added: “It is very saddening because Southover is a growing and very strong society, with a huge groundswell of support. Fifty per cent of Bonfire is the fireworks.

“We did our best but our endeavours failed. But we are pulling it for the right reasons.”

The society was formed in 1888, stopped marching in 1958 but was reformed during 2005 when it gained 120 members bringing the total up to 350, making it the fastest growing Lewes bonfire society.

It will still take part in the procession, bearing thousands of flaming torches and dressed as priory monks, buccaneers and smugglers with their red and black jerseys.

Stephen continued: “Certainly the committee are devastated for the membership.

“We have had a lot of very understanding emails from members.

“Southover Bonfire Society follows Bonfire traditions as closely as we can and we are true to each other.

“We will continue to be grateful to the support of other bonfire societies and give support where necessary.

“That’s what Southover Bonfire are all about.”