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Ah, the 1950s.. Rock n Roll gained a foothold with James Brown, Buddy Holly, Fats Domino, Richie Valens and
Jerry Lee Lewis, among others. But what was it like for a Small English town?
With the passing of a law prohibing dangerous homemade fireworks, the Battle Rousers were to be made no more
and some believed this was lead to the death of Battle, however, they were far from right.
As with most years at the time, the Bonfire Boys had there own Battle Bonfire Boy`s church Service.
Taking place on the 31st of October, the report (from the 5th november Sussex Express and Country Herald) is as follows:
Battle Parish Church was transformed into its medieval past on Sunday, when the interior was lit by flaming
torches on the pillars and by candles. The occasion was the annual Battle Bonfire Boys service which is held before the Guy
Fawkes celebrations and is believed to be unique. Members of Rye Bonfire Boys were present.
Conducted by the Rev. F. Vere Hodge, the service was well attended, with an orchestra led by Mr. F. W. Evans, Mr. L.R. E.
Croll was at the organ.
The first lession was read by Mrs. e Hardbord, president of Battle Bonfire Boys, and the second lession
by Mr. C. Wood, president of Rye Bonfire Boys.
Ronald Cunningham, AKA the Great Omani (Born 10th July 1915), a minor but growing in fame Escapologist,
request the help of Battle Bonfore for his latest stunt. He would be chained to a stake at the top of Battle`s
30 foot Bonfire. As the fire was lit, he would then escape before the flames got a proper hold and made escape
impossible. Quite rightly, it was decided that it would be too danegerous to allow this at Battle, for a man more
use to jumping off Hastings Pier, while tied up with Rope, and feeling himself to amuse holiday makers and it was
not allowed. However, he was allowed to tie himself to Ore and Clive Vale Bonfire Boys fire, which was 20 foot high.
It was lit and he able to free himself and descend via a ladder just as the flames got within a few feet of him.
Much larger crowds then normal came to Battle in 1958, local Hastings and Bexhill, Battle and even from
a cross the country. Bands taking part in the event were Hooe Silver Prize Band, Battle Drum and Fife band and
Wartingham (Surrey) B-P Guild Corps of Drums. Due to the firework laws, almost none were set off in the street
as people listen the request of the Police and Bonfire Boys, and alot were let off on the Green. Collectors
were dressed up in all manner of fancy dress, including Frank Anderson, the Famous Sussex Yokel, who was dressed up
as a rosy cheeked, red-nosed policeman, while pedalling up and down the street on a fairy cycle, ratting his collection
box. Mrs. Evelyn Harbord (Nee Webster) lit the fire, while dressed in her customary black cap and cloak, as well
as presenting the prizes for fancy dress. One small boy was recorded as having gotten a bit confused when he
saw Battle`s famous Guy Fawkes, and called out "ooh, Look, mummy. There`s Santa Fawkes.". The truth as to if this
was said or not, is unknown.
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