Penny for your thoughts on retro Guy Fawkes Nights

A fireworks display in Hartlepool.A fireworks display in Hartlepool.
A fireworks display in Hartlepool.
Remember, remember, the fifth of November from years gone by.

We all know what a great venue Seaton Carew is for a spectacular fireworks display these days. Its an impressively well organised occasion which attracts thousands of people and there’s more details below.

But who remembers the days when the Make A Guy competition was all the rage? We’re going back to 1980 for a reminder of a Bonfire Night bonanza which was held partly on the beach.

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Seaton Carew Traders’ Association was leading the way with the plans and they involved three different ways in which the public could get involved.

Firstly, all local junior schools in the area were being invited to Make A Guy.

Traders’ Association secretary Alan Walker said at the time that the judging would be held in the Longscar Hall just before November 5.

Then, there were plans for the winning Guy in the competition to be carried to the fire ‘in State’ by a party of sea cadets with the cadets band leading the way.

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Secondly, people were being invited to bring along their combustible rubbish to the bonfire site – near the Longscar Hall – ‘the day before the big night’.

And thirdly, there was a call to the people of Hartlepool to get involved in the fireworks section of the display.

People could bring along their own fireworks for the traders to let off as part of a public display.

A Hartlepool Mail report at the time said: “The traders’ public bonfire and firework display is their first but they plan to make it a public event.

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“They have already bought £600 of fireworks including some spectacular set pieces and colourful mortar bombs.”

The timetable of events started with the ceremonial procession of the Guy to the bonfire which would then be lit.

There were other attractions as well such as children’s rides and stalls selling jacket potatoes and roast chesnuts.

The Traders were already making plans in 1980 for the 1981 fireworks night.

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They were looking at ideas such as an ox roast and a fancy dress party. Mr Walker said at the time that the whole idea of an organised display was to ‘cut down the risk of back garden accidents’.

Statistics at the time showed that 25,000 shops sold fireworks. In all, around 100 million fireworks would be sold on Britain by November 5 that year and accident statistics seemed to show a fall in the number of injuries.

What are your memories of Bonfire Nights from years gone by?

Do you remember making your own Guy and building a bonfire?

Share your memories by emailing [email protected]. We would love to hear from you.

l This year’s annual Seaton Carew event is on November 5 and will celebrate the 100th anniversary of women being granted the right to vote. Find out more at