Bonfire back on Abbey Green for second year

A map showing revellers where to avoid the crowds
A map showing revellers where to avoid the crowds

BATTLE bonfire will take place on the Abbey Green for the second year running.

But revellers from outside the area are being discouraged from attending as, unlike previous years, there will be no large dedicated public viewing area.

The bonfire usually takes place on the 1066 battlefield, but the site is out of action for the second year in a row after heavy rainfall and the annual Battle of Hastings re-enactment took its toll on the field.

Last year a scaled-back bonfire took place on the Green, attracting a crowd of 6,000 - a fraction of the usual 15,000.

Battel Bonfire Boyes had been in negotiations with a landowner with a view to holding the 2013 event in his field in Powdermill Lane.

But after months of talks the plans fell through at the eleventh hour.

Following a meeting with the emergency services on Tuesday this week, the Boyes were given the green light to hold the event on the Abbey Green - with strict safety measures in place.

Matt Southam, BBB’s health and safety officer, said: “Since the last minute changes that were made to our bonfire celebrations in 2012 we have been actively searching for a suitable large site to hold our bonfire.

“Unfortunately we have not been successful and therefore will once again be holding an event which is on a much smaller scale.

“The celebrations will be similar in nature to 2012 with a procession along our normal route and finishing on the Abbey Green with our token bonfire.

“There will once again be no large dedicated public viewing area and we would discourage spectators from trying to view the procession from the area surrounding the Abbey Green.

“The Green itself will be surrounded by a barrier and there is no public access.”

Battel Bonfire Boyes have produced a safety leaflet, which will be distributed prior to the event, advising people where to stand to avoid the crowds.

Matt added: “We can only get a limited amount of people in the town centre.

“We advise people it is going to be busy.

“If they are not comfortable in large crowds then Battle is certainly not the place for them.

“Battle bonfire is a traditional event and is therefore is not suitable for young children or those of a nervous disposition.”

Extra security will be drafted in to help control the crowds on November 2.

Usually 20 bonfire societies from all over Sussex take part in the Battle bonfire procession.

This year the number will be halved as part of BBB’s bid to keep crowd numbers below 10,000.