This film is part of Free

Bonfire Night

A time when Guy Fawkes Night was a family affair with a bonfire in the back garden, complete with baked potatoes, and small firework displays to delight the children.

Amateur film 1957 4 mins Silent

From the collection of:

Logo for Yorkshire Film Archive


Bonfire Night was a big event in the year for kids in the 1950s and ‘60s, going out with their stuffed guys beseeching all and sundry for money, especially outside pubs. On the night itself, as seen here in Leeds, there was a great atmosphere as the darkening nights were lit up by Roman Candles bought with the hard earned money. And family and friends gather around to keep warm by the makeshift bonfire made from old pieces of timber, possibly gathered from nearby derelict houses.

This is a film made by the ever enterprising Alan Sidi of Leeds. Alan was a very prolific, inventive and skilled filmmaker who made lots of wonderful films, including many with the Leeds Movie Makers. Although bonfire night originates with the 1605 Catholic plot to blow up Parliament, by Victorian times it became more associated with working class youth and rowdyism. This association remained until the time of this film, when the original historical connection had largely been lost. Its popularity after the war was matched by the large number of fireworks brands – Astra, Benwell, Brock’s, Lion, Pain’s, Rainbow, Wells, Wessex and Wilder’s, to name a few – of which possibly only Standard remains today.