There have been bonfire celebrations in Brockham for over 100 years, below are some memories and quotes from local people.
Len Jordan: The Budd brothers, along with Mr. Blanch, Mr. Chudleyand a few others, were instrumental in re-starting the bonfire on the Green! Ted used to tell me how they had a bonfire in the Leighs in 1931, with fireworks, some food, and of course a quantity of liquid refreshment. They all enjoyed it so much, that they decided there and then, to have a big bonfire on the Green the next year! These early bonfires were massive! Today of course there are so many restrictions, on the size of the fire and almost everything else. Many used to dress up in those days.
The procession would start from the Green, up the Straight, and along to the Barley Mow. After about an hour's stop the Procession would re-assemble, go back along the main road (out of the question today) back down to The Green round Wheelers Lane and on to the Old Spotted Cow. There, another very long stoppage, well over an hour, before they re-formed, and came back downMiddle Street. There a very patient crowd were waiting for the fire to be lit. This was often done in those days by a well-known personality such as the Duke of Newcastle.
Afterwards, the firework display was held on The Green although obviously not as lavish as today. But still very good! There were always plenty of "ooh's" and "ah's" from the spectators. We boys always had pockets-full of "bangers" which we had purchased from Stent's "Other" shop in the weeks running up to the Bonfire. They were kept in a big padlocked metal trunk at the back of the shop. On the morning of the bonfire the first sign of activity would be the fire being lit up near the church wall, for the purpose of roasting the "two-tailed" pig, for auction later in the day byGeorge Moorethe Dorking Auctioneer.
The pig was presented by Mr J F Humphrey the local butcher in Middle Street. The actual roasting was done by a great character "Sticker" George Collins. He wore a tall white chef's hat and white coat, and was continually hobbling up and down to the Royal Oak to replenish his empty pint pot. The bonfire was a great occasion for us kids.
Mary Roberts: My father the butcher started a tradition of the pig with two tails. He would say they were especially bred for the bonfire - this carries on with a second tail added to the carcass! At one time the pig auction was undertaken by George Moore the auctioneer from White and Co, who normally worked at Dorking market.
Ken Luff: One time chairman of the bonfire committee. Before the war I was not allowed to go to the bonfire because it was too rough. There was a great deal of heavy drinking and throwing of fireworks. Post war at times it could be quite violent with the procession being bombarded by fireworks. The Meadows garage was used as a committee room for the fireworks and members subscribed for their food and drink. We spent £30 on fireworks.
Jack Blanch who had recently moved to the village gave the bonfire a boost as he knew the people running Brocks fireworks. They let him have fireworks at a reduced price and this began the involvement of the Blanch family and then the Smiths in the fireworks for the bonfire. At one stage jack, his son Bill and Sue with Mike were the fireworks team who were also asked to run displays around Brockham, including Merton and Crawley. The next generation Martin Smith is now running the fireworks aspect of the event.