Squibbing an ancient firework tradition

that dates back centuries

The word ‘squib’ has, over the years, been used to refer loosely to any of a variety of fireworks. It has been imprecisely applied to bangers, roman candles and mines, and even to a type of firework which used to be applied to sooty chimneys to loosen the worst of the deposits before the sweep pushed up his brushes.

The town of Bridgwater in Somerset though knows only one type of squib. Squibbing is permanently commemorated in the statue ‘Spirit of Carnival’ and its history is explained on the plaque

For centuries, on 5th November, the townsfolk of Bridgwater gathered around a bonfire, sited here on the Cornhill to celebrate the failure of Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators to blow up the Houses of Parliament. Throughout the course of the evening, the revellers would light their home-made Squibs and make merry around the flames of the bonfire and so the famous Bridgwater Carnival was born.

The last bonfire was lit in 1924 but the Bridgwater Squibs still play an important role in the carnival celebrations when a large simultaneous squibbing display brings the festivities to a sparkling, spectacular close.

Each squib is attached to the end of a stout pole. When fully alight the assembly, known as a ‘cosh’ is held aloft. The double line of squibs – usually well over 150 – form a spectacular parade of pyrotechnics.

Squibbing-spirit-of-the-carnival Squibbing is the sensational finale to the Bridgwater Carnival, which is just one of the many illuminated carnivals of the South West.

Hundreds of spectacularly lit floats parade through the towns of Somerset and neighbouring counties.

Read more about the Guy Fawkes carnivals.

SQUIBBING BRIDGEWATER CARNIVAL

The tradition of squibbing in Bridgwater, Somerset goes all the way back to the Gunpowder Plot.

The squibbers – mostly members of the local carnival clubs – parade up the High Street and hold their flaming squibbs aloft. This video, taken in 2013, is in High Definition, bringing previous coverage up to date.