Lanarkshire Hogmanay bonfire and torchlight parade create fear

Published on : Friday, December 3, 2021

Lanarkshire Hogmanay bonfire

The Lanarkshire Hogmanay bonfire and torchlight parade at threat amid health & safety row as organisers fear ban. The organisers of a historic Lanarkshire Hogmanay bonfire and torchlight procession fear it will be banned in a health and safety row.

Experts are concerned the ‘burning out the old year’ celebrations in Biggar, which dates from the 19th century, are too close to a gas main.

The celebrations are inspired by the pagan blazes which were believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck.

It is believed to date from before 1836, when records show a town crier walked through the town on December 31, shouting: ‘This is the message I have been desired to proclaim, that though London is big, Biggar is bigger’.

Every New Year’s Eve a procession of torches marches up the High Street to a bonfire at the top of the town where a torch is passed to the town’s oldest resident who lights the bonfire to ‘burn out the old and burn in the new’.

It was cancelled in 2020 as result off the pandemic, but this hiatus was one of only three occasions this has happened in well over a century.

But a campaign has been launched to save the bonfire amid a dispute over the siting of a gas main, despite the bonfire taking place on the same site since the 1990s.

South Lanarkshire Council has confirmed that concerns have been raised about the location of the bonfire by a Health and Safety Executive-supported multi-agency Events Safety Advisory Group (ESAG), which has emergency services’ representation.

Lesley Craise, chairman of the Biggar Bonfire Committee, said that after the incredibly difficult 18 months faced by this town like so many in Scotland and beyond, it is more important than ever that the historical traditions which make this community what it is are supported and facilitated.

What this community needs this festive season is the chance to be together, to heal and to remind ourselves why the sacrifice of the last year has been worth it.”

Lesley Craise, chairman of the Biggar Bonfire Committee, said: “After the incredibly difficult 18 months faced by this town like so many in Scotland and beyond, it is more important than ever that the historical traditions which make this community what it is are supported and facilitated.

“What this community needs this festive season is the chance to be together, to heal and to remind ourselves why the sacrifice of the last year has been worth it.”

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