New date set for Torrington bonfire with life-size Mayflower replica

Torrington Cavaliers set fire to a replica Trumpton village in 2015. Picture: Sarah Howells

Torrington Cavaliers set fire to a replica Trumpton village in 2015. Picture: Sarah Howells - Credit: Archant

A charity bonfire which will see a life-size replica of the Mayflower burned has been rescheduled for 2021.

Torrington Cavaliers’ ‘big burn’ will take place during the summer bank holiday on August 28, 2021 – one year after it was initially set to take place.

In April the fundraising group announced it was postponing the bonfire – which it has spent two years building – due to the coronavirus pandemic.

With the bonfire set to draw huge crowds, the Cavaliers erred on the side of caution in setting a new date.

Project leader Steve Blake said: “We looked at various options but with the uncertainty of when large scale events will be allowed to happen again, we decided to play it safe and delay it for a whole year.

“At least it will give us more time to finish the ship and quayside and maybe add some extra surprises.”

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“We will also need to make the structure winter proof as we hadn’t planned on it going through another of our unpredictable winters. We wouldn’t want to see the Mayflower heading off towards Bideford!”

The replica is around 75 per cent complete, and the Cavaliers hope to complete much of that work before the end of the year, before masts and finishing touches are added next year after the winter.

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The Cavaliers have downed tools on the build during the pandemic, and were saddened to discover their on-site donation box had been broken into.

Steve said: “Although the amount stolen was probably small, with everything going on at the moment it’s very sad that someone would do this.

“We’re checking our CCTV and if we find any evidence, it will be passed to the police.”

Tickets for the event next year are available from the Cavaliers website and all existing tickets are valid for the new date.

The event was set to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower .

It is also the 50th anniversary year of the Torrington fundraising group, which is famous for its giant bonfires, that in past years have included replicas of the Houses of Parliament, the Great Fire of London, HMS Victory, Torrington Castle and even Trumpton.

The Cavaliers are officially an ‘on board’ partner of the Mayflower 400 team which are coordinating the national commemoration and the links with the USA and the Netherlands.

It is hoped the burning will raise more than £100,000 for local charities including North Devon Hospice, Devon Air Ambulance, Guide Dogs for the Blind and Torrington Common Conservators.

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