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Ottery St. Mary's Firing of the Cannon

Crack, Snapple, Pop! The 'Firing of the Cannon' celebration starts with a bang in Ottery St. Mary

News 1976 4 mins

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Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


Westward reporter David Rodgers visits Ottery St. Mary where locals have been taking part in the 'Firing of the Cannon' celebration for Guy Fawkes Night. An ancient custom revived in 1956. The Firing of the Cannon is to wake locals for the day and night festivities and starts before dawn. Nelson Owen explains the origin and the handheld cannon devices which when filled with a gunpowder replica set off a loud bang!

The Firing of the Cannon continues throughout the day, the hand held 'Rock Cannon' is fired and flamming barrels of tar are carried through the streets getting heavier and bigger as the night progresses. The honour of carrying a barrel is thankfully reserved for residents born and bred in Ottery St. Mary. The celebrations come to a head in a giant bonfire and fireworks display beside the River Otter. These celebrations are not only a reminder of the plot to kill King James I on 5th November, Guy Fawkes being the 'fall guy' whom was caught with the fuse. The festivities serve as a reminder to locals of past religious and pagan histories in the town.