November 5, 1907: trouble

Guy Fawkes Night in Trinity Square, and a home-made pipe bomb in St Martin's. From The Star, June 1907.

It was hoped this year, as no fireworks were sold in Guernsey, or at least very few, that the usual hooliganism in Trinity Square would not be repeated and that its environs would be tranquil.

This, however, was not to be the case, and from an early hour on Tuesday evening last, gangs of boys of the lower class began to assemble in the square and throw dirty wet rags at each other and passers-by. Several attempts were made, too, to burn bundles of straw and rags, but this was promptly stopped by the police, although the men present were sadly handicapped by the mob they tried to regulate.

Flour, too, in bags was a favourite missile and several people were covered from head to foot with the contents of these bags. Even the police were not safe, for they also, we are informed, were the recipients of wet rags and flour, besides being hustled by the crowd.

The burning of rags and straw in the public street is a dangerous proceeding, but to the mob in Trinity Square it was apparently a matter of indifference whether anything was set on fire or not, for one lot we saw tearing up Rue du Pré were dragging something aflame that sent up a shower of sparks high in the air as they ran.

In Park Street another gang of boys commenced to burn a Guy near the bottom of Mount Durand Hill. A resident seeing this fetched another bucket of water and repeated the operation, but in the meantime one of the crowd had also fetched a bucketful of water from somewhere, and as the resident mentioned above turned into his house he received the contents of the bucket, which soaked him from head to foot. He had laid no charge with the police as it was impossible to find out who had assaulted him.

In it 'By the Way Notes,' the Globe on Tuesday said: 'Though today is the fifth, there will be no crackers of crackers in Guernsey, the squib will not squib, and in fact the restriction of the sale of explosives is such that no fireworks of any kind can be let off. The bold, mad, small boys of Guernsey are mad about the thing, but apprehensive sailormen will note with satisfaction that it is impossible to be marooned on the island.'

From the same source:

The 5th was celebrated at St Martin's by gangs of boys parading with guys and soliciting contributions of pence from householders 'to choke him,' using their own figurative language. Few people objected to this, but considerable indignation is expressed in this parish at an outrage that was committed during the evening, as described hereunder:

Shortly after nine o'clock a fife and drum band proceeded down the main road playing lively airs, and all appeared likely to finish up a peaceful manner. But this was not to be, for at about twenty minutes past nine the neighbourhood of Les Camps was startled by a tremendous explosion, the report being described as equal to that of a six-inch gun.

The scene of the explosion was at the rear of a cottage, nearly opposite the French Wesleyan Chapel, occupied by Mr Henry Robert and his father, aged 76.

The idea of the perpetrators of the outrage was doubtless to play a practical joke. But their 'joke' consisted in placing a piece of iron piping—a quarter of an inch in thickness, seven inches in diameter, and four and a half inches in length—filled with gunpowder, both ends being soldered down, under a large water-butt filled with water, and igniting it with a fuse. The 'joke' was perfectly successful, for the charge went off, blowing the water-butt to pieces and scattering the staves to a considerable distance. and smashing a number of panes of glass in Mr Robert's house, as well as many others in an adjoining greenhouse.

The piece of piping, as well as a portion of safety fuse, was afterwards discovered. The matter has been placed in the hands of Mr F Ogier, the Constable, who has taken immediate steps to discover the authors of this outrage.

Those responsible must thank themselves that so little harm was done and no-one injured.

For more about Guy Fawkes' Night in Guernsey, see November 5th and Guy Fawkes' Night 1947.