Past in pictures: Gunpowder, treason and plot

By Rosemary Collins, 17 October 2017 - 9:33am

The nights are drawing in, and shops around the country are stocking up on fireworks as we prepare to mark Bonfire Night.

This year, BBC One is also marking the annual celebration with a TV drama telling the story of how it began – the foiled ‘Gunpowder Plot’ on 5 November 1605.

A group of Catholic conspirators planted gunpowder in an undercroft under the House of Lords, planning to blow up the Protestant King James I during the State Opening of Parliament.

Gunpowder will make its debut on BBC One on Saturday 21 October, with the rest of the series available on BBC iPlayer.

Intriguingly for family historians, Robert Catesby, the leader of the conspiracy, will be played by his own descendant, Game of Thrones star Kit Harington (full name Christopher Catesby Harington).

Ahead of Bonfire Night and the release of Gunpowder, we’ve put together a collection of historic photographs, showing our ancestors celebrating with a blaze of glory…

All in a day's work

Workers at Brock's Fireworks
It’s 1933, and women at Brock’s Fireworks Ltd, in Cheam, Surrey, are proudly displaying a range of fireworks that they have made – accompanied by an effigy of Guy Fawkes. Brock’s was at one time the largest firework maker in the world and employed many women workers on a seasonal basis. (Daily Herald Archive/SSPL/Getty Images)


Nurses at work

Nurses with a guy
A line of nurses at Aldersbrooke Children's home in Wanstead, Essex carry a 'guy' up a bonfire in preparation for the celebration of Guy Fawks night, 1934. (Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)


Seeing double

Mischa Black with an effigy of his head
Mischa Black, president of the Society of Industrial Artists, sits beside an effigy of himself which students made to be carried in a procession at the Designers' Ball on Bonfire Night, 1954. (Fred Morley/Getty Images)


Needs more dynamite...

A toddler puts the finishing touches to a guy
A toddler adds the finishing touches to a guy, c.1940. (General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)


Parading an effigy through London streets

A Guy Fawkes' parade in 1876
A giant guy is mounted on a donkey and cart for a street procession in one of the earliest known photographs of Guy Fawkes Night, from 1876. The picture was originally published in the monthly magazine Street Life in London by journalist Adolphe Smith and photographer John Thomson. (John Thomson/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)


A penny for the guy

Little boy and dog with a guy
Bob, a canine filmstar of the 1930s, helps ask for ‘a penny for the guy’. In this tradition, children made a guy and solicited money, a penny, from passers by. (Fox Photos/Getty Images)


Building the fire

Boys build a bonfire
Boys build a bonfire on the downs near Lewes in Sussex in 1961 – not health and safety approved! (Evening Standard/Getty Images)


Bonfire boys

A bonfire, 1912
A crowd gathers to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night and watch the burning of an effigy on the bonfire in 1912. (Reinhold Thiele/Thiele/Getty Images)

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