Torrington Cavaliers set huge Mayflower replica alight ahead of anniversary of US voyage

A huge replica of the Mayflower was set alight in Torrington last night (August 28) in a firework and pyrotechnics show organised by a local group.

The Great Torrington Cavaliers have been working in the community for more than 50 years, and are famous for the spectacular bonfire shows they put on.

Previous projects include a model of 1970's children's show, Trumpton, and a model of the Houses of Parliament.

Their latest effort included a detailed replica of the ship used to sail from Plymouth to America in 1620, and it took the Cavaliers more than three years to construct.

Some described the show as better than London's New Years Eve events.

The ship was supposed to be one of the centerpieces of the Mayflower 400 celebrations planned for Devon last year, but like many other events they were postponed as a result of the pandemic.

The 400th anniversary of the Mayflower also coincided with the 50th anniversary of the Cavaliers themselves.

However for many it was worth the wait, with huge crowds descending on Torrington to see the 'Pyromusical' first hand.

A cabinet member on Devon County Council said the event provided "a much-needed boost".

The event took place at The Old Bowling Green in Great Torrington, and as well as entertaining the crowd it also raised money for local charities including Devon Air Ambulance.

People there said it was "one of a kind", with one saying it trumped London's efforts of similar events: "I've been to a lot of fireworks displays including Trafalgar Square at New Year, nothing as good as this. Phenomenal."

Chairman Mark Keeley, The Great Torrington Cavaliers.

Another said the Cavaliers had outdone themselves: "I have got to say, the fireworks are probably the best I've ever seen. They were amazing and the way The Mayflower went up, it's the fastest burn I've ever seen.

"I've been to a couple of these Torrington fire and it was the fastest it ever went up, it was amazing."

Despite the success there are question marks over the future of the group that put it all together.

The Great Torrington Cavaliers say this may be their last burn unless more, younger volunteers come forward - but they've not given up hope just yet.

Chairman Mark Keeley says: "Never say never, this generation of Cavaliers is getting older and creaking more every day but one of my predecessors back in 1990 announced to the nation that Torrington Cavaliers would never build another bonfire after the Houses of Parliament one we did, 30 years later, seven bonfires and we're still here, so never say never and I hope there are some people in our community younger than us that would like to take up the mantle and take it on for us.

"You will see grown men cry this evening, maybe not bawling but there will be a tear in some people's eyes, probably mine as well. It will be emotional for a lot of us."