One traditional activity which sets Bridgwater Carnival apart from the rest is the tradition of squibbing. The squibs are giant fireworks which are attached to coshes. Coshes are something like a large sweeping brush with no bristles. Where the bristles would otherwise be, a large cylindrical firework, the squib, is lashed into place. Once lit, the cosh is held aloft by the squibber, like a weightlifter’s bar, and kept above head height, with the squib pointing skywards, until it finally expires with a loud retort.
In truth, for health and safety reasons, the squibs these days are much smaller than their latter-year counterparts. Nonetheless the squibbing event is an outstanding spectacle as over one hundred carnivalites form two lines the length of Bridgwater’s High Street and simultaneously ignite their Bridgwater Squibs. It is an amazing sight as the sparks shoot forth from a hundred or more fireworks reaching to well above rooftop height. The spectacle culminates in a hundred explosive reports as the squibs one by one expire, with the crowd always giving an enormous cheer to the last survivor.
Once the squibbing is over, all there is left to do is for the crowd to stand outside of the Town Hall awaiting the all-important results to be announced declaring the winners of the earlier procession, results which then set the pace for the rest of the big series of seven major Somerset carnivals.
Text Copyright © 2008 Roger Evans