A HISTORIC Hogmanay bonfire tradition which dates back centuries has been saved following a successful donations campaign.

The practice of lighting a bonfire on New Year’s Eve in the Lanarkshire town of Biggar dates back to the 19th century.

The tradition has continued with barely any interruption since then – including during the Second World War when locals burned a candle inside a tin at the bonfire site so as not to alert enemy bombers.

The unique event sees a torch-lit procession, led by Biggar Pipe Band, make its way from the town’s Station Road to a bonfire at the Corn Exchange, before a torch is passed to the town’s oldest resident who then lights the bonfire to “burn out the old and burn in the new”.

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Preparations for this year’s event started on December 2 when youngster Tommy Rae put the first wood down for the fire in memory of his grandfather Peter Rae – who provided the musical entertainment at the event.

His presence ran for some 50 years prior to his death in the run up to Christmas last year.

Earlier this month, organisers took to social media to confirm the 2023 bonfire can go ahead thanks to the “outstanding generosity” of its supporters who contributed to their crowdfunding campaign, raising almost £3500.

Changes to the way events are controlled by South Lanarkshire Council mean costs for insurance, traffic management and first aid – totalling over £6500 – are now all the responsibility of Biggar Community Council.

The council’s committee in charge of the bonfire was also successful in receiving a grant from the Clyde Windfarm Extension fund to help cover the costs of hosting this year’s event.  

With the event confirmed for 2023, organisers are already looking ahead to 2024, with a fresh crowdfunding campaign underway.

Organisers are targeting another £5000 in donations to ensure it has sufficient funds to plan ahead for 2024.

To contribute to the campaign, click here.