Catherine Wheels, Tom Thumbs and Penny Bungers

Talk to kids these days of Catherine Wheels, Tom Thumbs and Penny Bungers and they may well think they were three of your school friends but a long time ago they were synonymous with Guy Fawkes night. A celebration of the plot to blow up the British Parliament something I didn’t know at the time and probably something that didn’t really matter either because for us it was just an excuse to blow up letter boxes, stick sky rockets in milk or beer bottles and stand in front of a bonfire for hours with all the other families from the neighbourhood.

In the old orchard estate where I lived there were still plenty of vacant lots in those days and in the weeks leading up to Guy Fawkes night all the kids and most of the dads from the neighbourhood would spend every spare minute dragging whatever the could find into the middle of the lot and building a bonfire that seemed to stretch for yards into the sky. It didn’t matter what you threw on there either as long as it could burn – there’d be old furniture, mattresses and plenty of old car tyres that burnt with thinck black acrid smoke. The blacker the better.

The nights would start with a gathering on the corner with the fireworks our fathers had brought home and we’d watch in amazement as the catherined wheels spun and the rockets burst high overhead and when ours were finished it seemed to be a signal for more to begin rising from other parts of the neighbourhood and the show would go on for what seemed like hours.

Do you remember the sound of penny bungers being set off in letter boxes or down drains and for days after the stacato sounds of a strip of tom thumbs being let off in the school toilets.

We were lucky in those days before fun was banned.


Seven Things I remember

Here’s a test for you folks. Write down 7 things you remember about Burwood High School. You can contribute in 2 ways – firstly just by entering a comment – secondly and probably a better way is to become a contributor, but to do that you need to email me and ask to be added to the list.

Here’s my list –

1. Brian Abbott collecting Tarax bottles so he could collect the deposit.
2. Brian Bull leaping down the steps in the 400 [?] block and bashing his head on the ceiling.
3. Mr Roberts’ [I think that was his name] mother driving her car down the front steps.
4. A teacher’s car being lifted onto the roof of the school during Swotvac [now called muck-up day for those who don’t remember]. Who was the teacher and what year did it happen?
5. Mr Drennan chasing Peter Retchford around the curtains whilst waving a ruler.
6. Peter Marsh finding a dollar on the way home from school and buying 100 potato cakes at the fish and chip shop in Bennettswood.
7. A hypnotism period around form 4 when we all stuck pins through our hands.

Photos of the Night on-line

Message from Karen

Hey guys,
I’ve just spoken to Paul at Kangaroo Photos and the entire CD of photos is able to be viewed at:
Click on the “view my photos” and then click “Burwood High Reunion” and then “thumbnails.” This will show you all the photos to be purchased on CD at $34.50. If you have not already ordered your copy, click on 1 photo (doesn’t matter which one as you will receive the whole collection), this will then show you an enlarged copy of the photo. Click on order/view; click 1 and “add to cart.” This will then show a payment of $30.00, click to finish and the postage and handling charge of $4.50 will show which = total of $34.50. This will go directly to “Kangaroo Photos” and they will send it out to you. Credit card or cheque can be used as payment.
Great photos – great memories!


Don’t forget to contribute to the forum. Have a look at the “Sex Education” post in the Anecdotes and Memories section. The link is here –

Thank You

Just wanted to say what a fantastic night Saturday night was. It was a real creadit to the team that put it all together. I’m sure that it has rekindled quite a few friendships that were lost in time.
Thanks everyone.
Sue O (formerly Sue Maher)

Reunion Pics 3

Reunion Pics 2

8th October Reunion Pics

Burwood High Forum and Chat Room

Great night last night. I’ve now set up a forum and chatroom at

Click the link, register and start posting. Might see you in the Chat Room


Form 2 1970

Form 2 1970 – no longer the grubs of the school. Playing kick to kick with our woodwork aprons on the hill before school until one day someone decided to bring an egg along and we’d toss them back and forth. Inevitably they’d break and splatter sending yoke and eggwhite over our trousers. My first pair of jeans – Amco superheavyweights. Dunno why I bought them, most people wore either Lee or Levis which were worn as low as possible to expose the crack at the back and the pubes at the front.

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