Don’t try this at home!
Listening to the oral history recording made by Tom George for Market Lavington Museum, one might be surprised to know that he survived to be a hundred, considering what he and his brother got up to. Tom said his brother was a bit of a dare devil and reminisced about some of their exploits.
Back in the 1920s and 30s, when Tom was a boy, he said that bicycles had carbide lamps. At the museum, we have one of these that came from a motor bike. You can read about it in Acetylene Lamps.
Basically, the lamp allowed water to drip on calcium carbide, producing acetylene gas, which burned with a white flame, providing some light for the cyclist at night.
Tom and his brother would put carbide into a bottle with some water and stopper the bottle, which then exploded!
Tom also spoke of there being two rockeries in the garden of their house at Market Lavington brickworks, one at each end of the front lawn. (Unfortunately we have not found a photograph showing these.) Apparently a cannon was embedded into each rockery. He said there was always gunpowder at his home. Tom’s brother would put a wooden dolly from the brickworks into a cannon. (See Flints and dollies.) The boys would put the cannon onto a trolley and make a fuse from some string. It was then Tom’s job to light the fuse. The dolly would be fired over the road and it would land by a playground beyond the brickworks building. Tom suggested this was about half a mile away and the boys would go over there to search for their missile.
On one occasion they filled the cannon with newspaper instead of the wooden dolly. The front lawn was then covered in little bits of paper, which the boys were made to clear up.