Great Torrington has always been a "different" town. In the civil war the population sided with the King whilst all around the area others fought for the Roundheads. Today, despite many setbacks on the employment front, the town is home to a thriving community. Torrington is known as the friendly town and we warmly welcome visitors to this latest Cavalier event. The Cavaliers were born in 1970. Plymouth hosted a county wide carnival inviting entries from all the towns in Devon. A group of (then) young men dressed themselves in the uniforms of Cavaliers and entered a float depicting the old parish church which, in 1646, had been ?? accidentally blown up by the Roundheads whilst 300 Cavalier prisoners were locked inside. (The Church was "rebuilt" in 1996 as the theme for that years bonfire). Subsequent to the visit to Plymouth the group decided to continue in being. Led by the late Larry Alexander (Lardo) their mission was to put on events "the like of which Torrington had never seen before".
With their bonfires the Cavaliers have achieved national, and international recognition as builders of sophisticated structures, following as near as possible the design of the original. Each bonfire has been declared "better than the last one" although those that remember for instance the 1973 fire of the German battleship Bismark might disagree. The aim of all the bonfires is to raise money for local good causes. In recent times the 1996 event raised well £20000, most of which went to North Devon Cancer Care, and in 2000 over £40000 was raised, the main beneficiary this time was the Devon Air Ambulance who received a cheque for £20000 being the largest single donation ever received.