Downham Market 1978

The dome which had been used at the Last Barsham, as a venue for the Rabbiretta, and at the 1977 Bungay May Fair as the Great Dome Xanadu, was destroyed by a gale in autumn 1977. Left up after a rather  wacky bonfire night party.

A couple of months before, at a party in an old house, someone sitting on a chest by the fire thought to look inside. What they found included some old bags of gunpowder. These ended up in the hands of a  chemistry enthusiast in Norwich, called Simon, I think. He made a load of fireworks out of them and made a great static display at this party. I seem to remember a Coypu  in spitting balls of fire, and that the fireworks were of variable effectiveness and erratic in their climaxes. Added to that, the gunpowder being old and raw created an enormous amount of smoke which hung around in the stillness. The 50 foot giant redwood beside the display disappeared, one splayed out branch reaching out of the grey cloud. A ghostly fog  with scattershot illumination. Fine event. Pity about the dome.

A new framework was constructed, (laminated ash struts and sheet metal connectors), and was put up for the first time here.

A one day event on a tarmac carpark in down town Downham.  With a few cars still in situ. We got fed up waiting for them to go so decided to pick them up and move them out the way. Managed one before the our crew boss did his back in. He spent the rest of the day flat on his back.

An odd day in all but  it ended with a rousing gig in the Albion dome

RB 18 DM78

The design for the dome was based on one in The Dome Book. It was 56ft across and 18 foot tall, a quarter sphere, the book design being a third. The original design was for one made of bamboo poles, not two by four laminated ash. The first metal connectors for the Albion dome were constructed as straight crosses which didn't allow for the less than 180 degree intersections in the flexible bamboo. Lump hammers were an essential part of the tool kit that year. New (geometrically correct) connectors were made the next winter.


As for Simon in Norwich. He was cycling home from a gig one night. He had a butcher's bike with a suitcase in the carrier. Got stopped by the police and asked what was in his suitcase. There were the bags with Gunpowder written on them. That put them in panic mode. Bomb squad got called and sent to his house, where they found neat shelves of bottles and jars labelled with chemical symbols. All perfectly innocent chemicals. They didn't know that. Thought they'd got a bomb factory. That's all I know of the tale except I believe he didn't get done, just the powder confiscated.