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Tar barrels

Tar barrels

Sat 5 Nov 2016

Tar barrels is a tradition that takes place around Bonfire night in Ottery St. Mary.

In the 12 months leading up to the event, barrels are lined and soaked with coal tar. On the night of tar barrels, the barrels are lit and carried through the streets of Ottery St. Mary while thousands cheer on the barrel-rollers.

The origins of the tar barrels are unknown however stories lead us to believe it began post the gunpowder plot of 1605 as a way of either fumigating cottages or as a warning of the Spanish armada.

Lighting barrels is a tradition that takes place in various locations in the South West however Ottery St. Mary is recognised worldwide for carrying the tar barrels on their backs.

  • Heavy rain 16 °C

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  • Light rain 16 °C

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  • Cloudy 18 °C

    13 °C

  • Sunny day 18 °C

    14 °C

  • Sunny intervals 18 °C

    13 °C

  • Cloudy 19 °C

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  • Light rain 18 °C

    13 °C

Wednesday (Wednesday 28 June 2017)
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NNW 7 13 NW 7 13 NNW 7 13 N 6 11
Visibility (E = Excellent, VG = Very Good, G = Good, M = Moderate, P = Poor, VP = Very Poor) Expand
M M P M
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95% 95% 96% 95%
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1 1 0 0
Sunrise: 05:02 Sunset: 21:30 Moon phase: Waxing crescent Air pollution: 3
Thursday (Thursday 29 June 2017)
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N 5 11 N 5 9 N 4 8 N 4 8 NNE 4 8 N 3 7 NNE 4 8 NNE 4 8 NNE 4 8 NNE 4 7 NNE 4 7 N 4 7 NW 4 8 WNW 4 9 NW 6 11 NW 7 13 NW 8 14 NW 9 16 NW 11 18 NW 11 20 NW 11 19 NW 10 18 NW 10 17 NW 9 17
Visibility (E = Excellent, VG = Very Good, G = Good, M = Moderate, P = Poor, VP = Very Poor) Expand
M M M G G G G G G G G G G G G G G VG VG VG VG VG VG VG
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94% 94% 94% 94% 94% 93% 93% 93% 91% 90% 88% 87% 86% 84% 82% 82% 83% 82% 83% 84% 86% 87% 89% 90%
UV index Expand
0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 1 0 0
Sunrise: 05:03 Sunset: 21:30 Moon phase: Waxing crescent Air pollution: 3
Friday (Friday 30 June 2017)
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Overcast Cloudy Light rain Overcast Cloudy Cloudy Cloudy Cloudy Cloudy
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11 ° 11 ° 11 ° 12 ° 14 ° 16 ° 16 ° 15 ° 13 °
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NW 9 17 WNW 8 15 WNW 8 15 NW 9 16 NNW 10 19 NNW 10 18 NNW 11 21 NNW 13 24 NNW 13 24
Visibility (E = Excellent, VG = Very Good, G = Good, M = Moderate, P = Poor, VP = Very Poor) Expand
VG VG G G VG VG VG VG VG
Humidity Expand
91% 91% 94% 93% 83% 77% 73% 82% 87%
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0 0 0 1 4 5 4 1 0
Sunrise: 05:03 Sunset: 21:30 Moon phase: Waxing crescent Air pollution: 3
Saturday (Saturday 1 July 2017)
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Cloudy Cloudy Sunny intervals Sunny intervals Sunny intervals Sunny day Sunny day Clear night
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NNW 13 24 NW 12 21 NW 12 22 NW 14 26 NW 13 26 WNW 14 27 WNW 13 24 W 9 16
Visibility (E = Excellent, VG = Very Good, G = Good, M = Moderate, P = Poor, VP = Very Poor) Expand
G G VG VG VG VG VG VG
Humidity Expand
89% 90% 87% 77% 67% 62% 71% 84%
UV index Expand
0 0 1 4 8 5 1 0
Sunrise: 05:04 Sunset: 21:30 Moon phase: First quarter Air pollution: 3
Sunday (Sunday 2 July 2017)
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Cloudy Overcast Overcast Cloudy Sunny intervals Sunny day Sunny intervals Partly cloudy night
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15 ° 15 ° 14 ° 15 ° 17 ° 18 ° 16 ° 14 °
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14 ° 13 ° 12 ° 13 ° 15 ° 15 ° 14 ° 12 °
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10% 10% 10% 10% <5% <5% <5% <5%
Wind direction, speed & gust (mph) Expand
W 9 16 WNW 11 20 WNW 13 23 NW 14 26 WNW 14 27 WNW 13 26 WNW 12 23 WNW 9 15
Visibility (E = Excellent, VG = Very Good, G = Good, M = Moderate, P = Poor, VP = Very Poor) Expand
G G G G VG VG VG VG
Humidity Expand
90% 92% 88% 79% 70% 67% 71% 82%
UV index Expand
0 0 1 4 7 4 1 0
Sunrise: 05:05 Sunset: 21:29 Moon phase: First quarter Air pollution: 2
Monday (Monday 3 July 2017)
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Cloudy Cloudy Cloudy Cloudy Cloudy Cloudy Sunny intervals Partly cloudy night
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13 ° 13 ° 14 ° 16 ° 18 ° 18 ° 17 ° 15 °
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12 ° 12 ° 13 ° 14 ° 16 ° 16 ° 15 ° 14 °
Precipitation probability Expand
10% 10% 10% 10% 10% 10% <5% <5%
Wind direction, speed & gust (mph) Expand
W 7 12 W 7 11 WSW 7 12 WSW 10 18 WSW 11 21 WSW 12 22 W 11 19 WSW 8 13
Visibility (E = Excellent, VG = Very Good, G = Good, M = Moderate, P = Poor, VP = Very Poor) Expand
VG G G G G G VG G
Humidity Expand
87% 89% 88% 80% 74% 74% 77% 86%
UV index Expand
0 0 1 4 6 3 1 0
Sunrise: 05:05 Sunset: 21:29 Moon phase: First quarter
Tuesday (Tuesday 4 July 2017)
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Partly cloudy night Cloudy Cloudy Cloudy Light rain Light rain Cloudy Cloudy
Warnings
Temperature (°C) arrow down
14 ° 14 ° 14 ° 16 ° 17 ° 18 ° 17 ° 15 °
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Feels like temperature (°C) Expand
13 ° 13 ° 13 ° 15 ° 16 ° 17 ° 16 ° 14 °
Precipitation probability Expand
<5% 10% 20% 10% 40% 40% 10% 10%
Wind direction, speed & gust (mph) Expand
WSW 7 11 W 6 11 SW 6 11 SW 8 15 SW 9 18 SW 9 17 SW 8 14 SW 6 10
Visibility (E = Excellent, VG = Very Good, G = Good, M = Moderate, P = Poor, VP = Very Poor) Expand
G G G G G VG G G
Humidity Expand
92% 92% 90% 85% 78% 75% 78% 86%
UV index Expand
0 0 1 3 5 4 1 0
Sunrise: 05:06 Sunset: 21:28 Moon phase: First quarter

Issued at:

5 November - Check the Ottery St. Mary weather forecast if you are heading to tar barrels this bonfire night.

Tar barrels and the weather

Tar barrels takes place regardless of the weather, however weather conditions make a considerable difference to the number of visitors that come to the town. Tens of thousands of visitors arrive in Ottery St. Mary for the barrels each year and the numbers are steadily increasing.

Becoming a barrel-Roller

Becoming a barrel-roller is a highly sought after position in the town of Ottery. St. Mary. The tradition of becoming a barrel-roller has been passed through many generations of families from the area.

The evening consists of 17 barrels being lit across the town. The barrels in the late afternoon are the boy's barrels which are the smallest. The women's and youth barrels then take place in the early evening, followed by the men's barrels in the evening.

The barrels are lit from pubs and hotels across the town until the midnight barrel, which is the largest barrel and takes place in the town square.