Before regulations on air pollution restricted what could and could not be put on the New Year's bonfires, we used to burn up not only all the wood scraps and paper we could amass in the month leading up to the bonfire, but also old furniture, tyres, and oil that the mechanics at the local garage had tapped from the cars in the neighbourhood when they were brought in for an oil change. The oil would be brought in in barrels and young men would run between the barrels and the fire with buckets, throwing oil on the flames (see the bottom photo). It was a dangerous job, and therefore one highly sought after by the young daredevils of the district.
The two most memorable bonfires of my childhood and teens, respectively, were when the remains of small wooden houses that had been used as dormitories for workmen but had been partially destroyed in a fire, were the core of the bonfire, and when we put an old decommissioned fishing boat on the fire (bottom photo). These days, the fire consists mostly of scrap lumber, broken wooden pallets and old Christmas trees.
These are old photos, taken on film: