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The Knebworth Park Festivals.

Knebworth Fair : 6-24-78.

Genesis,Jefferson Starship, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Devo, Brand X, Atlanta Rhythm Section.

Festival Welfare Services .

Knebworth Park Concert,

June 23-25th 1978

Field Workers Report .

I arrived at 2.00 pm on Friday 23rd June and found that many festival goers had already arrived and were setting up their tents etc. At the campsite, two of the three 'crash' marquees had been erected and people were sheltering from the rain under them. Malcolm Fairburn, the Campsite Manager/Medical Services Coordinator, told me that the third 'crash' marquee would be arriving shortly in two parts, one of which would be used by Release for their counselling service. Also expected was a tent from which the local CVS people would run their information service and which would be used for general welfare information.

During the afternoon I went to Stevenage and met the CVS people running the very busy festival information point in the middle of the town.

When I got back to the campsite a red portable cabin had arrived to be used as the welfare and information office. The local information people moved in immediately and most enquiries at first were for the toilets and water. Only one tap was functioning on the campsite and the other water point was waiting for its bowser. Many people were complaining about the distance they had to walk to the toilets,especially in the wet weather and about the bad condition of the toilets.

They got worse over the weekend.

The infamous "Bogs "

Stills courtesy Freddy Bannister taken from "Spirit of Knebworth" video

During the afternoon the St John ambulance/Red Cross set up their medical post on the campsite. This post was in operation through until Sunday morning. During the evening the 'trip' tent in the administration area and the welfare tent in the arena were put up. The Samaritans wanted to put up their work tents in the arena behind the welfare tent, as they had done in previous years. Malcolm Fairburn had initially said that this was not possible due to lack of space in the arena. The Arena Manager, however, said that it would be possible, so the Samaritans went ahead and put up their tent in the arena. They were later made to take it down and agreed to put it up in the administrative area between the Release 'trip' tent and the St John Ambulance post. It was arranged that the Samaritans would work from the back of the | welfare tent in the arena.

At 8.30 pm on Friday evening, a site meeting was held in the Youth for Christ marquee, for all the welfare groups. A rota was worked out for all the groups to assist the local CVS information people in manning the information point in the arena during Saturday.
After the site meeting, I took the Release doctors to the St John Ambulance base in the administrative area, where they were introduced to the officer in charge of the St John ambulance/Red Cross operation. The Welfare/Information point on the campsite was manned throughout Friday night/Saturday morning by local CVS people with assistance
from Civil Aid.

Erecting perimeter fences - Knebworth 1978

During the night there was a shortage of space in the 'crash' marquees, which were supervised by Source. With assistance from Source, the marquees were filled as efficiently as possible, but it was felt that he lack of the third marquee and the very unfavourable weather made conditions inside the existing marquees very crowded.

By 5.00 am on Saturday morning the groups working in the administration area and the arena moved off the campsite before the access roads became too congested. The arena gates were opened at 5.30 am.

In the administrative area, Release and the Samaritans set up their 'trip' tents and coordinated their activities with the St John Ambulance medical unit.

In the arena, the Samaritans divided off part of the Welfare/information marquee to use as their work tent. Release used part of the marquee for their advice/counselling work, and the front half was used by the local volunteers and representatives of the other FWS groups on a shift for the whole day, giving out information, advice and assistance.

During the morning I visited all the St John Ambulance posts inside the arena with representatives from the Samaritans and Release, to introduce each other and to co-ordinate plans for dealing with casualties .

Beside the Welfare/Information marquee was the Sounds structure with a large notice board which rapidly became covered with messages. The area around the Sounds structure also became very congested with people using it as a rendezvous point to meet up with lost friends.

Until about midday many of the enquiries dealt with by the information people were for the toilets and water. The number of enquiries could therefore have been greatly reduced if there had been better signs indicating where water and toilets are, and also if large "You are here" were located around the arena and campsite. The maps of the arena and site plans at the Information marquee were frequently referred to by people who hadn't bought the official programme with the site map in the back.

Later in the day there were many enquiries for the times of trains and busses. These had been dealt with in the morning by a Policeman Information marquee had a full rail timetable and details of the special train and busses laid on for the concert.

During the day the campsite was very quiet, with St John Ambulance attending to first aid, and Civil Aid manning the welfare/information point and assisting with first aid.
At about 11.00 pm the Welfare/Information point in the arena started dealing with cases of people who were distressed because they had lost friends. This was especially the case with people who had not made arrangements for where to meet up with friends if they became separated in the crowd. This increased until well after the concert finished, when enquiries then related to where stranded or exhausted people could find somewhere warm and dry to sleep.

In the administration area Release, the Samaritans and St John ambulance were dealing with drug cases and emotionally upset people. They were also providing emergency shelter for people who couldn't find their tent, car or friends, or who were waiting for Police reports on missing cars, or who were too exhausted to make their way to the 'crash' marquees on the campsite. The Release doctors were kept very busy for most of the night dealing with casualties in the Release, Samaritans St John's tents.

0n the campsite the two 'crash' marquees were very crowded, especially as it was a cold, wet night and the third marquee had not been delivered.

On Sunday morning Release, the Samaritans and St Johns Ambulance left the administrative area between 9.00 am and 10.00 am.

The welfare groups left the campsIte at midday after all the campers had departed. There was an enormous amount of litter left behind, especially polythene sheeting and bags which people had slept under as shelter from the rain. It seems a pity that more of this plastic couldn't have been reused and recycled.

During the period of the festival St Johns Ambulance/Red Cross dealt
with 1185 casualties, which kept 18 ambulance vehicles busy all day and well into the night.

The welfare groups attending the festival were :Civil Aid, Release, St John Ambulance/Red Cross, Samaritans, Source, Stevenage CVS and Youth for Christ, coordinated by Festival Welfare Services.
General Comments
1. Communication between the police and welfare organisations was very good and comments were received-from festival-goers on how helpful the Police had been.
2. The local CVS volunteers were very helpful and necessary because of the amount of enquiries relating to the local environment.
3. Many complaints were heard from festival-goers about the state of the toilets on the campsite and the arena and the fact that there were no toilets just outside the arena.
4. The weather was an important factor in contributing to the problems with emergency sleeping accommodation. More people would have been prepared to sleep out in the open if the weather had been fine and warm, but they desperately wanted indoor shelter from the rain and cold.
5. Despite these last two points, it was felt that the promoter had shown thoughtful consideration in providing a wide range of facilities for the festival-goers.

Penny Mellor


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Not another boring old Knebworth 9-9-78

Knebworth festival products

Various versions of promoter Freddy Bannisters Knebworth commemorative setsare now available

( NB : The Archive has no commercial ties with Freddy Bannister or his products , we've found that they are generally quite good value as they are well packaged and of reasonable quality and of course , there is nothing else "official " out there, so if you want a commemoration package and you are willing to spend the dough on it, then go for it. One word of warning though , The Bath Festival T shirts we were sent were nice looking but the print washed out after a dozen washes, so if you buy them, its perhaps best if don't wear them too often.

if you have any issues with the quality or delivery of any of these products please do not ask us to sort out your problems. We include this information to inform our viewers about the availablity of these items .

Please note that some of the audio sets on the bonus discs supplied with the boxed sets are audience tapes and vary considerably in quality . to our knowledge ,most have not been improved by remixing , so they are no better ( or worse ) than the free versions that have been in circulation for many years. Our advice is to check out the sources and read reviews of the items before you buy ) .

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