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Updated August 2014

This site is dedicated to the memory of Roger Hutchinson, who inspired me to delve deep into the magic of the free festival and who passed away Sept 3rd 2010.

R.I.P. Roger .....

For information on today's festivals see eFestivals.co.uk

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"Andy Roberts (author of Albion Dreaming) is now writing a book specifically about psychedelics and free festivals. He would welcome any information on this topic such as info on dealing psychedelics at festivals, prices, types available, methods of smuggling psychedelics in, photos of dealers' signs and basically anything related to psychedelics and free festivals. All contributors will be credited and no compromising information will be revealed! Please contact Andy


Cumbria Festivals

1982-84

 

 

Silver Moon Festival

Haggs Bank Farm

Nenthead, Alston. Cumbria

10th – 12th August 1984

 

Hawkwind

Wystic Mankers


The Magnificent Seven onstage at the Silver Moon Festival Nenthead Cumbria 1984 © Simon F

     A damned isolated and -if the weather played up, cold site, but a very beautiful setting. We have photos and reports of the 1982 festival, but once again , we have bugger all info on this one , any help with bands, weather, attendance , fun, hassles, site plan, whatever, would be most appreciated.

     Unfortunately we seem to have yet another tale of elements of " The Convoy " causing alarums amongst the local population , having plies of coke on sale openly at such a small festival in a conservative rural area is probably NOT the way to go . You could get away with it at Stonehenge Free festival amongst 20,000 but NOT in this location. A case of people not adapting their behaviour to suit the situation, but then, coke heads always have an over inflated sense of their own invulnerability . Another shot in the foot methinks by a minority which stuffed things up for the majority ......


Hi
Just came across this ticket which I kept from the Silver Moon Festival in 1984, googled and found your site. Thought you might be interested in the scanned ticket image for your webpage.
Not much to add about the Festival other than what's already been said by other contributors. It was my first and only festival of its kind, but it was a good time.
Rob Stephens


 

I was the sound engineer for The Magnificent Seven, a Leeds pub band that played mainly charity gigs, but gigged across the north of England and occasionally in Wales. (Not to be confused with a later and more famous group.) I recall we had two performances at the Silver Moon Festival. One was on the main (?) open air stage, possibly in the late morning of the first day. The second was I think late afternoon on the second day in the smaller marquee. The attached photograph was taken from the open air stage when the band was playing.

I don't now remember any of the other bands. I recall gorgeous weather, a peaceful remote hilltop location and a really laid back pleasant atmosphere sat around with a large group of friends with good music..

I do recall being surprised by the very open sale of hard drugs - tents with little blackboards outside offering various different types of acid and a big tent / small marquee (Coco Loco) with a huge pile of white powder on a large mirror. However, my recreational preference was a beer - which was not available on-site (although someone had some very rough scrumpy).

A few of us walked down in the day time to the local pub which was friendly. Although I do recall that there were huge queues for the toilets as not everyone appreciated the somewhat basic on-site facilities - a hessian and raw timber affair erected over a very large pit that people were saying was the head on an old mine. (I have an awful etched-in memory of some poor soul who fell in and his desperate scramble out!)

I don't recall the disturbance towards the end, but I do recall that as we left there was a police Range Rover with some sort of radio gear on the roof parked in a good vantage point to monitor everyone leaving or at least to make us paranoid.
It was an enjoyable, and eye-opening, weekend. I had only been to bigger festivals / concerts, like Knebworth, before.

I have a recording of the open-air set we did. It languished on a cassette for twenty years and I converted it to MP3 a few years ago. Most of it is pretty poor quality; I suspect that it wasn't crash hot originally but that the passage of time has not been kind to it also. Three of the songs are not too bad.
All the best,
Simon F

Courtesy Davy G


 

I am from the North East of England and have been to Stonehenge 83,84 and attended the 3 festivals in Nenthead, close to Alston in 82,83,84. The festivals were in Cumbria and they were excellent. The 1982 event was "The Blue Moon Festival" - you have a picture of this one on your web page. The 1983 festival was "Green Moon gathering" both the 82 and 83 festivals were held at Pry House, Nenthead, Alston and the 1984 festival was "Silver Moon Festival" which was held at a different site further into the hills at Haggs bank Farm, near Alston.

The 82 and 83 festivals had the Tibetans etc and I think Nik Turner and others. The Tibetans had their blue and white marquee but in 84 they had the larger marquee with a trapeze type swing with a kitchen area attached. These were great events, however, the 84 festival had a different feel about it, harder drugs being openly on sale and as a result the locals got a bit freaked and as far as I am aware that was the last of the Cumbria festivals.

I was always interested in the Tibetans and my memories of what they used to perform and the people surrounding them used to interest me. I would have longed to travel with them etc but that was wishful thinking on my part at the time.
Just one last point the Tibetans played music and put on performances at the Cumbria festivals under the Wystic Mankers. I have some photos of them still camping on the land about 2 weeks after the 83 festival and I have some pics of the 84 festival but not on my pc.

Colin


Compere Trevor Reed writes :

Finally we come to the Silver Moon, sadly the final festival of the trilogy this was held on Hags bank. This festival was more of a schedule A market than a festival, culminating in an invasion by the convoy who proceeded to attack the local police force and basically destroy any good will there was between the local populace and the incomers. However watch this space- there is talk of a revival.


I was there some time ago eh, very strange place , doing strange drugs ,I can remember a stage but not who was on it , the pub at the bottom of the hill next to a river .

Ann

Courtesy Davy G


Parkup after the Sliver Moon Festival © Janet Thompson


bunch of hippies stoned on chillums, snotty rag tag kids manky dogs, chi and chipatis, guru maraji,,,,,,,,, the PEACE CONVOY

PLEASE get real and tell the truth, dope dealers and poor little rich kids think they ( you too) all emigrated to austrailia and the costa del drop out ,

from a hippie kid who knows what was what
enjoy your nostalgia

Timothy

This is interesting, in the ten years we've run this site, this is the only REALLY negative message we've had from a contributor . He does however, misunderstand the purpose of this site, its NOT a nostalgia fest, it might be just that for those who were there, but we want to present the history of this movement , warts and all. We did ask Tim to contribute more, as we wanted to hear his side of things , but he never got back to us.

And by the way Tim, I always thought Guru M was a charlatan , even back in 1972 and as for poor little rich kids - almost of the people I knew who went to free festivals were from solid working class backgrounds and grew up or lived on council estates, hardly the lap of luxury......

Ed

Mannequin, one of the bands who played the Silver Moon © Davy G


I was one of the contingent that made for the local pub every night, partly for the good ale and local colour, but mostly for the toilets. We actually got in conversation with one of the locals, a retired teacher who lived in a cottage further up the valley, and he invited us for tea the next day. Very nice chap.

My abiding memory is of striking up a conversation with a group from Barrow who all worked at Windscale nuclear power station. After I had harangued them with my adolescent, half-formed and utterly self-righteous pronouncements on nuclear power as the new Satan etc... one of them quietly informed me that, without Windscale, nobody within 50 miles would have a job. I shut up after that and started to re-assess my previously impeccable hippy values.

Dennis


After the experience of the '83 Green Moon Festival the Silver Moon was a very different ambience/vibe. I spent a good part of a somewhat schizoid week there. On the weekdays after the Festival week-end I would up and away and complete a (shortish) day's work before returning late in the afternoon. During that time was the first occason on which I witnessed what threatened to be serious violence - a couple of pissed-up characters swinging lengths of 3 x 2 at each other somewhat ineffectively.

The rougher edge of the "convoy" didn't help at all. Their antics served only to attract police attention. I had a lift to Alston for supplies with people who were leaning out of the van window in the village who thought it entertaining when they were calling out the delights and availability of Acid.

What I think is less well known (and I have had confirmed by others who were there) was that towards the end of the occupation of the site, there had been a debate among the travelers as to whether the next move should be to go to Molesworth in support of the Peace Village, or to Nostell Priory for the Festival where the commercial opportunities for the sale of drugs could be exploited.

Given that Nostell Priory was virtually en-route to Molesworth, those in favour of Nostell Priory won the argument and the greater number accompanied them for the sake of solidarity.

Freak Electric live © Davy G

Freak Electric , another band who played the Silver Moon festival © Davy G

The rest is history, but for those who need a refresher, the coal-miner's strike trained Yorkshire Police trashed the Travellers in what can now be seen as a dry run for the Battle of the Beanfield at Stonehenge 1985. You might check out the story with Rainbow Paul (if he's still around) and it has since been confirmed by Guy and Sandra.
Politically inept.

The incapacity of the softer edge of the "Peace" Convoy to keep the more seriously criminal elements at bay played into the hands of Thatcher's authorities and contributed to the decline of the "Free" Festival scene.

As an aside, during the tense period when the Police were onsite at Nostell Priory, but before they took action, my late friend Jamie was encouraged to repeat his amplified performances of The Laughing Poilceman which may not have helped matters.

Back to the Silver Moon.I recall an wonderful moment when, carrying a flute and wearing a canary-yellow jacket on a sunny afternoon, I enncountered someone coming in the opposite direction carrying a guitar and wearing canary yellow trousers of similar material. A spontaneous jam led to dozens of people in the vicinity dancing. A moment of light and liberation.

Cheers
Rosie aka Dodoze


Timeline courtesy Davy G

Hi,

just found your site. I was at the green and silver moon festivals and what with one thing and another probably get the two mixed together. The first year we had an old coach which was parked facing the stage. I can remeber watching hawkind from that vantage point and lots of people coming on board when their tents got flattened during the storm. I remember that it being a pleasant festival with a good atmosphere. The following year I had a truck and a band of the same name 'ygor's revenge'. We turned up with the convoy. Some people were unnecessarily freaked by our arrival but that didn't spoil the atmosphere. I recall the law setting up an observation post in the field up hill from the site and the solitary loon who climbed the wall and started to run towards it- it seemed then that everybody took up the idea and charged en-mass causing the coppers to flee up the hill. No harm was done though. There was nearly some agro later when they turned up looking for someone ( dizzy?) who had apparently stolen a tarpaulin from a truck stop.That was resolved peacefuly too. I can remember playing a set and then being part of an acid fueled jam session with the tibetan ukrainian mountain troop amonst others.... A good time was had....

S O'Rourke


Nenthead 1984: Possibly the most obscure and difficult place in the British Isles to hitch to. Eventually, we got a lift with the dreaded 'Convoy' for the last 20 miles or so. I have to say, whatever other people's experiences may have been, that they were fine with us. They gave us a lift in the lead bus, offered us food and even helped us put our tent up when we arrived. Nobody intimidated us or tried to flog us heroin. Admittedly, their refusal to entertain such capitalist fripperies as paying any kind of entrance fee did seem to freak out the bloke on the gate (I had always thought it was a free festival anyway), but it got us in for nothing!

I can't remember a single one of the bands playing, although one of them might have been called Planet Waves (or that might have been somewhere else). I do recall a huge biker type trying to use a scary looking Bowie knife to slice off a lump of hash that my mate wished to purchase and nearly taking off his entire thumb in the process. It didn't seem to bother him much however. I guess bikers in the 80's were made of sterner stuff.

The atmosphere as I recall it was pretty relaxed. The Convoy seemed to keep themselves mostly to themselves and we exchanged a few greetings with them whenever we bumped into each other. They certainly didn't strike me as 'rich kids' as someone else has alleged. Far from it. They mostly came across as a cross-section of old hippies (the guy who gave us a lift told us about the time in the 60's that he bought an old London bus and set off to drive it to India. It got as far as Calais, where it promtly died and he swapped it for some dope.), proto-anarchists, drifters and a small hardcore of questionable types who gave the rest a bad name (and Thatcher an excuse). The Convoy kids were another matter entirely. They were a terrifying bunch of utterly feral children who seemed to have an inexhaustable supply of dubiously acquired vehicles which they would test to destruction at high speeds with seemingly no thought to life and limb (theirs and others).


 

Free Festivals List

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Free festivals and small fayres held in the United Kingdom between 1967-90.

1967-69.

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1980-92

 

  • Windsor Peoples Free Festival 1972-74
 
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Pay Festivals- Benefits for Travellers aid.
 

Main list of Free festivals 1970-1985

Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s

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The aroma of a free festival -by Roger Hutchinson

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Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe-surreal pranksters of the Traveller community .

Acidia Lightshow Lightshow for Windsor festival and Stonehenge in the 1970s.

Traveller Daves Website - Chock full of of free festival photos !

Many, many thanks go to Roger Hutchinson , Big Steve , Roger Duncan, Celia, Will , Chazz, Jeza ,Chris Hewitt ,The Fabulous Time Tortoise , Peter Piwowarski - ( 70s music site/photos ) Martin S, Steve Austin ,Traveller Dave, Herb, Tim Brighton, Vin Miles, Haze Evans , Noddy Guevara, Chris Brown, Janet Thompson, David Stooke, Gary Gibbons , Nigel Ayers, Rich Deakin ,Glenda Pescardo,Justin Warman,Brian F, Steve Bayfield, Kev Ellis, Paul Seaton and many other minor contributors for their help in providing the archival material related to these free festivals which has at enabled us to construct the site .

Any info to add ?-well don't just sit there , Contact us


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