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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 .....

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Caesar's Camp .

August 29th -Sept 8th 1978.

 

 


    Limited information exists about this festival but its gradually trickling in as the miniscule number of participants become web savvy and decide to revisit their chequered pasts....

Caesar Rules , Ok ! © David B

 

Outside the castle , waiting to have tiffin with the Quoon © David B

   There was a gathering on Saturday morning outside Windsor Castle of those who’d gone for the festival at Windsor Great Park in 1978. Everyone there was then escorted down the High Street to a car park where they were given directions by the police/taken to Caesars Camp.

Rumour was that it was a complete surprise to the local constabulary when everyone turned up.

I remember some people finding glowing (an effect from some kind of micro-organism), decaying wood and wearing necklaces made from it, and very little drugs apart from what we’d taken ourselves.

David B

The Long Walk © David B

Even though the festival date was 33 years ago, I can still remember quite clearly the events of the events days before we were kicked out of Windsor.

On arrival in Windsor at 2pm, the day before the event there was a noticeably high presence of uniformed police which steadily increased as the day wore on. At no stage before 6pm were we told of why this growing force was getting bigger. After 6pm we found out, Thames Valley Police had taken out a 72 hour no camping injunction over a massive area surrounding Windsor and the neighbouring villages.
With grateful thanks to one of the residents of one of the villages we were allowed to camp in their garden for the night, with a wonderful breakfast provided by the occupant, something even to this day I am very grateful for.

On the "first" day of the event we went into Windsor great park, where my interest was drawn to a single tent. The location of the mobile police headquarters for the weekend... no camping? I wandered inside to see what was going on and was confronted by an almighty argument between the BIT (British International Times) and a non-moving high ranking policemen. BIT were arguing about rights of the common people only to be met with " There is a court injunction preventing any camping in Windsor and surrounding areas." After listening to this for 10 minutes or so... I added a question to the arguement. "What are the limitations of this injunction? Does anyone have a map so a line can be drawn on the map?"

A map was eventually produced and the Chief constable (I assume it was a Chief constable), drew a line on the map to the south of Windsor. Outside the line was a place called Bracknell. I said "OK if no one has any objections we'll go there!" There were no objections and everyone started the walk to Caesers Camp. I was one of the lucky few who got a lift from a reporter who was doing a shuttle service for as many people as he could.

However, the police barricaded the entrance to the site to prevent any heavy machinery getting on the site - so it ended up being a glorified, peaceful, hippy camping weekend - fun but not a lot of music!
My journey home was an event in itself, but not for this story
That was the story of the final Free Windsor festival as I saw it....


Nik

NW11


The music © David B

 

Newsletter courtesy David B

This account , from Julian Bond , explains how the camp came into being , apparently encouraged by the local constabulary, no less !!!!

Caesar's Camp - Windsor - 1978

    This one was epic. It started for me, dropping off one of the last three pieces of hash fudge from Rivington at My Mentor's flat in Camden, eating another piece and then starting the trek out to Windsor by bicycle. The time flew by and before I knew it I was in Windsor Great Park. There didn't seem to be any festival goers around so I hid my pack and tent in a hedge and got a bite to eat and a drink in a pub half way between Ascot and Windsor. Then I set off back into Windsor to see what I could find. The next thing I knew I was squatting in somebody's basement with all the lights off and a few candles on the floor getting high with 30-40 revellers. Then there was the ominous knock on the door and we all escaped out the back and split. I cycled back to my pack and slept in the hedgerow.

Photos © Brian F

    The next morning (Sat) I was back in the Great Park, as people hitched in and gathered. As fast as they arrived, the Police picked them up in the big white transit vans and took them away. I heard from someone with a van that they were being taken to Caesar's camp outside Bracknell and I got a lift there. In West End, we stopped for some provisions and were obviously way too conspicuous as a couple of local coppers came to have a look. I dropped my stash into a garden a minute before they poked their heads in the back of the van. "Hello, hello, I don't suppose you've got any drugs in there.", "Oh no, Officer", "Well, be on your way then". Hah!
     We got to Caesar's camp which is a natural amphitheatre of maybe a couple of acres in pine woods. There's an unmade track up from a car park that had some pubic loos. The others parked the van and I rode my bicycle up. As usual on a bicycle I was invisible and wasn't stopped. Anyway, the rumours appeared to be true. The Police had actually found us a site, given us van rides to get there and then left us to it. One of the guys in the van was maybe in his late 30s or early 40s and gave off an air of control. The first thing he did on arriving was to climb a tree and watch the proceedings. Then a local gnome-like character (60ish, bearded and short) leant us some long cable and somebody tapped into the electricity supply from the public loos. There was no big sound system but a few lights and cassette players.
    Everybody set too, building fires and digging a barbecue trench. But what to do as we were all clean? Then as dusk fell, a guy turned up with a biro tube packed full of little red stars. So from 300 bored straight people, we turned into 300 hapy tripping people. Then somebody else arrived with some Amyl Nitrate (cries all night of AMYL! AMYL!). Somewhere in there I watched a 6 foot Japanese hippy with long black hair doing the chopping wood thing. All sleek, polished, muscley sweat and flailing black hair.
    Sunday was more of the same. By Monday, people were starting to drift away when the Police decided it was time this got sorted out. I didn't see anyone removed but there was a heavy presence and at least one photographer with a twin lens reflex on his chest taking snaps of anyone looking vaguely suspect. I think I also lost my wallet and had a somewhat surreal conversation with the women in the Release tent who clearly didn't care a jot for some upper class twat who couldn't look after himself. I ended up helping out with the free food kitchen making chapatis and curried potato so that I could feel good about taking some food.
    At the end I still had a couple of red stars that I needed to sneak out as I ran the gauntlet of the police line. I had a big candle with me, so I cut a hole in it, dropped in the stars and then melted it back up. Ironically, riding a bicycle again made me invisible and I wasn't even stopped. I rode back up to London and home. I don't know how many people were at Caesar's camp but I'd guess nearer 500 than 100.

This post from Handy Andy is full of praise for the Red Star ....

100 maybee 200 people max , leftovers from the imagined windsor festival -the whole site was surounded by the old bill -none gets in ha ha ha ha !
the geeza with the RED STAR acid saved the day , after a day or two someone fixed up a sound system, still very little to smoke, but loads of RED STAR god bless him, the system broke!!

oh well More RED STAR.
ahh those were the days !!!! "

Handy Andy .

    The proposed Windsor festival was aborted due to the heavy presence of police at the Queen's Cavalry Grounds. Everyone who arrived was 'invited' to move onto Caesar's Camp a now wooded area, the site of an old Iron Age fort. Amongst the crowd mulling around wondering whether to comply were the punk band Crass, resplendent in black military uniforms, not quite suitable for a hot summers day but still... Anyway a couple of hundred made it to Caesar's Camp which incidentally formed a natural amphitheatre so all boded well for the weekend. Then the cops started playing up, they wouldn't allow the generators on site so the best was made of a the circumstance by some acoustic entertainment including the zealous announcement of the days football results to the crowd!

    The only ones not amused were our serious punk friends in uniform, sulking in the crowd as they couldn't play. Much merriment was had by all anyway despite the presence on the fringes of the camp by cops. Sunday I left on my motorcycle, getting booked on the way out for "Riding on Common Land". The following morning they raided the camp with dogs and made a number of arrests. The following week an anonymous letter appeared in The New Musical Express bemoaning the fact that there was no organisation and resistance at the festival. "Reading out football results - is this what the Alternative scene has become". I wonder who wrote that?
Brian F



Blimey -

I was there.

Patti Smith was playing in Reading Festival that week. I got frisked outside the Reading site by plainclothes drugs squad wearing sex+drugs+rock+roll badges and decided I didn't want to linger - so I set off for the Caeser's Camp do, in some wood near Bracknell, Berkshire, just a few miles down the road.

This was 1978's People's (formerly Windsor) Free Festival. Numbers were markedly down after Seasalter the previous year. Were there as many as a 100 there?

No PA, the only music I remember came from a car radio playing Radio One. There was a profound lack of drugs.Sounds like Handy Andy got lucky. All I saw was a fly agaric mushroom which went into a stew to be shared by 20 or so people.

It was so dull that a party of us went to the pub every night.


ah those were the days indeed!

Nigel Ayers


Well, the photos seem to contradict Nigels account , but perhaps the years have mangled the memories of the attendees somewhat .....


Free Festivals List

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

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

1967-69.

 1970-79  
1980-92

 

  • Windsor Peoples Free Festival 1972-74
 
 Free festival related articles
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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Travellers Tales Convoy Steve's tale of how the freaks outsmarted the fuzz at Greenham common.

Zorch -House band for the free festival set ? A fanzine page on the UK's first electronic band .

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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