The Archive.

Mojo Magazine report and Bath Chronicle

    This Mojo Magazine article from 1998 gives a tantalizing account of the existence of 35 mm film of the festival. Just where is it , when will it surface and why is it not in circulation ?

      On the first day, the Festival provided employment to the likes of  Formerly Fat Harry, Keef Hartley, Maynard Ferguson's Big Band, Fairport Convention, Colosseum, It's A Beautiful Day, Steppenwolf, Johnny Winter and Pink Floyd. On the Sunday, John Mayall's Bluesbreakers did the early morning shift, followed by Canned Heat, Joe Jammer (who fitted in everywhere when hands failed to show on time), Donovan, Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention, Santana, Flock, Led Zeppelin, Hot Tuna, a Fish-less Country Joe, Jefferson Airplane, whose act was curtailed by rain, The Byrds, who played an acoustic set in order not to chance electrocution, and Dr John.

   The Moody Blues should have played but were prevented from doing so by the downpour, which narked them somewhat as they'd paid £500 for a helicopter to get to the site on time. According to reliable reports, the event was documented on 35mm film, though no one has ever seen the results apart from a Fairport snippet which seemingly formed part of an educational programme in the early '70s.

  Among the 200,000 visitors to the event was a certain Michael Eavis, who crawled through a hedge to gain entrance and became so impressed by the vibes that he immediately headed back to Pilton, near Glastonbury, to launch a festival of his own, one that starred Marc Bolan, cost just £1 per ticket and had the added incentive of all the free milk you could drink!

Meanwhile, Bath Festival promoter Fred Bannister made upwards of £100,000 on his little shindig.

                                                             MOJO magazine; Issue 52 - March 1998, p. 119

Bath Chronicle.
Coverage of the festival kindly supplied by the Bath Chronicle tends to concentrate on the impact of the festival on the local population and also gives an insight into the chaotic medical conditions as the local St John's ambulance crew struggled to give succour to the incapacitated in the dingy  Bath and Wells show grounds press hut !
Shepton Under Siege from 200,000 fans.
   Shepton Mallet was a town under siege at the weekend when an estimated 200,000 pop fans descended on the area for the Blues Festival on the Bath and Wells show ground. As the last of the "followers left the show site and the town the big clean up campaign got under way. Farmers near the show ground began ot react and held an emergency meeting early on Monday morning to count the cost of damage to hedges, fences and crops. 

  The amount of litter was a huge problem. Tons of paper, polyethylene , tins and bottles told the story of a weekend which pop fans would never forget. 

Fans got a pat on the back from police who had set up a mobile Police station near the site. 'They were a peaceful lot ", said a spokesman
Many fans began to arrive at the site early on in the week and soon the site began to resemble a giant camp with hundreds of tents and other sleeping shelters springing up. The big rush that took everyone by surprise began on Friday and lasted until the early hours of Sunday morning. Extra police were drafted in to try to keep some semblance of order  on the roads.
Queues of traffic, some as long as ten miles, built up . They extended as far back as Wells . where the biggest traffic jams ever know blocked the streets with vehicles that could not be moved. Abandoned cars added to the chaos , as fans left their vehicles on the roadside verges to walk to the site. .
However, despite the traffic snarl,  overall the police indicated that the force had been very pleasurably surprised at the general behaviour of the youths . " They were very well mannered and we had no real trouble. Our main problem was the traffic."

Hells Angels.
Sixty police were on duty at one time and special road motor patrols were brought in . The Chief Constable of Somerset , Mr Kenneth Steele, visited the site on several occasions during the festival.
The site was patrolled by stewards employed by the promoter . Mr Fred Bannister. " The promoters had their own doctors on the site . We had no reports of drug problems. A number of Hells Angels arrived but no one took any notice of them and they calmed down to enjoy the weekend just like everyone else." 

Magistrates praise the police.

    The police were praised for their work in connection with the Shepton Mallet Blues Festival by the chairman of the Shepton Mallet magistrates, Mr W Shorte . At the start of the court sitting he said he wished to make a special mention of the work carried out by the police during the festival. " We would express our appreciation of the manner in which the police carried out their duties arising out of what turned out to be the invasion of Shepton Mallet. H e said.
There was such a multitude of people and vehicles in the area that it gave rise to  serious problems , yet everyone showed great tolerance ands understanding .
The fact that the whole festival went off with eh minimum of trouble is , I think , a great tribute to our guardians of the law and order.

Still missing,.
   About 40 cars , motor cycles and scooters were reported missing after the festival, but by the time we went to press at least half of those had been found. Some said a police spokesman , belonged to people who parked vehicles when they were caught up in traffic queues to proceed on foot and afterwards they could not find the place where they left them .

Chaotic time for the first aiders
1000 cases in fifty hours.

   Criticism of the facilities for treating casualties at the blues festival at Shepton Mallet has come this week from Wells St John Ambulance Superintendent  Mr Paul Fry.
He said the organizers had promised to set up a miniature hospital for the treatment of fans . Instead, the room normally occupied by the press for the Bath and west show was used
"When we arrived , we walked into the press room and found it full of 500 fire extinguishers and  a mountain of catalogues. That was the sum total of the first aid equipment ", said Mr Fry.
Mr Fry was also critical of the arrangements made to get medical assistance. " We knew there was a festival and kept asking about the facilities. Our county people told us there was no official contact. and therefore there was no direct information. On the Friday week before the show., we had an official request for first aid assistance.
     We were given to understand that there would be approximately 25.000 people at the festival . In the Wells division we were asked to see what we could do. As we have limited resources , we went back to the county to request additional help. But other devisions had their own events to attend."


   "It got near and nearer the day and we had collected together as much equipment as we could . We understood that a fully equipped hospital was being laid out and doctors were being brought in by the organizers and that we were going to take over the hospital and man the casualty unit.
But by Friday night , the estimated 25,000, had grown to 70,000.  At this late stage there was little that we could do . On Saturday morning we were due to report at the show ground at 9 am to take over the  first aid facilities  . The ambulance Control received an urgent request from the show ground art 5.45a, We were called out as we were told all hell was let loose."

    Mr Fry said he called out some of his colleagues. " All our previous arrangements went by the board. We loaded up the equipment hastily into the ambulance and set off to the site. " He said that at the time there were three brigade personnel and three young helpers form the Wells Cathedral school.
' We were absolutely desperate . There was no water in the hut - the nearest supply was at a toilet - and we only had two working electric light bulbs, . We immediately contacted the county ambulance control and put them in the picture ands asked them for help."

Queuing Up

  Meanwhile youngsters needing attention were queuing up . He obtained six stretchers , five bed mattresses and 12 blankets from county headquarters at Shepton Mallet.
"One small table in the press room was all we had to set a temporary hospital. By lunchtime on Saturday a matron from one of the Taunton Hospitals had arrived and took over responsibility for the organization " Said Mr Fry." we had only nine first aiders at that time and it got very hectic . We were dealing with every type of injury , but in all fairness, we did have the assistance of some doctors brought down from London by the promoters."
Mr Fry said that there was no official requests from the promoters apart from the belated request to the St Johns Ambulance Brigade. " I am critical of the way the late request came in . If the promoter was paying these groups such fantastic sums , he could have afforded to hire a proper mobile hospital. There should have been teams to tackle the job. Normal procedure should have been three shifts with a proper sterile unit. WE got away with it by the grace of God.
If we had a junkie fall into a fire we would have been in queer street . The position regarding surgical dressings got extremely critical and late on Saturday evening our workers were very tired and relief's could not get into the ground because of the traffic jams ", said Mr Fry.

   He telephoned doctors in Wells and one of them recruited two nurses from the Wells and District Hospital to got ot the site and help out. ' They came and stemmed the tide AS they arrived we were getting youngsters in who were having bad trips on LSD and we had no idea of what to do with them and we had to learn from the doctors. We could not have any sleep as there was nowhere for us to go . Later on we had a tent , but the noise was so intense that we could not settle down. On Sunday we gathered together other assistance from the county We all realized it was an emergency of the greatest importance. " said Mr Fry.

During the 50 hours, members of the Wells division treated over 1000 cases. MR fry said they noted every case until 800 were reached but things got so hectic that the recording had to be abandoned. 

Festival Fans are praised.
   Visitors to the recent Blues festival at Shepton Mallet came in for praise this week from Urban Councillor Mr A.R.W. Connock" I wonder if urban councillors could not even take a lesson from them " commented Mr Connock..
A side effect from the festival claimed Mr Connock, had been to bring together townspeople who had previously never spoken to each other and to change completely their opinions about those attending the festival.
   The presence of the festival goers had caused townspeople who had never spoken ot each other before to start chatting and he added," what is much more important is that while before the festival they were hippies, their arrival in such huge numbers with the majority proving kind, considerate and highly intellectual, had resulted in people changing their views entirely.
Although people had been running down the type of person attending such festivals the actual  conduct of the youngsters who would be running the country in future years was a happy omen for the future. While the sheer weight of numbers had caused some disruption and caused people in some parts of the town to lose some sleep, the general standard had been quite high " said Mr Cannock, "particularly in view of the fact that in effect a large town had been planted on Shepton Mallet's doorstep without proper facilities. The inadequacy of the facilities at the show ground had meant inconvenience for the visitors as well as the townspeople and in view of this the visitors should be congratulated on their behaviour " he added.

   NOT EVERYONE took such a charitable view. Some local farmers were angry at the damage caused , this being estimated so far at more than 3000 pounds. With more farms still to be assessed for damage, it is thought the final figure could go over 4000 pounds. After the festival prisoners form Shepton Mallet prison were drafted to the show ground to help with the massive cleanup operation. They were paid full union rates but will not actually get the cash, which goes to the exchequer. 

The Big Question : Another one ?
Incomplete article by Michael Chamberlain.

   The Blues festival at Shepton Mallet was peaceful and well supported by an estimated 200,000 fans. But as the last pilgrim limped away the toll of the weekend was being counted. Undoubtedly the litter problem was very serious. As I sat in my car , stuck in one of the now famous traffic queues, I wondered, I wondered how may of them had jobs ... how many of them had homes to return to... and in some cases, when they had the last wash. This was the permissive society at its permissive best , or its worst. Drugs were quite openly for sale and accepted for a price. The needles were being used , the LSD taken  and the pot being smoked . In fact the air around the site had a quite awful odour.
   It was obvious that the popularity of the festival surprised everyone , including the promoter, Mr Fred Bannister.  I spoke to him just after he had left the site on Monday morning as he was off to get some sleep. His comments were" I am feeling so tired, I'll talk to you after I have had a good sleep. I will talk to you about the festival. I'm very tired we have been here four days on the trot with little sleep, what you need to know can wait a week."
   As for farmers in the area, they were not prepared to wait a week. They met on Monday morning with a representative of the festival  and they were not prepared to say much until they had met the promoter to air their grievances. When I visited near the site, almost very corner had been used as a toilet .Bottles and tins littered the hedges and tons of litter had still to be cleaned. One farmer told me he and his bull had been patrolling the fields all weekend in an effort to stop this pollution.
   An officer on the site invited me to inspect some of the toilets. I found them in a deplorable state , but again I do not think that there were enough toilet accommodations to cope with 50,000 , let alone four times that number.
   The secretary of the Bath and Wells Showground would not comment , it was Mr Bannister's pigeon he said.

Which leaves the question of course, should it happen again  ?

A moot question, for one reason or another it did NOT happen again at Bath ,probably due to the traffic jams and , despite Mojo stating the Bannisters made 100,000 smackeroos , a lack of profit .  Fred Bannister said he only made about a 1000 pounds on the show. However , after staging a successful folk festival at Lincoln in 1971 , he did go on to organise the massive one day events at Knebworth park a few years later.

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Ross Mortimore's streaming Quicktime movie of the crowd features clear images of the stage PA , Colosseum onstage and bikers with Canned Heat at Bath as a soundtrack provided courtesy of Bob C .

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