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Updated Dec 2012

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

R.IP. Phil Shaksby , aka Phil The Beer ,who passed away April 2010 .


 

Harmony Farm Festivals

Tunbridge Wells Arts Lab

Harmony Farm

Ashdown Forest

Nr Duddleswell .

East Sussex

August 7th 1971

and

Outback Farm

Nutley

September 4th or 11th 1971

 

Harmony Farm stage 1971

 

   Two free festivals- apparently organised by the local arts lab , one of which featured Hawkwind amongst other bands. One site gives the festival as running over two consecutive Saturdays- the fourth and eleventh of September , but the press cutting provide to us by Jenni Clark indicates this was not so. It appears that the events were held at different sites.

   Hawkwind apparently also played another show at Watford Kingham Hall Hydrospace on the 11th - busy lads !

   Our newspaper clipping relates only to the second festival which was held to pay off the debts incurred by the first festival !

 

 

Harmony Farm August 7th 1971
The Organisers' Tale

These are time faded memories of my youth.

    Early spring of 1971 i was bored- along with the rest of the youth of Tunbridge Wells. I approached the Council to see if we could get something going over the summer (not at that time, specifically a festival) I was met with total disdain and told that as we weren't ratepayers "Not a chance".
So we decided to organise our own stuff and so The Tunbridge Wells Arts Lab was formed.

    Various activities were organised ie. painting and music workshops etc. But having been to a few festivals I have to admit to a bit of `I could do that syndrome`.
So the idea was born and off we went. A stalwart group pressed on looking for sites and sorting out the difficulties of funding.

    First port of call was the offices of The International Times. Mick Farren and Germain Greer were both very helpful with ideas and contacts, and also how to deal with the local constabulary when setting up.

   We were offered Whitehouse Farm, Duddleswell by the owner Mrs Harrison (alas no longer with us). And quite early on we realised that the complications of trying to make people pay for entry was nigh impossible. So we proceeded on with the idea that it would be a free festival and we would ask for donations on the day and help and sponsorship in setting it up. A wild notion I know but we were young so what the hell. I can't remember all those who gave their time expertise and materials but I am forever grateful and a little amazed, still, at such generosity from sometimes unexpected quarters.

   The week before people arrived and mucked in it was really wonderful atmosphere. I spent two days solid on the phone ringing round any bands I could get numbers for asking of they would play for free. A lot of bands said they would come if they had no other gigs come up so the final line up was always a mystery. Somehow things got done I have no real idea how it all happened but on the day loads of people arrived so did some bands and fun was had by all (I think)

    I remember we were let down on the PA the night before and someone went into Tunbridge Wells first thing in the morning and went into Barnard's Music shop and asked if they could help. They lent us every piece of equipment they had for no charge. Brilliant!  Later The Pink Fairies turned up with their PA and set the whole lot up and did the sound for the whole day. Again Brilliant!

    The day itself for me was a blur (for various reasons) If memory serves me Stackridge, Amon Dul, Open Road (Donovan's Band) Pink Fairies and The Portsmouth Symphonia. Others may have played but I'm not sure. The DJ for the day was Hank the Gasman (Where are they all now?) My most abiding memory is of the following morning, having spent the night sleeping on a floor somewhere. Going out to the field to sort out the clear up to find an organised line of people stretched out across the field picking up the litter. In front of them the detritus of a days fun and behind them a clean and almost pristine field. It was something that had organised itself and showed that people cared.

    As to the Festival that followed at Nutley. A so called sponsor of the festival decided he wanted to at least recoup his money so he took the name and a lot else and it again down the road. I played but a minor part in that one and don't remember much about it I'm afraid.
Hope this fills any gaps, stirs a few memories, shows the young'uns that you can get up and Do It Yourselves.
Keep the Faith
Charlie Gask

We have several eyewitnesses - Paul Rhodes , who provideth this info .....
Hello,

I remember going to a one-day free festival on Ashdown Forest in East Sussex, near Duddleswell, sometime in the early seventies, probably 1971-2. Has anyone else ever come up with this one?

It was quite a small affair, and I seem to remember a band called the Musketeers playing, and possibly Brinsley Schwarz. I'm afraid I can't be any more specific as the memory is hazy!

All the best,

Paul

Hiya.

Fascinated to see these pics of the Harmony Farm festival and I can add a few more names to them. We lived in Crowborough and remember Gary (who took the pics). He hung out with us while he was staying in Crowborough during the summer. Some of these pics were published in the local paper and I still have the press cuttings. I remember he took his camera everywhere and I have some great photos he took of me.

The unmistakable guy laying on his side on the ground with fag in one hand is Nick Willis - a well known face around Crowborough, I am sitting just behind him, but I am also the girl sitting hugging her knees in another pic. Nick and I are still together after all these years and we still visit Crowborough occasionally to see members of Nick's family.

Standing by the Happy Trips sign next to Steve White wearing the crochet waistcoat is Merlin South. Polly Perkins who was in the local band Ongle (later Sussex) sadly died about a year ago. One person who I am sure was there, but seems to be missing from the pics is Chris 'Lurka' Young. We did keep in touch with him for quite a few years and went to his wedding, but have now lost touch.

There were two festivals in this area not sure if this was the first or second one. I also recall that there was not a great deal of music happening - not that it really seemed to matter!! Can't really remember which bands were supposed to be playing, but did think the Pink Faires were there.

Ah those were the days !!

Jenni Clark

 

 

Gareth Tynan, who has kindly provided us with all these nice photos- has these recollections.....

Harmony Farm, Nutley 1971
I was visiting Crowborough and went to the Festival with a group of friends, some of whom set up a rescue station for those on Bad Trips.
The sign for the rescue station is visible on the photos “Happy Trips”.

I can’t remember much about the music except there was not much. There were problems with the equipment possibly because of the rain.

I spent a lot of my time helping the crew at the rescue station pacify one girl about my age (19) who was on a bad trip and hallucinating (she was horrified about something). I remember it so well because later she came by and spent a lot of time trying to acquire LSD.

I only took a few pictures as most people just spent their time waiting for something to happen, I was also careful that no one had incriminating evidence visible in my pictures.

Late in the evening just before it got dark we lit fires and listened to some music, at this time a couple came along, moving to the stage to dance, and as the music stopped again, they stopped at the fire (left) to keep warm. I think we waited a while and then packed and left.

My next pictures on the film are from the Crowborough Carnival and Bonfire (Second Weekend in September). This could have been the same day/evening as the film only shows the torch procession. I do remember one of my friends who had worked on the rescue station asking me to accompany him as he was going to take LSD before watching the fireworks,

I saw no point in taking drugs or smoking (I was into intergalactic meditation). The time accompanying my friend was a most interesting experience as he described his feelings, the colours and taste he was experiencing.

The field/site itself was probably between Nutley and Duddleswell, because it was on the edge of Ashdown Forest (which we crossed from Crowborough), and not in the village of Nutley. These towns/villages are in East Sussex and the Kent Sussex border is only a few miles away.

Gareth Tynan

Hi there ,

I lived in nearby Crowborough and was fifteen at the time.I went to Harmony Farm and remember sleeping out and it was quite cold for a summers evening ,mind you I only had a tee shirt and jeans on .I used to have several posters for this festival which are long since lost and I don't think that it named any bands but it certainly listed a macrofood tepee.

The location was Whitehouse Farm which is on the Nutley road as you turn off the Duddleswell road.The music wasn't great, it was only a small local happening, compared with bigger events that I attended in the 70s. I remember a plethora of bands from the big festivals at Lincoln ,Weeley ,Windsor and Reading. The only ones I recall from Harmony Farm were Amon Din who were either first or second on . Hawkwind , I note were thought to have played here but this is not so, Huw Lloyd Langton and Dave Anderson former Hawkwind space cadets were in this band and they played the best set there.

 

 

Russell Hunter of the Pink Fairies onstage at Harmony Farm © Nigel

The headline act was acid casualty Magic Michael who sang? and spluttered his way through an hour of nonsensical ramblings. I saw Stackridge and the Pink Faries at the Elizabethan Barn at nearby Tunbridge Wells and they were two of my favourite bands then and despite other peoples hazy memories neither band played at the first Harmony Farm.

I know several of the people in your photos ,the first dude is the one and only "Polly " Perkins who was lead singer in local band Ongle who then morphed into post punk band Sussex.The guy with the top hat is Steve " Milky " White who aspired to be an head honcho at the ICA.The other guy with the glasses is my old mate Lawrence "Fanny " Adams,we all had silly nicknames then ,so it seems .The girl on the left is I am pretty sure is Elvira Neve who didn't have a nickname,but I fancied her then and although I haven't thought of her for forty years the scent of her patchouli oil is still redolent in the evening air
regards

Stephen "Ozzie " Tewkesbury

 

 

 

 

Hi, I was 16 at the time and myself and a friend Nigel went to this local festival as we were living not far away in Hildenborough Kent,

We both loved The Pink Fairies and still do. I recall the rain, The Pink Fairies ,Stackridge, the Hari Krisnah guys.

My friend Nigel got on the Pink Fairies stage and with a camera took a great picture behind Twink and his drumkit looking out onto the audience, plus one of a Fairies guitarist wearing a Harmony Farm T-Shirt which I also bought.

Up The Pinks,

Chris Gurr.


Hi there

Great to see the pictures of the field that was Harmony Farm. I had no idea where it was except it was the south of England. I had been at Weeley Festival working on the free food kitchen and heard about a free gig called Harmony Farm. I have no idea how I got there I may have hitched or got a lift. I was a few days early and there were just a handful of people and no stage.

Over the next few days the staging arrived – just scaffold poles and timber as I remember. I helped put the stage together and helped get some of the equipment onto the stage, I remember it was pouring with rain on the night. I am pretty sure Stackridge played and possibly the Pink Fairies but I also think some bands didn’t turn up.

In the picture there is an old ambulance which I think had been painted brown and had been at Weeley. I had no money but every night people cooked flat bread which we must have ate with a veg curry or something, and there was always something to smoke.

After the gig I went hop picking to earn some money. Great days , I just wish I remembered more!

Alan Delliston


Great pics. Thanks!
I hitched down the A22 from Lingfield.... Spent my last few coins on some fried rice at the food tent and spent most of the afternoon crowd watching. The music was kinda forgettable and the wait between bands was long I recall. As I remember it, Stackridge was supposed to play but didn't cos their roadies got busted...

Paul Birdseye

 

Duncan Sanderson ? © Nigel


There were 2 festivals at Harmony Farm can't remember the dates, but one was in Duddleswell (sloping site with oak tree at the top you can see on the 4th pic from the bottom of the page) the second on a flat site near Nutley. The second one got a bit crazy and violent. Pink fairies, Brinsley Schwarz played at both I think. Sad to hear of Polly perkins dying - Greg clarke was in Ongle as well, what happened to him? At HF someone fell into the crap ditch (5 ft deep) and couldnt get out until we found a rope and hauled him out (from a distance)

Chris Martin


At this late date/advanced stage of memory fade/cardiganship I really have no idea which of the Harmony Farms it was, but you can add The Portsmouth Sinphonia (?) to the list of performers for one or the other. I am pretty certain of that since the Farm was probably the only festival I ever managed to get any sleep at – and the Sinphonia ‘playing’ Richard Strauss's “Also Spracht Zarathustra” is, I can assure you, the most unsettling way to wake up.

To tie it all together, this was the one at which The Pink Fairies played. Also there? I seem to recall Hawkwind at least trying to play – a problem shared by other bands. But it was fun (sort of).

Ah, happy days. And best wishes to Cowboy, Pooh, Mick, Suzanne (oh, where are you now), Jo and all the other wonders of the time who might still be around!

Peace, Love, Luck and Every Happiness to you all!
Mike (Prof) McRory-Wilson


Not sure why or how but just came across the page about Harmony Farm festivals. I went to both - somewhere I still have the poster for the first which stated " For the nicer kind of freak ". It was indeed organised by Tun Wells Arts lab. The first was nearer crowborough on the Ashdown forest - funnily enough I still go to the site as its full of magic mushrooms at the right time of year ! The second was in Nutley right next to the A22. At the first there were lots of PA problems but Stackridge and Amon Din both def played - I bought my first ever draw there - a quid bought over an eighth of good Nigerian weed. It rained heavily then went really sunny later.

The second was better organised music wise - Brinsley Schwarz and the Fairies amongst others including a band called Bastard which later morphed into the Damned !!! I know - I promoted them in 73 at a local free gig.

They were both beautiful events - my first festies. I am proud to say that 40 years later I have never paid to go to a festival but have been to many playing or bunking in. I'm now a university lecturer so that strong acid didnt do too much harm.
Thanks for the great memories,
D


I went with a mate from School, Barry Edwards, who met some of his mates. I remember the names Alan Cox, Andy (Maclain?), his girlfriend and maybe Louie.

Can't remember a lot to be fair; yes a lot of waiting around waiting for something to happen, someone's roadie getting busted (I have always thought Hawkwind's who didn't play) and the macrobiotic food which some hippie guy kindly bought me so long as I was telling the truth... 'you got no money'.

One thing I did think I recalled though was that a band called Bastard played who I always assumed were an early version of Motorhead due to the Hawkwind connection.

That's all.

PD


Hi
I was in a band called D'Artagnan who played at the Nutley Harmony Farm Festival (I see a former correspondent remembered us as the 'musketeers!) There were big gaps between bands due partly to rain and Amon Din/Duul taking ages to set up. Bands I remember were Open Road..Donovan's backing band, Unicorn, who later had an album out produced by Dave Gilmour, a jamming band called Savannah and others hanging around waiting to play from Stackridge, Pink Fairies and a number of 'ethnic' percussionist drum people who had frequented a number of previous festivals. We ended up going on last and as the previous bands had played dreamy meandering styles of music it provided a contrast as we were hard rock.

Trying to be modest here but we went down a storm and ended up closing with a hurried version of "walk on Gilded Splinters" which pleased the aforementioned drummers no end as they came on stage and played with us. Hawkwind's roadie (whose name escapes me) also joined in and it was great. The band was Pete Davies:lead guitar, Dez Eldridge:bass, Dick Gardner: drums, and myself : rhythm guitar and vocals. The only write-ups I saw following this were a tiny bit in the MM and number of local papers described how our "powerful guitar licks" had wowed the crowd. Have attended numerous festivals since (including Windsor 1972/4) but have never played at another though have done loads of gigs of varying standards. Those were fab times and I was really pleased to find this site. Bloody well done!
David Foster-Smith


Hi

I was a member of Tunbridge Wells Arts Lab and got involved in helping set things up at Harmony Farm. A large contingent from Tunbridge Wells came, and we seemed to share a large tent. At the Outback Farm festival I was at one point involved in helping Keith (the landlord of The Harp pub in Tunbridge Wells) and Dave Bicknall selling tobacco and other smoking sundries from Keith’s tent. I remember we had to sleep with the baccy & fags in the tent to stop them being nicked!

Due to various substances the music was a bit hazy but I seem to remember The Enid with the Portsmouth Sinfonia? The Pink Fairies, Bastard & D’Artagnan.

The clearing up was pretty grim, especially after the rain at Harmony Farm but I think most of us were still stoned so couldn’t care much anyway. Tunbridge Wells Arts Lab had a plan to convert an old sandstone quarry into an amphitheatre for future concerts but after a few weekends of hard digging & clearing the project was abandoned. This was at Rotherfield in East Sussex. I have attached a few pics of the work.


Sometime in either 1971 or 1972 there was a free concert in Tunbridge Wells (Calverley Grounds) starring local Crowborough band Ongle. I have attached a few pics of this too, if they’re any good!

Good luck with the site, it’s brilliant and obviously a labour of love

Howard Keegan (known as Butch in those days)

The great Arts Lab dig ©Howard Keegan

The great Arts Lab dig ©Howard Keegan

The great Arts Lab dig © Howard Keegan

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

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1980-92

 

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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 .

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