The Archive

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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

Big BIG thanks to our sponsor Neil !

"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


Festival Welfare Service.

Press Report -Spring 1979.

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You may have wondered at these Festival Welfare Service reports that pepper the site,"who the hell are FWS ?", you mused as you read their reports on Rivington Pike , Stonehenge and Deeply Vale .

Well now you can find out all about them , just read the article below.

Paving the Yellow Brick Road.


    Penny Mellor was threatened with prosecution for driving her vehicle on to the site of last years Stonehenge Free Festival. The police officer had not been warned that she was there with Home Office authority. He didn’t believe her .
    That incident marred Penny’s first day as Festival Welfare Services field-worker- a unique job that entails liaising between pop festival organisers. voluntary aid, local, authorities , hospitals and the police. She is an adviser to officials and a mother figure to welfare volunteers. She consorts with chief constables and festival goers, treading a fine line between ill -defined bylaws and health hazards , between the 'them and us' brigades .
    Penny has to win the confidence of environmental health officers aver the siting of latrine trenches and the disposing of festival rubbish. She supports workers from Release , counsellors form the Samaritans and ferries the injured to hospital over dirt tracks. She smooths the meeting of local communities and the uninvited , often illegally camped guests.At Glastonbury she diluted villagers fears and treasures photographs of them taking tea around camp fires , talking about alternative lifestyles.
    Until now Penny has been appointed on six monthly contract , funded by the home office’s Voluntary Services Unit and based at the National Council Of Social Service. Her basement is decorated with charts and posters of coming festivals. forms the secretariat of Festival Welfare Services , officially described as 'a coordinating committee for organisations concerned with welfare activities at pop festivals.'
    Penny’s own spring report - published to coincide with the first big pop festival seminar last Friday - reveals the pitfalls of her job . Sometimes she can't even find festival sites. Gatherings of up to 5,000 can congregate without warning - drawing the remnants of previous festivals drifting across the countryside. She discovered on e groups of 100 in search of the Peoples Free Festival in Surrey 'miserably camped in the middle of a thunderstorm on a heather and bracken common '. Even the police were confused between the location of this event and the nearby International Youth Festival of Hope for Mankind , which despite its name , was commercially organised and fee demanding . Many festival goers can’t afford to pay . Their very nature makes pop festival unpredictable , tension filled occasions when anything can happen , or when police and hippies can rub shoulders in peace ( they grew through Flowerpower) . Penny sees herself as a an independent , trusted coordinator , liaising through anonymous links , belonging to neither side , advising both.
    Her own past pop festival visits -she is now 27 - were a preparation for her present post , which follows a miscellany of experience. She took a degree in geography at Sussex , taught in the West Country and modelled at an Art College and ran an experimental dance and theatre group.
    Her responsibilities don't fit into a conventional pattern . At Glastonbury she helped BIT Information Service arrange the delivery of a 5000 gallon water tank and rubbish skip on private hire. "A site collection was made to cover the costs . Release dealt with legal and drug problems , especially aiding those people suffering from the effects of cider and barbiturates taken together . The Salvation Army brought in their national emergency officer who organised a tea wagon, counselling services and took in lost property."
    At Stonehenge she tried to improve on water from a cattle trough (elsewhere Gypsies agree to share their tap) and although latrine trenches were dug and disinfected , their lack of privacy meant that , "Unfortunately the woods were preferred . Oil drums set in the ground and surrounded by a canvas shelter were a better solution at Deeply Vale Free Festival In Lancashire "Recalls Ms Mellor.
    Medical facilities are vital at large events but Penny claims that the drugs- festival link has been exaggerated by the media . At the same time overdosers are reluctant to accept treatment from staff in uniform who may be unsympathetic. Drink also poses a threat , not always encountered sensibly . Fans arrived drunk at 10 am at City Rock in Essex, because alcohol was banned by the organisers. Soft drinks were available in metal can s which became missiles thrown on stage . "It would have been better if drinks had been sold in paper cups". Penny pointed out afterwards . That was Penny’s first punk festival - and it turned out to be a financial flop with the headline band pulling out and scaffolders having to be restrained by police from pulling down the stage . Sometime relations are impossible.
    At Rivington Pike Festival Lancashire , a number of the Hells Angels fired a gun at a punk band , intimidated others and fought amongst themselves .When Penny , in her advisory role , wandered at night around a wooded area where people slept in different enclaves and encountered two rival factions "I was slightly worried until the police were called in "
    Stories like that alarmed one environmental officer alerted by police that there was a festival in his area. "Are they dangerous ? "he asked her. Accompanied by his poodle he examined the site . Local officials now beginning to know about Festival Welfare Services , telephone her , scared by rumours of pop, punk, free , folk , jazz or other festivals moving into the administrative bounds of their ken.
    Ironically too efficient arrangement s encourage campers to stay on , admits Penny . They may be catered for by wholemeal cooks and a range of caterers from members of the festival welfare services committee who include , to name some of a dozen, Civil Aid , National Association Of Youth Clubs, The British Council Of Churches, Samaritans, Release. and environmental health official representatives. Responsibilities include providing for meditation , emergency shelter and helping people get home . Penny would like to see the addition of of an organisation who an provide creches , but the trick is to maintain minimum standards while keeping fees low so one can preserve the essential spontaneity of pop festivals
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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

Related Articles

The aroma of a free festival -by Roger Hutchinson

Dome construction instruction sheet (download-140k)-by Roger Hutchinson

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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