Walter Lloyd, the Chairman of Civil Aid, wrote this extensive report on the Krumlin Festival.
We had got promises of help from several of the Yorkshire Civil Aid units, and could cope with the communications and first aid, although they were a bit short of field cable, but they had no-one who could do emergency feeding, and could Rochdale help out on this one. Rochdale being in the North West region, it would be a good opportunity to practice cooperation between Regions.
The Rochdale Civil Aid Treasurer, Ernie Flaherty, went over to the next meeting, and agreed that Rochdale could provide 5,000 portions of soup and bread if the management would advance the money to purchase it. We only had one Soyer boiler at the time, and to do 5,000 portions in 24 hours or so, really needed a second, so he went to Lytham St Annes and bought another.
The cheque for £80 to buy soup powder and bread arrived just in time to get the food before the festival, and an advance party from Rochdale went over the Krumlin on Friday. They found that the Huddersfield, Bradford, Leeds and Sheffield Units were there, and had been spending their evenings all week laying cable round the site. The portable switchboard was in the stone barn attached to the farmhouse, north country fashion, at the top of the site, and this barn was being used as Civil Aid Headquarters, although the management had provided a small tent, a 10ft marquee down at the bottom, near the stage, beside the other service tents for Police, First Aid, Release, Church, and so on.
The very first task Civil Aid had been asked to perform was to provide telephone communication between the Police Wireless caravan up the hill in the Car Park, to the Ambulance Service temporary station in an old mill at the very bottom of the hill. And what a hill it was. The site was a typical Pennine hill farm, on steep hillside, with a narrow winding lane coming in at the top,no proper road down through the fields, only a path that would be suitable for pack ponies in dry weather. The land was infertile boulder clay, in an area of high rainfall, where every valley has its reservoir to feed the neighbouring industrial towns. This valley had just had a new reservoir built, the Scammonden Dam, that combined the reservoir with a viaduct for the Lancashire Yorkshire Motorway, M.62
At the bottom of the farm, at the end of a new road that had, been built on the line of a former farm track was the scaffolding stage, backed by caravans for use by the management and as dressing rooms for the groups, and stretching up the hill towards the farmhouse at the top was the arena for the fans, who could sit on the hillside in the manner of a Greek theatre. The perimeter was fenced off with scaffolding and chain link netting, and around the edges were marquees for selling food and beer and jewellery, candles, 'underground' magazines, camping equipment. In a field alongside the arena was the main camping area, already covered with tents. There seemed to be several thousand there already, and the staff of stewards and so on were very busy. A11 the staff and management were following the hippy convention of jeans and tie-dye tee shirts and long hair.
Given a site on a hill farm, which proved to have been unwise, the management had planned very well to meet every contingency. They had a water supply feeding large tanks they, had bucket latrines in marquees sited close to hard roads where they could be emptied by the local council tank carts, they had a good supply of electricity, they had field telephones, they had a hospital tent with a large staff of volunteers manning it, the ambulance service were standing by down the hill, there were police from all over the Ridings of Yorkshire. They did not foresee the terrible weather that was to hit them, but such weather was exceptional for August, even in the Pennines. When it came, the services and the voluntary organizations were just able to prevent loss of life. But there were plenty of inconveniences. The toilet tents were a long way from the first aid and civil aid tents. The arrangements for feeding the voluntary staff were most unsatisfactory they were to buy their own food and claim compensation from Northern Entertainments afterwards, instead of being supplied with a free meal pass as had been arranged. The marquee for Civil Aid was already too small. We were able to remedy some of these faults with the main Civil Aid party that arrived on Saturday.
Civil Aid split into three shifts so that we could give continuous coverage, manning the switchboard and so on, Duty shift, stand-by shift and off-duty shift, who would only be called in an emergency, each shift lasting four hours.
We found that the field telephones could only be operated effectively if we placed a Civil Aid member at each as operator—if we did not, either there was no one there when a call was made, or someone would pick up the phone but not realise that it operated on a pressed switch and so could not make himself heard. As a result of this policy of supplying operators we were able to keep effective communications throughout the duration of the festival, but it strained our resources of manpower, and during the night we withdrew most of our operators.
During Saturday afternoon a crisis of management developed. This was mainly due to inadequate financial arrangements. As much of the ticket money was held by ticket agencies, there was not enough ready cash to meet all the needs. A couple of cheques bounced, and the Groups lost confidence in the managements ability to pay them, and one or two insisted that they would only appear if they were paid cash, and there was not enough cash. There were delays and arguments. One of the two organizers of Northern Entertainments disappeared, last seen walking over the moors in a daze, the other collapsed under the strain, and was out of action for several crucial hours.
But as so often happens during a time of crisis, fresh leaders emerged, and these formed themselves into a new management. They were Huw Price, the site foreman, John Gawkroger who had come in at the last moment to oversee the ticket sellers, Brian Wickham, who had the beer tent concession, and4, Les Allen, an agent from London, who knew all the groups. Between them, informally, they decided that the show must go on for the sake of the thousands of kids who were now there, having travelled from all over Europe, Africa, America, as well, as England, Scotland and Wales. Brian advanced money from his bar takings to meet certain immediate expenses, John used the money from the gate to pay the Groups travelling expenses:: and hotel bills, Huw paid the stewards enough to be able to eat (some of this coming from the sale of programmes in the arena by Civil Aid members who were aware of the situation and were doing what they could to help so that the show could go on,) Les contacted Groups managers by telephone, including those still in London, and persuaded them to appear for expenses only on the following day. Ginger Baker in fact turned up on the Sunday to play free of charge, not even asking for his expenses , but by that time the festival had been abandoned.
This new management tackled the whole situation and solved every problem as it arose; problems were continuous, varying in size from peanuts to mountains. By dark, confidence had been restored among the groups and the staff, and the future of the festival was assured- it was expected to at least break even as a result of Sunday ticket sales, with the faint possibility of a large profit. One of the major problems had been forged tickets that had been spotted at the gates—the gang involved in the forgery were located and checked, but this had a disastrous effect on ticket receipts.
At about midnight the Groups stopped playing for the night there had been some heavy showers and there was a rash of short circuits on the stage, where the loudspeaker system had an output of about 2,000 watts. A discotheque continued in a huge inflatable tent near to the Civil Aid tent.
I had gone off duty at 10 pm and climbed into a sleeping bag in a tent belonging to Ernie, our Treasurer . I had been vaguely aware that the Groups had stopped playing, and although half asleep at the time, heard the Discotheque stop and then the huge electric fan that kept the tent inflatable stopped too. Soon after, as the tent deflated, it could be heard flapping in the wind, which was rising, and presently there was very loud crack, like a whip crack, as the dome was caught by the wind and then collapsed . I had heard rain on the side of the tent, and had wondered about the campers, many of whom had only a plastic bag that they had climbed into in the arena, or nothing at all for shelter.
We were woken by the Duty shift at quarter to two and warned that the weather was getting worse. As we came on duty, the arena was beginning to clear, and campers, already very wet were looking for shelter pushing into the marquees or standing on the lee side out of the driving rain. The rain started to get really heavy, and the flow of campers looking for shelter increased. Ernie, who was shift leader, decided that the soup might be needed, and got the Soyer boiler going. The only fuel that could be found to light it in the wet and dark was the poles of the collapsed marquees (one had gone down already), so they were chopped up, and the fire lit, the water brought to the boil' the soup powder lit. While this was being done I went round the whole site, checking on what food was available. There were only four hot-dog stalls and a milk bar, none cheap.
I checked with St
John and Release, both of whom we had already found most co-operative,
and found that they were beginning to get worried about cases of exposure.
So Civil Aid said 'Right. Free soup for all who need it. Keep them warm.'
At about 4 a.m. there
were two ad hoc conferences in progress, one between the County Ambulance
Officer in charge of the temporary Ambulance station below and the St.
John personnel, who were trying to predict which way the emergency was
likely to develop. The other was between St. John, Release and Civil
Aid, to try to organize additional shelter. The only practical solution
was the beer marquees, but these were closed and guarded by employees
who, quite rightly, would not allow
It was not easy to get a decision to requisition from the Police. It is a built-in feature of the Police Force that they do not make independent decisions—they always consult higher authority, unless it is in the book. Only a Chief Constable will readily act on his own initiative. Disaster conditions, although part of the police task, are met with so infrequently that they are outside their normal experience.
However, by insistence,
the Release doctor managed to get through to the senior Police Officer
on duty, and he authorized the sergeant present to open the beer tents.
The first of these was an attempt to extort money from traders by threats, at about dusk on Saturday night. The second was the three or four drug cases arrested (although rumours were circulating that over one hundred had been 'busted' by the ~ police—but this was rather indicative of the ill feeling that existed for the police). In one of these cases the man arrested was very roughly handled by the police—he was 'high'. There was a very strong protest by Release' one of whom had witnessed the arrest. Police behaviour after that was perfect , but it did not help the feeling of resentment the two philosophies of hippy and police being to an extent incompatible. It would have done a great deal to improve relations permanently if police had physically helped to carry and distribute soup, so that they could have been seen to be concerned with the welfare of the campers. Many people were seen to help, but they were anonymous. One helper in particular must be singled out -a male nurse from Lancashire who worked throughout the night with the Civil Aid volunteers. At the time I thought he was a member of one of the Yorkshire Units of Civil Aid.
Shortly before dawn the pressure had become so great that all the off-duty shift of Civil Aid had been called out, and it was soon after this that the gale returned with renewed violence and marquees and tents collapsed, including the beer tent crowded with campers, watched over by a member of Civil Aid. Huw Price was at this time trying to get riggers in to reinforce the guys of the marquees, but this was not easy on a Sunday morning, and they did not arrive in time to save the tents. With the dawn the problem started to ease, as people came to life in their plastic bags and started to move about and warm up. The number of fresh exposure cases slackened off and some people started to climb the hill to leave the site.
At about 6 a.m. there was a quick meeting of the new management to discuss the situation and see if it would be possible to continue. At that time the word was passed round that it was intended to continue with the day's programme, if later circumstances would permit. By now there were queues of people forming at the Soyer boiler beside the Civil Aid tent,and the second boiler that had been operating up at the farm was brought down to the centre of the site. At about 7 a.m. Ernie collapsed from the strain he had been working under. A doctor from Release quickly got him away to hospital, with his daughter Lesley, who had gone off duty after the beer tent had collapsed over her head.
At a little before 8 a.m., the management all got together at the farm, went to see the Police, decided that the stage was no longer safe, that the show could not possibly go on, so the festival was called off. Although at this time the weather was looking better and there was a good forecast, it was a wise decision, because the wind rose again, most of the remaining tents collapsed, there were frequent heavy showers, and a retaining wall in the farmyard collapsed.
Campers were streaming off the ground, and the Police got in touch with the Bus Company to get the special evening service brought forward to deal with them. The medical and First Aid teams were still under heavy pressure and the ambulances were kept busy until mid afternoon moving hospital cases that were carried over the mud in mountain rescue sledges. Teams from Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield Civil Aid came in and took over from those who had been on duty all night, who managed to get a snack and a few hours rest. By early afternoon there was no real problem left to deal with and the Civil Aid party went home, returning during the week to reel in field cable lines.
70 extreme exposure cases had been sent to hospital, and 330 treated in the First Aid tent. It took me about two days to recover physically from Krumlin, and then another three to get some of the loose ends sorted out, especially the financial ones. We were about £200 down overall, including nearly £150 for the Rochdale Unit, whose cheque for the purchase of soup, cups and bread had bounced.