Formatted at 1280 X 1024- created Feb 2002.
Updated Feb 2013- new flyer
Pickup Bank Free Festival
( aka Deeply Vale )
25th -27th July 1980.
10-17th August l981.
Pickup Bank 1980.
This was the successor to the Deeply Vale festival , but it never took off as well as the shows in the Vale, due to the location ( nowhere near as sheltered as Deeply Vale ) police harrassment , hostile local authorities and the lousy weather .
By 4;pm on the 23rd the convoy was ready to leave. however the police had the entrance blocked and they couldn't get out. The council then moved in a breakdown vehicle and started to hook up to the front truck. People got in the way and soon a fight broke out between the convoy people and the 100 or so police officers present. Eventually, after 7 people had been arrested and 2 police officers hospitalised, the convoy was allowed to move off and eventually ended up on a piece of common land between Haslingden and Darwen in the Borough of Blackburn. The police at first tried to stop entry to this site but gave up their orders were disregarded. This site was where the festival took place though Blackburn council got an injunction banning organisation of a festival.
There were eventually 2 - 3000 campers on site and many more visitors. The toilets were, not surprisingly, inadequate as they'd been arranged at the very last miinute. The only water on site was brought in containers by a lorry and just about adequate.There was very little wood.
Teepees at the 1980 festival: Photo © Gary Heaton
I arrived at Gray Mare Inn on the road from Haslingden to Darwen on the evening of Friday 25th July , to join a meeting with representatives of Blackburn Borough Council , the solicitors for the Deeply Vale Festival organisers and Walter Lloyd from FWS.
The free festival, originally planned to take place in Deeply Vale had been moved from there to an alternative site near Edenfield, which became unusable as it was covered by a court injunction preventing a free festival being held anywhere within the District of Rossendale in Lancashire. Finally a site was found in the Borough of Blackburn at Pickup Bank, although Blackburn Borough Council subsequently also took out an injunction to prevent a festival from being orginised on this site.It was evident that festival goers who had already arrived in the area needed a site and that more people would be arriving who had not been informed of the problems over the festival.
The meeting I attended was to discuss how emergency provisions could be made to accommodate the festival on the site at Pickup Bank, as there were already about 500 people gathered there and more were arriving all the time.The local Authorities discussed emergency arrangements for sanitation,water supply and rubbish disposal and the original organisers undertook to carry out these arrangements. Problems were foreseen with parking on the road |verges and there was some concern that the narrow road might be blocked .It was hoped that the road could be kept clear for the emergency services which would be providing a basic cover on site. The police had set up posts on the approach roads to the new site and were advising festival goers of the injunction covering the festival.
By late on Friday evening about 800 people were camping on the site. Water drums had been organised to bring water onto site and some latrine trenches were dug . They had to be lined with polythene to prevent pollution to nearby and were subsequently screened to offer some privacy. There was a wide variety of food and drink stands on site, all selling at reasonable prices. Release were on site providing a 24 hour first aid and councelling service from Friday to Wednesday ,with a doctor on site for part of the time . Rochdale Civil Aid provided an ambulance and first aid team during the afternoon and evening over the weekend and the Salvation Army were on site during day and evening providing free drinks and rolls and helping with the water runs. The Samaritans provided a counselling service during the weekend. The first aid teams were kept fairly busy dealing with a range of medical problems, and some casualties had to be taken into Blackburn Infirmary, who were very good in dealing with festival patients. One major social problem occurred at the festival. The local emergency social workers had to be called onto the site when a mother of two young children was causing them distress. As there was no one else on site who could take care of the children when the festival ended they were taken into care under a Place of Safety Order.
A stage was constructed on Saturday and about 4000 people were on site for the music on Saturday and Sunday evenings, with approximately 1500 people camping over the week-end. Music continued on Monday and Tuesday evenings, but by Wednesday morning many people had left the site ,encouraged by the torrential rain.
Despite the lack of time to make any site preparations, the original festival organisers worked hard to arrange basic facilities at the festival, and there few serious problems. If the site is to be used again in the future, would recommend that:
i) Better arrangements be made for vehicles to be parked off the road.
ii) The latrine trenches be screened more effectively to encourage their use.
iii) A water bowser to be brought onto site.
iv) Firewood to be made more easily available.
There was a steep quarry hole in the middle of the festival site which could have been very dangerous if anyone had fallen into it. Fortunately the full moon period meant that it was quite light at night, so people could see the steep drop. It would have been less hazardous if the quarry
could have been fenced off, or if it could have been illuminated at night.
Apparently the site was left very clean at the end of the festival. Throughout the festival black plastic rubbish sacks had been distributed around the site and each day teams of people went round clearing up the litter .This system worked very well, as people camping were encouraged to keep their own areas clean, and the main polluted zone in front of the stage was cleaned each afternoon. Most of the litter here was caused by people visiting the festival for the evening to hear the music. There were many food and drink stalls around the stage and it would have been better they had had more obvious rubbish receptacles next to them for people put their food and drink containers in.
Despite the confusion beforehand and the bad weather, the atmosphere the festival was very enjoyable.
Pickup Bank 1981.
Pickup bank (81) was a nightmare, its high up in the misty northern hills overlooking Blackburn and we sat up there for two weeks in squelchy mud and soggy low cloud. A bit grim to say the least - lots of the convoy travellers were coming down with Hepatitis (infectious not intravenous) and many of the dogs were dying from Parvo which is a dreaded doggy aids type thing - uuugh !!.Its one festy that I have no wish to return to should I win the lottery and buy a time machine from woolworths.
Rog Lewis had these recollections
I was 16 or 17 at the time and came up from Bolton on the back of a mate’s motorbike. I recall drugs were openly advertised on boards outside various vehicles and that when the police came on-site (to investigate a claim that dogs had been poisoned with Strychnine?) they didn’t seem too bothered. I also remember one bus that seemed to be solely for the use of dogs! We bought “white lightening” for two quid each and after a while when nothing seemed to happen got some green microdots thinking we had been ripped. Almost immediately after necking the dot the White Lightening kicked in and I had one helluva night.
At one point I was holding onto the guy-lines of the marquee thinking it was a flying saucer about to take off and leave us behind. Inside the marquee I became fascinated with the lights on the sound equipment and must have been playing with the buttons. Next thing I remember I was laying on the ground and someone being told “Don’t hit him, can you not see he is just tripping”. I was taken onto someone’s bus and they looked after me for a while. Next morning I was sporting a shiner and had to walk to Edgeworth to catch a bus home as my mate’s motorbike had been stolen. As I waited at the bus-stop one of my colleagues from work who lived in the village walked past and she didn’t even recognize me. I thought I must have looked in a right state!
One other memory is seeing the people who looked like Easter Island statues gazing out in contemplation over the valley. It struck me much later that they must have actually been sitting on the latrines.
years later I returned to Edgeworth for the wedding of an old school
friend. I went to the site of the festie and got chatting
with an old man who lives on the farm nearby (although I don’t
remember there being any buildings so close). I was all nostalgic
but he remembered it differently and told me of someone he saw covered
in blood washing himself in the stream. He was under the impression
that the man had been attacked with a shotgun. He told me he had
felt unable to leave his home for the duration of the fest while
I told him that for me the Festie was a landmark event in my life.
Photo right taken from the 1981 festival . courtesy Mr T Tortoise- who remembers the festival thus .........
Flyer courtesy Anthony Hewitt ,
ponced up in Photoshoppe by the Very Reverend Shark-Barker
Although this was the second year the festival was held at this site it was still being referred to as Deeply Vale in some quarters. This festival Aid report from 1981 gives a fair picture of the procedings and echoes Mr Tortoise's comments.
Festival Aid Report
This festival was once again held on the site at Darwen, near Blackburn, after the usual injunctions and battles had made the original site inaccessible.
This festival has been held in Lancashire for many years now and has become almost as well established as the festival at Stonehenge. Festival Aid is of the opinion that people will attend here every year whatever tactics the local councils and police may use to dissuade them, until a sensible compromise site is worked out between all parties.
Deeply Vale has always been a major event for the local youth and especially the unemployed unable to afford expensive paying concerts and events. Festival Aid and Release provided a mixed welfare team and were theonly service on site. The site, since known as "God's Nest", was high. and exposed and for a lot of the festival, drenched in low cloud. The festival goers could (simplistically) be divided into
the "Convoy" who are long term festival goers and self sufficient in most ways, and the younger visitors often spending only single days or nights on the site.
Because of the confusion over sites, there was no large stage, a major attraction at previous Deeply Vale festivals (famed for their good, well organised music) and attendance was much lower and more transient than previous years.
Although the police did not mount the random stops and searches of previous years in the immediate vicinity of the site, several people were unduly harrassed on shopping trips to the local town - even
Toilet trenches were dug, the EHO provided plastic lining for them and Release/Festival Aid provided rubbish bags. Water was available initially from a standpipe. This was soon disconnected and water was either obtained from streams or from the nearest town. There was a free food service and a crash tent.
The welfare team dealt with the usual cuts and burns. There were also two stabbings and an attempted rape on site. We were extremely concerned at the high incidence of contagious hepatitis amongst some festival goers (not helped by the insanitary conditions many festival goers are forced into) and some of their disregard for elementary precautions. Dogs on site also suffered from kennel cough and distemper and festival goers arranged for treatment with a local vet.
Deeply Vale was not enjoyed by many people and if the festival is to continue and meet the obvious needs of the young unemployed in the area, then negotiations with the apparently intransigent local councils must be held now.
This was the end for this
particular festival, it appears that the bad experience at the site in 81
( the hard drug use , sexual violence and hostility of authorities -which
was a carry over with problems encountered as far back as Deeply
Vale 1979 ) was the final straw. However, as a postscript, Paul , an ex-member
of the convoy sent me this
Despite Pickup Bank being recorded on your website as last staging a festival in 1981, the site was in fact used as a camp for The Convoy in 1984, post Stonehenge and Montgomery festivals, although I can't remember if any organised stage was assembled. We camped there for about 2 weeks before a move to a site on the old Northumberland/Cumberland/Durham border - the name escapes me now, but it is a site of antiquity with a Celtic monument or ring. Following on from here, we moved into Yorkshire to the now infamous Nostell Priory festival, where a taste of what was to come in 85 was experienced at the hands of theYorkshire Police, who had just completed an operation (now also infamous) at the Orgreave Coking Plant.
Anyway, great site and loads of nostalgia for me - Deeply Vale 1978 - my 1st free festival. I remember Hillage coming on stage as the rain stopped. Magic.
Be lucky, healthy and wise. I'm still with you all every day of my life.
Tear in the eye and lump in the throat.