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Updated Jan 2016

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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The Trentishoe Whole Earth Fayre.

Pinkery Field, Simonsbath.Devon .
June 9th-13th 1976.

Panoramic view of Trentishoe 1976 © Alan & Pauline Clarke

    It is customary for British rural communities to greet the news that a rock festival is to be held near their village with the same degree of enthusiasm that they would show if they were to be told that they were infected with the Black Death . Strangely, with the 1976 Trentishoe festival, this was NOT the case. Both locals and authorities displayed an unusual degree of tolerance, perhaps because the other free festivals held in the area in previous years had only limited detrimental affects on the community.

    In addition to press coverage of the event we also have Hutchinson's and Clarke's photogallery of

images shot during the 1976 festival , which are a fascinating document of the festival environment of experimental dwellings and give an good idea of the scale of the proceedings.

Trentishoe 1976? In a field in Devon, again very wet but a lovely spirit. I remember a local farmer bringing his tractor along to help tow out the various vehicles stuck in the mud. I dimly recall the tractor getting stuck.

Edward Collier

Wot ho !
I remember a really cool week here with a mate  viv from dulwich and skin,Mick and liggin from Hayes.The pink fairies played and the wonderfully named Rocky Rickets and the jet pilots of jive were the only other band I recall The beautiful pink dots(actually like cones with a flat top) rather coloured my experience! Very Kemp.Aaahhh take me back there ! No idea what year it was. Not a big thing though just a hundred freaks or so at points. Remember some geezer came round the fire and threw a bunch of deals for us all for nothing. That's about it I am afraid.Can let you know about all the windsors and stonehenges there ever was if you want any more old twaddle! 60 now but still spend a lot of time on the drove and will never change.(maybe my long johns but not before May!!)

The articles below were featured in the local paper in June 1976.

Exmoor welcomes the pop festival 'Wallies'

Give the visitors a fair chance is local viewpoint

    Tolerance and understanding of the feelings of young people and a willingness to help where possible is the official West Somerset decision as surprise legions of the former Trentishoe Earth Fayre make themselves at home in Pinkery Field, Simonsbath, this week and weekend. With the invasion of our green and pleasant land by scantily clad youngsters from all parts of Britain some surprisingly benign views were being expressed at a meeting of Exmoor National Park committee at Dulverton on Tuesday.
    Captain R. E Lloyd, who had attended a site meeting with officials at Pinkery, said the committee would do well to share the pop fans "blind faith" that everything would be all right providing they were left alone . They said they could only hope that the festival goes through without a major calamity.
Mr M. H Waley - Cohen, whose home is very near the site, gave the tolerant view that the festival be given a chance. He hoped the organisers had learned a lesson from Trentishoe.
STONEHENGE
    
At the site yesterday an official spokesman for the organisers, Mr Mick Tanner, said that the event was originally planned by the 'Wallies of Stonehenge' ( an ethnic group of uncertain origin ). They tried to use the site of the previous earth Fayre at Trentishoe, but this site was no longer available, so he stepped in to help at the last minute.
"When I realised that nothing was coming together and people had started arriving in North Devon I contacted a few farmers and arranged to get hold of this site here at Pinkery . Otherwise I was faced with the prospect of crowds arriving at my doorstep at Coombe Martin"
The advance party at Pinkery were from Lampeter in Wales , where a commune of some 25 young people live in a farmhouse and tepees. They brought several of these with them .

POLYTHENE.
   
 Another kind of accommodation is a clear polythene dome made up of a framework of steel hexagons bolted together . Inside on our visit , 30 assorted "freaks" drank tea at two pence a cup from the back a converted railway lorry. Background music was provided by acoustic guitars, Indian drums and congas. In the largest tent we saw more than 50 crowded round a cooking fire with the smoke curling up through a hole in the roof. Enormous iron pots of stew made from chick peas and red beans bubbled over the fires and other chefs toasted fat cakes of unleavened bread.

photo ©Alan and Pauline Clarke

ELECTRIC

    Electric music had not been organised by the end of the first day , although two rock and roll bands. Lightning and Here and Now , had set up camp on higher grounds. They brought their own scaffolding . On Wednesday afternoon West Somerset health official , led by Mr John Organ . were shown over the site by organisers representative Dave Page.

    Officials stressed that they were not interfering but were making sure that nobody made themselves ill or got into difficulties.
An offer of water purifying facilities was gratefully accepted.

     

    Reactions from Simonsbath and Challacoombe seem sympathetic. Mr John Hall , proprietor of the Exmoor Forest Hotel , Simonsbath told the free press he had no objection to the festival or its patrons. "I don’t expect any trouble judging by the ones I have seen , he said. ‘ and providing they don’t come down and smash up the village they are quite welcome to come. After all there is plenty of room for them up at Pinkery. "
    

PLEASANT.

Mrs Gladys Gabriel, postmistress at Challacombe , said the young people she had encountered since Friday had all been very quiet and pleasant "You must speak as you find ". she said "and they have all been very good. "
On Sunday and Monday more festival fans are expected to leave for another freak out taking place at Stonehenge over the summer solstice.
The wigwams of Pinkery.

Photo © Alan & Pauline Clarke

  Perched on a slippery hill top, the Pinkery Pond free pop festival seemed momentarily desolate and washed out. It had drizzled briefly and a few desultory figures wandered around like soggy actors in a spaghetti western .
A muffled rhythm seeped out form a the tallest tepee. Peering through the small round aperture at the bas e revealed a jostling mass of people. Men , women and children . Dressed in everything form a loincloths to full embroidered robes, they sat and danced around the central open fire.
 
 There is an immediate sense of warmth and shelter, pulsing with strange syncopated sounds. Stoneage faces bear shaggy welcomes to friend and stranger , breaking off to howl and grunt as a particular rhythm pleases them. The sound revolves around the fire, dying and dancing with the flames.
A vast blackened cauldron squats bubbling and comically evil on the fire, stuffed with beans and herbs. Dogs are weaving merrily between legs and prone against the canvas a world weary bitch suckles her sleepy puppies.

    It is an unfamiliar world , harking back to past culture s, offending middle class conventions. Manners. dress, work, sex, the taboo becomes the norm , the norm becomes the natural. Much of the fear that people have of hippies, Wallies or whatever they call themselves , springs from an idea of drug crazed squalor that will reach over and attack you if you do not protect yourself.
There may well be Marijuana at Pinkery Field and there is squalor in the conventional sense , but those present have contrived to , in the face of middle class pressure ,to maybe create a culture of their own .

(This is probably the most perceptive and sympathetic account of the festival culture I've read in the conventional media in the 70s and to find it coming from the rural press is most edifying , lets hope this writer went on to bigger things and was allowed to continue such opinions by his or her editor )


More Time Gentlemen please.
   
About the Earth Pop festival, the viewpoint of authority in West Somerset would seem to be roughly speaking 'all very fine no doubt, but why so little notice. ?'
Mr John Organ, West Somerset District Council’s environmental health officer , claimed local authorities had not been given adequate warning.
"We didn't think these festivals would find Exmoor - we thought it was too far off the beaten track, but we were presented by a Fait accompli . We are not against festivals of this kind as such - but we should have have had the benefit of prior liaison "
Mr Gary Belton, , chief information officer of Exmoor National Park , said " The notice we had was was simply ridiculous . It has given us no opportunity to look at the matter and to take full consideration of it "


SPACED OUT ON EXMOOR

           Lord Melchet , 28 year old Under-Secretary of State for the Environment, called them "a reasonable form of recreation " but the hippies, hairies and painted people who have gathered this weekend at Challacombe on Exmoor , for Earth Fair- a free pop festival. have other words.'Just beautiful man' said a girl called Muschi O'Connor.
    The festival sprang up on the West Country hillside last week to the amazement of the locals. One minute it wasn't there, the next it was: -tepees from Wales, a Geodesic dome covered in polythene. Kites in the sky ,music, the discreet police presence and a certain amount of heavy breathing from the local law and order supporter
s.

The organisers talk of 5000 people but there are only a few hundred. They are so so far from the nearest human habitation that their noise is unlikely to disturb anyone- writes Nigel Hawkes.

   The organisation of the festival represents something of a triumph for the urban underground, which has come for a week in the country . No advertisements were placed or public announcements made that would alert the authorities , but the the site and time were passed on by word of mouth. Harold Thornton , an Australian artist and bicycle Freak who calls himself Harold the Kangaroo is here with his dog -Captain Beefheart. He heard about the festival at the Roundhouse in London and came. Others have turned up from Dublin from Scotland and from abroad.
   The facilities would hardly be adequate for the vaunted 5000 but will probably keep the actual numbers who are here alive and free from disease. Just in case. Release, the organisation that advises drug addicts has sent ~ doctor and the local branch of the St John Ambulance Brigade are in attendance.

  The festivals claim to be free appears justified. The food is free—home-made bread chapati’s, stew and . ratatouille—The site was leant free by the landholder , the music is free and a Kentucky Fried Chicken van which ventured into the festival last week was sent smartly on its way .
The Somerset ratepayers of course will have to pick up the bill for police attendance
but it is hardly likely to compare with the 84,000 pounds Watchfield Festival cost the Thames Valley ratepayers.
Music is being provided intermittently by a series of groups Tribal Planet ,Tigers Eye, Dynamix, Spaces In Between and Windsor Dave on acoustic guitar . The amplification fails from time to time , but tempers are cool.
Irritation has been caused by local TV crews who came and spent their time looking for nude girls to film , a task which they did not find too difficult.

   What did the festival participants think of last weeks Melchett report on pop festivals. ‘ Just spaced out, ‘ said one man with wild hair and glittering eyes. Muschi gazes fondly at the tents, the stream , the children playing , the camp fires and the musicians tuning up on the top of the hill." Its all diddlydum "she says with the air of one imparting a great truth .

The Observer.

Articles kindly provided by Roger Hutchinson and Roger Duncan.

Here and Now Photos and Text Trentishoe 1976


Trentishoe 76 bit report
Trentishoe 76 images

 


Free Festivals List

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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

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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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