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We are looking for the documentary film that was made of the Watchfield festival, can anyone give us information about its creation and current whereabouts ?

The Watchfield Free Festival .

23-31st August 1975.

Dedicated to UBi and Sid , now both passed away ,who persevered against all odds to establish a Peoples Free

Festival and who endured jail time for their pains .....

Photo© Nick Day - via Garry Gibbons



The festival that never was....Windsor Free 1975

   Watchfield was the successor to the Windsor Free Festival ,which was supposed to reoccur in 1975, but which did not take place. The reasons for this were complex. After the violence that occurred in 1974, there was pressure on the government to supply an alternative site to Windsor in 1975- but this was easier said then done. Bill Dwyer and others wanted the festival to return to Windsor , but he and Sid Rawle were jailed for contempt when they attempted to distribute flyers encouraging people to attend the 1975 festival (although a dozen people did actually turn up for the 'Windsor Feast' - a freak picnic which was overseen by 350 policemen and a coterie of journalists who must have been extremely bored as nothing contentious happened).

 

Ubi Dwyer under arrest for impersonating Winston Churchill , but really looking far more like Groucho Marx .....

 

 

 

Hi,
Loved the site. Some wonderful memories there. Out of interest, the picture you have captioned as blessing of the hippie sinners at Watchfield in the 4th Free Festival 1975 section shows in centre background facing camera Jex, writer of the letter below in your webpage.
Stage manager of "A" Stage.

Myself, wearing sheriff's badge (security) and in the centre, looking very young with the combat jacket is none other than Stephen Budd, whom you may have heard of. Hangs out with the prime minister these days... hmmmmm.

Keep up the good work

Ross Davies


The blessing of the hippie sinners at Watchfield 1975.
Photo © Nick Day 1975.

   At Windsor ,the jaded press hacks and the police descended on two freaks who arrived with a sleeping bag , the plod quizzing the freaks about whether they were carrying a tent or a sleeping bag, because , as they pointed out, if it WAS a tent, it would have to be confiscated and placed in the police tent ( which was, presumably , an APPROVED tent ).

   Apparently one of the freaks with the baggie was Steve Lucking, who was the stage manager of stage A at the 74 festival and who was a mate of Ubi Dwyer. He was one of those who had answered the call to attend and hold a picnic at the festival site. He also had details of the events that led to the luckless Ubi being incarcerated . He was photographed by an 'off duty' Thames Valley policeman at a festival at Stoke On Trent in the act of handing out flyers exhorting people to attend the 1975 Windsor insurrection , the act of doing being a heinous breach of the Thames Valley injunction taken out against the aforesaid Ubi - which declared that he should NOT be actively involved in promoting a festival at Windsor in 1975 .

 

A letter from a member of Stage crew A , still determined the festival must go on !

courtesy Ken Horne, from the collection of the late Alan Jones

     If this was not enough , the fuzz then brought another nine charges against the civil servant regarding his infamous conduct at the 74 festival, including one where he was alleged to have broken the window of a fire truck whilst tripping .This was sufficient to have him thrown into gaol - thus missing the 75 festival season . But Ubi was not totally forgotten- amongst other luminaries gathered at Windsor was the playwright Heathcote Williams , who held up a sign which read, "hello Bill , wish you were here . Love from the Windsor Picnickers ."

 

Clipping from UK tabloid press revealing all about the evil entities who planned the festival....

 

    Meanwhile before these events were unwinding at Windsor , preparations had been taking place to try to find another site and to avoid the horrid confrontations of 1974. A number of options -Old Windsor and Bramshott Common- were quickly shot down by determined citizens groups who wanted no part of a free festival in their neck of the woods. See below ......

    Eventually Watchfield- a disused airfield in Berkshire,(left ) took the place of the bash at Windsor Great Park . Despite more opposition from the usual coterie of Tory MP's and local farmers, the site was finally agreed upon , after assurances it would only be a one off event , that a sum of 10,000 pounds would be set aside to clean up the site afterwards and some basic facilities would be supplied . Of course, as far as the Government was concerned the advantage of Watchfield was that (as well as being a semi derelict dump which no one cared much about anyway ) , it was a long way away from any Royal Castle- as the proximity of the festival site at Windsor to the royal abode was undoubtedly an embarrassment to the authorities . I mean we can't have hippies crapping near her Majesties back yard can we ?

 

 

Articles and unattributed photos courtesy Ken Horne, from the collection of the late Alan Jones

     So the move was a win for the freaks inasmuch that they were given somewhere to hold their festival without it being illegal , but the straights also won because they had shifted the freaks and their noisy paraphernalia to an out of the way site which wasn't anywhere near as pleasant - or symbolic - as the Great Park at Windsor. After three years of festivals at the one site, it was a definite climbdown for the counterculture to move to a less convenient and meaningful site, but at least it wasn't on the same turf as the Thames Valley Police,who had become notorious for their anti freak attitude after the 1974 debacle.

    Still, it must have been nice to know that the festival could go ahead without constant fear of the boys in blue swooping down at any moment , truncheons at the ready , looking to bust some heads - which would have probably always have been the reality at Windsor . Whilst most freaks were more interested in going to see the likes of the Floyd or the Stones at Knebworth , there was still a significant minority who were looking for a more transcendent experience from a festival- one which was less tightly organized- which to some extent they helped shape themselves -and which was far more intimate then the vast arena style shows that became de-riguer during the late 70s . Also the fact that the bands were giving something back to the community for free was another bonus. In fact it felt like these bands WERE part of the community, not on some ivory tower looking down at those who loved their music from the safely to some mansion in the South of France.

    There were attempts to create better liaison between the festival organizers and the the local authorities and to create the democratic decision making processes that occurred at Windsor. 200 tons of firewood were provided and this helped minimize the usual damage to the local trees. Despite the fact that the police presence was lower than at Windsor there were 95 arrests, 66 for drugs. For all that , the relationship with the police was better than it had been at Windsor .

 

 

 

 

IT /Maya had a different view of things......

  There were still tense incidents though , a reminder that a lot of hostility had been built up after Windsor between the freak community and the police.
    A sergeant and a constable patrolling the site found an unattended stolen motor car (14 were located by police at the festival in all). Their examination of the vehicle to see whether or not it could be driven caused an announcement to be made from one of the stages to the effect that the police were searching cars on the site for drugs. There was an immediate assembly of people round the officers. Three other officers including a Chief Inspector, seeing the sergeant and constable in difficulties, went to their aid. The five officers then found themselves surrounded by about 300 people, some of whom were chanting, beating drums and demanding the exclusion of the police from the site. The Chief Inspector shouted to the crowd that the police were removing a stolen vehicle. He was joined and assisted by some of the organizers, the mood of the crowd changed and the people dispersed.

   Although uniformed officers were tolerated if they were involved in policing activities that the crowd saw as being acceptable, the attitude towards C.I.D. and the Drug Squad was one of hatred. Unfortunately , some sort of police presence was needed ,there were the usual thefts to deal with , but unlike Windsor , there was also some nasty hostility between rival groups of Hells Angels -in addition , some traders complained of demands made of them to pay protection money ....

(we wonder who might have made such threats ?........)

Convoy Steve recalls . . .

  Aha - Watchfield, I remember the feeling of having won a very significant victory - we had been given a site by the government and this was a first which was something to celebrate. There was a large aircraft hangar on the airfield which the angels took over as theirs and also a 3 storey control tower which had a phone in it so any one who wanted could sit there looking over the festy and chat to the daily press , who kept ringing up wanting gossip or news of awful disasters and all we would do was tell them how cool everything was and what a groovy festival they were missing.

   I remember policemen walking around in two's and hippies joining hands and dancing around them in an anticlockwise circle to counterbalance their negative energies . we were camped up near a bunch of jolly folks who stayed up all night regaling everyone in the vicinity with tales of porridge and who had a huge flag emblazoned upon which were the immortal words 'The Hull Institute of Advanced Buggery' - whatever happened to them ?.
I remember listening to the Gong set and thinking how fucking good Steve Hillage was . . .


    I especially liked the daily site meetings where everyone sat around and said their piece and policy was made and site matters were discussed and it felt like real democracy in action !.
I also remember leaving the site at the end and feeling that I was leaving the real world and entering a horrible false reality .

We have news of the Hull Institute of Advanced Buggery , from one of their erstwhile members

I was at the Watchfield Festival. I'm originally from Hull and was with the group who were known as the Hull institute of Advanced Buggery. I helped make that flag in the back yard of my friends Bones house. Myself , nick traves, chris traves, danny traves, bones, bones wife penny, big pete, fleure, among others ( I can't remember the other names),were the ones who made it.bones came up with the slogan. He intended to drive down there on his motorcycle and sidecar but changed his mind as the sidecar was an old coffin he'd stolen from a funeral home. Thought he might draw attention to himself !. We drove to watchfield in nick traves ford transit, unfortunately it had irish number plates and we got stopped it seemed every 10 miles. We got arrested just outside Luton on the way back home. Police gave us a hard time.
We were all at windsor the year before and witnessed most of the violence.
They were great times. hope this gives you a smile. I live in florida now and miss hull a lot.
would like to go back to watchfield for old times sake
.
regards
Phil Rose

However, if one was anywhere near the biker gangs , the festival had a different reality .

    Yes I remember the Watchfield free festival. We tried to sleep in a big hangar but the Hell's Angels were really out for trouble and kept running over people as they tried to crash in their sleeping bags. The whole site was dominated by violence after a day or so of friendly hippiedom. I recall the Road Rats and Windsor chapter Angels were particularly hostile.

At one time there was a fire going made of tyres and milk crates which must have been twenty or more feet high. The whole site was shit. Hardly any bands played though Gong were good as ever. Generally a very weird one, though there weren't too many police about.
Bernard Boz

Perhaps Bernards experiences were not typical

    In 1975 I was 19 and I living in Swindon, Wiltshire, England. Working for an equipment supply company. One Friday we were sent to deliver electrical generators to the Watchfield Free Festival site. It was an eye-opening experience. The guy ( Martin ) who worked with me and I went back on the Saturday, and stayed there a week, much to the anger of our boss. I don't remember too many of the bands that played now, I do remember seeing Arthur Brown and Hawkwind.
Thanks,

ROSS.

Spike has this tale to tell

    I was at Watchfield as well .I went as a punter and ended up working on the harry higgins stage as an announcer(everybody else was too wasted to do the job)

    I still have my stage pass in my scrap book (see right )Memories of the festival include falling into one of the many trenches on site and landing very softly on Gimli- an old chum I hadn't seen since Glastonbury-and also some very very stoned policemen......

 

The Watchfield stoned policemen story.

    Under the Harry Higgins stage we had a den of iniquity where where,shall we say a large amount of interesting substances were being consumed in very large chillums. At about 2 in the morning we were occasionally joined by 2 uniformed bobbies with a squad car who wanted a bit of peace and quiet and more than anything a nice cup of tea, (No we didn't do the tea although it was more than tempting,) Fortunately the atmosphere in the den was more than adequate to do the job and we were treated ,early one morning,to the glorious sight of 2 cops on their way across the site(going to sort out a bit of hassle)saying 'we don't want to wake the campers you sit on the bonnet an go dee dah and I'll drive with my head out the window shouting blue light , blue light.'

photo © Nick Day

    This they proceeded to do and were never seen again. And every body says there were no police on site at Watchfield. Ho hum its the blethering fool again I blame it all on driving to festivals at 2 in the morning having drunk intemperate amount of beer and smoked large amounts of Leba............you get the idea .......now where did I put that tent pole where's the fucking mallet .......WHAT YOU MEAN THE TENT PEGS ARE STILL IN LADBROOK GROVE......oh well the sun will be up soon,pass me the chillum................

photo © Nick Day

As to who played on the higgins stage I have no memory at all (I blame it on the drugs meself) What I do remember is going there with my girlfriend at the time by the name of Perry and not seeing her again for about 5 years (she went off to live with the tepee crew in Tally ) such was the heady days of festivals ,I would be interested to know if anybody can remember the bottomless bucket of creation at Stonehenge one year.Also at Stonehenge we used to run a badge stall y'know make your own on site.Would be interested to know if any of our original badges are still out there. Keep up this wonderful site I'll rummage through the remains of me brain for a few decent memories meanwhile I'll wish you love and peas

Spike

NB: Most of these small images have larger counterparts if moused over and clicked :-)

Hi, I was at Watchfield 74 and remember the "shit in a ditch" campaign! The autorities thought it a good idea to deliver some chemical toilets but the general concensus was that they were ecologically unsound. I also remember Stray setting up their own PA and playing a great set. Someone (actually Spike, I knew a Spike from Bradford on Avon. Maybe one and the same) on the Watchfield page mentions the Bottomless Bucket of Creation at Stonehenge. There was an old bottomless tin bucket suspended from a rope tied between two trees and an old friend of mine, Rex came up with the name. Everyone else picked up on it.

Scratch


Dave has this recollection of the bands who played

Having been living at nearby Amesbury that year in the squats (we had three houses) I remember it quiet well as to getting to the site was for the most part trouble free most of the time,my memory of the bands were as mentioned elsewhere,on the first Friday night a riproaring set from the fabulas 101ers,and finished two weeks later with Arthur Brown and Vivian Stanshall.

from dave now living in luton.


From Stephen Budd

photo © Nick Day

I was a junior stage manager on the main stage (aged....15). significant memories.....(apart from getting the clap for the 1st time)
: Being in the geodistic dome behind the main stage watching a guy cut up a couple of weights of red leb and then the Chief Constable of Thames Valley walks in, sees what is happening but because he is about 300 yds behind police lines is unable to do anything and shrugs !
: Being interviewed by Mavis Nicholson for Radio 4 whilst tripping
: The guy all dressed in white who stood about 20 yds in front of the main stage with his arms up in the air for the whole 2 weeks every day 14 hours a day !

: Helping to rig the roof whilst Hawkwind were playing underneath me....all tripping
: 'the fabulous main stage joint rolling competition' which was really a con by the road-crew to get as many free joints as possible.
: Steve Hillage coming down about 3 or 4 days before the festival started with Miquette in his 1960's Cortina to see wether it was cool for Gong to play and ending up mstaying andf jamming around the campfire...
: rolling spliffs on the side of the stage during the Gong set to give to Mike Howelett
: Helping Nik Turner up when he fell over during Hawkwinds set
: Paul Rudolph of Pink Faries playing with Hawkwind (or did I hallucinate that..)
: The Global Village Trucking Company, Stray, Traffic, Spectre, Gong can't remember who else.
: when the Angels left the hanger (hooray !) and pissed of leaving us to have fun.
: the free Hari Krishna food
: Lord Melchett being very groovy
: Radio Free Watchfield !
: The first appearance of the red, white and blue acid....


Edward Collier

Watchfield 1975 My first real festival. Threatened with murder by a Hell's Angel, who was probably off his face on some of the rather strong hallucinogens I recall. I had my picture taken by an Australian photographer which later appeared in Woman's Own magazine, to my mother's shame (I had very long hair, and was sporting a rather gorgeous turquoise velvet full length cloak with gold trimming). I remember Gong, stalwarts of such occasions, and Edgar Broughton Band, without whom no free festival was complete. A wonderful festival at a great venue. The police were cool too (as far as I was concerned - they certainly saw me with a spliff or two!)


memories, memories!!
will consult with my mate nick for recollections, 'photos and memorabilia.
bits that spring to mind are:
father christmas providing vitamin c to those who required it;
the guy who, dressed in white, stayed in the same place for the duration (in
front of stage a?);
the candle store that sold a rather wide selection of quality dope;
thames valley police smoking dope provided by the rats just outside the
hanger;

the first band starting around midnight (22nd/23rd) on stage c;
the only band who i've ever seen booed off stage -- can't remember their
name but the song was 'hamel hampstead'.
heady days and i still have the badge.
later

stmp2


Food Kitchen

photo © Nick Day


Hi

I remember:-

Concorde doing a low slow fly over one morning to make sure we were all awake.
The only band i remember is Hawkwind who supposedly came straight over from playing the Reading festival.

Camped next to us were a group of guys with eastern european or russian motorcycles wearing denim jackets with "rainbow chasers" on the back.

Hell's angels didn't do anything to me but they must have done something because i've hated them ever since.

David Bailey


hello

I remember playing a solo set at watchfield. it was just before Gong on the main stage. my main recollection is of having a field of people singing along to Give a little love, get a little love. I remember this specifically as watchfield was kind of scary in that there were many different camps of people- the ex Windsor freaks, bands of pseudo angels, sightseers etc. There was a hard edge it it all. I suppose I was also a bit nervous as it was the frst time I had done one of these things without the support of the rest of The Global Village Trucking Co. Sorry must go as my yougest child appears to be destroying his brother's entire lego fleet. Some things never change ay!

Jon Owen ex Glob


photo © Nick Day

I was 17 and my older brother took me to Watchfield . I took my first LSD and had the most amazing time of my life. You mention the Police. I remember two uniformed Police wondering around the site and when they came up to us I was totally paranoid thing they would arrest us because we were smoking dope. However there were a bunch of welsh lads near us who were offering the police a go on their chillum which I could not believe. The police just laughed it off and strolled on.
For me the festival was a great time and I must have been oblivious to any bad vibes going on.
 

Mick.

Hi I've just found your site - very interesting!

I was a roadie for Strife and can aim you in the direction of a couple of photos of the band at Watchfield - in glorious technicolour! They are at www.strife-music.co.uk (under photos).
My memories of Watchfield are pretty vague - when we arrived it was suitably chaotic - there was trouble with the PA. I remember that the band before us (sorry I can't put a name to them) played a pretty good version of Love's 'Alone again or'. We then decided to use our own PA in order to give some time to repair the festivals PA which was distorting badly. The guys played well and injected a bit of energy into the proceedings. (it was flagging a bit at the time) The bands were being filmed for the local cable television - is there still some footage available? I was in the centre of the crowd wearing my luminous green beany hat (a gift from the band - "where's the prat in the hat?) mixing the sound. The crowd were up on their feet and I had a job to keep people from stomping on the mixer! - a couple of encores and it was over. The festival PA had been fixed so we loaded the gear back into the van. East of Eden followed us on stage - kicked off with "Jig-a jig" I think. Rob (the other roadie) and I walked round the site for a while - it was going dark, and the camp-fires created a great atmosphere. Then it was back on the road - we were one of the hardest working bands at the time - no time to stop and watch
.

All the best
Martin - The Bean


I lived in the nearest house to the festival but camped there all week having to look out for mum and dad as they didnt know I smoked . Steve Winwood and friends not Traffic played in 75 there was no festival in 76 at watchfield. Thames water who I worked for had thousands of buckets in a warehouse to give out as they thought the loos wouldnt cope . They were in a right panick over the festival.
 

Dave (Watchfield)


Civil aid catering station © Nigel Leach

 

Window panes, red white and blue blotters mountains of microdot, all known forms of hemp (we operated an informal swap club for eight days) Never saw a hells angel but anyone mad enough to try and kip in the same aircraft hangar with the Windsor Chapter, well...

the 'traffic' gig comprised of viv stanshall stevie winwood and the afro rythm section, who played til dawn and had everybody dancing more than ive ever seen at a free festival before...rebop kwaki ba was fantastic, as were viv stanshalls tights which kept changing from luminous green to vivid purple, though that might have just been me.

The free hari krishna food was so bloody brilliant i probably put on weight for the only time during the seventies, so good it made me a vegetarian Buddhist. in the middle of the day, during the middle of the week, when Watchfield got real quiet and only the hardcore remained, it felt more like living in a small village of freaks than a festival. Never saw the cops meself, fell into a lot of ditches though...

My mate Jeff drove us in a classic citroen safari estate, complete with small mary-jane plant drying on the bonnet, and that damn car didn't want to leave any more than we did, bless its little mechanical heart, for it refused to start when we tried to split. Watchfield was a real turning point, it captured the last dregs of the spirit of an era which almost choked to death on its own vomit shortly after, and has definitely never been the same since...The ghosts of all those battle of britain airman must have finally realised what they were fighting for...It was definitely 1975. ...

john...portsmouth


Hi

Didn't think I still had this T-shirt, but went hunting for something else and found it.  Amazing after 30years!  However it certainly won't fit me these days. I used to have a vehicle sticker but goodness knows where that is!
 
I was at Watchfield and went down with a gaggle of friends in my big yellow Bedford van with 'BIG YELLOW TAXI' written on the front and rear.  The van was much in demand and I spent most of the daytime running here, there and everywhere for firewood (I think we went to a church some way from the festival site to collect a recently chopped tree) and food supplies (Bath, with a couple who must have been the originators of Harvest, the wholefood suppliers).  I know we came back laden with sacks of oats and flour and stuff.

Its odd because I can't remember much about the bands that played but I do remember our reaction when we first arrived really early one morning about 4 or 5 oclock with the mist all over the airfield and just a few vehicles and tents scattered here and there. A memorable sight.  One of our rabble had a camera and I think took plenty of photos, but have lost touch with her. 
 
I think 7 of us chipped in a fiver each to buy a mail order big green canvas tent which lasted for nearly twenty years and saw service at many festivals after Watchfield.  One night one of my mates had his tent pinched whilst he was in our communal tent and all his belongings replaced in exactly the same spot but with no tent covering them.  The rest of us fell about laughing at the the sight of no tent and his rucksack, food and socks in his boots all replaced neatly whilst he grumbled and moaned about 'those thieving bastards...'

 
Paul


 

 

Watchfield-1975
Another long trip on the Ducati 250 from Cambridgeshire to Berkshire saw me arrive at Watchfield. I'd seen Gong twice that summer at the Hammersmith Palais. A nearby tent at the festival had been playing Gong non stop. I remember being half asleep in the tent one evening and hearing Gong again, thinking that doesn't sound quite right. I poke my head out to find they were playing live on the stage. The Watchfield airfield was really big and the festival quite spread out, which meant you could loon about on the bike riding up and down the runways. I spent one evening lying on the bike seat and tank watching the bands play on the Polyrhythm Stage. I think there were at least 3 stages playing most of the time. Another abiding memory is being hungry as I was broke and couldn't find any food. I guess I hadn't yet learnt how to enjoy Vegan muesli with apple juice in a paper cup.

Julian Bond


© Tim Brighton

Excerpt from a punk newsletter of 1977 , an article on Free Festivals.courtesy Brian F

I seem to have gone the opposite way to history. During the early festivals I can remember, I seemed to be straight a lot of the time, but met a lot of groovy people; With Watchfield, it was almost oblivion.
This was the festival that took over from the infamous Windsor Free Festival, and was really all about making a free festival happen with little trouble.

My only trouble aside from hitching down there, which took ages,( it was hot, it seemed to take days was being hassled by the Thames Valley Police, en route at least 3 times; But once on the site I met more interesting people, and somehow missed a load of bands. The PA always seemed to be breaking down, there always seemed to be a guy called tall Steve on stage, and we finally gave up to go back to our tents, for more various forms of fun.

I met Rose and Aiden from Southern Ireland. Aiden told me all he had in the world was in his back pocket. When I pointed out his wallet was falling out, he exclaimed, "Jesus, that's all I have". I met another Rose who was an opera singer and belted out her arias every morning in the nude. Another time after once again giving up on the music at about 1am, we all crashed out only for a strange noise from the stage to reawake us. I think they were called Zorch (anyone remember them?) a kind of weird synth band;
Traffic were also supposed to have played, and I saw a couple of members from Hawkwind, but then again so what?

Yes the Hari Krishna guys banged out some great food, and there was lots of dope, overhead police presence, and a member of the Clergy from Reading(!) on stage.

I wasnt aware of any aggro, though some people did mention it, but overall there was a sense of being part of a community of people who wanted to preserve the festivals. It was less chaotic than some of the Stonehenge affairs, and was also remarkable for the "little scenes" , of artists, percussionists, acoustic guitarists, fab food, and some weird and wonderful people; Unlike just about all the other festivals, Watchfield seemed more about the event itself than just music. Oh yeah and I bumped into Scottish Frank, last seen being carted off to jail in Marrakesh!
Regards,

Pete Feenstra


I was at Watchfield. I was 16. Got my O level results while I was there from a public phone in a hangar. The festival blew our minds. First time I had dope, (ate it in a Mars bar,) saw lots of people staggering around naked and generally dug the weirdness. I particularly remember watching a couple of slightly older girls on an acid trip one night lying on their backs gazing heavenward and giggling at the notion of the stars being God’s little peepholes. One more amusing recollection – they announced over the PA that the drug squad agent was the guy with "light" tattooed on one tit and 'bitter" on the other.


Thanks for the site.


Tom Hickmore


I was also present at the Watchfield Festival 1975…another great experience. I was one of the people who braved sleeping in the Hangar!! I didn’t sleep much actually…far too many people coming and going at all hours lol! I smoked lotsa Leb and dropped microdots…I don’t know how I found the energy to dance as much as I did (every day!!!!)…I can’t recall any trouble with Police or freaks. I was there for most of the whole 9 days (but I think I went to Reading for a few days too).

All in all, an amazing time. I am glad I was there. I was LUCKY to be there. You know, it’s funny to think we were being a part of the ‘counter culture’, but we really were…coz we were all definitely looked upon as society outcasts (even if most of the people I met were actually middle-class types lol)

Well, once again, thank you so much for setting up this wonderful wonderful place…
They do say that getting older makes you look back to the past with rose-tinted specs…well, it’s kinda true. But all I know is I’m glad I lived my teens back in the 70s…and not these days.

Dolores at Watchfield

Please can I say a big hello to Roy, from Wooden Lion, who helped me out with getting in touch with you direct…and to also say hi to anyone who I might’ve met at these festivals here…you can contact me via my music page on myspace:
www.myspace.com/foxyladydee
All good wishes from

Dolores



Played bass in the band After the Shallows at Watchfield (band name was my idea - stupidity of youth - aged 18). We were prog rock - no surprise there. I remember arriving playing and leaving. Wierdly, I remember the smell of perfume or perfumed talc on stage. Would have loved to have found photo.

Line up was probably:

Patrick Case - Guitar, vocals (most recently of Immense - Bristol band)
Adrian Snellgrove - keyboards (2 mellotrons!)
Andrew Williamson - Bass
Derrick? - Drums


Thanks

Andrew Williamson

Hi

have just discovered this site and was amazed to see the picture of the lawnmower in the photogallery.
I made that sign and put it in the back window of the the car we drove down in.

A friend of mine, Martin, hitched down seperately and was dropped some distance from the site, so as he had quite a lot of kit with him, he 'liberated' a lawnmower from someones garden , strapped his kit to it and pushed it the remaining few miles to the festival site. He got quite a few laughs as he entered the site and after 'liberating' my sign , attached it to the lawnmower and proudly parked it outside of his tent for the rest of the weekend.
Does anyone remember the surfing?

I seem to remember a bunch of crazies taking doors off the old buildings and roping them to the backs of cars, then being dragged at high speed up the old runways standing on the doors surfing, thought it was one of the highlights of the festival and totally impromptu!

Want to say thanks to a guy called Scripto, if he ever sees this, who helped one of my mates out at the Release shelter. Said mate had dropped some acid and got the paranoias due to a stage announcement in the middle of the night saying something I think about tents being set on fire or some sort of trouble, so got him over to Release with him (6' 4") hanging on to me for dear life!
Thanks for the memories, love this site.

Pete Wilson


Traffic played on the small stage without Stevie Winwood but WITH Viv Stanshall totally smashed on booze and downers, it was all he could do to stay on stage.

There was also a joint rolling competition on the main stage..

I was staying with the Wandering Spirit camp and bumped into a lovely Irish girl called Jill who I had previously met a gig up Ladbrooke grove (Talbot Tabernacle I believe, Nik Turner had written a review in IT).


Nic Dyde


Oh gosh, just found your site, what memories, I went to Watchfield with a host of mates from the infamous "Foundry Arms" in Poole in Dorset, we had a van, a few cars and a couple of motor bikes and several polybins of proper west country scrumpy + lots of nice stuff to smoke!


We set up our village around a large camp fire and basically got wasted for several days, I remember, the Sun & Mirror newspapers carrying stories of "Naked Hippies going wild" (We saw very few) but actually publishing pictures from the Isle of Wight festival mass beach trek, they also ran a story about Watchfield village being boarded up against the hippie invasion, also not true, we bought our supplies at the village store and were welcomed into the pub on several occasions.

We had two very friendly uniform coppers patrolling our bit of the site who we managed to get slaughtered on the scrumpy and on one memorable night, share a spliff or two!

The bands I remember most were Hawkwind, does anyone remember the joint rolling competition they held during their set? We actually won with a big double ender middle roach job and got to hang out with the band after their set, Gong were amazing as were Here and Now and I really enjoyed East of Eden, saw loads of other bands but was too spaced to remember just who and on what stage.

I remember the Angels all too well, we were there during the big dust up with them in as we got pissed off with their prospects abusing everyone, some of them realised all too painfully that not all hippies were peace loving pushovers.

A mass of them came looking for us next morning and thanks to three brothers in our lot who were absolute fearless head cases who decided to front it out, we ended up getting invited to have a drink & a smoke with the Wessex Chapter, several of whom we subsequently met at Stonehenge and other festivals around the west country.

Yes there were some evil bastards in the Angels but by no means all of them and we found out quickly if you respect their code you could get along OK.
I find it hard to believe that it was so long ago, thanks for your site, such memories!
Cheers

Grant (Now of Stevenage)


What a brilliant website and what fantastic memories.

I was almost 17 and arrived as part of the 'Dr Dose and the Acid Drops' band which was formed specifically for Watchfield. I remember being amazed how organised the festival was with the Co-op tented supermarket and row of payphones in the Control Tower. However, my rosy first impressions were shattered when I saw the toilets which consisted of separate cubicles fitted with a communal plank with cut out holes which meant everyone was crapping into the same pit!!! It needed some dexterity to hover your arse away from the hole then place your backside over the pit at the last minute. The penalty for messing up your timing was the possibility of receiving someone else's 'splashback'. No wonder I was hideously constipated by day three!!

The Dr Dose truck was a former aircraft catering lorry with a large 'balcony' ( and viewing platform) over the cab which would have been used for accessing the aircraft's hold. However, the truck was now used by a small racing car team as a car transporter. It was gloss black with a huge shell (petroleum) sign. We added the words 'Dr Dose' in 3" wide white tape on the sides and it become quite a focal point - indeed a recognised meeting point to the rear of the main stage for lost party-goers.

I remember Hawkwind, Arthur Brown. I recall the sound of the Hare Krishna mob first thing in the morning and this persistent smelly 'fog' across the site at dawn. I remember a 'plain clothes' drugs squad officer being identified by a M.C. between bands and watching him scurry away fearing his life. But please excuse me if as a 16 year old male with raging hormones, my main memories are the women. At least ten million of them if I remember correctly. Most naked and choosing to wash using standpipes next to the Dr Dose truck. It was heaven!!

Lastly I recall a free drugs party at stage three. In essence it was an all night jam by musicians that had never met before. I was one of about four audience members who were watch this crap drug free and was bored stupid by the hideous never ending feedback inspired noise. I approached a bored ice cream vendor at about 3am. The poor bloke didn't stand a chance with all the free other stuff on tap and had not sold any ice cream for hours. As he began to draw off soft ice cream from his machine, nothing happened the BANG it exploded like a scene from Bugsy Malone. Ice cream everywhere. God knows what 2 or 3 rows of stoned audience members made of it. I had it licked off me - but that's another story!

Civil aid catering station © Nigel Leach

I loved this Festival. The friendly carnival atmosphere was incredible and sadly introduced me to a life of cynicism of the press, as what many of them wrote did not reflect what I experienced in any way.

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. The photos have also amused my teenage kids to think that I could have been part of such an event and could ever have had such long hair!

Regards

Richard

Free food kitchen © Alun Anderson


Hello,
I was enthused to come across your website of the Watchfield Festival. I attended some of Festival with a number of people from the Nag's Head, High Wycombe; Paddy Dalton, Jerry ?, Steve Merrall (deceased), Julie ?, Terri Meli and a pig farmer (Steve?) from around that area. I remember I had just come over from the Reading Festival, while the others had been camped out for a few days. When I arrived, I remember that our lot had a big piece of plastic for a tent and that one could walk about and receive the free newsletter updating everyone on what was good and what was cut - I remember one tent had a cash register in it.

I ended up on an extensive hike for many hours with someone I didn't really know - we got lost for hours initially in search of the source of the Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon music that came on over the sound system. I remember we got lost near the biker encampment and that felt very, very heavy. As we roamed about, I remember two people crawling up a small hill and just staring at the rope holding the mound of dirt in place. The peak moment came in the early morning. I don't know if the band was shut down early or if this fellow just got up on the stage after they were finished. The audience was definitely tripping along as this fellow with bright red hair began singing or rather mumbling about blue suede shoes. When he tried to get down from the stage, the crowd wouldn't let him as he had become the audience.
We ended up finally finding our tent in the morning, where the gang was all set to go for another few days. I remember the experience as being very intense. Ironically, many years later in St. Louis, Missouri, I met a guy by the name of Dave Phillips who had moved to the U.S. -- he too had witnessed Watchfield and the ginger haired guy singing blue sueded shoes -- it is such a small world!

Kate


Hi

Just found you excellent site brought back memories mostly a blur to be fair. Remember being in same hangar as Road rats not much kip but my crowd wernt intimidated either in those days. I recall meeting Sid Rawle but how and why escapes me nowadays. Can't really remember any of the bands think this was the last festival I went to end of an era and all that. One more thing anyone recall some nutjob being busted for posing as a doctor and dispensing medication at site. I went to first aid post for painkillers and later wondered what I was given when reading about it in the papers. Happy days looking back.

Mick Osler. Coventry

© Tim Brighton


Dear Friends

I was about 13 years old, living in nearby Swindon and went to Watchfield with some older friends. I remember Zorch started their set by firing a flare over the crowd. Before they had progressed very far the rain came down and they had to abandon it. My mates sister was 'married' at the festival with Sid Rawle officiating.

This fantastic website brought back many memories - thanks so much.


Peter


I was there for one day. I remember a tense atmosphere, wild and edgy. A blonde girl on a big motorbike rode at top speed through the crowd and everyone was jumping and diving out the way. There was constant talk of cops in the crowd disguised as hippies selling drugs and around the airfield cop cars circled the site. The only band I remember is Strange Days. For me it marked the end of the peace festivals, as violence was in the air with the Angels ... or maybe I was just getting older and sitting around naked in the mud had lost its charm.
Darryl Vincent (Now St. Sukie de la Croix in Chicago)


With regret I don’t have any photos or video footage, but I lived at the farm (which looked like a castle) at the end of the little road next to the airfield and came up to watch everyday. My first ever festival, I was 12 and really quite entranced by the whole thing and quite scared when some seemingly giant, leather clad, rather hairy bikers walked straight through a barbed wire fence. I don’t think it did them any harm!

I then went to the first Big Green Gathering on the same site.

It is now the site of Watchfield’s Wind Farm, small but iconic.

Thanks for supplying all this information, I had no idea that I had been treading the same hallowed turf as so many legends!

My best wishes

Wesley Morrissey


So glad to discover this site. I hitched over to Watchfield on Wednesday 20th August. A fair few folk who'd been dossing round the Clodgy and the Sea Mews squat in St. Ives eventually found their up way there too. A "Sea Mews 2" was set up in the big hangar. I remember the dramatic arrival of the Angels, a long, long convoy roaring in down a runway, a stream of headlights breaking through the dusk; Road Rats and Satan's Slaves came later. We stayed clear and avoided trouble with them, likewise from the odd and obvious plain-clothes policeman nosing around.

Of more concern was the availability of firewood and free food; Mother Earth kitchen, tea from the Christians, hash cake. Cries of "Wally". My diary tells me that the bands playing on Monday 25th included "East of Eden", "Gong", and "Conventional Douglas" - don't remember any of them, too much to smoke, though I do recall seeing "Hawkwind" a couple of days earlier; at the Polytantric Stage C on Saturday 30th were Stevie Winwood, Jim Capaldi and Viv Stanshall. Aerial exhibits included Concorde, five helicopters trailing coloured smoke and a bit of Aorora Borealis. I eventually left on the 2nd September, replete after a fortnightful of happy days. Cath, Jan, Fran, Joe the Eagle, Jaffa, Lynn, Sharon, Max and all the rest - thanks for the memories.

Chris Pyrah


At 17 I was at working on a 'head' stall at Watchfield with my boyfriend 'big Jim' Bowler and his pal called MIn and several others from the Hemel Hempstead area. We jumped in the van with some stock, a tent after picking up random people on the way. I remember Hawkwind and some very stoned people wondering over to the stall drawn by the psychadelic trinkets I had artistically arranged. I don' t recall much attention to business except that a fair chunk of the takings was spent on a substantial stash of dope. Other than that it's all rather hazy!
In 1974 aged 16 at the free festival in the Windsor Great park my pal Deirdre and I left before the police turned. At the Knebworth Festival she was tripping so badly that she missed Pink Floyd set whilst I saw the lazer light show, the rocket and the clocks on the giant screen.
With several decades hindsight it was a good time to live in the Home Counties!

Sharon


There are reports of a festival held in 76 but this definitely did NOT happen, the action moved to Seasalter

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Here and Now At Watchfield 1975

Here and Now discography

Strife At Watchfield


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