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August 14th-16th  1970
The Yorkshire Folk, Blues & Jazz Festival.

Krumlin, Barkisland ,Yorkshire.


     The Krumlin Festival has the unfortunate reputation of being on the receiving end of the worst weather to ever hit a British rock festival, which more or less devastated the festival site, leaving only the stage standing by Sunday morning .

Above, before the storm hit - © AIan Mitchell

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Above, the calm before the storm - Krumlin Fesitval site Friday night, during a rare dry spell .

By Sunday morning ALL of these tents had been flattened by the storm

Photo © Garry Bodenham

    The event had a good line-up, but just how many of these acts ever performed is a moot point, as the Sunday performances were completely rained out  , as Great British storms ravaged the area , causing havoc with electricity supplies , marquees and the stage . One of the promoters is supposed to have either decamped early ,  owing large sums of money to all and sundry or to have wandered off in a fugue-like state , tramping the moors for several days before being rescued in the nick of time before he expired from exposure and dehydration.

Before the bad weather hit -Saturday . Photo courtesy John Wharton

         Around 25,000 attended , ( although photos of the crowd indicate there were far fewer bodies than that )- but the choice of venue left something to be desired, it is COLD in them thar hills of Yorkshire , even in the summer . As mentioned earlier the weather was NOT kind . International Times reported that the police closed down the site on Sunday after severe rainstorms and high winds transformed the site into a bog and hundreds of punters had been treated for exposure.

       Organization was poor, the festival should have began at 3:pm, but the first act did not hit the stage until 7:45 in the evening on Friday . The weather was so bad even on Saturday that many left before the first bands performed. Apparently Elton John went down very well, though much of this might be due to his passing bottles of brandy out to the audience.

A plastic covered crowd, an all too typical sight at British festivals © Mike Taylor

© Catherine MacDonald.

Hi. I've just come across this photograph along with my ticket for the Krumlin Festival. I was 16 at the time and this was my first ever outdoor festival/concert. I lived about 9 miles away from the site andy parents only allowed me to go if I came home to sleep at night.

 My dad met me and my friend at the entrance at the top of the field on both Friday and Saturday night. On the Saturday night, although the weather wasn't good at midnight when we met up, I had no idea that I would not be returning the following day due the devastation of the site due to the overnight weather. It was a fantastic experience.
Kind regards
Catherine MacDonald

Yorkshire Disaster. From Friends  Sept 1970.

The whole weekend awash with water, one death from exposure.

    The most that can be said for the Yorkshire Folk  and  Blues festival (August 14th through to 16th ), is that under normal circumstances the site would have been ideal . The publicity hand outs reported that it would be the only festival in Britain to offer 50 hours of top bands , 150 acres of camp site, licensed bars, decent, cheap food, free covered accommodation , beds for hire, all night concerts and boutiques.
     The final assessment of the festival on Monday morning showed it to be an unmitigated disaster  . The whole weekend awash with water , one death from exposure and one freaked out organiser last seen by the other promoters wandering away from the site on Sunday. He wasn’t found until Thursday , when the police picked him up, suffering from hunger and exposure , wandering around somewhere on the moors.
There are no reports from the Halifax police on his hospitalised state.

Alexis Korner ; In spite of it all , brilliant

    The unanswered question still is why the promoters decided to go ahead at all considering the non appearance of lots of groups and the state of the unfinished stands, when the public began to arrive. On top of this fourteen pirate ticket agents had managed to sell large numbers of tickets through advertisements placed in the Melody Maker which were not acceptable on site.
    The weekend was meant to start Friday at three , but nothing happened until around six. It must be said that the crowd was amazingly patient through the three hours , sitting in the cold while men wandered on and off stage adding scaffolding and backdrops . While all this was going on up front the groups were playing pop stars behind, arguing amongst themselves about who was to go on first. When all this was sorted out and the first group came on , almost synchronising with their appearance , the rain started and  never really let up all weekend.
    On Saturday morning it remained cloudy and cold but because of Fridays rain the site was turned into a mud bath . It was so bad that the land rovers taking groups around had to be pulled by heavy duty tractors.
    When the Humblebums appeared on Saturday evening it started to rain even harder and because the stage roof  was flat , water quickly collected and poured through onto the musicians   . During the course of their performance the drummer played with an umbrella up and there were constant interruptions due to workmen coming on stage to drill holes in the floor to let the rain out. 
    By Sunday evening there were sixty cases of exposure and some people had been injured when a marquee blew down on them after they’d been huddled inside for warmth . The death occurred  when a man  tried to get under a plastic bag for protection . When the last group finished on Sunday the crowd ( small by any standards ) were left standing in torrents of rain calling out for more. 
   The best that could be said for the whole fiasco was that the promoters and large numbers of police throughout the weekend were helpful. Portent of the Isle of Wight ?

International Times  wrote :
"It was the worst organized festival ever. It was a piece of moorland. About 25,000 kids turned up, but the weather turned almost immediately from a mild grey to rain., hail , sleet and rain , blue rain and thunderstorms. This went on for the entirety of the festival so there was this incredibly damp and miserable audience in the downpour in this rather cold and bleak up-land where trees don't grow. "

NB : One must sometimes take the underground press reports with a grain of salt, as some of the eyewitness acccounts contradict what the press stated and rumours were often printed as facts -so what has changed between now and then you ask ? In fact , 330 people were treated for exposure at the site, 70 people were hospitalised and there were no deaths , although it was a close thing. The emergency services who attended, such as Civil Aid and St Johns , did a magnificent task under very difficult circumstances .)

Photographs by the late David Redom

    All this didn't stop the drug squad from attending , apparently DJ Jerry Floyd was fined 25 pounds for insulting the plain clothes police and pointing out who they were to the audience. He is alleged to have called one a " ginger haired pig " , so of course he was hauled up before the beak for such a heinous indiscretion .

Sounds like this festival was lots of fun . I wish I'd been there (honestly ! ) .

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