Formatted at 1920 X 1020 minimum - failure to view at this res may cause weird formatting , you have been warned !!!!!!!

Updated July 2021

For information on today's festivals see

Big BIG thanks to our sponsor Neil !

This site is dedicated in 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 .....

Ashton Court Community Free Festival

Bristol. June 27th-29th ,1980

Ashton Court Free festival June 1980 -Nick Turner's Inner City Unit © photos Paul Seaton

Festival Welfare Service report. June 27th-29th 1980.

I visited the festival on June 28th during the day and early evening, although there had been people on the site on Friday, and there was another day of music planned for Sunday.

The site was beautiful. It was part of a country estate owned by the Local Authority, on the outskirts of Bristol. The entertainments area was flat grassland, surrounded by woods on three sides. The fourth side sloped up the large carpark. Around the edge of the site were assorted tents, tipi coaches. There were two separate stages and two marquees where bands and theatre-groups were performing.

The music from the bands, which was scheduled from 10.00 am to 8.00 pm , was very well baffled by the woods surrounding the site, and could hardly be heard away from the site. In a semi-circle around the main stage were most of the craft and food stalls. There was a very wide variety of food, at reasonable prices and of good quality. There was also interesting collection of all sorts of crafts on sale, and stalls run by community organisations.

There was a very good programme for the festival, costing 20p, including up of the bands and a site map. It had brief descriptions of the bands, some of the local community groups taking part in the festival.

The intrepid Nik Turners outfit

More Nik Turner onstage Ashton Court 1980

Although there was officially no camping, many of the people involved in organising the festival had been staying on site, and the performing marquees could be used as crash tents. The marquees would have been very good for shelter if it had rained heavily.

The organisers were running an information tent, which was busy when I visited dealing with lost children and general enquiries. They had one or two people looking for the first-aid point, but unfortunately nothing had been organised.

One of Festival Aid's volunteers who was there during the two days offered first-aid services, but in future it would seem advisable for the organisers to arrange a full first-aid cover for the whole festival. To make an emergency phone call the nearest telephone was two miles away over the Clifton suspension Bridge. Some sort of radio link between the organisers and other parts of the site would seem a good idea too.


Thandoy Lineup (Thanks Twink !)

Steve Higgins Guitar
Gary Subs Bass
Erik violin
Richard Lanchester Drums
Shanks Congas
Twink Synthesiser

and a link to what Twink is up to these days

Thandoy onstage Ashton Court 1980 © photos Paul Seaton

Unknown solo artiste Ashton Court 1980

For children, a beautiful play area and play bus had been organised, and there was lots of children's entertainment. The children's play bus was a good place for lost children.

The toilets on site were bearing up to the crowds remarkably well. I only saw one set of porta-cabins, split into Ladies (3 cubicles) and Gents, although two sets were marked on the site map. No doubt the nearby woods were being used too. The woods were also providing dead wood for campfires in the evening and there seemed to be plenty. Water on site was supplied from a stand pipe. There was plenty of provision for litter, in the form of skips and bins around the site. There was a need for more bins next to some of the food stands, but generally the site was kept very clean.

The atmosphere on site was very pleasant, with many local people, including older visitors, coming up on site to watch the bands and other entertainment.


Please don't write and ask what the hell is going on in the photo on the left , cos we don't know and possibly don't WANT to know.

On Saturday the crowd was about 5000, mainly local people, spread over the site, between the various stages and marquees. The festival was obviously popular and well organised and I hope Sunday was as pleasant. If the event takes place again next year, I would recommend that the organisers make sure they have some sort of organised emergency service on site.

Penny Mellor -Field Worker

Ashton Court Festival 80 Photogalleries

Ashton Court Nik Turner Ashton Court Thandoy

Ashton Court Festivals 1978-80

Free Festivals List

Any info to add- well don't just sit there ! Contact us

Free festivals and small fayres held in the United Kingdom between 1967-90.




  • 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



We are proud of the contribution we have made to Andy Worthington's sociological history of Stonehenge and the free festival scene in the UK .This new book gives a fascinating insight into the various counter cultural obsessions with the Stones and provides a variety of new perspectives to many of the key events surrounding the Henge such as the Battle Of The Beanfield and the more recent attempts hold a celebration at the Stones during the Solstice.


Find out more about this great book by clicking on the image on the left and visit the Heart of Albion Press web site .

Sending details of a small book I've just self-published which might be of interest to some readers of your admirable site.

Related Articles

The aroma of a free festival -by Roger Hutchinson

Dome construction instruction sheet (download-140k)-by Roger Hutchinson

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

Main Archive