The Archive.

The Great Western Express Festival. Bardney . Lincolnshire.
May 26th-29th 1972.

Press articles . part 2

International Times.

     Richard Neville did an extremely critical write-up of the festival for IT . He was very annoyed about the way that fans were treated and the lack of facilities and the degree of planning that had been put into play in the event of bad weather . The following are excerpt's taken from the article and some of the photos from IT taken by Captain Snips and Detroit Annie.

    According to Neville, the gap between those who organized Bardney and the audience was a very wide one indeed.Whilst the organizers spent the weekend in palatial caravans hired from Billy Smart's Circus, the tents provided for the punters blew away in the storm . This he put down to:

" The community tents blew away because the fabric was rotten, the ropes ancient and frayed, the centrepoles soft from age and hollow from death watch beetle . The reason for this was that they were hired on the cheap "

    Apparently the concession tents did not blow down, nor the backstage marquees for the press and celebrities . This was because they were of decent quality.

    Because of the poor facilities " many evacuated the site on the first day, reselling tickets at a loss" (and incidentally , at a loss to the promoters) " and many trudged three miles a night to crash in the village church. "

    The press enclosure , was as usual situated right in front of the stage (a curious ritual of most UK rock fests , just why hacks had to have the best seats has never been adequately explained to me , OK , photographers need to get down the front to get good pix but reporters don't need to be two feet away from the performers in order to document proceedings ). John Peel was the unfortunate compare and he "labored to restore priorities " asking the reporters in the press enclosure to sit down so the crowd could see the bands on-stage


      Neville was very critical of the food arrangements, prices were fair,near street prices,but the quality of the food left much to be desired , comprising of the usual "gruesome hot dogs " The one ray of light was Joe's Cafe , (a Manchester non -profit commune )which were not allowed onsite, but who dished out " generous portions of vegetables, brown rice and an orange for 11p, comparing not unfavorably with the authorized boiled hamburger on a bun for 15p"

      The police presence was massive and more people were busted than at the Isle Of Wight in 1970 , even though the attendance was approximately less than one twentieth of the Isle of Wight Crowd. The police were not allowed on site, but they "retaliated by saturating off site focal points, such as Joe's Cafe or dispatching plain clothes sorties for lightning arrests . Because of the intense pre-festival scare , the force was laughably over manned , with dozens per square yard approaching the site, directing a solitary row of traffic. " Around 150 people were busted , Neville says " all unfairly "as he estimates that most of the crowd must have been in possession, as drugs were "virtually essential to survival, how else could most people have endured planned traffic jams , hard hitching , 72 predominantly sleepless hours, rain, wind, bad food and still enjoy the occasion, as I concede that many people did "

     Yes indeed, it is strange that people do enjoy these less than perfect circumstances, but there is a factor that Richard leaves out exclusively from this article - The music. Its this element that can transform even the most vile festival into a magical event and its almost exclusively ignored in the coverage of festivals by underground magazines. The writers are naturally more interested in the socio-political aspects of the event as it pertains to the underground movement , but its a drag 30 years on as we get no insight into the quality of the performances .

    The welfare agencies had much to do at Bardney. Release were there and they pressured the organizers into fencing the toilets and asking the caterers to stay open all night (they didn't comply ) . They were there to help all of those who had overindulged or whose trip was going wrong

"If you're a junkie , Release will succor you, If you're tripping , a warm Moroccan style tent awaits you, attended by bearded jokers who hug and kiss and gentle buxom maidens who may bathe you (as happened to one bewildered Hells Angel ), light incense or just smile and hold out lavender pads to sniff. If your friends have disappeared , presumed busted, Release gives court reports, arranges a lawyer and raises a bust fund to pay the fine . There are endless cups of tea, some free blankets and a spare tent space for shelter. "

     The "Civil Aid" organization is also there , because they regarded festivals as training grounds

" only here , the disasters are not staged; they're real "

Apparently they had a dossier of photographs from other festivals, showing

"the lavatories tilted in the mud and unusable "

 Civil Aid stated that they sent copies to the organizers of Bardney with suggestions for improvement , but their ideas were not implemented.    

    The irony of these organizations attending festivals, states Richard Neville .

"is that they absorb indignation, patch up problems and in many ways ensure the success of the venture for the promoters "

and therefore encourages them to continue bad practices..

   He suggested that before any other festivals were promoted

" a peoples committee should be contemplated ... possibly a coalition of welfare groups, underground press, Music Liberatio n Front and other interested individuals to protect the rights of constituents . Anyone contemplating fencing in up to half a million people for a long wet weekend must accept responsibilities. "

Of course this eminently sensible and easily implemented advice never took place.

Press part three


great western menu

  we have been endeavouring to collect audience or sbd tapes of the performances at this festival , so I can effectively review the performances, provide set lists and band line-ups. The intention is to also display as many personal histories of the festival as possible.

If you can contribute in any way, with tapes, reviews from the music press, photos or personal histories, please Contact us

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