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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 .....

R.IP. Phil Shaksby, aka Phil The Beer ,who passed away April 2010 .

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Harlow Free Concerts 1974
Spurriers Park- Harlow.

Fairport Convention at Harlow 1974 © Stephen Bragger


Any more details would be appreciated .Any info to add ?-well don't just sit there , Contact us

Thanks to Steve Goldsmith , David Devine of Harlow Council and Steve Baker for their invaluable help in providing data on these concerts.


May 25 1974


Chilly Willy and the Red Hot Peppers.

By now I am 13 and allowed to go to Harlow Town Park concerts on my own. With the exception of the Bay City Rollers 1974’s batch of concerts had some strong headliners appearing. I really cannot remember if I saw 10CC or not , but the Harlow Guardian had this to say:

“ Kicking off a series of free fortnightly pop concerts on Saturday was the chart topping group 10CC who drew a tremendous crowd of youngsters. And if it was not enough to please the pop fans a group called Chilly Willy and the Red Hot Peppers also appeared as a supporting program".
Harlow Gazette 31 May 1974

I remember seeing Fairport Convention at the Town Park although I am not altogether sure if it was this gig or the one in 1976 and I remember seeing Hawkwind (if only to hear Silver Machine) and the Groundhogs. The Ground Hogs along with Stan Web ignited a lifelong obsession with the blues.
I left the Bay City Rollers well alone what with all the “ hysterical mobs of teeny boppers” likely to be in attendance , that, and the fact I thought the band were shite. anyway As you can see from a separate article I am sending you my fears were well confirmed about "hysterical mobs of teeny boppers".

Stephen Goldsmith


Left : The bearded guy from 10cc .Harlow 1974

© Harlow Gazette/Harlow Museum

June 8th 1974 .

Clancy. ( did this occur ? )

June 15th 1974

Fairport Convention, Clancy.
Audience tapes exist of Fairport .Sandy Denny was still with Fairport at this date.
Fairports Set
1  Matty Groves
2. Solo
3. Sloth
4. It'll Take A Long Time
5. Dirty Linen
6. The Brilliancy Medley and the Cherokee Shuffle
7. Rising For The Moon
8. Born To Leave You ???
9. The Ballad Of Ned Kelly
10. The Hexamshire Lass
11. Fiddlesticks
12.John The Gun
13.Down In The Flood
14.Sir B. McKenzie
15.The Hen's March
16.That'll Be The Day

very good aud tape.

June 29th 1974

The Groundhogs


July 13th 1974 .

Mungo Jerry.Omaha. Trilogy .


check out those platties folks, this is definitely the 1970s !

Courtesy Gary Draper of Trilogy

July 27th 1974 .

Bay City Rollers, Cruel Coppinger.

This is probably the crowd for the Bay City Rollers © Harlow Gazette/Harlow Museum

The following made front page of the Harlow Gazette on 2 August 1974
It is an account of what happened in terms of the crowd control problems at the Bay City Rollers concert at the Harlow Town Park on 27 July 1974. It had the makings of a MAJOR incident and it was a miracle that there weren’t any fatalities

Stephen Goldsmith

Hysterical Teenagers Hurt

A screaming hysterical mob of teeny boppers turned Saturday Nights Town Park concert into a nightmare. The trouble broke out as the chart - busting Bay City Rollers came on stage.
A couple of hundred fans at the front of the massive crowd surged forward and a crash barrier broke. Youngsters were pushed into the artificial pond in front of the stage - and others were crushed.

A fleet of ambulances rushed 11, including one seven year old , to Princess Alexander Hospital - and thirty casualties were treated on site . Fortunately none was badly hurt - and they were either sent home after seeing doctors or given "reassurance".
The police had warned the organisers, Harlow Council, to stop the concert. But by that time the fans knew that the star group had arrived - and it was thought there would have been an even bigger problem if everything was called off.

But after Saturday nights fiasco the Council is to take a major look at its crowd control policy. It estimates there were 18,000 to 20,000 youngsters and most were between the ages of 12 to 16 years..

Right in the middle of it all was St Johns Ambulance Brigade staff officer, of Moorfield.
And he told the Gazzette and Citizen: -

" The crowd atmosphere changed noticeably around 9:00pm when the advertised star group failed to appear. During the next half-hour the youngsters grew more disappointed and restless and there was growing signs of mass hysteria.

Two young girls were crushed against the front barrier and taken to hospital. A few minutes later , the group arrived and appeared almost immediately on stage . The crowd went wild with excitement and rushed towards the stage with the inevitable result that those at the front were forced against the barrier which eventually collapsed.

Almost immediately we found ourselves faced with a near major scale emergency particularly as it proved impossible to utilise the facilities of the first aid post. The sheer density of the crowd made it physically impossible to move casualties in that direction. An emergency station was therefore set up. Within the next ten minutes or so 18 casualties were receiving attention and it became apparent that additional assistance was required. A telephone call set in to motion the local St John emergency call out system and with in minutes other qualified members were speeding towards the incident, at least two of them had been literally been called out of their beds.

In all, 30 casualties were treated at the incident, mostly from severe bruising to the chest and abdomen due to crushing against the barrier ; suspected fractured ribs, hysteria and shock. Many were saturated having fallen into the watercourse at the front of the stage”.
And he added “This is the first incident we have had of this magnitude to occur in Harlow and while we all hope that such accidents will not occur St John members are trained continuously to meet such emergencies.

May I pay tribute to the Harlow Council stewards and to the members of the security corps who performed a magnificent job in controlling the situation and extricating the casualties under the most difficult of conditions. Without their spontaneous action the situation would have certainly been much worse.”

Eighteen old Julie Dosell of Northbrooks was right at the front of the hysterical masses.
" I think the trouble was that the group were late in coming on "she said "and when they did 200 to 300 girls at the front started screaming and tried to get on the stage. They were the sort of group that appeals to nine to 14 years and they were singing songs to them."
" They broke through the crash barriers, and a couple got on the stage. The concert had to be stopped for a couple of minutes while they tried to calm everyone down, but they all just went on screaming. "

The council is adamant that it took the right decision in letting the concert go on.
“ It would have been quite ridiculous to stop it “ said a spokesman. "People would have rioted. I suppose it was a case of the lesser of two evils. We were in quite a predicament and really had no alternative. We had extra safety barriers and double the staff on duty. The fact that no one was seriously injured proves that we were prepared".

August 10th 1974.

Hawkwind , trying to avoid getting a wetting © Micky Mazda who has a nice set of photos on Flickr from this gig.

Hawkwind,Magic Michael, Michael Moorcock, Liquid Len ,Al Mathews

Audience tapes exist of Hawkwind's performance . Around 5,000 attended despite very bad weather .

HAWKWIND August 10 1974, Harlow Festival, U.K. 60 minutes

Here's a vintage performance by a band who redefined the term "acid rock" and dragged it into the seventies. It is difficult to determine the band lineup on any given Hawkwind live tape since this changed from night to night, depending on who was capable of playing. This concert took place before Lemmy left to form Motorhead. This tape was listed as a soundboard, but I suspect it is one of those rare audience tapes of Hawkwind which isn't too distorted to recognize. This tape still distorts but it is apparently one of very few listenable Hawkwind tapes.
Once they take the stage, they keep playing without stopping. They start with a spacey jam which metamorphosizes into songs which keep sliding in and out of similar jamming. Various instruments can be heard dropping out and coming back on so one can only assume people are walking on and off stage.

The playing is pretty sloppy and alternates from sounding intense to droning tediously. The instrumental passages improve through the course of the concert and they even play recognizable songs (such as "The Awakening" from the Space Ritual album). This has been listed as one of the better quality early Hawkwind tapes floating around, which is disappointing since this one isn't great. I would recommend sticking with the officially released live albums "Space Ritual" and the later released B.B.C. concert, unless you are very curious to hear more.

(Erik Twight)

It's still raining when Magic Michael takes to the stage just after six o'clock. They're a three piece who are mates of Hawkwind. Their music is undisciplined to say the least and when the audience doesn't applaud too loud they shout back obscenities.
It's a toss up between sheltering or watching them and the shelters win. Besides I didn't bring my brolly.

After a set by another of Hawkwind's pals, Al Matthews - okay I was still underneath the shelter but I wasn't in the nearby pub, that was too full, Hawkwind took the stage minus Nick Turner who hadn't yet arrived.
They said it was the first time they'd played in six months and would start with a jam.

I didn't brave the storm but elected to view the band from a corner of the stage just behind one of the PA banks which was like some of the audience, covered in polythene. Yeh it was still raining, but it hadn't stopped the kids flowing in as there was now about five thousand.

Hawkwind eventually got stuck into "Warriors On The Edge Of Time" augmented by Al Matthews on conga and a lunk of a fella wearing a smock and a hat decorated with all manner of things including a feather. This guy recited 'poetry' every now and again in one of those doom-laden tones. You know the kind of thing - "we're all seated on the edge of time/ We need you, it's dark on the edge of time."
It wasn't until I was informed by Stacia that I realised the guy was Michael Moorcock, respected sci-fi writer. Surely he could have afforded better clothes than that. But then I suppose he was trying to be a hippy.

Saturday's was Hawkwind's with the newly recruited Simon King which now means they have two drummers, and emphasises the rhythmic barrage of the group even more.
Nick Turner eventually turned up on stage clad in a vivid green cosmic jump suit and preceded to dance around with Stacia.
Now I really admired Stacia who kept going out front and dancing in the rain. Bare-footed and all. She told me she can only dance bare footed. At least Turner had the sense to wear knee-high boots.
"It's too cold" she complained. "The water on your feet makes the whole body cold."
Eventually the rain did stop and the umbrellas came down. "It looks just like Bickershaw", one of the band observed.


I stumbled across the site and would like to add my very few memories of the Harlow gigs, I saw Hawkwind in ’74 and remember very little except the guy in front of me being very stoned thrashing his flag on the ground whilst his trousers were around his ankles! I remember enjoying the event and it overran so I was late back for my lift home.

I also recall seeing Eddie And The Hot Rods and Darts, may have been on the same bill but probably not. Anyone recall?


The New Musical Express article describing this show can be found here . This is an extract


"And so on to the music. Well I don't know.

I hadn't been taking acid. In fact the only stimulants I'd had were a couple of Scotches, the odd swig of Stacia's Vodka and a couple of gulps of beer.

So you see I was pretty sober. But I do know Hawkwind's music has got a bloody good rhythm. But about all those cosmic gurles, fizzles, bubbles and what have you . .  . What would Robert Johnson have said, or come to that, even Eric Clapton?

Do you know what these numbers are called, Stacia? I asked.

"That was Brainstorm". The mime was of a robot who comes to life. I can't remember the other ones. This is called 'Paranoid', she says as the band re-start their relentless thumping.

"This is Liquid Len," Stacia informs me, pointing towards a wollen-capped fella siting behind something which resembles a mixing desk. "He's incredible, you'll see when it gets dark."

I saw Liquid Len had arranged this kind of snake-like movement of lights across the back of the stage and that was pretty impressive - although it al suffered somewhat from being out-doors.

Hawkwind played for around two hours and the audience got well into them. Stacia asked me if I liked Hawkwind. Most writers don't, she said. Be honest she said. Well I said I did enjoy although the Sam and Dave record which Andy Dunkley played immediately after the set was more in my line."


Free Festivals List

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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.

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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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