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Formatted at 1920 X 1020 minimum - Updated July 2021

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 .

Big BIG thanks to our sponsor Neil !

For information on today's festivals see


Harlow Free Concerts

Spurriers Park- Harlow.

Fairport Convention at Harlow 1974 © Stephen Bragger


          In the mid 70s Harlow Town Council, ( dominated by Labour with the exception of four Liberals) decided to use the town's park for the purpose of holding free rock concerts.The council funded the exercise , which was one of a few controversial initiatives they espoused such as providing free television licenses for their constituents !
    The main instigator of the free concerts was councilor Chris Crackett, the events appear to have run consistently from 1973 to 1981 with other seasons occurring right up to 1991. Bands ranged from pop acts such as Kenny and th Bay City Rollers to pyschedelic/blues rock acts such as the Groundhogs and Hawkwind.

    Concerts were held in the late 70s featuring local bands and also during much of the 1980s .We now have , thanks mainly to the wonderful folks mentioned below , (in addition to copious amounts of information generously suppiled by Harlow Museum and the Harlow Gazette ), enough details to flesh out most of these events .

    We have belatedly become aware that the person responsible for organising the Harlow free concerts , Dick Kilburn, has died in September 2019. As Harlow Council Entertainments Officer ,he was one of the main architects behind the concerts that played in the town park in the seventies with artists as diverse as The Bay City Rollers and Thin Lizzy, Kenny Ball and The Pogues, Aswad and Judas Priest and dozens more playing free at Harlow Bandstand over a couple of decades. He was also behind the first Rock Contest which started back in the early 80s and ended up running at The Square right until they closed their doors. We would lkie to extend our condolences to this family and regret his passing.

Dick Kilburn

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.




The Groundhogs

Nice set of photos on Flickr from this gig

May 1973

Hackensack , Atomic Rooster .

( these were possibly separate shows, one band per weekend)

16th June 1973 .

Chicken Shack, Brinsley Schwarz.

30th June 1973 .

Pink Fairies, Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come .

The Pink Fairies gig was especially memorable, as after a few bars of the second number, Russel Hunter, the drummer collapsed and lay motionless on the stage. Duncan Sanderson, the guitarist walked over and kicked his inert form a couple of times, then returned to the microphone and announced: "Sorry, 'is motor's bust!", and with that they left the stage, leaving the roadies to clear up the mess...

Arthur Brown's set there was also quite fun. No-one at the front would sit down, so no-one at the back could see. Arthur was exhorting people to sit down, in his own inimitable way, and got quite excited. He jumped off the stage, microphone clasped firmly in hand, and took half the PA with him!

Gareth Williams

Nice set of photos on Flickr from this gig

August 1973 .

Mungo Jerry, Budgie ,Judas Priest,Stackridge, Trilogy.

( this show was held at Harlow Tech not the park, thousands turned up and the hall could only fit 400. )

September 22nd 1973 .

Grave New World ,Hawkwind.

( these were possibly separate shows, one band per weekend)


June 8th 1974 .


June 15th 1974

Fairport Convention, Byzantium.
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 .

Courtesy Gary Draper of Trilogy

July 27th 1974 .


August 10th 1974.
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?


Nice set of photos on Flickr from this gig, although labelled 1973, its a wet gig, so its probably 1974


June 21st 1975

The Rubettes, Trilogy

I played support to 3 of the huge bands who appeared at the Harlow Town Park during the 70's.

As 'Trilogy' we supported Mungo Jerry on their first visit.

As 'Trilogy' we supported The Rubettes on 21st June 1975 .

As 'Five Years On' we supported Mud on July 3rd 1976.

I have recently renovated my posters, kept from our gigs at that time.

I have attached one for you from our gig with the Rubettes (finished - renovated)

Best Wishes

Gary Draper

July 19th 1975

Thin Lizzy

I think the date you have for the Thin Lizzy gig was wrong. I think it should be Sat 19 July, the reason is I was in a local band that supported them. Namely the unforgettable Iron Orchid!!!!!!!
We also supported Mungo Jerry at Harlow College and on another occasion Hustler.


August 2nd 1975 .

Man ,Rab Noakes ,A Band Called O,John St Field.

This gig was all about Man, I don't remember Rab Noakes at all, but certainly remember John St Field, later to become Jacky Leven of Doll By Doll fame. He was on early in the sunny afternoon. Everyone was nicely blissed out, on the hill in front a pond if I remember; Either way he was in the middle of his singer song writer thing, and had just launched into "Strip Show", a number that would later resurface on a Doll By Doll album, when the power suddeny cut out.

John aka Jacky freaked out, started stomping, swearing, waving his arms, and was throroughly uncool and pissed off. I seem to remember he started again later, but had lost the crowd.
A Band Called O , were all slide guitar from Craig Anders(?), whose brother now works for Bug publishing, and punchy licks and very funky.

Anyway the sun shone, the audience got stoned, the crowd got bigger, and a young lady decided to enjoy the sun and stripped down to her knickers to the delight of the sound crew and roadies. Unconcerned by the roadies/audience letching she caried on her stoned dance to the in between band music.

Man finally hit the stage, it became dark, the lights came up..I think there were lights, and Micky Jones played magnificently, especially on "Bananas", and "C'Mon" the magnificent awe inspiring opener - all space rock, and angular guitar. Terry Williams pounded the skins, the band rocked out and a magical sense of Welsh psychedelia infused the park.
Such a great time was had by me and friends that we missed the last transport home, and slept the night under some trees in the park.

Pete Feenstra

Audience tape exists of Man.

I'm having fun looking at your website!

I come from Harlow, so the free gigs meant a lot to me. I even played at one of them, when (if I remember correctly) Camel were headlining.

Having found a photo of myself onstage ,you can see an amp in the background that looks like it has Caravan's logo on, so perhaps they were the headline band that night.

I have become a professional (bass guitar) and so has the guitarist. He went on to play with a lot of stars and I am a faceless session muso. I play with the Michael Nyman band as well. We've been down your way a couple of times.

Anyway, I remember seeing these bands in the Town park:
Steel Pulse,
Thin Lizzy,
Bay City Rollers,
Mungo Jerry
a great local band, featuring the drummer of Shakatak, CMU

With best wishes,
Martin Elliott

Hi Guys,

I tripped across your Festival site while trawling the web for some old Pink Fairies nostalgia and came across the section for the gigs in the Harlow Town Park.A bunch of mates and myself worked as Stewards at the majority of these gigs (this basically entailed hanging around the stage and the wings and getting quietly drunk/stoned depending on your weakness.)
The deal was 9 gigs each summer on a Saturday evening/night ;-3 Pop, 3Folk/Acoustic/Unplugged type gigs & 3 Rock.

All the Best



July 3rd 1976

Mud , Five Years On,Shift .

Posters courtesy Gary Draper .

Bay City Rollers


June 3rd 1978

Eddie and the Hotrods , Pete the Meat and the Boys The Sods.

Nice set of photos on Flickr from this gig


July 25th-26th 1981

August 1st 1981 .

Advert for the 1981 shows , can anyone provide eye witness accounts ?

Just been reminiscing with your site and also and thought I would mention seeing the Qtips.

I had been to see The Who at the Rainbow and the Q tips were the supporting band, I just fell in love with Paul Young, and when he was on at the park I just had to and see him. I thought he was great - but I may have been biased.

I used to go to the concerts as a teenager, the Bay City Rollers were apparently booked before they had a hit, but had reached stardom by the time the concert day arrived. I remember them being late, and everyone thought that they weren't coming. They weren't my thing, but you just went to all the concerts as it was somewhere to go. I really don't remember seeing anyone that I really liked apart from the Q tips!



Aswad, Ruby Turner .

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.

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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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