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The Weeley Festival.
Clacton On Sea . Essex.
August 27th-29th 1971.

Technical preparations for the Weeley Festival.

Lytton Sounds .by Nick Gilbey .

Listening to Barclay James Harvest playing Mocking Bird. The music wafting across the Weeley crowds made all the waiting worthwhile. I don’t mean the time it took to get Barclay James Harvest and the orchestra on stage but the months of planning and work that went into getting the stage, P.A. System and lighting in place.

I was in partnership with three friends, Paul Normand, Jan Pegram and Nigel Olliff. We were young, ambitious and had formed Lytton Sounds in 1970.  Lytton Sounds operated mobile discotheques using the name Heavy Light.  From operating mobile discotheques the company moved on to operating lightshows with a regular gig every Sunday at the Roundhouse in Camden Town.

Early in 1971, Nigel Olliff and Jan Pegram spotted a short agreement to design the stage, supply the P.A., stage lighting and lightshow.  The contract was for one thousand pounds.

From starting off as a music event for a few thousand people, the festival started to grow and grow. I think the reason for this was that there wasn’t going to be an  Isle of Wight festival that year and that bands had started to realise that playing a large festivals was a very good way of promoting their records. I do remember there were plans for another large festival on the August bank holiday organised by John Reid, Elton John’s manager, but it didn’t get the necessary financial backing. As a result more bands wanted to be on the bill at Weeley and the number of festival goers kept on rising as more top-line bands were added to the adverts in the music press.


Nigel Measuring up

all images © Nick Gilbey

t soon became apparent that Lytton Sounds would not be able to handle the size of the P.A. needed. Through intermediary, Dave Simonds, we were put in touch with Joe Brown who ran a small P.A. company. Joe approached Jim Marshall to see if his company would supply the necessary equipment to create a P.A. system big enough to cover the now proposed large Weeley arena. Up to that time, WEM P.A.s were used by most small and medium sized bands.  Jim Marshall was keen to break into this market.

Jan and I travelled up to see Jim Marshall at his factory in Milton Keynes. Jim told us that he was prepared to supply a large powerful P.A. system for the festival. We came to an agreement that Joe Brown would receive half of our contract fee, five hundred pounds, to supply and operate the P.A. System. Everything seemed settled until King Crimson said they wanted to use their own P.A. system. Vic, their road manager came round to our office to discuss the matter. I say discuss but really it was an ultimatum. King Crimson were going to use their P.A. system or they weren’t going to play at Weeley. As King Crimson were managed by the same company as T Rex, E.G. management, Mark Boland and co would also use their system.

We had to make sure that there was room on the stage to accommodate King Crimson’s speakers. King Crimson used a Kelsey Morris P.A.. This was the system used by Pink Floyd and was considered the ‘Rolls Royce’ of the P.A. world at that time.

The problem was that King Crimson system was not very powerful. The system consisted of a very well designed mixer, built by Bill Kelsey and Jim Morris, feeding a unit that contained 8 x Quad 303 100watt Amps. These were connected to a number of Martin Audio Bins. The P.A. was nowhere as powerful as the Marshall system. When King Crimson came to play their set, the people at the rear of the arena could not hear the music, so the Marshall system was used to boost the Kelsey Morris P.A.

T Rex backstage © Mike Smart

14 year old Mike took this shot and heres his story


I hung around the backstage area and bumped into Marc Bolan in the gents. I was quite cool but the guy next to him almost pissed on his shoes when he saw him. A little later I sneaked a photo when a Professional Photographer had posed T Rex against the back of a van. The professional version of this shot ended up as a poster sold by Athena.

The pro version is also on the T.Rex wiki page

Also managed to get a more informal but unfortunately very blurred shot, in the days before digital cameras there was no chance to take another shot!

all images © Nick Gilbey

A month or so before the August bank holiday Nigel, Jan and I went down to the Weeley site to mark out the stage, P.A. stack and screen area. The scaffolding to build the stage, platforms for the speaker system, backing support for the screens and the fencing for the arena was supplied by SGB from their Colchester depot. I did try and borrow a forklift truck to raise the bands equipment up to the stage. In the end a rather noisy builders lift was used with a ramp to bring the equipment down.  Paul and I did go down again to check the progress in building the stage. All this was done on a very limited budget. This was a charity event and most organisations were contributing, partly because it was for a good cause and partly because it was good publicity.

Nigel and Jan © Nick Gilbey

Joe Browns crew © Nick Gilbey

Nick and Nigel © Nick Gilbey

Paul and the stage © Nick Gilbey

Paul surveys the arena © Nick Gilbey

The lighting tower © Nick Gilbey

It was a gruelling three days with bands on virtually all night. I was controlling the stage lighting. The first night I operated from the lighting tower in the centre of the arena. There was a problem with the control cable to the stage so for the next two nights I was at the side of the stage.While we did have a caravan to grab some sleep in, it was no Winnebago. It was a building site office caravan with no furniture or beds, just a bare floor.

Backstage , pretty little policemen in a row.© Nick Gilbey

There was the problem with Hells Angels but I was nowhere near when they were confronted by the caterers security men. The only downside for us was that the Hells Angels, who had set themselves up as backstage security, commandeered some of the walkie-talkies which we had supplied. At the end of the festival about half a dozen very expensive walkie-talkies had disappeared.

© Nick Gilbey

Was it all worth it? I think it was –people who attended the Festival had a great time, going home with memories that would stay with them throughout their lives. 

The Isle of Wight might have a higher profile but, for the 150,000 or more people who were at Weeley, it was a unique experience with great music.


Also, those of us on the production side, did move on to successful ventures. Joe Brown formed Marshall Equipment Hire and then ran the Tasco hire company. 

Lytton Sounds went on tour, providing the stage lighting for T-rex, David Bowie and Mott the Hoople.


Nick Gilbey

Updated Jan 2021

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