‘I hitchhiked to Stonehenge ’84 and only had a camera and the clothes I wore, a great event. Glad I had the camera’
Dave Trippas was one of the 70,000 revellers who made it to Stonehenge Free Festival in 1984. It was the final time the festival took place at the prehistoric monument.
From its 1972 inception til the end, the event was scheduled around the summer solstice on June 21. Away from the cosmic mysticism, the flyer for 1984 promised the essentials: sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.
Was what the flyer promised true? Did it deliver? Dave writes:
“Hitching to the people’s free festival at Stonehenge, I saw a bloke banging in a tent peg with a metal arm, raising my camera to take a photograph, I was told in no uncertain terms not to do this. Wanting to defuse the situation I decided to buy a line of wiz from them, even though it didn’t suit me. This harpic line kept me up and dancing for two days and I headed out to Glastonbury, where I was to get some much needed sleep.”
So much for the drugs. What about the rock ‘n’ roll?
“Stonehenge free festival will be in action again this year, and the organisers are busy lining up acts for the main music days. Among those already set are Twisted Sister, Hawkwind, Brilliant, Flux of Pink Indians, the American rock star Thor, Omega Tribe, Attila The Stockbroker, Conflict, Tank, Natural Roots, Dawnbringer, Winston Smith and Galaxy Soul Shuffle.
“As the summer solstice falls mid week this year, the main musical activity is expected to be concentrated in the four days leading up to the the Glastonbury festival – namely Tuesday to Friday – June 19-22nd. Many people are expected to start camping on the site, day or possibly weeks, beforehand , remaining there until the end of June.”
You could also have seen: Chemical Alice, Invisible Band, Roy Harper, Hear & Now, The Liberators and The Enid.
There was drugs – lots of the stuff to help you watch salamanders dance in the fire. And if they weren’t your bag there people groups like the ‘Awfully Nice Convoy’, who ran the awfully nice tea rooms, and you could join in with the car-b-cues as heroin dealers’ cars got tipped over and torched.
Why as 1984 the last show? The National Trust and English weren’t happy with the mess on their land. They complained to the Government. And the powers that be were happy to act. English Heritage had secured a court injunction to prevent 83 named individuals from travelling within a few miles of Stonehenge.
Things came to ahead in the co-called Battle of the Beanfield.
Andy Worthington takes us back to the fray:
On June 1st 1985, a convoy of new travellers, peace protestors, green activists and festival-goers set off from Savernake Forest in Wiltshire to establish the 12th annual free festival at Stonehenge. There were around 450 people in total, and they included a number of women and children.
They never reached their destination.
Eight miles from the Stones they were ambushed, assaulted and arrested with unprecedented brutality by a quasi-military police force of over 1,300 officers drawn from six counties and the MoD.
That event has gone down in history as ‘The Battle of the Beanfield’.
– Andy Worthington, The Battle of the Beanfield
There would no more events. The BBC notes:
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher would later tell the Commons she was “only too delighted to do anything we can to make life difficult for hippy convoys”, adding that “if the present law is inadequate we will have to introduce fresh law”.
True to her word, the 1986 Public Order Act made trespass a criminal offence and stated: “Two people proceeding in a given direction can constitute a procession and can be arrested as a threat to civil order.”
Via: UK Rock Festivals
All Images: Dave Trippas.