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The Knebworth Park Festivals.

Knebworth Park Concert June 21st 1980.

The Beach Boys, Santana, Mike Oldfield, The Blues Band , Elkie Brooks, Lindisfarne.

Festival Welfare Reports .

Field Workers Report

A member of Mike Oldfield's band shows us her tonsils


   I arrived on the campsite at lunchtime on Friday 20th June, to find people slowly arriving on site to set up their camps. The slow but steady rate of arrival made it possible for the car parking attendants to segregate tents only campers from cars and caravans. This meant that the campsite was almost free from cars, and was more pleasant for pedestrians and campers. The tents were aligned in rows and a trackway round the campsite was kept clear for emergency vehicles and as a pedestrian walkway along the show precinct. During the afternoon a second field for tents only was opened.

    On the main campsite were most of the traders, the ticket sales offices, the promoter's administrative office, a cabin with pay telephones, toilet & water supply plus the two crash marquees. The fire watch tower was completed during the afternoon. The telephones were almost constantly in use over the weekend, providing a very useful facility. The toilets, however, did not bear up very well, despite the small number of people camping (approximately 15,000). The women's toilets became very messy and the ground was waterlogged.

The urinal pit in the Gents spilled over, fouling the ground and the notice outside the toilets disappeared over the weekend, so many people wandered around the campsite trying to locate them or using the woods as an alternative. This was increased by there not being any toilets on the second camping field. The toilets would have more pleasant if they had been better supervised and cleaned.

    The campsite was well lit at night, especially along the trackway. There ¬was also a P. A. system around the campsite, which was mainly being used as an information service for people wanting to meet their friends. Some people were irritated by the stream of messages during the night, but it proved a useful service in the absence of any obvious central information meeting point.

  The promoters had provided large piles of wood to be used as one communal bonfire on each of the camping sites. Some of this was taken to make smaller campfires, although the P. A. systems were constantly telling people not to light their own fires. The idea of communal fires did not work very well, as most campers preferred their own smaller fires to stand around and to cook on. Fire engines had to be called to one of the communal bonfires which got out of hand.

   The welfare organisations working on the campsite were St John Ambulance ,Source, Stevenage C.V.S. plus a mixed team from Release and Samaritans. St John Ambulance had two units: one near the crash marquees, which was accessible also from the second campsite; and the other unit beside the main campsite entrance. This unit did not have their own accommodation site and so had to share the campsite administration portacabin, along with the carpark attendants. This was a far from ideal situation, but fortunately the first aid services weren't very busy.

The Beach Boys headlined the show , which actually finished early !

A first at outdoor festivals ?

Brian Wilson, he devoured a whole chocolate cake at Knebworth House before the show and promptly fell asleep !

   Source were supervising the two crash marquees on the main campsite. had been informed that there would only be one crash marquee, so police had provided only a very small team. However, the marquees, although well used , were not overcrowded, and the weather was not bad, so Source had few problems to deal with in the marquees.

   The Stevenage OVS had been asked to provide a local information point at the campsite. Unfortunately no accommodation had been provided for the service, so the volunteers had to bring their own small tent, and make their own signs, which weren't very obvious. Over the weekend they dealt with a considerable number of enquiries for site and local facilities. They were joined by volunteers from the Samaritans and Release who assisted giving out infor-mation, but they did not have a base on the campsite.

   The atmosphere on the campsite over the whole weekend was very pleasant, spoilt only by a few people finding their belongings had been ripped off.

   The promoters' staff on the campsite were helpful to the welfare organisations but obviously suffered some strain from the pressure of the operation, especially in having to put so many meeting friends"messages over the P. A. It would seem a better idea to have someone separately responsible for this function, in addition to the administration.


Mike Oldfield and band

Mike Love

    Festival Welfare Services had been asked to arrange for Stevenage to provide a small information team to supplement the information services being organised by the promoters. In addition, it had been arranged for the Samaritans to provide a counseling service, and for Release to provide drugs and legal advice service in the arena, with back up / quiet facilities in the administrative area just outside the arena. St Johns and the Red Cross had first aid units around the perimeter of the arena, and a hospital tent in the administrative area.

    Festival Welfare Services was supplied with two small adjacent marquees near been the centre back of the arena, from which to operate the information service. An air balloon was anchored next to the marquees, as an indication of the lost peoples meeting point and this was a very useful facility.

   Unfortunately, the marquees themselves were not provided with any signs, so the Festival services banner was put up and some announcements were put over from the stage .One of the marquees was used as the main information centre, manned by Stevenage C.V.6.. The other marquee we initially assumed to be used by the other information service, which I had earlier in the week been told would be provided by Capital Radio. However, this service did not materialize and the second small marquee was used by the other Festival Welfare Service organisations as a back up information service and as a centre for lost people.We had hoped that British Rail would be based in this marquee with Festival Welfare services, as their people had worked in close proximity with Festival Welfare in previous years and referrals between the two organisations had been easily facilitated.

An Oldfield drummer


Another Beach Boy


    However British Rail had, on their arrival, had been told they couldn't’t use these marquees and had set up a separate British Rail information tent some distance away, which was not at first easy to find. Their distance from the central information point meant people had to walk to and fro to get all their different problems sorted out. In future it would be better if British Rail information point could be set up next to the other services.

    Festival Welfare Services was also provided with a larger welfare marquee in the arena , from which the Samaritans and Released could operate . This was a spacious marquee, which was partitioned into three sections – the third being used as a children's area and lost kids area.This marquee was along the perimeter fence at the opposite end of the arena to the British Rail info point and from our point of view would have been much better situated next to the central information point.

   The marquee was good to work in, except that neither the welfare marquee nor information marquees had been provided with electric lighting. This was not discovered until Friday evening, and the welfare groups had to organize to take their own camping gaz lights into the arena to provide some light at night in the marquees. Proper electric lighting would be much better in future.

    All the Festival Welfare Services organisers working at the concert had a site meeting on Friday evening to explain to each other what they would be doing and where, and to work out a co ordinated system for dealing with lost people, especially after the concert ended on Saturday night. As in the past, it was essential for those working on the campsite to know ¬what people would be doing in the arena and vice versa. These arrangements were later conveyed to the Police and security services.

The eleven piece Oldfield band take a bow .

Yet another Beach Boy


   Festival Welfare Services organisers were on call in the arena just after dawn, before the arena gates opened at around 7am. By lam on Sunday morning, most festival goers had left the arena, and only a few of the welfare workers stayed in the information tent overnight. Throughout the day the information point had been continuously busy with people making enquire: about site facilities, travel arrangements and bands' line up. Much of this information was contained in the official program, but at a price of one pound fifty it was hardly surprising that many people hadn't bought one.

    Festival Welfare Services had recommended to the promoters beforehand that large site plans on boards at various points would reduce the numbers of enquiries, for instance, for the toilets, but these had not materialised. The information point also dealt with a large number of people wanting to leave messages, or wanting to meet up with their friends. At last year's festival a system of alphabetically organised notebooks had been used, with some success and this system was organized again by Stevenage C.V.S., and worked quite well. At the end of the concert, people still waiting to meet up with friends were sent down to the campsite.

   Both Release and Samaritans saw a steady stream of people throughout the day, despite the small crowd. St John Ambulance and Red Cross in the arena dealt with a number of first aid problems and they had undertaken to supervise the disabled toilet provided by the promoter at the rear of the arena , it had apparently been advertised that there would be a special compound in the arena where disabled people could sit in their wheelchairs. On Saturday morning a disabled lady and her escort were looking this, which had not yet been provided. Eventually a small part of the back of the arena was roped off for wheelchairs, but unfortunately the part of the arena chosen was sloping.

   The layout of the arena was similar to previous years, with the food stands and promotional materials around the perimeter, and the toilet units were positioned at the top corners of the arena and down each side towards stage.

Mike Oldfield shreds it up (relatively speaking ) .

Little Beach Boys in a row


    The toilets were of mixed construction ,some wooden and some portacabins. Towards the end of the concert, one of the gents wood constructed units had to be closed down because the container troughs became full. Also a further urinal pit had to be constructed during the day at one of the side units, as the original pit overflowed. There were some complaints from ladies using the toilets, especially as many of the doors to the wooden units didn't close.

    There was a reasonable selection of food available in the arena, but some people complained about the prices, especially for items such as fish and chips. As the crowd wasn't very big, there weren't any significant queues for food , and it was easy to get up to the stalls. Coin box telephones were provided at the back of the arena, although there were queues most of the time to use them.

    The crowd had thinned out somewhat by the time the last band played, and the arena cleared very quickly after the concert. The welfare groups present at the arena were very concerned with the way some of the security services men heavied people to leave the arena and felt that unjustified violence and aggression were used, especially on people who were freaked out waiting for lost friends. This was an unfortunate element in an otherwise trouble free day .

    The welfare groups left the site by lunchtime on Sunday; there being only a handful of festival goers left in the park. Festival Welfare Services estimated that between 40 50,000 people had attended the concert and that 10,000 to 15,000 people had camped in the park.


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Offsite Links.

More info about this concert can also be found at the Knebworth House site and at Rip Gooch's site, which contains substantial portions of text from the now defunct book Knebworth Rock Festivals, by Chryssie Lytton Cobbold .

Can we get a witness ?

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