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dogs accompanied police who sent hippies packing on Monday night
from their encampment in the woods adjoining Ecclesden
Common. The drop outs had stayed on after the weekend festival in
the 65 acre field south of the A27 road just east of the Fox Inn. It was
feared that hard core hippies might form a commune in the woods and be
hard to remove.
Drug taking , sex in the woods , Hells Angels fighting , food poisoning , hunger , thundering pop music , casualties from exposure and even a bottom stung by wasps. This was all part of the Phun City pop festival which turned out ot be a financial disaster.
As promised , thousands of hippies and pop fans invaded the peaceful open countryside and for three days " did their thing " in what ever way took their fancy . Many of them made tree houses in the woods on the south side of the common.
Two of the main organisers of the festival were former Worthing High School boys , now hippie leaders. Mick Farren and Jez Cox. On Monday they walked about the site, which was covered in tons of rubbish , in dazed condition , and showed little concern about the possible claims which might come from villagers or landowner Mr J . F. Somerset , who rented them the site.
|Drugs on sale.
One of several doctors giving their services voluntarily for the weekend told a reporter that there had been fewer cases of excessive drug taking than he had anticipated , although there were plenty of drugs being offered for sale on the site. There were some tummy upsets from food poisoning .
Drug squad members mingled with the crowd , dressed in hippie gear, but it did not stop the drug taking and scores of youngsters could be seen openly smoking pot or wandering around in a high condition . On Saturday night two men who had been at the festival appeared at a special court in Littlehampton charged with possessing drugs and one with supplying .
In general there was little violence in the festival area apart from that caused by the Hells Angels who seemed determined to cause trouble. On Saturday night when the group the MC 5 from Detroit were pounding out their particular brand of music , the Angels climbed on the front of the stage and glared out at the raving hippies as though they were daring anyone to start a fight.
It was during this concert that three young men shed their clothes whilst they were dancing . There were several other strips during the weekend, some in front of the open air stage but most in the woods where Rev H.N , Snelling , rector of Clapham and Patching, saw scenes which appalled him .
" It was absolutely disgusting . Young men and women lying about naked together and it was obvious what they were up to. I haven't got anything against the hippie ideal of spreading peace and universal love , but it depends on what they mean by love . Eros is the naked prostitution of the human body, they behaved like animals. "
Apart from his objection to the lewd goings on Mr Snelling said that the hippies general behaviour was good, although he did not care for " filthy , dirty , matted hair" On Sunday morning Mr Snelling was given a chance to put over the Christian message to the hippies from the stage . He said he was received in silence as he preached . He did not offer any criticism to his small audience although" I don't believe in free love in the woods with anyone "
On Sunday Mr Snelling was helping a local couple to find their teenage daughter who it was believed to have thrown up her job and joined the hippies in the woods. " Her parents are desperately worried " He said. Over the weekend he had 150 phone calls from hippies begging for food. There were few complaints from local residents about the behaviour of the hippies outside the festival. There had been some petty theft, such as a garden that was raided for the vegetables. The main grouse was about the excessive noise.
Mrs H. A Lance, who lives at Seldon House ,opposite Ecclesden Common, said she and her husband only got six hours sleep all weekend. "Their music echoed through the house all the time , but beyond that we have no complaint except for the disgusting smells that drifted over the common . "
She said that the police had done a good job of protecting property . One of her neighbours, Mr G.W Burgess of Elstow Cottage Patching , said he telephoned the police many times during the weekend to get them to stop the noise, but they failed. " I think it is a dammed disgrace that our lives should be ruined with no sleep. It was like music from an indian bazaar all the time" .
The squads of extra police drafted into the festival area had little to do all weekend except guard property and direct traffic. Two men were arrested outside the site. Police had been looking for a stolen van .Superintendent Holloway said his men's job had been little more difficult than policing a large village fete. At times the hippies seemed oblivious to everyone and everything. In the Jesus Tent, which had been put up by local Christian organisations to put over the message. some hippie poets were doing their own thing when a priest objected to the obscene dialogue .He asked them ot leave , but they did not seem able to hear. In desperation he called for the Hells Angels , who arrived with pick axe handles and Nazi helmets . In their own way they repeated the priests request, but all the poets did was invite them to join hands for ring a roses . This was too much for even the hard Angels and they actually smiled.
Scenes around the stage during bouts of heavy pop music were fantastic. The dancing was frenzied and many hippies only stopped when they collapsed exhausted.
During one bout a girl stood up with three cigarettes in her mouth and began to strip off. She shouted out for some one to go to the woods with her , then collapsed.
The area immediately in front of the stage was sacred to many of the hippie interlopers and they would not leave their patches from the time they arrived on Friday until Sunday night. They stayed put even through driving rain . Some of the wildest scenes came on Sunday night when Mungo Jerry were in action. Even Mick Farren found time out from his money worries to join in the frenzy.
Great time .
A number of babies and young children were taken along with their parents. I spoke to two little girls , one six, the other three, who had spent their week end with their parents in a tree shelter deep in the woods. They both said they had a great time and nobody had been telling them off. "Mummy takes us to all the pop festivals " said one . They had played alongside the lovemaking couples in the woods , seemingly unimpressed.
M Lanham , who has a fruit farm near the common
hired his own security men with dogs to patrol his land during the festival.
He telephoned the police several times during the weekend to get the noise
stopped and at one time got through to the home office to ask their help.
He suggested that the Phun City festival had been primarily concerned not with pop music but with sex. Like many other residents his anger is not so much aimed at the hippies but at Mr J Fitzroy Somerset for allowing his land to be used.
Mr Somerset says that Phun City was the first and last festival to be held on his land. Mr Brian Mitchell , manager of United Counties self service store in Angmering , said that had been most impressed by the hippies behaviour when they visited the village. " They behaved very well " he said , "but there weren't as many as we'd expected "But we were sold out of bread and cheese all the time - this seemed to be the most popular food. We had hundreds of them through the shop, but only two cases of shoplifting, both of which we dealt with on the premises. "
Missiles thrown at
police drug squad.
Late on Monday afternoon, about 40 police officers, some of them from the drug squad and dogs, moved to Ecclesden Common at the request of Mr J Fitzroy Somerset and evicted more than 200 hippies encamped in the woods.
Chief Superintendent Kevin Somers , in charge of Worthing Police Division , said the operation went off without incident , the hippies leaving quietly. There were three arrests.
One person was charged with possessing dangerous drugs and two others for possessing stolen property. The only people now left on the Common , said Supt Somers were those concerned with clearing up the site. This was the first time that uniformed officers had entered the festival area since it all began on Friday . According to Supt Somers the weekend had gone by quietly with few incidents for police to deal with . The expected traffic problems had not materialized because of adverse weather . There had been several complaints of excessive noise , but Supt Somers said thai was not really a police matter but one for the local authority.
Plain clothes police had been on the site all weekend watching for drug taking and peddling , said Supt Somers. On Sunday night an announcement was made from the stage pointing out some of the officers at the back of the crowd. They were immediately surrounded by several hundred hippies and some missiles were thrown at them said Supt Somers. But none of the officers was hurt and after a while the crowd dispersed.
This incident said Supt Somers, highlighted the difficulty which faced the police in tackling the drug problem at festivals. '"These people will stop at nothing " he said.
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