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Updated July 2021

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Cleeve Common free festival.

Gloucestershire .


    It would probably be fair to say that the Cleeve Common Free Festival never really extended beyond a few hundred people, consisting of a hardcore of travellers - often referred to as the so called "peace convoy", a number of camp followers who had latched on to the convoy for the summer after Westbury, and a steady trickle of locals from Cheltenham and the surrounding areas. I can never remember anyone mentioning if any "name" bands or even festival circuit bands turned up to play, although some local bands may have shown up.People I know who did visit the site say it turned out to be more of a ramshackle affair than anything else, and you've got to remember that a lot of the travellers were still licking their wounds from The Battle of the Beanfield and were trying to get their lives and homes back together.

    This was only just over a month after the battered remnants of the convoy had adjourned to Westbury White Horse for the annual summer solstice free festival in place of the recently outlawed Stonehenge, and the media frenzy was still creating a moral panic about "peace convoys", later to be dubbed "bands of mediaeval brigands". People partied, but they made their own music and entertainment, and as for any expectations of Cleeve Common Free Festival becoming anything significant in the festival stakes, well, a very heavy police presence put paid to that. The usual reports of police busting people leaving and entering the site were rife, and I remember a mate of mine getting busted for possession of hash whilst more than a mile and a half away from the site on his way back to town!

    Certainly the media and governments obsession in creating new folk devils out of the convoy ensured a very high police presence wherever the convoy seemed to go at this time. Cleeve was no exception, and a very conspicuous number of plod in the immediate vicinity and increasingly awful weather had probably begun to quell the ardour of even the most festival hardened freaks as the fraught summer dragged on. In reality Cleeve was probably more a chance for the convoy to re-group, view their options and re-appraise their situation than it was a free festival. One thing was for sure the golden age of the free festival circuit was over and things would only get tougher over the next few years for the travelling community in general. But that's another story.

Rich D

Press acounts

War council called to evict hippies.
Behind the scenes moves will start this week in an attempt to evict a 200 strong hippie convoy from the Rainbow village on Cleeve Common.
The managers of the land, the Conservators Of Cleeve Common, will hold an emergency meeting with police and Tewksbury Borough Council officials tomorrow to thrash out their next move.
The conservators, landowners Peter and Phillip Robson and Cleeve farmers and residents are anxious to find a quick solution to the problem - as more hippies poured into the area today.
The battered convoy of buses , vans , caravans and trucks invaded the remote common last week. The group,part of the Stonehenge Peace Convoy- arrived along with a police escort from Kidderminster via the M5 and through Cheltenham .
Tomorrows eviction moves come in the wake of allegations that farmers are shooting and trapping the hippies dogs.

Rainbow villagers claim that residents dislike them and are taking it out on their animals .
Two of the hippies turned up at the vetinary surgery of Cheltenham vet John McKenna , claiming two dogs , a Labrador cross and a Greyhound , had been trapped and hit with lead shot.
But today Mr McKenna said "I have x-rayed the greyhound and although she has superficial injuries in her thigh there is no sign of lead shot . It looks like a case of dog cannibalism where they've been involved in a fight . I don’t think any of the injuries could have been caused by lead shot or traps."
Mr McKenna added that the hippies were genuinely concerned about the welfare of their pets. The greyhound was operated on and had to have a toe amputated as well as part of its tail which had been broken .
Commenting on the hippies allegations, Conservators chairman Mr Jack Denley said. "no guns or traps are allowed on the common. I have not heard of anyone doing anything like this , but I would not be surprised if they had . People around the common are really fed up. Its very worrying for farmers who graze sheep.These dogs can do a lot of damage when they start sheep worrying "

All set for court battle to evict 200 hippies.
A court battle to evict 200 hippies from the Cleeve common peace camp is set for August 16th .
Solicitors acting for the Lords of the manor- who own the common -will apply for an eviction order at Cheltenham county court.
If the order is granted than it should clear the way for bailiffs to evict the illegal camp.
Sergeant Keith Parr of the Gloucester Police said today "Notices of the hearing have been posted at the Cleeve camp and police officers are monitoring the situation ".
" Everything seems to be quiet - we are not looking for a confrontation ".
Hippies at the camp they call Rainbow Village , appeared resigned to a possible eviction order.
" obviously we are hoping to stay but we won’t fight an eviction order "said one , "we are used to being moved on "

Today the board of conservators, who control the 1,350 acre common, greeted news of the hearing with relief.
Chairman Jack Denley said
‘"we are very pleased to hear of it - it will be a great relief if they move on" .
Tewksbury health officials have dismissed rumours of a hepatitis outbreak at the camp.
Environmental Health officer for the borough council George Rawlinson said, "I have inspected the camp and there is no evidence of hepatitis being present. The camp is untidy and cleanliness leaves a lot to be desired but we will continue to monitor the situation ".


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Free festivals and small fayres held in the United Kingdom between 1967-90.




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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 .

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