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Updated July 2021

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Keswick Free Festival.

Eaton By the River

(aka Eaton by the mosquitos ).

East Anglia .

August 1- 3



Festival Welfare Service report
This small free festival took place on the flood plain of the River Yare on | outskirts of Norwich. Ownership of the land was apparently under dispute and action was not taken to prevent the festival from being held there.

Access to the site was along a half-mile narrow lane and across a double gated level crossing. During busy times both gates were manned to assist traffic. There were worries that opening and closing the gates would cause delays in an emergency, but fortunately this didn't happen. The site itself was small and flat, but very wet. It would probably have been unusable if the weather hadn't been dry. As it was, several large coaches sank into wet ground. One of the best features of the site was the river which ran across one side and ran through a large pool which many people swam in. Upstream of this, water was obtained for use by the festival people.

Some of the first people on site had dug latrine trenches at one edge of the field.The trenches weren't very easy to get to through beaten down nettles, but they were screened by blackberry bushes and other shrubs. They remained relatively pleasant to use throughout the festival. There was plenty of deadwood in a copse near the site, although few fires were lit.

There were several food kitchens on site, all selling food at reasonable prices. A news sheet was produced giving festival site information . There was some local press coverage of the festival, which was favourable. There was little organised music at the festival, as the stage was only completed very late on Saturday night. There were also theatre performances the Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe.

Festival Aid had a welfare team on site, including a volunteer doctor. There were no serious first aid problems, except a cut head as a result of incident between the police, a local man who had horses in a neighbouring field and festival goers. At the beginning of the festival , drug squad officers had raided the site and made a couple of arrests, precipitating a reaction among the festival goers which could have been serious if it had escalated.

Otherwise the festival was very trouble-free, with 200-300 people camping over the weekend.

Penny Mellor,
Field worker.

The Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe were a mainstay of the festival , troupe member "Glenda Ego El Esdino" remembers

As I remember it, we'd been to some East Anglian event or other and needed somewhere to park up till the next one. Some local lad knew this site near keswick called Eaton-by-the-river [there was a clue in the title! ] where a small gathering had happened the previous year.So off we went into the bog, for that is what it was [the festival aid report described it as a flood plain of the river Yare] So anyway , there we were ,parked in a bog [ which became affectionately known as Eaton-by-the-mosquitoes ] with the lunch bus sunk up to its axles.{ incidently, i notice in the log for August'81 that said lunch bus became known as the Banana , short for the battered banana , but i cant for the life of riley remember why!} To cut a long story short , try as we might we could not shift it , no way , no how.Then the idea was had that a few hundred feet or so might gain more traction than four or so wheels.We told festival aid the east anglian free festival was on , sent a buzz round the grapevine in norwich and in a couple of days there were 200 or so people there! All that remained to do was attach three long ropes to the front of old lunchy and spured on by shouts of "this is how they built stonehenge,you know" we just pulled her out! Well , thats how I remember it anyway!

Contemporary newspaper reports (below) picture the Lunch bus well and truly out to lunch in good olde East Anglian mud !

The Tibetan rope trick - Golly has his brains cleaned out by Perry , Tank and an unidentified TUMT member on left .

This festival intially appears to have come into being through publicity spread by Roger Duncan (probably the local lad referreed to to by Glenda) .

The newspaper reports are of the 1980 event. It was really really small and nice. Weather was great.
Keswick is really a suburb of Norwich .
I was involved with producing anonymous festival lists in 1979/80/ A few people were involved in drawing them up and distributing them. I remember that the east Anglia and Cornwall events were not actually planned events when we wrote the list but we thought it'd be nice and also expedient to spread the festival season out a bit. the Rougham Tree Fayre and other East Anglian events were always well spoken of so a East Anglia festival seemed like a good idea.
It was great that someone obviously also thought it was worth a try and actually found a site and people then turned up.
I got told off by some of the FWS lot for inventing festivals - but ....


    Not a lot is known about what happened at this particular event ,looks like a good line-up of bands and the organisers were being much more ambitious than in 1980.

Can anyone supply an eyewitness account of the proceedings ?

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




  • Windsor Peoples Free Festival 1972-74
 Free festival related articles
Pay Festivals- Benefits for Travellers aid.

Main list of Free festivals 1970-1985

Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s

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Tibetan Ukranian Mountain Troupe-surreal pranksters of the Traveller community .

Acidia Lightshow Lightshow for Windsor festival and Stonehenge in the 1970s.

Traveller Daves Website - Chock full of of free festival photos !

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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