The Archive

Formatted 1280 x 1024 res - created Aug 2004 . Updated October 2007


Big thanks to our sponsor Neil !

For information on today's festivals see

Nostell Priory .West Yorkshire .

August 24-27th 1984

Panoramic view of the free part of the festival © Noddy Guevara

visit Noddy's Flickr site to see many more photos of Festivals of the 80s

    Nostell Priory was actually a commercial festival which had, like Glastonbury, acquired a large ' Free Festival' component in the form of a travellers field adjacent to the main festival. Unlike Glastonbury however , the local authorities decided to behave in an extremely hostile way to "deal with " the free festival element . As Paul describes below, this was a dry run for the Beanfield action of 1985, travellers vehicles were done over , possessions thrown out onto the ground, ransacked and left open and their owners had no option but to leave them as they were as they had all been carted off to the clink !

    As regards Nostell Priory - fortunately I left the site the day before Yorkshire Police moved in, as I had a van borrowed from Scotch Tommy (anybody remember him) and had agreed to meet him at The Elephant Fayre in Cornwall at a certain date/time.  I remember that The Convoy were in a separate field from the 'organised site', sponsored by Theakston's brewery, but it was no problem walking across the 'boundary' to go to the sponsors tent and buy 'Old Peculiar' on draught.  As it happened, most of the best action was to be found on 'our' side, and the locals who visited seemed to agree.  The Police kept a high profile at the gates of the site throughout and surveillance was maintained.  Unfortunately, there was also a significant amphetamine and coke influence on site, to a large degree I suspect/remember coming from local dealers and this obviously didn't help matters as regards the attitude of the authorities.

The main drag at Nostell Priory 1984 © Noddy Guevara

    The day after I left, the police steamed in en masse, in a way described that was exactly like the Beanfield the following summer.  Everyone was arrested and most people were charged with Possession, if not directly, then with 'internal possession' on the basis that they had obviously swallowed substances!  Have you ever heard the like of this before (or since)?  The choices were: plead guilty, do a couple of days and get a fine at the magistrates or, protest your innoncence on the basis that no court could convict you of possession on such a notion.  The snag with that was you were liable to do about 6 weeks on remand in Armley Jail before the charges were finally dropped.  This is exactly what happened to a couple of lads I knew.  Five or six to a cell as well if I remember rightly what they told me.

( eds note : remand could go on for months , I knew a couple who spent six months in remand in the late 70s before their case was dropped due to lack of evidence, there was no compensation for the time and income these people lost, they just happened to live in a house where the other occupants were involved in dealing , they were innocent as the police well knew at the time)

"The first hint of trouble came at a festival at Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire in 1984. Riot police, fresh from disturbances at the Orgreave coking plant, ransacked travellers' homes and mass arrested 360 people. At the same time English Heritage began compiling a list of names for a civil injunction that would form the legal basis for a Stonehenge festival ban the following year."

The Commercial Festival

Any info to add ?-well don't just sit there , Contact us

Main list of Free festivals 1970-1985

Free rock festivals of the 70s and 80s

Related Articles

The aroma of a free festival -by Roger Hutchinson

Dome construction instruction sheet (download-140k)-by Roger Hutchinson

Travellers Tales Convoy Steve's tale of how the freaks outsmarted the fuzz at Greenham common.

Zorch -House band for the free festival set ? A fanzine page on the UK's first electronic band .

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

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

Many thanks go to Roger Hutchinson , Big Steve , Roger Duncan, Celia, Will , Jeza,Chris Hewitt ,The Fabulous Time Tortoise , Peter Piwowarski - ( 70s music site/photos ) Martin S, Steve Austin and many other minor contributors for their help in providing the archival material related to these free festivals which has at last enabled us to construct the site .

Back to the main Archive.