Glastonbury Festival 1978


Unofficial Festival

After 1971 Michael and Jean abandoned their festival aspirations for most of the rest of the decade. "There were too many hippies and too many drugs... we thought, let's leave it."

In the intervening years the local area would continue to draw the festival crowd. Historic sites such as Avebury and Stonehenge, set against the dreamy rolling hills of Somerset, lured the hippies and kindred free spirits year after year. Not surprisingly, their relationship with the authorities was mixed. In the eighties it would ultimately escalate to violent hostility, but in the preceding decade, the convoys largely muddled through - sometimes with the cooperation of the farmers whose land they occupied.

In 1977, at Butleigh Wood, some ten miles west of Worthy Farm, the convoy descended in July to form the 7/7/77 Glastonbury Fayre. Three thousand people camped up above a ridge, with spectacular views across the agricultural plain. Makeshift sound systems and stages hosted acts including saxophonist and singer Nik Turner.

The following year the same plan was thwarted. Police blocked roads leading to Butleigh Wood. The convoy was stopped in its tracks. What immediately followed was the perhaps the most bizarrely conceived event in the history of the Glastonbury Festival.

The instigators weren't the travelling hippies, nor the affluent radicals - it was the Police. In implementing the blockade, they simply transformed the problem from one form to another. No longer was there going to be a festival in Butleigh Wood, but instead there were roads lined with vehicles that had to go somewhere else instead.

The Police's solution: Lead the convoy to Worthy Farm. Eavis reluctantly accepted the crowd and Andrew Kerr pitched in to help. Nik Turner brought his small tented Pyramid stage. The one night stay ended up being three weeks. Although 1978 wasn't an official festival, it is perhaps just as significant as far larger events on Worthy Farm.

The inception in 1978 would prove to be a foretaste of events to come. Ones that would both shape the festival and come close to destroying it.
Comments