Glastonbury Festival 1985

Glastonbury CND Festival 1985

In 1985 the festival grew again thanks to an opportune purchase of neighbouring land, and on the weekend itself the site got drenched. Not so far from Worthy Farm, though, some dramatic events would further underpin the traveller's relationship with the festival.


Michael Eavis' continued ambition for expanding the festival was realised with the purchase of Cockmill Farm. With this, the site furthered its steady march south, crossing the old railway track for the first time. The Green field relocated on the south slopes, a home it retains today.

Two beautiful opposing hillsides, with a fun filled valley in between. It is one thing to be at a festival with tens of thousands of others, but it is quite something else to see the tented city spread out before you.

The site had reached the beginning of its perfect form, but by Sunday few festival goers would have agreed. Rain, rain and - yes, more rain - had decimated the site. Tractors became a rescue service. Bedraggled campers who couldn't take any more simply upped and left.

Earlier in the month, forty miles away on a hot summer's day, weather was the last thing on the minds of the Convoy.

By the mid-eighties, Margaret Thatcher had established one of the most socially divisive governments in modern memory. With the miners strike crushed, other marginal groups such as the travellers were not far behind in being on the blunt end. There was no place in this new Britain for people living in tatty vans or patchwork buses. 'Not In My Back Yard', and definitely not at a distinguished national momunent.

An exclusion order was thrown around Stonehenge, the site of the annual free festival during Solstice. Undeterred, the Convoy made its advance. Seven miles short of the site, they were stopped in their tracks by a colossal Wiltshire Police operation. The precise accounts of what followed vary, but the news footage made disturbing viewing.

Against a backdrop of burning buses, ITN reporter Kim Sabido said:

"What I have seen in the last thirty minutes here in this field has been some of the most brutal police treatment of people that I've witnessed in my entire career as a journalist. The number of people who have been hit by policemen, who have been clubbed whilst holding babies in their arms in coaches around this field, is yet to be counted. There must surely be an enquiry after what has happened today."

In the aftermath, some of the Convoy took refuge at Worthy Farm. On Eavis part, was this altruism or pragmatism? His views were mixed. "I was seen as being very benevolent, but... it was very difficult to manage, and a lot of my staff left because of it."

Solstice gatherings at Stonehenge - of the scale previously seen - would remain banned for more than a decade.
"We started picking up those people aswell... we became a Stonehenge festival as well as Glastonbury".

In Thatcher's grimly intolerant Britain, the festival had become one of the last refuges for a mass counter culture gathering.
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