Glastonbury Festival 1987

Glastonbury CND Festival 1987

Since 1981 the festival had steadily expanded, become financially stable and more organised, and continually innovated. In almost every way it appeared to be an unstoppable success, but beneath the surface some strains were taking their toll.

In 1986, the festival experimented with a Classical tent, run by John Williams. In 1987, another round of try-outs would make an appearance. The Womad tent appeared, and would go on to become an established festival in its own right, much as The Glade has done in more recent times.

Down in the Green Field, a team of nine from 'the convoy' established a venue and sold croissants to raise money for their fuel home. They dubbed it Croissant Neuf. From these humble beginnings in a small tent they now have one of the largest and best equipped solar powered stages in the UK.

Over in Clapp's Ground, set aside for the travellers, a young Joe Rush led a group of counter culture artists, bringing post apocalypic metal sculptures and constructing "car-henge" from a collection of scrap vehicles. Dubbing themselves 'the Mutoid Waste Company', it would be nearly twenty years before they would reappear to become one of the success stories of the modern festival.

In terms of more practical matters, the festival continued to make improvements. Janet Alti led a team of litter pickers:

"Up to then litter was knee deep all over by the end of the festival, absolutely disgusting. Eventually I had a team of forty somewhat unwilling litter-pickers to get up at five in the morning... doing four hours litter picking every morning felt like hard work".

Other efforts were perhaps less successful, or at least half hearted. The Gates and Traffic team, responsible for some of the perimeter work, were briefed of an "impenetrable security fence" covering at least some of the boundary.

The aspiration of a truly secure perimeter wouldn't be realised for over a decade. In the meantime, it would be a case of making do. The 1987 staff manual noted:

"Try to ensure that pedestrians getting in through hedges and fences are challenged and some money is taken off them. Get them to empty their pockets when they say don't have any money. If they only have £10, don't take it all off them, it will encourage stealing on site."

Here was a festival that seemed to be coping with its growth. Unlike some other events that had been its inspiration, Glastonbury hadn't gone for explosive growth, instead muddling through with new ideas and a steadily expanding site.

Despite many successes though, the stresses and strains were mounting. In 1987, the festival had fought off a licence refusal by the skin of its teeth, and the event itself led Michael Eavis to a weary conclusion:

"We had all the travellers from what seemed like the whole of England arriving here. It was very difficult to control, and it got a bit dangerous."

Eavis decided to take the following year off, drawing to a close the longest continuous run in the festival's forty year history. The break would give the crew and farm time to recover and reflect, but in this era it seemed trouble was never far away.