We spoke to Rob Floyd, a partner in Pro-Weld Fabrication who led the engineering of the tower, about its inception in 2004 and its future.
Appledore shipyard had been earmarked to the do the engineering, but had then collapsed. "My partner Rich bumped into one of their shop stewards in a pub... he wondered if we could help with the tower."
The engineering of the tower - designed by artist Graham Jobbins - was subsequently rescued and led by the Pro-Weld team. "The Workers Beer Company [WBC, union backed founders of the socialist campaigning organisation, The Left Field] asked us if we'd use union labour... we said yes... and rented a new factory unit to build the tower".
The tower became an iconic feature of the festival site, with it's projecting beams visible across the valley throughout the night.
Late in 2008 however, following the surprise announcement that The Left Field wouldn't be appearing at the festival in 2009, the tower was set to disappear. "We recieved an email from WBC... There's no Left Field, no Left Field tower".
The absence of the organisation caused consternation with some hard-core festival fans - feeling it showed an erosion of the festival's cherished values. The Left Field subsequently announced a new focus, staging an event in Texas for Billy Bragg's Jailhouse Doors project, bringing music into prisons.
The tower however, has now recieved a reprieve. "We got a call from Graham... he'd had a chat with Michael Eavis, and Michael had said yes, of course we're having the tower", said Rob. Now it's full steam ahead for the artist and the Pro-Weld team, who expect to be erecting the tower later this month. "It'll be in the same place... it can't go anywhere else unless we sink another four tons of concrete!". The build team will include Bill Burroughs, designer of the current Pyramid Stage structure.
It's not yet decided whether the Left Field lettering, at the top of the structure, will remain. Rob, nonetheless, was talking about the future. "One idea is to make a stage underneath... like a bandstand".
With the tower living again, Left Field fans can perhaps have hope that the organisation and the festival will work together again. And for those with less lofty ideals, it is, of course, a beacon of navigational hope when too much cider means all else is lost.
The Left Field tower is featured in the GlastoEarth Map, in the Bonus Features' 3D layer, modeled by Chris Harbour with the kind help of Pro-Weld Fabrications.
Photograph by wentloog, Flickr.
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