Priddy Pool Free Festival

July 1979, near Wells, Somerset - press report

Hippies flock to Priddy for free festival

From the Wells Journal Somerset and West of England Advertiser
Thursday, July 12th, 1979

Hundreds of hippies flocked to a Mendip beauty spot this week for a free pop festival

They traveled to a site near Priddy after being moved off land at Street. They plan to stay at Priddy for at least another week before moving off to another festival in Gloustershire.

"It is a perfect spot for a festival. There are no houses nearby and no-one who could be disturbed by our music" said one festival goer from Guildford.

"We are here to listen to listen to music and spend some time with some beautiful people in a beautiful place".

Groups from all over the country have been playing all night music on a makeshift stage.

A lorry is shipping in water from Wells and food is being sold from about a dozen mobile kitchens. The hippies say they have been warned about the dangers of drinking pool water which is possibly contaminated with lead form old mine workings.

Mendip District Council said this week that if approached by festival leaders they would provide a refuse collection service, similar tot he one provided at the recent Glastonbury Fayre at Pilton.

"We realise that some local people are worried that the place is going to look a real mess when they go"said another pop fan, but we are putting all the rubbish into bags and we will clear up the site when we leave. It would be great if the local council could give us a hand"

Hippies at the Priddy pool site said they had been escorted to the land by police after they had been moved from Street Hill. Police also directed people wanting to attend the free festival.

But Chief Insp Tony Pink of Wells police denied the police had given them any help finding a location

He said a watch was being kept on he site, but he would not comment whether members of the drug squad had been there.

"The site is being visited by police patrols in the same way we would attend any large gathering of people".


The site is also close tot he pine and spruce Stockhill Enclosure, owned by the Forestry Commission.

Head forester Mr Roland Liddell, said the commission could not allow anyone to camp in the woodland.

But in this case our main fear is the festival followers could be spoiling the woods by using it as a toilet area. We normally allow people to use the enclosures for walking an recreation, but with perhaps 500 people using the wood as toilets over a 10-day period, there is bound to be some effect on hygiene" he said.

"We are concerned that there are no toilet facilities on the site itself.

Publicans in the area differ in their attitude. The Queen Victoria pub in Priddy is refusing to serve anyone associated with the festival, the new Inn in Priddy is asking festival goers to drink outside, but the Hunters Lodge Inn, close to the site, is carrying on normally.

Said Hunters Lodge Inn landlord Mr Roger Dors: "At the moment there are perhaps 150 people at Priddy Pool, and at that level we can manage quite easily, we have had no problems".


The chairman of Priddy parish council, Mr Robin Mann, said there had been a number of complaints from local people during a similar gathering last year

There were complaints that wood was being taken and potatoes were taken from local potatoes fields. There appears to be a general feeling against these people, but the owners of the land have given them permission to be there, so there is not much that can be done. The parish council has not decided what action to take" He said.

The Priddy Pool land forms part of the Waldergrave Estate. Neon at the estate was available for comment this week

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