THE BCH ARCHIVE
LOCAL HISTORY FOR
And The Surrounding District
The Castlemorton Common Festival was a week-long free festival and rave held in the Malvern Hills near Malvern, Worcestershire, England between 22–29 May 1992. A great deal of media interest surrounded the festival, and it hosted many of the large sound systems of the time such as Bedlam, Circus Warp, Spiral Tribe and the DiY Sound System. Concerns about the festival and the way in which it was policed inspired the legislation which developed into the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
A collection of External Images
A contemporary News clip about Castlemorton free rave 1992,
This You tube page also directs you to further links
1917 BBC News article
Castlemorton Common Rave
The Castlemorton Rave
Picture this - the last Friday in May, a Bank Holiday looming, a good weather forecast, lots of plans being made and the children breaking up from school for half term. My children were both at Castlemorton Primary School. After I had picked them up we drove to Welland to buy some sweets as a treat from the shop. Driving back across the common I noticed an incongruous collection of scruffy vans and buses parked on the common. There was a police car too so I imagined that they were being told they could not camp there. A little later the music started. The whole house was throbbing to the loud bass rhythm for the best part of the next week.
The next morning it was obvious that hippy travellers had been arriving all through the night as the number of vehicles parked around the crossroads on Flapgate Lane/ the Gullet Road had swollen to cover most of the flat ground. By mid-afternoon the ravers were arriving and parking anywhere they could. It was impossible to get a car up our lane to New Road. Not that we wanted to leave the house unattended. There were people constantly milling about, moving up and down the lane past our gate. Some tried to engage us in chat about the event and justify why they had the right to come and spoil our peace. Some even had the cheek to ask to use our telephone and toilet. Numbers of people were reported as being 20,000.
The poor old hens had to stay shut up in the donkey shed for safety. Other people’s weren't so lucky. The plans for activities with the children for half term had to be abandoned. All they got to do was visit friends within walking distance. I was supposed to be revising for my final exams, very hard to do with the background music booming away and the worry about safety. When I went over to Ebenezer to talk to the journalist Mick Brown, from the Sunday Times, I was met by John Earl carrying his shotgun and threatening to take the law into his own hands. One of the newspaper reports tells of him wielding an axe in the same way. Tempers and emotions ran high. No-one got a proper night's sleep what with the music and the figures walking around in the dark. There was indignation that it had been allowed to happen and it was a tremendous shock that the West Mercia Police seemed unwilling or powerless about taking action against this invasion. This is how we described it – our quiet piece of English countryside invaded by outsiders with no thought of what they were encroaching on and how it was affecting we locals.
As the numbers of ravers dwindled once the Bank Holiday was over the level of damage became clearer - the litter, the faeces, the savaged sheep, the damaged trees and fences. There was outrage when the DHSS visited the site to pay benefits to the travellers. The local council provided the skips and bin bags and some manpower to clean up the site. Letters were sent to all the relevant bodies, Conservators, Council, police, MP and the Malvern Gazette. They responded with excuses, support, advice and promises of change. The charity concert which had been planned for that summer was cancelled.
Something did come out of all the chaos and upset - indeed, the law was changed as a result of the event, to prevent any more such unlicensed events, paving the way for planned and licensed festivals such as the Big Chill which later came to Eastnor.
Before Spring Bank Holiday 1992, Castlemorton Common was a beauty spot known mainly just to locals of the area. Now it is a popular place for spending leisure time for people from much farther afield. And if you Google the name, the first items that come up are all about ‘the Rave’ or the ‘Castlemorton Festival’.