Happy Summer Solstice 2008

Before Beanfield…

…after the battle of the Beanfield 1985.

June 1st 23 years ago.

Tony McPhee – Oh Death

Photos: Alan ‘Tash’ Lodge

Name: Alan Lodge
Date: 1 June 1985
Place: Wiltshire
Facts: Photographer and ambulanceman Alan Lodge was in a convoy of travellers heading for Stonehenge when 1,600 policemen violently tried to arrest them all. Dubbed the ‘Battle of the Beanfield’ in the media, it fragmented the travelling community. Although he subsequently gained a degree, Lodge has since struggled to find work.

People don’t like travellers – we lower their house prices – but we hadn’t shown any violence. The police had previous, but the Stonehenge ambush was caught on camera and Dixon of Dock Green don’t do this kind of thing, so there were articles as far away as the Tehran Times.

The first free festival I went to was in the Queen’s back garden at Windsor in 1972. Basically, you’re hanging out with your mates and everyone’s smiling. That carried on until 1974, when 600 Thames Valley police waded in. I was sat round the fire with a cup of tea and suddenly – whoop! A truncheon round the head. We got the message, we were scared stiff, so the People’s Free Festival moved to Stonehenge.

I could see the way the wind was changing so I became an ambulanceman and got involved with an organisation set up to help youngsters who had got in trouble with the law. First in tents and teepees, and then on buses and trucks, people were now permanently meandering around the country. I had a cottage in Wales with my wife and two kids, and we were out and about for roughly nine months of the year.

By the 1984 festival there were 30,000 or 40,000 people at Stonehenge living in tents. Everything you look for in human exchange was there: lack of greed, co-operation, looking out for each other, breaking down mental barriers. Bartering was important. People were grateful for me being an ambulanceman: ‘Can I do your shopping? Can I look after your kids?’ Everything you think about being in a better society was there in the Anarchists’ Free State of Albion at Stonehenge.

On our way there the next year we were given papers by the police outside Salisbury stating that we’d be arrested if we went to Stonehenge because of an injunction they had taken out. We were used to this – the existence of the travelling life is an offence – but we didn’t know this meant they’d assembled 1,600 policemen on our route. The convoy stopped adjacent to the famous beanfield, well outside the five-mile radius of the court order, so I hopped out of the cab to take some pictures. Suddenly I saw this black cloud coming down the line, a load of coppers with riot shields. They went up to the motors, many with kids in, and were whacking them with their sticks. Two pregnant ladies were dragged out of the broken windscreens by their hair. The screams are with me now.

Rather than let them come our way we turned and drove through the hedge into the field by the road. For the next five hours there was a stand-off, skirmishes continued with people trying to get out of the field. I tried to liaise with senior policemen but their attitude was, ‘We’re going to arrest you all.’ I’m bandaging bleeding heads, but then there’s truncheon wounds where you can see the skull and I’m getting nervous of people dying. So we get them out on a Wiltshire ambulance.

At seven in the evening all the coppers boiled on to the field, smashing up the vehicles and arresting everyone. ITN were there and took footage of the level of violence. The operation wasn’t just about arresting people, but also part of a ‘decommissioning exercise’, hitting people so hard and ruining their homes so they’ll think twice about leading this lifestyle. Overall, 520 were arrested and spread around police stations up and down the country for three days, the biggest single number since the Second World War. Children were put temporarily in care. The charge was ‘obstruction of police’, which is one up from a parking ticket. The government was cheering on from the sidelines. Douglas Hurd said we resembled a bunch of medieval brigands.

I thought, ‘I’m a British citizen whose tribe’s been treated badly, we can go through the courts.’ We got 24 together to take an action against the police. Five years later, the jury awarded us £25,000 damages but the judge said we’ll split the £7m cost of the case in half, so our damages went towards that. Two of the jury burst into tears.

In 1986 parliament passed an act which criminalised 12 vehicles gathering on common land to reside. So we’d gather, stay up all night and have a rave instead. In 1994 Michael Howard’s act made this impossible, and then this last lot pass a law that means a traveller parked on the edge of a housing estate is involved in antisocial behaviour. So now a lot of people are shoved into the city where the community splits up, they can’t support each other and the kids have chips on their shoulders. The return to the cities hastened the use of serious drugs.

  1. dan i
    dan i
    June 25, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    lovely pics and a very sad tale. Was it really 23 years ago? The madness and cat and mouse games continued for another 3 or 4 years as i remember before the chasing of raves became a higher police priority. I must try to get hold of a decent scanner as i took a beautiful shot of solstice sunrise at Stonehege 5 years ago when the morning was lovely and bright. In the foreground you can only just make out that there are in fact thousands of people there, but you can see them – this is the detail that my rather rubbish scanner cannot pick up.

    Not so sunny this year sadly but my thoughts are with all those who made the pilgrimage, I hope the Rinky Dink Bicycle Powered Sound System was there to cheer folks along their way.

  2. KKK666
    July 3, 2008 at 3:22 am

    My home was wrecked here too, along with countless others… PIGS FUCKING SUCK!! Alan Lodge works for the Salisbury Journal doesn’t he? That’s not really struggling is it! Seeing your home in pieces at Everleigh is struggling…. Anyhows that was a long time ago and I no longer live an ”alternative” lifestyle but those days will never be forgotten… nor should they be!

  3. Graham Burnett
    Graham Burnett
    July 3, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    The bloke in the photo about 4 down rolling a spliff or something on ‘Wally Hope’s Box’ (as I’ve seen it captioned elsewhere) reminds me of Harold steptoe in a headscarf for some reason. He wasn’t being played by Harry H Corbett was he? And is that Steve Hillage behind him banging a drum??

  4. alistairliv
    July 4, 2008 at 7:56 am

    The bloke is Willy X ( or his twin brother). Not sure if he still is, but Willy was the main man in the Stonehenge campaign for many many years. See Andy Wainright’s excellent book “Stonehenge : Celebration and Subversion”. Willy was driving the leading vehicle in the Convoy at the Beanfield. His girl friend at the time was Lisa Bendall (from the US of A)… Willie and Lisa fell out after he accused her and Pinki of being part of an anti- Stone ‘lesbian CIA conspiracy’…

    The box contained the ashes of Wally Hope- or at least was supposed to. It became the centre of a big row between Willie and Sid Rawle. I think the ashes ended up scattered at the Stones.

  5. johng
    July 4, 2008 at 9:27 am

    i agree with a line in andy worthingtons book ‘battle of the beanfield’ where someone says this period in time was the nearest this country got to living in a fascist state.

  6. W
    July 5, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Hello, I’ve been lurking on here for a while enjoying the the music from some of my favourite bands and getting to know a few new ones along the way. Fantastic site. I hope you can sort out the problems with the service provider.

    I just thought I would stick my oar in here though re the photos above. Tash has never worked for the Salisbury Journal as far as I’m aware and continues to photographically document events, at considerable financial expense to himself I expect. You can see more of his photos of festivals / travellers / protest camps / demos etc on his website:

    The photo with Wally’s box is not of Willy X although it does look like him, and the man playing the drum behind him is Sid Rawle, not Steve Hillage : ) No idea where Sid Rawle has disappeared to, although Willy X and Dice George are still both actively involved in the Stonehenge situation.

    Stonehenge Campaign is pretty quiet these days although John and Sue still run the Meeting House at Torriano Avenue despite ever-increasing efforts from Camden Council to get them out by increasing the financial burden on them of keeping the place open for groups to make use of the facilities.

    There’s a great archive of traveller photos from mid-eighties onwards here too if anyone is interested: http://www.travellerhomes.co.uk/

  7. Graham Burnett
    Graham Burnett
    July 7, 2008 at 12:54 am

    I once met Sid Rawle in a pub after an Anarchist Bookfair – i think Malcolm from Housmans introduced us – don’t remember him looking like Steve Hillage tho. As I recall it was 3 way conversation between myself, Sid and Ian Bone… But maybe my memory is playing tricks???

    So if that isn’t ‘Willy X’ maybe it is Harry H Corbett???

  8. Boom Shankar
    Boom Shankar
    November 10, 2008 at 9:32 pm

    The bloke rolling a spliff in the photo with Wally’s box is Bev Richardson.

  9. baronvonzubb
    November 11, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    We all got evicted and ended at Willies place in Holloway Rd. Very hospitable of him, remember Phil ?
    Dunno whats happened to him.
    Last time I saw him was a few years back after Pilton. We were all doing the litter picking. He got into some fight with someone and got booted off.
    All seemed very unwillylike.

  10. luggy
    November 11, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    Saw Willy for first time in ages at a shite anti-racist festy in Vicky Park this summer, seemed well to me but we didn’t talk for long.

  11. Chris
    November 11, 2008 at 11:45 pm

    hey! does anyone else have any other great photos like the above or know of any good sites for photos from festivals (preferably the ‘free’ variety – stonehenge etc). I’ve got a friend who is working on a college dissertation on music festivals at this very moment and good photos is something she needs to illustrate it (dont worry they won’t be published anywhere so anything or any links would do)

    also, if anyone who has any experience in the free festivals scene – from peace convoy to spiral tribe who would like to be interviewed please email penguin and he can pass on your/my details. Thanks.

  12. Phil R
    Phil R
    November 12, 2008 at 9:31 am

    Baron I remember Willys place in Holloway Rd seemed really cool with a great rehearsal space in the basement with drum kits n’ amps.
    I wonder if this was my/our first real contact with the whole stonehenge hippy scene.

  13. baronvonzubb
    November 14, 2008 at 12:34 am

    Yeah it was

  14. Joe the Yank from Starilie
    Joe the Yank from Starilie
    February 19, 2009 at 8:02 pm

    Boom Shankar said the guy rolling the doobie is Bev Richardson. If he’s Bev from the Isle of Man, I knew him from 1975-1978 at South Ronalsay, Stirling and Dalcharn. I know he was at Stonehenge in 78. I sure would like to get in touch with him again and would appreciate any leads.

  15. bev richardson
    bev richardson
    May 5, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    hello the photo of the guy rolling on wallys box is me bev sid rawle standing behind me… in answer to joe hi man last time i saw you was smoking a j on the roundabout outside stirling .. love to get back in touch….

    bev richardson now in co cork ireland … still a crazy witch ….

  16. alistairliv
    May 5, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Thanks for finally solving the mystery Bev.

  17. bev richardson
    bev richardson
    May 6, 2009 at 10:32 am

    there is a film about the fezzies taken by chris waite of the teepee village in tally wonderfull footage of people and all ..

    otherwise the best archive of these days is the one taken by tash who has some really fine pictures especially of the stones and of the beanfield …

    one of the beanfield warriors adge who was an old friend and fellow pagan somemay know him as the fluid druid .. was in ireland untill three years ago when in feb he wrote a fairwell letter and just vanished off the face of life still not been found though probably passed the viel and lying hid away somewhere wild …

    still we who were there remember with fondness the wonderfull experience that was the fezziez…

    rock on blessed be bev.

  18. Davy King
    Davy King
    May 13, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Have been trying to track down Bev Richardson, whom I knew in Stirling & last saw in his teepee at Stonehenge. If you revisit this page, please get in touch with me as I’d like to meet up again. Best wishes, man. Love to Del too. Are you still at Castle Pook?

  19. Lorna Evers
    Lorna Evers
    May 18, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Heya Bev!

    Fancy meeting you here 😉 (nice pic btw)

    How are things with you guys down Castle Pook way?



  20. zionlion
    June 19, 2009 at 5:13 pm

    worse than a pig……………….

  21. dan i
    dan i
    June 19, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    anyone going to the stones?

  22. Therese
    June 20, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    Hey any summer beach parties for the summer solstice this year??? oh ya 2009 i mean??? wanting to find one in the south of ireland…..

  23. mama p
    mama p
    September 22, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    hey tribal rainbow peoples any one out their from cork and stayed with andy cox from teeppee valley trying to contact …….him

  24. bev richardson
    bev richardson
    September 23, 2009 at 11:00 am

    to davey king . wonder how ye are . funny i am off to stirling on friday to take faie . daughter born in north third 77 to see the house first time for her ever…

    love to have contact again best wishes bev and del.

  25. Davy King
    Davy King
    September 30, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Hi Bev! Good to hear from you again at the Autumn Equinox. Haven’t been back to Stirling for many a long year. Hope trip was fun.

    If you contact me via e-mail from my website, I will let you have my mobile number. Do you have an e-mail address?

    Anyway, all the best to you & Del & kids.

  26. bev richardson
    bev richardson
    September 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    davey king great to hear from you though you neglected to give your site addy or email.. so here is my own . i can be reached at castlepook@gmail.com

    the trip to stirling with our faie was lovely saw north third house and then went touring great also visited ian ramsey in ayre..

    do email love luck and laughter b ev.

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