The Great Western Express Music Festival Of 1972


A rare document of the culture clash between the straights and the freaks.

For those of you who are missing going to music festivals this summer, here’s a look back to the days when such events were less corporate and more novel. In 1972, the Great Western Express Festival took place in Bardney in Lincolnshire, much to the consternation of locals who worried about an influx of long-haired, loon-panted hippies, possibly of the Manson Family variety. The local police were on standby, holding in what might have been their natural tendencies at the time to drag the festival-goers off to the cells.

Being a British festival, the late May event was plagued with terrible weather, but it had quite the eclectic line-up that included The Beach Boys, Genesis, Buddy Miles, Helen Reddy and Monty Python. Unfortunately, the event didn’t become a staple of the Uk festival scene, but the 1972 event was the subject of an Anglia TV that includes footage of Atomic Rooster on stage and is a reminder of how festivals were before they became the domain of middle-class glampers and Guardianistas.

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