Guns, drugs and rock n’ roll

Rivington Festival, August 1976
Rivington Festival, August 1976
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A festival created a stir in Rivington Pike 36 years ago when a group of ‘hippies’ organised a free music event for local bands.

The North Country Fayre was a well-organised weekend event on August 6, 1976, that descended into chaos.

A reader contacted Flashback after seeing a photo of the event in the Guardian a few weeks ago, which was mistakenly published with an article about another festival in Charnock Richard.

But it lead to a whole new, and very interesting, tale being told.

The man, who did not wish to be named, said: “A group of like-minded hippies got together to put on a music event, free for everyone who decided to attend.

“It was going well until a group of bikers turned up and caused trouble. There was a shotgun being passed around and someone had a motorbike thrown on a bonfire.”

The festival was part of a popular craze in the 1970s, with free festivals taking place across the UK, but this was the first of its kind with such trouble.

A flyer released prior to the event stated: “A grand meeting of peoples for culture and information exchange.”

It then added: “We are also offering to its owner and the local community the labour of our hands on suitably constructive projects after the weekend.

“If enough of us can put in some work, the total will be well worth it and make a righteous return for hospitality.

“This festival needs your love to build the energy to save the planet.”

Our reader added: “They had a stage put up in the Chinese gardens, just knocked together.

“The festival went on for a couple of days, there was about 300 to 500 people there; it wasn’t all that big really.”

Local bands took part in the event and people camped out in the grounds during the weekend.

He said: “There’s always that fraction who come along to cause trouble.

“The festival was never held again after that because of the trouble caused throughout the two days.”

One famous act at the festival was ‘Radio Doom’, a suspected pirate radio station that performed at the time.

Our source said the low police presence at the festival showed how small it was compared to others.