Lancashire's answer to the Woodstock Festival
Fifty years ago Lancashire was buzzing with news of plans to bring a three day music festival to the heart of the county’s countryside
After the success of the first Clitheroe Pop Festival in 1970 music lovers and entrepreneurs started to eye up other opportunities for major music events in Lancashire.
Spring 1971 saw proposals draw up to hold a three-day event at go kart centre in Longridge. The festival would attract up to 40,000 revelers and would be a first for the town.
But the plans were met with widespread opposition with Longridge Town Council leading the way vowing to take legal action if necessary to stop the festival taking place.
The row started after Bert Hesketh, a director of the Go Kart Centre in Longridge, was approached by a man who wanted to hire the centre for an event at the end of July and the beginning of August.
He explained to the Post: “We are still negotiating terms but we have been told that to make any money the festival would have to attract between 30,000 and 40,000 people. I cannot disclose the identity of the man at this stage, I don’t know anything about pop music, but even I have head of some of the names he hopes to get to play at the festival.
“I think the idea is a very good one. It will do something for the youth of Longridge. We have been in contact with the local police and promised to co-operate with them over the festival. If the council objects, I am willing to argue the matter out with them, and see both sides of the situation.”
Norman Ashurst, the clerk to Longridge Urban Council, said the council became aware of the proposed festival from an article in the newspaper.
At a meeting of he council’s planning and highways committee it was decided to contact Lancashire County Council to find out the legal position.
Mr Ashurst said: “One of the councillors has made an approach to the local MP David Walker and we are prepared to take legal action of necessary to stop the festival. That was the unanimous decision of the committee.”
Coun Dennis Reece said he had approached Mr Walker, to find out whether it would be possible to stop the festival and warned he was prepared to do anything in his power to stop it.
And Coun David Coulston, chairman-elect of the council, said it would be impossible to get 30,000 people into the kart centre. Their stance had widespread backing in the town where for some the go kart itself was an unwelcome attraction. One licensee said he would be willing to close his pub for the three days of the festival if he thought he could not stop people coming in.
Alan Dugdale said he would pay to have a policeman standing on the door of his pub refusing admission to people from the festival. He said: “We’ve enough layabouts in Longridge without bringing more in. Where on earth would they sleep and what facilities are there at the kart centre?”
Pensioner Tom Moughtin, of High Road, Longridge, said it wasn’t so much the idea he objected to but the fact the festival would be a short distance from his home. He said: “Perhaps if they had it somewhere over on Beacon Fell or somewhere else out of the way, it wouldn’t be so bad, but I strongly object to where is it is going to be held.”
Shopkeeper Mary Keighley, of Bowland Street, thought the festival was a good idea. She added: “I think it’s a step in the right direction. It’s about time they did something for the young people in the town.”
Teenager Paul Mansfield, of Severn Street, Longridge, was pessimistic about the whole affair. He said: “I would like to see it done but it’ll never happen. The place isn’t capable of holding that many people, and besides, all the old people are against it. It could bring a lot of good trade into the town, but they are so behind the times they wouldn’t let it happen. But it would bring a lot of trash in. Hell’s Angels and people like that which we are against.”
John Proctor, 18, of Hesketh Road, Longridge,said: “It’s a good idea, but most of the old people object to it though it’s about time there was something for the young people in Longridge.”
Alas, the naysayers won the day and the concert didn’t took place so music lovers never got find out who the mystery organiser had lined up to perform.
But that year’s Clitheroe Pop Festival did go ahead with the likes of Barclay James Harvest, Roy Harper and Kevin Ayers entertaining the crowds at Clitheroe Castle.