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The Battle of the Beanfield

Andy Worthington

available on Andy's website


The very good reports I'd heard are totally justified. From a musical perspective if you are interested in the slightest in the development of the free festivals, their ethos and indeed their end, you should read this book. It is undoubtedly a harrowing read at times, and one still guaranteed to make to you angry, but it's a story that needs more widely known. I wasn't in England through most of the '80s, but I have heard, first hand, many people's stories of that time, and indeed that day, and this is certainly the best collection of accounts you could hope for.

Received copies of a morning (12th July), and by the end of the afternoon, as it got too hot to work in the office, I had gone home and devoured nearly half the book.

Enabler Publications, June 2005 : 235 x 170 mm, 248 pages, over 100 photos and illustrations.

On June 1st 1985, a convoy of new travellers, peace protestors, green activists and festival-goers set off from Savernake Forest in Wiltshire to establish the 12th annual free festival at Stonehenge. There were around 450 people in total, and they included a number of women and children.

They never reached their destination.

Eight miles from the Stones they were ambushed, assaulted and arrested with unprecedented brutality by a quasi-military police force of over 1,300 officers drawn from six counties and the MoD.

That event has gone down in history as 'The Battle of the Beanfield'. This book is the combined effort of a large number of people who feel passionately that only through reaching an understanding of what actually occurred before, during and after the events at the Beanfield, can a proper 'closure' of the event take place for those involved and the many people who have been in some way touched by those events.

The 14 chapters feature extracts from the police radio log and in-depth interviews with a range of people who were there on the day - including travellers Phil Shakesby and Maureen Stone, journalists Nick Davies and Kim Sabido, the Earl of Cardigan and Deputy Chief Constable Ian Readhead - as well as Lord Gifford QC, who represented 24 of the travellers at the Beanfield trial in 1991. These accounts cut through the myths, misconceptions and propaganda that have built up around 'The Battle of the Battlefield' to present a detailed picture of what actually did happen.

Also included are many previously unseen photos, a description of the making of the documentary 'Operation Solstice', and chapters which set the events of the Beanfield in context. These look at the evolution of the free festival scene, new travellers, convoys and peace protestors, 'raves' and road protests, the campaigns for access to Stonehenge, and the wider implications of the events of the Beanfield, through increasingly draconian legislation, on civil liberties in the UK.

Two little notes:- There is a chapter based on a very good Beanfield booklet produced by Bruce at Unique Publications (now in this very building) in '86. Enabler Publications, run by Alan Dearling, who by the way was a contemporary of Steve Hillage at University, also published 'Alternative Australia', which has contributions from daevid allen and Thom the Poet. This book is also back in stock and is therefore available to order once more.