Saturday, January 14, 2012

Urban Free Festival 1992

'The Dewdrop Inn. Deptford. For all the old punks n freaks' is a great facebook groups with loads of photos of that pub from the 1980s and 1990s. The Dew Drop Inn was on the corner of Clifton Rise and Angus Street SE14 - sadly now converted to flats (I will do a post about it another time). As the pub faced on to Fordham Park it was the main drinking hole during the legendary Urban Free Festivals held in the park from 1990 to 1995, which attracted tens of thousands of people from all over London and beyond. I have taken some of the photos of the festival from the facebook group to give a flavour of it - hope nobody minds, this is priceless cultural history.

1992 programme - Uban Free Festival III
Conscious Collective - 'You can't kill the spirt').

The line up in 1992 included Back to the Planet, Brain of Morbius, The Seas, Sensor, Fat Dinosaur, Sidi Bou Said, Attila the Stockbroker, Moral Panic, The Rythmites, Levitation, Dr Phibes and the House of Wax Equations, RDF, Test Department, Co-Creators, Community Charge  and many more. All this and the 'Free the Spirt Rave Big Top'.

Groups involved in organising the festival that year included South East Musicians Collective, SYLVIA (Support Your Local Venues and Independent Artsits), Conscious Collective, Dole House Crew (who squatted the Peckham dole office) and Sonic Relief with sponsors including The Dew Drop Inn, Music City,  Catford TUC Centre for the Unemployed and Lewisham Council.

I believe these photos were taken by Seran Tahsin, who was not sure whether they are from 1991 to 1992. I think probably 1992, because there is a great bit of film footage from 1991 and the structures look a bit different.

Dancing in Fordham Park in 1993

I had some great times at those festivals will write some more about the later ones at some point. Any good memories or stories, leave a comment as always (and why was it the Deptford Urban Free Festival when it was plainly in New Cross?!)

Update: here's a couple of interviews with people remembering the festival (film was made by people from Deptford.TV Collective in 2007)


Martin Dixon said...

a great article and collection of photos - I remember playing at a few of them with the Proles - on our first year we were on early on the main stage (Wango Reilly?) and it pissed down with rain, the sound went off and we played acoustically to a small drunk crew of increasingly soaked punters, our fate was sealed - the following years we were on the acoustic stage.
my most exciting memory was watching RDF

Transpontine said...

I saw RDF so many times in that period that I ended up taking them for granted, or even thinking sometimes 'not them again'. But they were pretty awesome. Remember them at the squat behind the Joiners Arms in Camberwell, that pub off Newington Causeway (was it the Archduke Charles?) and various other places as well as Fordham Park. A couple of years ago I was on the same bill as The Faction (Chris from RDF + another new line up) at the Montague Arms, the songs still sound good. 'Look up at the sky, it's history passing by'

Martin Dixon said...

They were part of the furniture alright - when Proles played with them at the Archduke Charles we got our first and only proper rider as a band - a case of beer.

Anonymous said...

If 1992 was the third that'd make the first one 1990 (1990, 1991, 1992), which seems right to me. Went to all of them. Good stuff.

Rhiannon or jackie said...

I was one of the organisers fir the last 4 years. To be honest the festival got too big and we were having problems getting a license due to the smallness of Fordham park and the amount people thereWe did look at larger venues such as Deptford Green and Burgess park. The last venue we considered was the new den and so we all went down there - millwall but we refused this after the police wanted to remain in the CCTV area inside and it was too concreteee. It really wasnt much to do with the criminal justice bill. Well this is my recollection of what happened. Perhaps some of the other committee members recollect differently

R Freedom said...

I have come across a short story called "The Daily Telegraph" that says it was originally published in the programme of the Deptford Free Festival. Any ideas who the author was? It Begins "When I ran into Pixi in Brixton Road he was looking agitated."

Transpontine said...

I don't know, but that really sounds like a Martin Millar line- his stories are full of characters in Brixton with names like Pixi

Anonymous said...

The urben free festival was organised by the conscious collective.

Anonymous said...

Great days, I was at all 7 of those festivals and can say with great confidence (due to being a bit weird about dates and memories) there were 7 in total, first in 1990, last in 1996. This has been wrongly recorded on Wikipedia in the past, too.