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1974: Rock fans clash with police at festival

VIDEO : Festival fans charged with a breach of peace

At least 220 people have been arrested following disturbances at a rock festival in Windsor Great Park in Berkshire.

Organisers of the Windsor Free Festival, which started last Saturday, have accused police officers of heavy-handedness.

More than 600 officers moved in at 0800 on Thursday and began to clear the site where more than 2,000 festival-goers had camped overnight.

Many campers left voluntarily or offered only offered passive resistance but some fighting broke out.

220 were arrested and more than 50 people - including 22 police officers - were injured.


"People were being thrown into police vans for no reason"

David Stafford, festival-goer

About 400 people marched through Windsor town centre in protest at the police action.

Several festival-goers claimed the police had acted brutally.

Michael Bennett, 17, from Worthing said he had been subjected to an unprovoked attack and as a result had a badly bruised neck.

David Stafford, 22, from Haywards Heath in Sussex said the police were arresting people at random.

"I don't know why the police got so violent. People were being thrown into police vans for no reason," he said.

The chief constable of Thames Valley Police, David Holdsworth, said his officers had moved in because the festival organisers had not got permission to camp on Windsor Great Park.

Mr Holdsworth said any complaints about police behaviour would be investigated.

In Context
The festival in 1974 was the third to be held at Windsor Great Park following similar events in 1972 and 1973.

The free event had caused controversy from the outset, partly due to its location close to Windsor Castle.

Following the trouble in 1974 the government provided an alternative site - a disused airbase near Swindon in Berkshire - for festival in 1975.

Some festival organisers were not happy with the new location which they regarded as an attempt to hide them away.

The festival did not enjoy the same kind of longevity as others founded around the same time, such as Glastonbury and Reading.

It was held for the last time at Watchfield airbase in Berkshire in 1976.


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