3rd–6th August 1990: Torpedo Town Free Festival at Chapel Common, Hampshire

Please note: this covers the 1990 festival, here are links to the 1991 and 1992 festivals of the same name.

I’ve just realised, this post is NOT about a party that happened between 1991 and 1994! Oh no!

Actually it doesn’t matter. The only reason I originally decided to limit this blog to the years 1991-1994 was that those were the years in which I experienced some fantastic parties. As this blog grows, and as I run out of stories to tell, I realise what a tiny drop in the ocean my own experiences are, and how great it is to hear other people’s stories.

This page includes some vague and amusing information about the 1990 festy: http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/torpedo-town-free-festival.html .Including this quote:

There was a bit of agro between travellers and the young free party goers, especially when it emerged that some young entrepreneurs where charging an entrance fee to unsuspecting arrivals in cars, the was a rumour that a couple of coaches arrived for a rave that they’d paid 25 quid for, whether this was really true I never found out.

This was pre-Spiral Tribe, so I don’t know which soundsystems were there, does anyone? ;P

Here’s an excerpt from a self-published book on the early nineties free party scene by someone called Andy Brown. It’s a fantastic book full of spaced out enthusiastic ramblings and great descriptions of free parties and festivals. The name says it all really: Rave: The Spiritual Dimension.I found this in the British Library, and have sadly never seen another copy. Andy Brown, if you’re out there, please get in touch, I feel guilty publishing this without your permission. There was an address in the book for contacting you but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s decades out of date!

The festival was triggered off in the early 1980’s as a protest against the development of a place called Brambles Farm into a torpedo factory… ever since Brambles Farm was developed, the festival has been held at a different site each year. Things really started to move in 1990 when some clued-up people took some scratching record decks and strobe lights to the the Torpedo Town event at Chapel Common near Rake. It is dark, you’ve just parked up in some lane and are climbing over the brow of a hill towards the flickering strobes and thumping bass. You think the authorities are going to bust the whole thing at any moment and the buzz that gets going is just too much. The beat goes right through you and an amazing feeling rises from your stomach. It feels so good, it is as if you are going to explode with pleasure… In daylight you could see the whole site of what must have been at least 200 acres. There were two encampments: Travellers and their buses on one side of the valley and Ravers on the other. That festival was definitely one of the most wonderful times of my life… Nowadays of course we’re lucky to get one-weekend festivals and a bonus at Chapel Common was that it lasted for more than two weeks and had two party weekends. As far as the authorities are concerned, once these events reach a certain size, a critical mass you could call it, they are far too hot to handle so they just let them burn themselves out.


17 Responses to “3rd–6th August 1990: Torpedo Town Free Festival at Chapel Common, Hampshire”

  1. lehobbit Says:

    AS far as I can remember, the 1990 Torpedo Town ended up on the site of the previous weeks Cissbury Ring festival (hence the two-weekend party) as there was no other site available near at hand….in any case, I remember arriving and seeing that people had been there for a long time already!
    There was some cutting of speaker cables as well; this rave thing just NEVER stops!!!
    Wouldn’t have imagined that only a couple of years later, traveller and raver became inextricably interwoven…….

  2. Steve Bubble Says:

    The 1990 festy took place on Chapel Common (Sometimes described as Rake Common) now on the B2070, which WAS the old A3- and as lehobbit states, Cissbury Ring Free Festival happened there too, the week after – as the police didn’t want everyone crossing the county when we had such a nice site already, lol
    The second weekend was dubbed “Tornado Town”…
    I still get confused looking at the maps – the following year’s festival was on some MOD land directly opposite Bramshott Common, a few miles up the road!


    freepartypeople says: Nice one! I’ll update my posts now. Thanks a million.

  3. Dan Says:

    1990 was sweat sound system…moodiness at the end with the brew crew hospitalising some raver and smashing up dave brock’s bus

    • G Says:

      Dave Brocks bus getting smashed up happened at Village Idiots just outside of Brighton, sad as a really good line up on Wango Reilly’s inc Citizen Fish etc. Remember Torpedo Town as an ace fessie nr Rake, the Cissbury Ring site I beached my vehicle so none to chuffed.

  4. Scott Robinson Says:

    Amazing party which happened to fall on my 18th birthday. It was my first trip and the weekend where I decided to write techno, Which I am still doing 20 years on 😀

    The only downer was a moment where I saw a traveller chase after some bloke and wacked him with a spade, which was a pretty mad one. Maybe the relates to the comment above.

  5. Andy Brown Says:

    Yeah, well, what can I say ?

    The conclusion of the book gave the answer, sorry not the answer, it was AN answer, there may be other interpretations, an answer to life the universe and everything that went something like this …

    ” A Fantazia Raindance caused the Fusion of the Shaman to the Universe. The Fusion allowed the Shamen to be elevated to the Ravelation of a Vision of a Quest for Exodus. ”

    Most of these words being the names of rave or sound rig organizations around at the time.

    Or to put it another way, we need to get more resource, wealth, by interplanetary travel. Like planet earth is depleted, see Peak Oil, Olduvai theory etc. yes? Like there is lots more out there for us.

    My research following on from this has been toward an energy source, drive system maybe which is described in different cultures with different names for example Vril from Lord Lyttons book The Coming Race, or more recently called Zero Point Energy or Quantum Vacuum. All these names, and others, referring to the same subject, in my opinion.

    These energy source names, which I think refer to the same technology, have a co-incidental by product, would you believe it, of ……..

    ….. anti gravity.

    Well that’s handy innit.

    • Ian Says:

      Andy Brown as in brother of Marcus who drove around in the the Fiat panda – or was that you?

      Mad dayz @ Torpedo Town!

  6. Rat Says:

    Spiral Tribe WERE there. They had their own blotters.. “cosmic spirals” for sale. I was on em… Remember Back to the Planet, Poisoned Electric Head and Doctor Brown on stage.. One of my fave fezzies ever..

    • freepartypeople Says:

      As far as we can figure out the Spirals only started putting on parties in October 1990. They were at the 1991 and 1992 Torpedo Town festivals though, maybe you’re thinking of one of those 🙂

  7. Anonymous Says:

    Accepted… 1991..Could be that my memory is shot to feck.. something that the Spirals and their wacky substances are partly responisble for…

  8. m Says:

    Spiral Tribe were definitely not at Torpedo Town 1990. You’rec remembering the next year. 1990 was the year 657 chased and beat shit out of a rival drug dealer with spades and pick axe handles.

  9. Pete Davies Says:

    I did ’90 and ’91 but can’t remember f***k all about either of them!

  10. chris Says:

    I was at the one where the police had us going round in circles in the town. We ended up on fields each side of the road in our trucks. With a rather irate farmer on a little red tractor helpless to stop it. A copper dragged a woman out of her cab (a big army hiab)and her small child went tumbling out. There was a cry “the women!” And everyone set about him (I was the 1st one there, punched him in the jaw from a flying kick, his helmet flew off and we used it to trade later. A guy got run over at the side of our truck (a tk) and the spiral tribe borrowed our geni then didn’t return it. Hmm! I cannot remember what yer that was though.

  11. DavidLockwood Says:

    Yea Man we was at that . we ended up on a field with a farmer on his knees crying out why me!? with his gathered in the corner of the field looking at him …… wasn’t our fault ! the police put us there and then spent the night stood looking at us stood looking at them . then come morning the police led us to the common where we attended a festival …. with no bloody stage ! only a silly little rave ,

  12. Batey Says:

    The rumour about the cheezee quavers paying £25 for tickets is a fact. Because on the Saturday afternoon after a night getting wrecked on chillums & acid tripping balls on Friday, a few of me & me mates got our faces painted up, myself had a completely mad black & white cammo style from forehead to neck & ear to ear. After more chemical & plant matter indulgence I was weirdly welcoming people into the site & winding up the coppers that were milling about. Then about 10 or 11ish all these cocky kids in flared jeans & all that floppy looking gear they wore, “Come in & go wild at the free festival” sez I & they were like ” whadda you on about free?? They were rightly pissed off coz they started producing their tickets that they paid £25 a pop for. To say I was amused would be under stating it a bit. I was literally rolling on the floor laughing, until a couple of them started getting a bit hectic & I disappeared in to the bushes. Some chancer made a few bob as there were a couple of minibuses full at least from what I saw, never mind those that made their own way down at a tenner a ticket.

  13. Mark Mighty Force Says:

    One of the sound systems was the Technologi crew from Portsmouth. Definitely no Spirals in 1990. They didn’t do their first squat party until October of that year.

    • Chris top herB Says:

      That we’ll be so, there has been nearly 30 years & copious amounts of alcohol & many, many, many doses of acronominally named substances n’ the likes. So please forgive me if things have got slightry hazy. Cheers for my history lesson.
      While I’m here I like to say R.I.P to my very good freind & fellow space cadet Lee Cobb who passed away recently. I’d like to believe he’s up in the one consciousness jamming with Jimi, with Mr Mojo Risin’ belting it out on vocals. Thanks for the psychedelic adventures Lee. You were & still are a star.

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