21st September 1991: Free Party at Great Mills warehouse, Pitchcombe, Stroud, Gloucestershire

A comment from Jamie pointed to the fact that there’s nothing here on the 1991 event in Stroud. This is what he said:

a truely epic warehouse free party in Stroud Sept 21st 1991 when 8000 ravers crashed into town and rocked the old Great mills

DJ Tone was there, and his comment can be seen below. He also sent us newspaper cuttings from the party, thanks Tony!

Here’s a transcript of the article:

Convoy of cars thwart police efforts to halt event at warehouse

Thousands rave it up at illegal party

Thousands of young people drove up to 300 miles in convoys to a disused South Cotswold warehouse for what was described as the last of the summer raves.

By 1am yesterday morning they had thwarted police efforts to halt an illegal pay party despite reports that one was being organised.

The sheer speed with which locations can be chosen and sound systems set up by rave organizers meant that by the time police learned of the location at the Salmon Sheds industrial estate, at Pitchcombe, the warehouse and surrounding area were crowded.

As people danced to booming noise inside the warehouse, a separate public address system kept hundreds of others dancing in the car park after the party started.


Police set up roadblocks to check all vehicles travelling towards the Stroud area and turned away hundreds of late arrivals.

Gloucestershire police superintendent Ken Mahon, based at Stroud, said “We got there quickly but by the time we arrived it was already going on. It was a question of containment.”

Hospitals, fire and ambulance crews in the county were put on stand-by for injuries.

“We had in excess of 20 complaints from the public, about noise and the large numbers of vehicles driving around the area,” said Supt. Mahon.

Sixty-six people were arrested and a number of items including drugs and a sound system were seized.

Police officers drafted in from across the county but let it continue until its close at 7pm last night.

Many of those attending defended the rave, saying they were simply enjoying themselves.

Helen Thornton, 21, travelled from Milton Keynes in a convoy of 50 cars.

“We knew there was a rave somewhere near Oxford. That was it, and everybody found their own way down here.” she said.

And 24-year-old Steve Adams, from Cheltenhman said: “The attraction is there are no rules or boundaries.”

There was a follow-up article the following spring with the following headline:


Anything to add anyone?

By the way, we’ve found two references to parties in Stroud, this one, and one in April 1992. And we’ve seen things about Selsey Common in Stroud, as well as Stroud Common, and warehouse parties too, so it’s all a bit confusing , can anyone help? We believe the party in 1992 was the Spiral Tribe where someone got on the mic to confront a mugger. The page on that event is here: https://freepartypeople.wordpress.com/2009/10/04/april-1992-spiral-tribe-free-party-on-stroud-common/

Anything in anybody’s memory banks?

36 Responses to “21st September 1991: Free Party at Great Mills warehouse, Pitchcombe, Stroud, Gloucestershire”

  1. HardCore Bob Says:

    I was one of the first to get to this one as the convoy came down from Minchampton common and i manage to get in the carpark .

    I remember there was a gang of Geezers trying to tax people on the door and a Traveller friend of mine was mugged for his pills.

    The Rig and Mc’s couldn’t see this happening as the place was kicking.

    There was Local Raver who filmed this party , don’t know what became of it.

    When we left Sunday evening we were arrested and taken to Cheltenham , but later released with out charge.

    • Nina DG Says:

      Hiya, I am looking to do a feature on the dance/free party scene on a local radio station in Gloucestershire and would love to speak to people about thier memories and do some pre recorded inteviews. Basically I want to do it from a very postive angle, about the culture, the fun and what are you doing now? Where do you go? if you want to stay anon thats fine, I can get other people to voice your stories. So any local to Gloucestershire stories would be great and to speak to you, the guys who run this site!

  2. Jamie tootall Says:

    Yeah, remember this one well. We were all up on Minch common for ages after comin from Ciren. Got down into town and the police had got a load of earth movers blocking the roads. Met people form oxfordshire who’d been directed to stroud by the police in oxford!
    Awesome party, fair amount of aggro though, people getting taxed left right and centre.
    One that’ll stay with me forever though

  3. Anonymous Says:

    easygrove drove his car rigth into the warehouse in protest after the basterds on the door tryed ! 2 charge

  4. stretchy Says:

    It was called the E centre in a old Great mills warehouse,i came down with mates from Glastonbury who were Djs & had played at Circus Warp party at Peasdowne st john about 3 weeks earlier.One of them Amy was in possession of a bag stuffed full of stickers,Love Cabbages,remember em!!
    you gave money in the bucket ,for fuel for the genny and got a love cabbage.
    Circus Warp & Circus Normal owned the rig & a big fire engine.I met a blonde haired lady in a green naf naf coat who first introduced me to the spirals at Hampstead Heath a few weeks later think her name was simone?
    I remember there were thousands in there & I also remember their was a element there,mugging etc.
    The circus then rolled onto oxford,Enstone airfield.I remember the Bass making all the asbestos dust cover everything like snow,nice!! then the following week was at wallingford common.on a penninsula at the end of a mile long lane in oxfordshire this was circus warp & Normal,had the full marquee,bikes & drumkits and a paper mashee dragon hanging from the roof.Red & Backs & bart simpsons,well strong….
    Then On to Tupney woods in a disused military Bunker,warp,normal & spiral tribe.Two systems,one each end, fucking mental!!

  5. stretchy Says:

    The systems then went to easygrooves birtday bash at Ascot near the race course. The circus tent was in the woods & spiral tribe were by a load of gravel hills.Pete Tong sort of told everyone where it was on his early evening show if i remember…..pretty sure that all the systems went to the Roundhouse in Camden for xmas & new year.I know i did,maybe the warp went to chipping sodbury cos i remember lazy house lot coming to the round house from there on new years eve.I stayed with spirals from then mostly stayed in london.Bedlam & spiral squatted warehouse in edmonton for a few weeks.Next was acton lane,which if you were there then im sure its a night that you will Never forget,fuck the SPG!!!

    • Jason Says:

      Circus Warp did do a party New Years eve 1991 on Sodbury common…pink cali’s if I remember correctly!

    • Snufkin Says:

      That Ascot party was awesome. Last day of November 1991 and it was cold, minus ten at least I’d say. We had been living there ten days or so, on the site of a demolished jet engine factory called Staravia. The site had been used for storing pea gravel so there were mounds of the stuff everywhere and huge ruts frozen solid.

      We held a party the previous week, had no tent, but the factory site was a big concrete pad with rows of pine trees down both sides, so we borrowed (?) some scaffolding and tarps and strung up a makeshift marquee. We had no rig either, the one we usually used wasn’t available, but we phoned a number from the classified adds in Sounds and managed to book 6k of brand new Peavey Turbosound. The owners were bikers who had never seen anything like us, but fair play, they were up for it. The party rocked, for a few days and Easygroove played. In the morning he asked if we would host his birthday bash. Sure we said, if we ain’t evicted. We had been partying and being moved on for a few months by then. We were all quite surprised to still be there on Friday.

      The following week Easygroove turned up with the whole Circus Warp crew and added their tent onto our shambles. Spirals turned up later and they had to stay out in the cold. I remember walking away from the party at one point, tripping my tits off I turned back to look. There were 5000 people raving in a bodged together tent and the heat of their bodies formed a fog around the tend, which pulsed and throbbed with the lights. As I watched, the fog sat up on its haunches, like something ethereal out of ghostbusters, smiled a snaggletooth smile at me, winked and then settled back down again, curling itself around the party contentedly. No, really!

      I can’t remember how long we partied for, maybe til tuesday, it got pretty twisted by the end. I had the burner going in my trailer all the way through and the site was big enough that it was possible to sleep now and then, but I don’t remember too much sleeping..

      I was at the Roundhouse gig on New Years Eve too. At the time it was derelict and owned by the Metropolitan police. the entrance was blocked with several hundred tonnes of rubble, totally filling the access road. Didn’t stop the Normals drving the rig and genny in on a six six-wheel-drive Militant that used to belong to Moscow State Circus, strainght over the top. Another crazy night. Next night wasn’t so great, after the security had done too much coke and gone to sleep and every mugger in London moved in.

  6. stretchy Says:

    I went to a party in Critchleys warehouse in stroud but was busted really early on,then every one went onto melksham which again was busted but this time the coppers were warming up for Acton.I remember hiding in the nettles with tooled up riot police flashing torches just over my head,then i ran like fuck…….I remember you though Bob the Nod…….

  7. DJ TONE Says:

    Hey great to discover this site. Yep I was at Stroud too. Wicked party ever. We just managed to drive in before the police blocked the road two cars behind our van. Went with a pozzee of people and set up our van in the car park. We sold tea and cornflakes in the car park and called ourselves the Hardcore Cafe. We set up a small sound system from the van, does anybody remember us? Our pozzee was later known as Virus Soundsystem from Cheltenham heavily into Gabba. I still have the original newspaper cuttings with pics of the event if anybody is interested. We cleaned up the van before we left as the bastards were searching vehicles leaving. Got through the checkpoint picked up our pozzee further down the road and headed back to Cheltenham only to be met by another roadblock who wanted to search us again. Oh no everyone was in the van, but we managed to blag our way out and they let us through without a search thank fuck. Top buzz that night, remember it well.

    • freepartypeople Says:

      Freepartypeople: Yes! Newspaper cuttings would be very welcome as we don’t have many. Either email us at freepartypeople [at] yahoo.co.uk or leave another comment. Thanks πŸ™‚

  8. cannabis_davey Says:

    We travelled from Reading up to the Pear Tree roundabout in Oxford to see if anything was happening one Saturday, ended up driving for hours in a huge convoy to Stroud!

    When we got there, the roadblocks were already set up so we parked the car and walked in instead. It was a massive night, but I agree with stretchy, lots of taxing and some heavy New Yorkers messed the night up a bit. Good fun though!

  9. joel Says:

    joel ex traveller, lookin for math, virus soundsytem originally frm cheltenham

    joel : 07834539859

  10. trying_harder_is_the_only_response Says:

    great mills warehouse / stroud / september 1991…….
    me and my mate stuart had met some cardiff ravers a few weeks before at an outdoor rave at oxford-which was our first one[lifechanging to say the least!] anyway, we went in to cardiff and bumped into them heading out to find a rave,so we just had to go again.upto oxford,heard rumours of stroud,so headed off there,driving round for a while with our windows down,listening for the sound, without anything,then there was music in the distance-we got closer ,then all the cars parked up everywhere!! so this was my 2nd rave and it was a belter- rammed full!! a banging night at great mills. i paid a quid to get in there to one of the tossers trying to charge people-a pound for that night was well worth it as anyone will tell you who was there-even tho it was free!!haha.i didnt stop dancing about for the next 4 years!! i remember that copper chopper above the carpark in the morn/afternoon-but they could only watch as they were outnumberred just a bit!! i think it may have been a night on those clear caps,the ones with the shiny white crystal powder inside em-you must remember them-rush like mad on em! but i could be wrong as there were so many delicious flavours to be had way back when…..20 years has flown by….
    take care,j.

  11. Anonymous Says:

    It was definitely a Spiral Tribe rave on Selsly Common where two muggers left the site. I remember it vividly. A guy spoke over the microphone and said ‘It has been brought to our attention that we have 2 muggers on site and they need to leave’.
    He described the two of them and then everyone slowly clapped until they left the site. Powerful stuff.

    • Anonymous Says:

      This thing also happened at castle Morton, can’t quite remember what had happened but put on stage and told to leave.

    • Anonymous Says:

      I remember that! It was surreal. And the lad who had been identified as mugging putting his hand in his jacket as if to reach for a weapon ( or at least what it looked like to me).
      It was a shame the mugging element became so prevalent at the free parties.


  12. EX-RAVER-LEB Says:

    Remember this one very well. Don’t remember to much in the way of aggro if the truth be told. Maybe it was because I pretty much stayed in the warehouse untill the morning rooted next to a speaker. Lots of people there and again just a nice party to be honest. The ‘E’ centre is what I remember it being called, quite apt’ really..lol

  13. Anonymous Says:

    There wasn’t a warehouse, it was all outside.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    I remember it vaguely, anyone who says they remember it clearly werent there, it was great. I do however remember the E Centre signage and picking up a lamberts packet with Β£40 and 2 china whites or doves in it, big bonus (can’t remember what pills as they soon put paid to my memory. Good times

  15. joel Says:

    joel ex traveller, lookin for math, virus soundsytem originally frm cheltenham

    joel : 07834539859 πŸ™‚

  16. jimmy boyle Says:

    leb you nutter the boyle here .me and you was at both these, but your getting mixed up. e centre was a bit moody but the bollox still. that was full bristol crew but the uther one in stroud was totally open air (just me and you and steve maybe too. we got lottie to drive us up in her mini) they stopped the sound and exposed a couple of tax lads then fucked em off down the hill to face the waiting old bill who were heavily present but letting it go on. fukkin classic!!!!!!!!!!
    mental times. RAVE ON ha ha.eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezeeee peace

  17. Jamie Says:

    Stroud crew put this party on I think you will find! The e centre was the garden centre sign of great mills with gard an n taken down. There was at least 1000 cars waiting on stroud common as usual waiting for the go to go down the hill to the site. Plenty of decoy venues told to the police first. Easy groove played along with dj rainbow from Stroud. I have this flyer along with Gloucesters flyer from the following weeks rave in glos(which never happened) disrespecting Stroud crew for previous week! Haha. It was a major party and put Stroud on the map! The taxing lads were from Gloucester and were removed by Stroud organisers later in the night with waving baseball bats! Respect to chiggs! You know who you are!

  18. Lee Says:

    Went to this party and numerous others! We were in the convoy comin from st micheal wood services m5 from bristol absolute bonkers night! Also the melksham party getting chased by police n dogs across fields and the circus warp partie at sodbury common NYE and the Avon free fest earlier that year? Numerous more ascot, castlemorton, lechlade! Crazy days

  19. James Lowe Says:

    That’s my van!!!

  20. Steve Says:

    OK, I am a Spiral member from them times… I also remember (most of them) vividly…. ask me what the truth is if you want. Saw a few people say they were part of our crew in the comments… who are you? would like to know.

    • freepartypeople Says:

      Nice one. Yes, do tell us what it was like. We (i.e. the people who run the site) don’t claim to be Spirals, although we knew a couple who were involved. We’re just munters who went to a grand total of about 3 or 4 Spiral do’s. As for others, well it’s hard to say who they really are πŸ™‚

  21. Steve Says:

    The round house we never had a generator… Had to hotwire, FACT, I was there whet it was done… not saying I did It.

  22. Steve Says:


  23. GONK Says:

    Went to this one carnt remember a massive amount about it tbh ,was still getting over the ektos pay rave the night before at newbury .Remember the big e sign was rammed and goin off further in the crowd .people saying there was muggings stabbings and a big fella with a gun thats abiout it realy left about 6 0 clock

  24. Anonymous Says:

    just thinking of the spiral tribe party at hampstead heath… god of abraham belting out with the sunrise and locals with their coffee wondering wtf was going on. great memory.

  25. Lena Says:

    I was here too, took ages to get there but ended up in a massive warehouse. Got a Polaroid somewhere raving at this place. Best times!

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