7th–10th August 1992– Spiral Tribe and others at Torpedo Town Festival at Romsey and Otterbourne, Hampshire

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


A flyer for that year’s Torpedo Town:

92 TT IMG_0004

From a Spiral Newsletter:


I need your help again, fellow freepartypeople, any memories? Or photos?

Here’s a link to reports on the Torpedo Town festy from ’82 to ’91: http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/torpedo-town-free-festival.html , as well as this year’s: http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/torpedo-town-festival-1992.html.

UPDATE 23/1/21:

It's Not About Me Torpedo Town p.59

From Ian Young, It’s Not About Me! Confessions Of A Recovered Outlaw Addict- From Living Hell To Living Big. Norwich: Anoma Press, 2013, p.59.

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

I need your help again, fellow freepartypeople 🙂 Any ideas of rigs in attendance at this festy? Also, any memories? Or photos?

Here’s a link to reports on the Torpedo Town festy from ’82 to ’91: http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/torpedo-town-free-festival.html , as well as this year’s: http://www.ukrockfestivals.com/torpedo-town-festival-1992.html.

And here’s a report from our raving reporter par excellence, Amino Clang:

Otterbourne Site:

We set off late again so by the time we were lost in the countryside it was pitch black except for the passing trees lit up by the headlamps of the Rave Mobile (a beat up white fiesta if I remember correctly) and the odd car going the other way. The drive to parties was usually accompanied by driving beats to keep us awake and get us in the mood.

Don’t ask me how, but eventually we ended up parking the car on the side of a road (along with hundreds of others) and set off on the long walk past the police roadblock (a load of railway sleepers that had been put across the road), down a VERY long road and onto the site.

My mate, The Driver, had spent the afternoon sewing tiny little glowsticks (available at all good fishing tackle shops) onto the knuckles of his white gloves for that extra edge to his dancing. He cracked the glowsticks on the walk down this massive road and was waving them about in a hardcore raver style most of the way. As we got closer to the site we passed some people who were walking the other way. They had seen The Driver raving away and weren’t too sure if they were about to get abducted by aliens or if they were just seeing things. They seemed quite relieved to see that it was just a raver and that he was real after all!

Anyway… we finally made it onto the site by walking through a gate onto the field and headed for the nearest sound system. It was a UV experience to say the least! It was still very dark out and the backdrops were looking fantastic under the UV and of course The Driver was in his element – glowing teeth, glowing gloves and glowing glowsticks. It still makes me grin when I remember it now!

Anyway… we didn’t stay there very long and off we trotted in the direction of the “Massive Factory Building Of Some Sort” (I guess we were either looking for friends or drugs or (probably) both). It was late and I hadn’t slept and I didn’t have any money for drugs so I just followed the group into this massive building full of ravers generally taking the piss. I don’t like it when raves are used as an excuse for vandalism, freedom to do what you want doesn’t mean you can be a 2@ and get away with it. So anyway, I wasn’t too happy about being in this building, but eventually I guess we found what we were looking for because I was given some E and we wandered off to find a sound system (thank fuck!).

For some reason this is where my memory becomes sketchy (who’d a thunk it!?!) so allow me to bullet point…

1. I remember that it was getting light when we left the building.

2. I remember wobbling about on top of a muddy hill near a sound system watching this geezer dancing. He must have been tripping because he was watching his arms move as intently as I was, moving like a fluid robot drawing geometrical shapes in the air with the traces coming off his arms. I can’t remember if he had his t-shirt hanging out of his back pocket, but he probably did, I can’t remember if he had a pony tail, curtains or a sun hat on, but it must have been one of the three, I can’t even remember if he had a whistle or a dummy or white gloves on, but I reckon it’s a safe bet!

All this talk of stereotypes has got me thinking. Let’s hold the mirror up to Clang for a minute…

I was almost certainly wearing some trippy t-shirt, possibly tie-die, possibly with my star sign on it, maybe even my URL t-shirt with the half Acid House Smiley and half Robo-Smiley logo on it. I will have been wearing some ridiculously bright home-made trousers (my favourites were the blue/green/red/yellow geometric patterned ones and the purple ones with little dayglo green wormy shapes on them). I must have been wearing my dayglo fleece and I probably had my tennis hat on (it was basically a sun hat with the words set, match and love sewn into it) and this was definitely accessorised with a nice home made badge made out of Fimo.) It was a round navy blue badge with glow-in-the-dark edging and a glow-in-the-dark E on it. If I wasn’t wearing my hat I will have been sporting the long-fringe-slicked-back-over-the-short-sides hairdo (I was working towards a pony tail and thank god I never made it that far!) Around my neck will have been any of the following, or maybe all of them: a crystal, a whistle, a home made Fimo pendant with a Purple Ohm on it, a lighter on a string and maybe another crystal for good measure. I usually had a bag with me too (dayglo backpack of course) which would have a bottle of Robbinsons Apple and Blackcurrant and my glow-in-the-dark juggling balls in it. Right, now we are on a level playing field, let me get back to Torpedo Town…

3. I remember seeing somebody else wearing a spiral tribe t-shirt (grey with black print), but it said “Make Some Fluffy Toys” instead of the Spirals’ usual war cry!

4. I remember sitting in the back of an old ambulance that was somebody’s excellent rave-mobile as the sun came up properly. Just chilling out in the sun smoking and talking shite, as you do.

5. I remember volunteering to go and get the tent out of the car for The Driver (well he had driven and we needed to get some stuff too) so me and another mate started the long walk back to the car…

1. I remember passing a few police vans and shitloads of ravers going back and forth up and down this road.
2. I remember walking along and looking out across the fields and seeing each blade of grass move at a different speed. Kind of difficult to describe this one, let me try again… In computer games that scroll across the screen, they make it look like a 3d image by using a technique known as parallax scrolling where the front layers (trees etc) will move quickly, while the background layers (hills etc) move much slower to give the effect of depth. Well, we could see each blade of grass scrolling at a different speed to give the impression of depth. Well… we were impressed anyway and we spent quite a bit of time walking back and forth watching this amazing phenomenon!
3. I remember somebody stopping us to skin up a spliff and talk about the party but we decided that his questions were all too suspicious (“do they look like they are going to be stopping soon?” , “Don’t worry about the pigs going by, I’ll just skin up this spliff and be on my way.”, etc) so we were pleased to say goodbye.
4. I remember getting back to the car and while we were sorting out our stuff to bring back to the party (tent, food, water, etc) a copper told us we had to move the car or he would ticket it and if it was still here in an hour he would ticket it again. Well neither of us could drive (even if we were straight) so we picked up our stuff and got a hustle on to get back to tell The Driver about his parking predicament.

6. I remember carrying the camping gear ALL THE WAY back to the site in a mad rush to pass on the message and immediately turning around to leave again. Allow me to elaborate…

7. I remember getting back to the site totally exhausted and walking past a fire engine that was refusing to go onto site without a police escort. I remember wondering why it was there at all!

8. I remember watching the plumes of smoke pouring out of the “Massive Factory Building Of Some Sort” as we sat in the sun with such happy times surrounding us, but such a depressing reminder in front of us of “The Morons Who Like To Ruin A Good Party” who latched onto the rave scene where they could be free to be idiots without anybody judging them or telling them that actually, maybe setting light to a building isn’t really in the spirit of a nice time for all!

9. I remember the vibe taking a bit of a dip right there and then, so we left Site 1 of Torpedo Town and didn’t look back.


Romsey Site:

I have some vague memories of driving back into a town, going to a shop, parking up and making our way onto the second site of Torpedo Town.

What fuckin’ bliss!!

After leaving such a horrible site (or should that be sight?) we was right pleased to find this place. Happy people, soft grassy fields surrounded by trees, ravers chilling out in the sun, tipis, traveller vehicles, more friends and Spiral Tribe were in the area!

The rumour goes that Spiral Tribe had their decks confiscated on the way onto this site and so they were playing tapes instead of mixing vinyl, but I wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference at the time anyway and as long the beat didn’t stop I was happy.

We set up the tent and proceeded to chill out for the day and just make the most of being somewhere so calm and peaceful (despite the Spirals Making Some Fuckin’ Noise!… no, scratch that… BECAUSE the Spirals were Making Some Fuckin’ Noise).

This is where I was given one of those “Bury your shit” flyers that were going about at the time (I was not impressed when my mum chucked it away along with my other Spiral Tribe flyers and those two-tone posters (one was black-on-white and the other was white-on-black) with the Spiral Tribe 23 face grinning at you) and I just remember seeing a traveller type walking purposefully towards a wooded area when one of his mates shouted for him and threw a shovel to him. I was never a traveller and I never stayed out for more than two nights anyway so I used to use the suppress-your-diet-and-clench method rather than the take-a-shovel-with-you method.

Anyway, the day passed, we met up with some more friends, took some more E and got things movin’ and shakin’ again. Back to the bullets…

1. I remember dancing in front of the Spiral Tribe Sound System with a big fuckin’ smile on my face, waving my hands in the air, surrounded by my friends and feeling more at home than ever. I still can’t beat that feeling.

2. I remember walking back and forth between the tent and the sound system, walking faster, stumbling more and getting more lost each time we tried to run the gauntlet.

3. I remember… not much else! Just wobbling about, giggling, dancing, falling over, gibbering, jabbering and generally spiralling about the place getting into the spirit of it all.

Bass + E + Friends = Joy!

Freepartypeople says: Here’s a comment from Ed:

Tekno travellers rocked it at the one where the factory nearby got set alight!! I had 2 pills 2 acid and 2 speed, it rained and I stashed my clothes in the tekno travs speaker boxes while ravin in me pants!! the wooden sound of the tts boxes fuckin rocked it all night long (and all day) until the factory fire fucked things up…altho I did have a paranoid time thinkin everyone was undercover old bill!!

13 thoughts on “7th–10th August 1992– Spiral Tribe and others at Torpedo Town Festival at Romsey and Otterbourne, Hampshire

  1. Dude/dudes,

    Wonder if you can help. I’m writing a book and for the life of me can’t remember the name of the hotline number we used to ring circa 1990 to find out where the rave was. I keep thinking it’s Positive something, but I’m usually wrong!

    Please help.

    1. 959 7525. Is that the one you mean? Ran by a girl

      God knows how that came back to me. Can’t have dialed it in 15 years. Good luck with the book. Are you gonna deal with the Euro side of things i.e how the Teknivals came about?

  2. I was there at both the Romsey site and Otterbourne..

    Otterbourne was mental…not sure who the sound system was but was kicking out some fine tunes. I remember it was pissing down with rain too…. but then some fucking idiots decided to set fire to the council incinerator…and that fucked it for everyone.

    Moved on to Romsey…not really much going on there… just a sound system with a tape deck playing rave tapes…..hmmmmm!!!…. think we left mid morning on the Sunday…not sure if they got any decks sorted after that… just remember DJ’s turning up with record boxes and no decks to play on…lol… I did have a copy of the Mirror that morning…and took it to the site… I can remember groups of people gathering around me to look and read the articles of the devistation that was caused on the Otterbourne site……

    Still…was a wicked weekend of laughs and smiles with my mates…on an E anythings seems the biz

    1. the site that didnt burn down was fantastic, we helped spirals on with speakers and lent em our genny. there was a stage with bands and a really good vibe. Spirals only had a strobe and it rained which was mental. we did the tekno gonga with some dude in white gloves leading the conga. much sillyness and mayhem at this one. Unfortunately it would have been much large if we had waitied until morning, the town of romsey was full of vehicles and i witnessed one pissed guy called Gaz rile everyone up. Most people were asleep and the coppers were just waiting but he kicked it all off. Within 10 mis the floodlights came on and it all kicked off middle of the night. A few more hours and it would have been datime and they would have had to let them through to the site. Oh well.

    2. We bought the sound system in to the Otterbourne site in a white Mercedes van. Very basic setup with a strobe. A generator and some kick ass speakers.

      We turned up late afternoon and rumour was that Spiral had been split from their equipment and that there were two sites. There was only a few hundred at our site but we decided better to get stuck in there than play cat and mouse with the police trying to get to the other site.

      By early evening I was completely trollied on flatliners. Totally wasted. Our rig starting firing up as it got dark and pulled over a few hundred people that were scattered through the field. The rain started and from what I remember persisted for ages. Took a bit of time dilation and memory loss that night but do remember having to clear off the site in the morning due to the incinerator incident.

      Not the greatest event due to the police efforts to disrupt, the incinerator incident and the rain, but everything was good because we’d found a field to party in!

  3. yer me to i remember otterbourne… i remember it being up on quite a slope pissing rain and a motoway at the bottom 2-3hundred meters away people running across it and thinking this will go wrong soon. but not down there, idiots set fire to the inciarator plant ballsing it for everyone wankers.
    now who is going to drive us all out of here think it was my mate maz.
    it was the days of plenty (we had snowballs gettofix and albert hoffmans so sweet).if any one remember s a diy party somewhere in a quary in notts again stopped by an idiot climbing the wall and falling.but the tunes were so sweet. great times………..

  4. I was only 16 when i went, it was my first outdoor free fest. mew and 4 mates stuffed into a mark 2 feiesta drove around on the friday night looking for a party. we ran into a convoy of newage traverlers and stuck with them, eventually they turned off a country road up a small lane leading up a hill to goverment incinerator. either side of the lane was 2 feilds everyone parked on these. we sat in our little car speeding our heads off waiting for a sound system to appear. we sat in that car what seemed like forever, the morning came. we felt like shit, one mate who didn’t take any speed had sat in the back of the car snooring his head off all night. anyway as it got light i got out of the car and wandered around a bit talking to some of the traverlers asking stupid questions like “alright mate where you from? what you had?” not realising they lived anywhere and everywhere in their big converted bus they were sat in!! one of them offered me some microdots which i was very glad to purchase for the intention of taking later. as i got back in our car i had an idea! i droped a microdot in to a half filled bottel of coke, gave it a min or so to dissolve then nudged my sleeping friend. as he opened his eyes i pretended to take the bottel away from my lips, “do you want the last of this? he woke with a dry mouth and gladly knocked it back in one. the rest of us had a great couple of hours watching him get really fucked up , messy and then freaked out. we eventualy told him and he was very glad that he was not losing his marbles.
    anyway the day draged on a bit just waiting. police started to turn up and surround the site. then in the afternoon two coppers started to walk up the lane probably to have a nosey at what was going on. as they got halfway up the lane a little traverler with big boots on and dreadlocks runs up behind them jumps up and grabs one of their helmets off their head and runs way. the coppers turn and make a move towards him and with that every traverler on both side of the lane sitting on the feilds watching (and there was alot of them) stands up. the coppers realise they had no chance and decide against it, walk back down the lane to the geers and laughter of everyone back to the country road where the rest of the pigs were waiting. with the little traverler dancing about with the helmet on.
    by saturday evening everyone was getting restless and lots of ravers started to turn up. just as it started to get dark we heard music!! somehow the traverlers had sneaked the system into the site with the police surrounding the place. brilliant. with that i droped a microdot, scored a pill and headed towards the music. after that everything is a bit hazey. except i remember partying and dancing to wicked tunes till the early hours. i remember it raining and seeing forked lightning and watching some nutters smash their way into the gov building, smash it up and eventually watched it go up in flames. we left not long after that!!!??? THEY WERE THE DAYS!!!

  5. I still have the newspaper from the Otterbourne event if you would like it I will scan it in for you.

    This was a mad one. I loved torpedo town and went every year but this one was my last. We got pushed into a convoy ealier in the day by the police who unfortunately did a great job of messing this event up for everyone. We were directed to the Otterbourne site and I remember everyone waiting for spiral tribe to arrive. We didn’t know the convoy had been split up.

    I remember setting up the tent for mine and my best mates girlfriend. It was raining and we had been sitting in the car laughing like 2 girls on acid for a few hours but eventually we heard a system was up and running so we made our way across the wet fields.

    It was sad really as torpedo town had always been huge and this time there was only a few hundred people. I remember seeing lights over the hills in the distance and it was rumoured that that was spiral tribe and we all thought it was kicking off elsewhere.

    Still the next day was fun laying in the sun watching the travellers gve the police the run around. I remember once when the police made some attempt to enter the site. All I remember seeing was a big group of people surround them. 2 minutes later the group split up and we all burst into laughter as 2 or three travellers split off and running in different directions wearing varies pieces of police uniform. Very very funny.

  6. I’d passed my driving test on the previous monday, got insured on the band van and set off on the Friday evening. I had to stop at a service station on the motorway to ask how to put on the headlightss as it was dark by then and I could only find the sidelights.

    Got to the general area and started driving round while trying to hear some sounds, after a while of this I stopped to find I was at the head of a 5 car + vans mini convoy. After more driving we hit the back of a bigger convoy that was stopped in a road, and about 5 minutes after that a bike came from behind telling people they’d secured a site behind us, this was the Otterbourne one, drove up and parked near the entrance to the incinerator plant near the top of the hill.

    Not much happened for a while as people were driving on and starting to set systems up and whatnots so a mostly quiet night on the Friday. There was security guards in the plant on that night…

    The saturday daytime was nice and sunny and relaxed, later on in the evening I ended up jamming with Phil and (I think) Ozzy from P.A.I.N when suddenly all the water in the sky fell down and everybody crammed under the tarp that covered the small bit of stage area or dived under trucks and whatnots, we kept on playing. I was tripping but got another one (dayglo green blotter) from some girl who was nearly crying selling the thing “they’re only a £, they’re really nice”. All through the night and until daytime I was convinced that the workers in the plant were having a party as well (yes, quite confused I was). After daybreak, having finally understood what was going on with the plant (basically mindless vandalism by idiots) went for a stroll around it with my mates, to this day I can’t figure out why they pulled the security guard out of there, I’m pretty sure the shit wouldn’t have hit the fan if he(they?)’d been there.

    A bit later on some idiot set the weighbridge office portakabin on fire. I realised that things were going to go wrong and went to try and sleep my tiredness and drugs off an hour after the Fire Brigade had come on site.
    I woke up in the afternoon quie surprised that the plods had not arrived en masse yet and thought that maybe they were going to let us be, I sat on the side of the hill watching some hippy-jam band when suddenly they came, I remember counting about 17 vans piling up outside the site on the road before I decided to gather my mates to make sure we’d be OK.

    The police walked on site, I’m pretty sure they were not wearing numbers and handing out injunctions notices of some sort, unless you asked for one in which case they did not give you one (well, at least to me).

    Drove back to London a couple of hours after that, still tripping my nuts off I reckon.

    A thanks to rorz for the 959 75 25 phone number, I’d forgotten it and it brings back many memories (well: every fucking weekend in those days innit 🙂 )

  7. I was at Otterbourne. mental. I remember dancing all night, with the rain pissing down and strobes on top of the buses interacting with the droplets to give an amazing etherial feel. Ripped to the tits on cheap traveller trips and pills too – a mental night where there were no casuals, literally only hardcore.I remember it getting light and realising I was almost up to my knees in mud too. Loads of travellers running around talking to each other on stolen walkie talkies from the incinerator they burnt down. I remember the news saying that the damage was a million quid (not so clever).

    The next day, it took about a million years to get out, because the driver was simply too f***ed to do anything. A boiling hot day and the police were very active with video cameras.

    Awesome times.

  8. I remember 92 it pissed with rain. A load of squadies turned up with crates of beer. Beer? What the actual fuck? Then there was some trouble

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