20th October 1990: People From Pepperbox Free Party at Rising Sun Squat, Salisbury, Wiltshire

More tales from Oli, a Pepperbox Person. Thanks loads man!

The last of the Pepperbox era parties was in the Rising Sun. 

This would have taken place the weekend after Sopley.

We were on a roll in those days.

We were doing Pepperbox every weekend. Then, when that got shut down, we did Barton Stacey the following weekend.

The weekend after that we did Sopley.

And then the following week was The Rising Sun.

I know Harry believes that Sopley happened during the winter but I am pretty confident about that timeline. 

This was another squat party, like my first, in Frowds House

The Rising Sun was a long established pub in Castle Street. 

As was the fashion in the mid 1980s it became a ghastly wine bar and was renamed Sunnies. 

At some point, probably during 1989 or 1990, it closed down.

It was squatted by the usual suspects who had been squatting various city centre properties for the previous year or so, including Frowds House and a 4-storey building in Endless Street. 

We were in to Autumn at this stage so an indoor party made sense and the squat had already been taken. 

We invited DIY as guests again.

We used the PFP mattress sound system (so called due to the speakers being a unique design that resembled a mattress, we were lent the system by Midnight Lasers).

There were no flyers for this one. 

Holding the venue against police attack wasn’t an issue as there was no way that Wiltshire Constabulary would have dared to enter the property. It would simply have been too dangerous. 

With that in mind, I should mention an incident at the Endless Street squat some months previously, that may explain the reticence of the coppers to enter the Rising Sun squat. 

Several plod had arrived in Endless Street, in order to arrest one of the residents. 

They knocked on the door. 

There was a narrow doorway that opened in to a small hall. 

After some general argy-bargy and shouting someone grabbed one of the constables and pulled him inside the property; the door was slammed shut, leaving his colleagues out on the street. 

Inside the cramped hallway, a flurry of kicks and punches were aimed at the hapless copper, his helmet was ‘liberated’ and after no more than 20 seconds the door was opened again and he was unceremoniously shoved back outside into the arms of his colleagues. 

The gaggle of plod, along with their now helmetless comrade, left, tails between their legs. 

It is worth bearing in mind that there were no immediate repercussions from this incident. 

Perhaps the officers involved made a pact never to speak of what had happened, or maybe they felt they would bide their time, and wait for the appropriate moment to exact revenge. 

I favour the latter explanation, as it would go some way to explaining the unhinged violent behaviour of Wiltshire’s finest when breaking up the Pitton party, a few months later. 

Back to the Rising Sun….. 

The police shut down the whole of Salisbury for this one.

Every road into the city centre from the ring road was cordoned off. 

But the former pub was already heaving with people and the party was jumping. 

There was a great atmosphere at this one. 

A problem arose when DIY arrived, as the police were preventing people from walking along Castle Street and entering the squat. 

The legality of which was questionable. 

I was living in a shared house (of legendary repute) in Hamilton Road in those days, and left the party to meet Simon and Jack who had travelled down from Nottingham. 

DJ ETC was left manning the turntables. 

We walked down Hamilton Road to Castle Street, carrying Simon and Jack’s records. 

We got to within a few metres of the venue, only to be met by several police officers, including one in a peaked cap, presumably an inspector. 

He had a bit of a chip on his shoulder and told us to turn around and leave the area. 

I questioned his legal right to prevent us from going about our lawful business, carrying boxes of records along the street (ha ha ha) and was told that if we didn’t comply, he’d nick us all. 

It is important to be aware of the geography of this particular part of Salisbury. 

Castle Street runs from the ring road into the Market Square. The Rising Sun sits on Castle Street. 

However, behind the Rising Sun, the River Avon runs parallel to Castle Street. 

So myself and our guests from Nottingham walked towards the ring road, then turned left along Nelson Road and crossed a bridge over the Avon. 

We turned left again, following the river to another pub on the opposite bank from the Rising Sun. 

It was called the Boat House, and, it being midnight, was shut.

The Boat House was so called because one could have a beer in the garden, and rent a boat to enjoy a leisurely row along the Avon. 

We liberated one of these boats, clambering aboard with Simon, Jack and their records, and then proceeded to row the 50 metres or so upstream to the back of the Rising Sun on the opposite bank. 

We disembarked and entered the venue from the rear. 

The DIY guys hit the decks and the party continued all night. 

However, I made my way upstairs to one of the rooms overlooking the front of the pub on Castle Street. 

Opening the window, I looked down below to where the inspector who had prevented us from entering was standing with his colleagues. 

“Oi! Mate!” I shouted. 

The inspector looked up. 

On seeing me, he looked incredulous, and then angry. Really angry. But he had no words. He literally lost the ability to speak, such was his anger. 

I shouted down “We managed to get in mate, and the party is absolutely rocking! Your daughter is downstairs, and she’s having a great time!” 

And with that, I closed the window and disappeared from sight. 

That was one of my favourite moments in my short career putting on parties! 

Priceless. 

The party went without a hitch, and because it was a squat, there was no pressure to get the mattress sound system out and past the coppers the following morning. 

It stayed there for a few days. 

Unfortunately, during this time, all the cables were stolen by someone living in the squat. This meant a big financial hit for Kevin and Richard from Midnight Lasers, and they were no longer willing to let us use their rig. We had put the parties on for nothing and had no money to reimburse them. 

After the Rising Sun, DJ ETC and myself became virtually the most wanted people in Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset.

It became impossible for us to do anything in our area.

Putting on parties in Wiltshire was madness really.

Wiltshire Constabulary (motto: Primus et Optimus – first and best) prided themselves as being the anti-hippie force. And they did enjoy the prospect of violence.

This was evidenced at Pitton of course. 

Nasty bunch.

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