Footage courtesy of South West Film and Television Archive
It was seeing a Led Zeppelin concert in Bath in 1969 that inspired farmer Michael Eavis to stage his own music festival. Taking place over the summer solstice, on an ancient site steeped in myth and legend, the second Glastonbury Fayre, in 1971, welcomed acts including David Bowie, Hawkwind, Fairport Convention, Joan Baez and Gong.
1. Across this field of campers at the second ever Glastonbury festival, you can see the newly constructed Pyramid Stage, built by theatre designer Bill Harkin.
2. Assembled from scaffolding, expanded metal and plastic sheeting, the stage was inspired by the giant pyramids of Egypt. It was built on the site of a blind spring that was found by dowsing.
3. In the middle of the festival field, a child watches as a long-hair taps out a piano melody.
4. A group of friends await their breakfast of scrambled eggs and tomatoes. Asked what brings them to Glastonbury, they respond: “It’s such a meeting of energies” – “I was drawn” – “It’s a spiritual thing.”
5. Among their number is a mother with a one-month-old baby. She’s taken to sleeping in the van, as it’s colder at night than she expected.
6. “I had to be here”, she says, elated. “We’re all here.”
7. The baby wakes up. She’ll never remember the time she saw David Bowie in a field.
8. Looks like this couple have some kind of clashfinder with them – what might they be missing in another corner of the field?
9. A priest gives a makeshift church service.
10. Musicians play a gentle rhythm as the gathered crowd begins to chant.
11. “Joy, we are joy”, they chant, arms around each other as they sway in unison.
12. An air of acid-fried bliss pervades the field.
13. The festival brings together outsiders of all stripes…
14. People losing themselves in music.
15. It’s euphoric, but there’s not even any bands on yet.
16. Arms aloft.
17. Positive energies.
18. Loved up and lost in the moment…
19. This couple is on cloud nine.
20. A moment of meditation.
21. Feeling the vibrations.
22. Striking a glamorous pose.
23. Who needs to wait around for Pink Floyd, when dancing to the beat of a communal drum can be this fun?
24. The crowd loses it among the energies that pyramids are said to draw down from the stars.
The film and stills on this page are taken from Britain on Film, a digital archive of UK places that mean the world to you. 10,000 film and TV titles from 1895 to now will be digitised and can be watched for free on BFI Player.
Britain on Film is funded by the National Lottery funding and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
The South West Film and Television Archive (SWFTA) is the regional film archive for the South West of England. Established in 1993, SWFTA’s core collection comprises of the combined programme libraries of Westward Television and TSW (Television South West). The archive also cares for a significant number of donated film collections, both amateur and professional, dating back to the early 1900s.