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About Hamswell Festival

Better not Bigger

Copyright Hamswell Festival 2014

Copyright Hamswell Festival 2014

The Hamswell Family has been attending and organising Hamswell Festival since 2005. Comprising a diverse collection of individuals, they are brought together by their undying enthusiasm for a festival experience far removed from the commercialised behemoths multiplying across Britain faster than Hamswellian rabbits. Each member makes their own unique contribution to the cause, united in their aim to create a constantly developing entity without succumbing to the temptations of expansion or sponsorship and the constraints that they entail.

From humble beginnings the Hamswell Family has gradually been assimilating more into its ranks to enable us to bring an ever expanding range of arts to into its canon. 2016 will see graffiti artists, circus performers, poetry and workshops among the many attractions sitting alongside a vastly eclectic musical lineup.


The Story of far

The inaugural Hamswell Festival was brought into existence by a few intrepid souls, with the spark of life struck by Rich Tugwell - on the flint of a willing Jonny Wharton - in the epiphanous early hours of a morning after at the farm in late 2004. On proposing this nebulous vision to Hamswell residents, the Wharton family, he was met with a miraculously positive response and preparations were begun.

Pete Williams was enlisted to design and build the stage around which the festival was built. This monument to Hamswellian ingenuity still provides the arena for our performances to this day. As its role has changed, so its superfluous limbs have been absorbed into the heart of the event, forging the bar like Eve from Adam's rib.

The location of the site at the bottom of a valley had seemed like a great idea at its conception but the bullet of transporting an entire festival down a rain slicked hill had to be bitten at some time. This challenge was met by original Hamswell resident Jonny Wharton ("The Mayor of Hamswell"), who, with the help of a quad and trailer (later updated to a fully-fledged 4x4), tirelessly ran all manner of necessary (and unnecessary) paraphernelia down the treacherous hills.

Somehow surviving the first year (via flyaway tents, warm beer and relentless rain) the team emerged exhausted but exhilarated from the experience, and talk of year two had begun even before the mud had dried on our boots.

As the years rolled by the happy chaos of the first festival gradually gave way to a more coherent event and by its 5th year the crew – stung once too often by the British weather – decided to house the main arena in a beautiful Indian marquee, ensuring the dryness of Hamswellians since 2009, and crystallising the hub of the festival into its current format.

The programming of Hamswell has continued to develop along with the festival, now encompassing a phenomenal range of acts including graffiti, poetry, circus, workshops, bands, DJs and artists. Whilst Hamswell still retains an in-house core of regular performers - including founders Rich Tugwell (The Push) and Jonny Wharton (Concrete Disco) - the lineup has now encompassed such luminaries as Maxi Jazz, Radioactive Man, Nicky Blackmarket, King Charles, Fat White Family and Dr Syntax. Past highlights Shades of Rhythm, Gentle Mystics, The Common Moral Cause, Fiona Bevan, Eat More Cake, The Drop and The Hempolics only scratch the surface of the myriad acts that have graced the pastures of the Croft field.

Now making its 11th appearance, Hamswell is still moving forward - we now feature solar powered showers and compost toilets for your comfort. Jonny Wharton is still in place as "Mayor of Hamswell" bringing all the diverse elements of the festival together and performing a vast variety of tasks for the festival, ensuring that the wheels of Hamswell remain well oiled (and in budget).

Amidst all these progressions, and too many other contributors to mention, we still stay true to our mantra of "better not bigger", and keep a unique homespun charm among the labyrinth of commercialised modern festivals. Above all Hamswell generates a sense of collective collaboration greater than any individual involved, spanning both organisers and audience and it is those few hundred people constituting the Hamswell Family that make it what it is today.