“It was 1970 and my friend and I decided to attend the Pilton Festival” – Marilyn Longden

“It was 1970 and my friend and I decided to attend the Pilton Festival (which later became Glastonbury Festival) near Bath. I think we’d seen it advertised in NME (New Musical Express) or maybe our local record shop.

We had just turned 17 & were doing a secretarial course in Barry, South Wales. This is what I looked like then. We each told our parents that we would be staying at each other’s houses and they had no idea that we were off to the Festival! My friend chickened out at the very last minute and as I had saved hard to pay for my ticket and was looking forward to meeting up with my friends from Kent, I set off on my own to hitchhike there. Bearing in mind that I still have a problem with Geography at the age of 67 and I definitely had no idea of road systems, it surprises me that I ever got there! I literally just knew that it was near Bath. When I see how far away from Bath it is I am even more surprised.

I set off to hitchhike there with a bag containing my sandwiches and a Tupperware lidded mug of water, no sleeping bag, no spare clothes and no coat. Food was always a priority for me. I somehow eventually got there. The first car I got a lift in had a minor accident on the way but there were no problems. The second lift I got near the M4/M5 was from a delightful couple who were going to the Festival too.

When I arrived I was starving so I sat down and enjoyed a sandwich. I was approached by several people offering cigarettes and “forbidden substances” in exchange for my sandwiches. Not flipping likely! There were no food or drink stalls that I recall (but I had no cash anyway) and I don’t remember the free milk or any loo arrangements either. There seemed to me to be lots of people: I estimate a few hundred but I found my friends by just wandering around, no mobiles then and we hadn’t made any definite meet up plans.

I was a big fan of the Kinks and was disappointed that they weren’t there in the end but it really didn’t matter, the experience, people and music were absolutely amazing. I’d never seen or heard anything like it. People were dressed in all sorts of “weird” clothes and were dancing madly. I was a very naïve teenager, having left an all-girls boarding school the year before and having lived a very sheltered life on RAF stations all my life. It was fabulous: lots of hippies, brilliant music and atmosphere.

We danced all night. I shared a friend’s sleeping bag and found shelter when it rained lightly. We all had a fantastic time. I must have worn the same clothes for the entire weekend but I expect we all smelled the same by the end of the Festival. I hitchhiked home to be greeted by very annoyed parents as the police had visited asking for a statement about the car accident. I had stupidly given my real name and address.”


Photos © Marilyn Longden


Name: Marilyn Longden
First Glasto: 1970
Attended: 1 (as of 2020)
Favourite Area: All of it
Favourite Stage: Main Stage
Favourite Performance: T. Rex

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