The Festival is promoted by a group of fans and is non-profit making. It started in 1990 with a small marquee and one smaller indoor venue with about 300 tickets, though we also had Humph Lyttelton’s band in the Mowlem theatre. We expanded slowly, since for the first thirteen years, we were an informal association of friends responsible for the whole cost of the festival. In 2003 we became a company limited by guarantee, which gives us some legal protection in the event of a total washout. We came fairly close to that in 2012, when after months of rain, we had to abandon two of our tented venues at very short notice. We asked fans to help us save the Festival and they raised nearly £5000 to cover much of the extra costs and losses we incurred.
We have some small amounts of commercial sponsorship – Enterprise Inns and some local small businesses – and we are grateful to the PRS for Music Foundation for their support. But we have survived largely because of the support of fans: ticket sales and bar sales cover over 90 per cent of our costs, of which musicians’ fees and expenses make up 70 per cent.
Our longstanding President, Roger Horton, decided last year it was time he handed the baton to someone younger. We will always be grateful to Roger for support in the beginning that made it possible for us to organize the Festival, and for his advice and support over the years since. We expect to see him and his wife Pat at this year’s Festival. The Festival Board decided to ask Alan Barnes to take on the role. Alan has been involved with the Festival since the first year, when he was the youngest member of Humph’s band, and also played a memorable set on Sunday morning with Stan Greig. Dave Brennan is our Vicepresident.
See the gallery page for images of the festival.
A Word About Purbeck
Many of you will have been to the Festival before, in fact quite a few of you many times before. But for those who are visiting for the first time, and for those of you who haven’t yet ventured outside the ambit of the Festival, can we suggest that it’s worth spending a day or two extra here and taking in some of the beautiful countryside and coastal scenery of Purbeck.
If you feel energetic you could stroll up from the north end of the beach and over Ballard Down, past Old Harry Rocks to Studland, visit the little Saxon/Norman church and have a pint in the Bankes Arms with its own microbrewery attached. If you are still feeling energetic, take a walk on the amazing beach towards Shell Bay. Then catch no.50 open top bus back to Swanage – it gives you a very different angle on the scenery from travelling by car.
Another enjoyable way to see the countryside is to take the steam train to Corfe from Swanage Station. Corfe is certainly worth a couple of hours of your time, with the castle, the Square and some great pubs.
Finally, going east on the Jurassic Coast, along the Priests Way, or on a bus from the Station, you pass through still-active quarries to the village of Worth Matravers, with one of the best pubs in Britain, the Square and Compass. A mile walk to the coast brings you to Seacombe and Winspit, disused quarries cut into the cliffs, great for bathing or exploring.
The Tourist Information Centre in the White House, Shore Road, can provide information, guides, maps etc.
Useful local sites are:
- for accommodation and information.
- for community discussion.