Born in London on the 6th of October 1952 and then moving to Wiltshire in 1964, Bruce Garrard spent most of his teenage years in Salisbury. His first visits to Glastonbury involved hitch hiking along the A361. This began after the Isle of Wight festival of 1970, where he met a bunch of people who were on their way here.
He went to the Bath Blues Festival at the Bath & West Showground that year, and later visited Glastonbury where he noticed one or two posters about the festival to be held at Worthy Farm that September. It prominently advertised an ox roast and, being a vegetarian, he decided not to go.
Early the next year he remembered a real buzz of expectation around the forthcoming Glastonbury Fair, to be held at midsummer and he stayed a weekend or two visiting the hippy camp in Cinnamon Lane that was set up as a place for people to stay whilst they were waiting to go on site at Pilton.
Then he finally got to the festival, where he remembers Guru Maharaji speaking from the stage, a group of Brazilians and others who kept up a drum beat which gave a rhythm to the whole festival, seemingly for days on end; and David Bowie coming on stage at dawn with a huge spliff that he passed on saying, “Anyone want this joss stick?”.
First Move to Glastonbury
Then he moved to Glastonbury. He was offered a caravan by the roadside on Godney Moor for £30. This coincided with his brief university career and for a couple of years he was coming and going between the two, before dropping out and getting a job at Imco’s plastics factory (now Avalon Plastics).
Bruce contributed a few bits and pieces to Torc magazine, and his wedding reception took place in the Abbey Café. His son was the second to last baby born at Butleigh cottage hospital. Soon after this he left Glastonbury, but he always knew he would return: Glastonbury was, and still is, his spiritual home.
Over the next twelve years Bruce visited Glastonbury from time to time.
He was part of the Green Collective that organised the Green Gatherings at Worthy Farm in the early 1980s, meeting at Higher Rockes in Butleigh. Because of this connection he was briefly known to friends still living in Glastonbury as ‘Eco Bruce.’
He then became site co-ordinator for the first Green Field at Glastonbury Festival in 1984. He returned in 1985, after the Rainbow Village’s eviction from Molesworth and the Battle of the Beanfield at Stonehenge. At Molesworth he had been in the thick of it; and he missed the Beanfield, as his van had broken down ten miles away.
Next Move to Glastonbury and Business activities
After that he moved in with friends to a house in Chilkwell Street (the first of five houses in Chilkwell Street that he has lived in). By then he was on the Enterprise Allowance Scheme, running a little business called Unique Publications. He had been producing news sheets and suchlike at festivals, and selling booklets based on the last chapter of the book he had written about Molesworth – a detailed description of the eviction, which makes a good story in itself.
In 1986 he found premises at 25 and then 23 Northload Street, where he hired a photocopier and for a while became the town’s photocopying service (using recycled paper). More booklets followed, mostly documenting the Stonehenge campaign. He took part in the annual walks to Stonehenge in 1986, ’87 and ’88, and as a result his work has appeared in the bibliographies of several more widely-published books.
After a year in Northload Street he had the chance to move onto the High Street (No 5, where the Speaking Tree is now) and then for ten years Unique Publications became a prominent landmark, with a reputation for having the scruffiest window display in the town centre.
The late eighties were as his history 'Free State' describe, the busiest period for Glastonbury’s alternative community. There was so much going on, and it was a wonderful experience to be part of completely changing the energy on the lower part of the High Street.
During that time, from about 1988 through to the beginning of the new millennium, he styled himself as a ‘community activist’ and produced a number of radical local publications, notably seven issues of The Glastonbury Gazette during 1989. He was also producing leaflets, catalogues and programmes for a huge variety of different people’s projects, enabling him to make a small contribution to many of them. It meant that he could make a living in a way that would have been quite impossible anywhere else.
He became deeply involved with the Assembly Rooms, and in 1991 he was a founder member of The Assembly Rooms of Glastonbury Ltd, an Industrial & Provident Society that successfully raised community finance to buy and run the Assembly Rooms – where previous efforts had never lasted very long.
During the nineties he took part in several community drama productions at the Assembly Rooms. In 1997/98, as chairman of the management committee, he project-managed the fundraising and building work that included the installation of soundproofing. This was probably the most stressful and exhausting project he had ever played a serious part in.
By then he had left the High Street. He had the chance to buy a share in the Old Clinic, the building immediately behind his shop that had previously been the home of Children’s World. Unique Publications still has its office there. From 1998 to 2001 he edited and published the local quarterly magazine Free State, which is the community journal that he is most proud of. During these three years he was still on the Assembly Rooms management committee, and he was one of the group that proposed leasing the Assembly Rooms to be used as a Goddess Temple. This led to a huge process, and a vote that was eventually won by the group wishing to continue as a community arts centre – which it still is, though far less high profile than it was in those days.
After this episode he felt very much disillusioned with community politics – he had ended up being attacked by the Town Council from one side and by his own constituency from the other – and he was happy to be able to withdraw to his office in the Old Clinic.
For several years he also spent Friday evenings propping up the bar in the Phoenix Project, now the Avalon Centre. Eventually he figured out how to publish full-length books, and Unique Publications became exciting in a new way. The early years of the millennium also marked the end of the time for which with his book 'Free State', he has become the historian. 'Free State' was followed by 'The River', about the River Brue and its history, including its diversion in the middle ages - before which it flowed north from Glastonbury to join the River Axe. He is now doing talks and presentations for local groups on this and related subjects. In 2016 he was given the Tim Sebastian Award, presented in tandem with the annual 'Bard of Avalon' competition. The award, for 'the Elevation of the Word', was presented for his contribution to the community through his writing.
He he hopes he will live long enough to see someone else taking on the task of documenting the next period. Glastopedia perhaps?
The River - an exploration of a disconnected river: the Brue and the Axe in Somerset - 2015 – Unique Publications
Free State – Glastonbury's alternative community 1970 to 2000 and beyond - 2014 – Unique Publications
Rainbow Fields is Home - The Rainbow Village at Molesworth, August 1984 to February 1985 - 2013 - Unique Publications
The Ancient Problem with Men - The prehistoric origins of patriarchy and social oppression - 2011 - Unique Publications
- See the article in Wikipedia on Guru Maharaji
- See the article in Wikipedia on David Bowie
- YouTube video of Greenlands Farm
- Raindow Fields is Home - 2013 - Unique Publications
- Free State - Glastonbury's alternative community 1970 to 2000 and beyond - 2014 - Unique Publications
Bruce Garrard Biog Author: Bruce Garrard 17-11-2016 Editor: DP 19-11-2016