Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The Penarth Love-In of 1967

Wales has always been a magnet for hippies. In the Sixties if you couldn't afford a magic bus trip to India you headed for Wales instead. Some parts of the Welsh countryside have even been colonized by the patchouli oil brigade.

However in August, 1967 (at the very height of the Summer of Love) there was some proper indigenous hippy action going on. A Love-in was held at the Paget Rooms, Penarth (see pic). Approximately 200 flower children turned up. Most were from South Wales but exotic specimens from London and Manchester were also in attendance.

Penarth townsfolk were puzzled by this sudden influx of hippies. They watched as teenagers with painted faces distributed flowers outside the venue. The girls wore bells and floral dresses. One young lady was spotted wearing only her bra and panties covered by a man's string vest! The men preferred flares, ironic military attire and sunglasses.

Extra police were drafted into the area as bikers intent on disrupting the event had gathered outside to jeer at the hippies. Apparently they were roaring up and down Victoria Road on their powerful machines. It was like Haight Ashbury in microcosm.

The actual Love-in started at 8pm. In the dimly lit venue joss sticks burned and people blew soap bubbles. The hippies listened to psychedelic music and read out love poetry. Plain clothes police officers who had infiltrated the gathering reported that the event had been "peaceful".

The man who organised the Penarth Love-in was one Paul Barrett. He told local press: "this part of the country needs the flower people and love." Paul, a labourer, was already planning a "freak out" in Cardiff to follow up his Penarth success.

At midnight the loved-up hippies emerged from the Paget Rooms into the balmy night air. Malevolent bikers were still outside hurling insults but the hippies weren't that bothered - they threw flower petals back at them before heading for the beach.