The Battle of the Beanfield
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Please bear with us while we transpose Tim's interviews, recordings and transparencies of the event on 1st June 1985
Tim was always a defender of the rights of the underdog. The Battle of the Beanfield was one such occasion where Tim went all out to spread the news of a great miscarriage of justice.
There are many more details and photographs on Wikipedia. In a section on journalists who were witnesses it states: “Freelance photographer Ben Gibson, engaged by The Observer that day, was arrested and charged with obstructing a police officer. He was later acquitted. Another freelance photographer, Tim Malyon, had to flee at one point.”
Background: (from Wikipedia)
The British New Age Travellers movement developed in the 1970s with the intended purpose of attempting to create an alternative way of life. Travellers maintained themselves partly by travelling between, organising and trading at free festivals. After a stay with CND demonstrators, one group of travellers came to be known as The Peace Convoy.
Stonehenge Free Festival began in 1974. Critics claimed that the 1984 festival had resulted in the destruction of archaeological information on the site. A civil high court injunction was consequently imposed, prohibiting the proposed 1985 festival from taking place.
On the1st of June 1985 the convoy of travellers heading for Stonehenge encountered resistance at a police road block seven miles from the landmark. Police claim that some traveller vehicles then rammed police vehicles in an attempt to push through the roadblock. Around the same time police smashed the windows of the convoy's vehicles and some travellers were arrested. The rest broke into an adjacent field and a stand-off consequently developed that persisted for several hours. According to the BBC "Police said they came under attack, being pelted with lumps of wood, stones and even petrol bombs". Conversely, The Observer states the travellers were not armed with petrol bombs and that police intelligence suggesting so "was false."
Travellers made attempts to negotiate with police but the officer in charge, Assistant Chief Constable Lionel Grundy, ordered that all travellers be arrested.
At 7pm officers in riot gear entered the field and launched a final attack. Pregnant women and those holding babies were hit by police with truncheons according to The Observer, who also noted that police were hitting "anybody (that) they could reach". The Observer and The Independent report that travellers' vehicles were smashed and set on fire.
When some travellers tried to escape by driving away through the field police allegedly threw truncheons, shields, fire-extinguishers and stones at them to stop them. (Most of the vehicles were the travellers only homes).
Dozens of travellers were injured, 537 travellers were eventually arrested. This represents one of the largest mass arrest of civilians since at least the Second World War, possibly one of the biggest in English legal history.
Tim was there in the thick of it with his camera. When he fled he drove from Stonehenge to Capton, in South Devon, where his friend Paul had a darkroom. Tim arrived late at night in a state of high adrenalin, upset and angry.
The aim was to work through the night processing the films and then to make the prints to send to a German newspaper called Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, who had commissioned Tim. These were pre-digital days when you had to send actual prints to a newspaper or magazine for publication.
Paul and Tim went into the darkroom and processed the films. They then printed through the night and Tim drove to Totnes Station at 6am the next morning to put the prints on the next train to London and on to Frankfurt, Germany by Red Star. (A rail parcel delivery service that no longer exists).
Tim always pushed himself to his limits when it came to the causes he believed in.