Friends of Cherry Hinton Hall group website

The history of the Folk Festival

Who started it all? What actually happened.

Local Cherry Hinton resident, Jack Sharkey writes:
“When we first came to Cambridge there was only folk at the St. Lawrence Society and the University and we had folk sessions in our house.  Then Dave Benford set up the Crofters.

After one of the sessions in our house, Paul Rayment was here, and Dave Austin and I had been to the Newport Festival and suggested first to Maureen and then to Paul and Dave it would be fabulous to have a folk festival in Cherry Hinton Hall.  Paul Rayment was a City Councillor at the time and we asked him to carry the idea forward.

Why we didn’t do it was because we thought the Council probably wouldn’t go ahead because we were considered too left wing, and they wouldn’t like an idea from us.  (Now that seems a bit barmy but it was 50 years ago with a Conservative/University dominated Council.) so Paul put it forward and the sub-committee of the entertainments committee was set up.  The first festival planned for 1965 had a Mr. Maltby as Council Entertainments Officer and Dave Austin as musical director.

When Dave Austin left for Sweden. Philip Abrahams who was also on the sub-committee  suggested Ken as musical director, and he then took over and did all the work.

The Council made it clear that if it did not make a profit it would not continue and in the event after all expenses had been covered, there was a net profit of £150.”

Jack is a member of the Friends and wished to put the facts straight regarding the origins of the Folk Festival.

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