December 7 2013 Latest news:
by Tom Marshall
Sunday, September 22, 2013
A street party was forced to abandon its stellar musical line-up – which included 1980s pop stars from Culture Club and Sigue Sigue Sputnik – after safety fears were sparked by a flying gazebo.
The structure was launched into the air by gusty winds just as the Gayton Festival in Gayton Road, Hampstead, was opening on Sunday. It struck and damaged a speaker and left the stage exposed to the elements.
Organisers made the tough call to cancel all live music amid fears that performers including Culture Club drummer Jon Moss, and members of The Hampstead Players, could be electrocuted in the wet weather.
They did not want the musicians, also set to include ex-Sigue Sigue Sputnik guitarist Neal Whitmore who plays with The New End Dolls, to use their electric instruments and equipment without shelter from the showers.
Crime author and Gayton Road resident Red Szell, 43, who has taken a step back from running the festival after 10 years but still organises the music, said: “The gazebo was blown over and took out one of the speakers.
“It was gusty and wet, so in the end we decided not to take the risk of electrocuting any members of Culture Club.
“Discretion being the better part of valour, we just relied on an iPod through the PA system.”
He added: “The gazebo went a good six feet in the air despite being anchored down.”
Despite the damp weather and musical hitches, the long-running street party was still a resounding success, drawing hundreds of visitors who had plenty to enjoy.
The festival’s 36th celebration included the introduction of the Great Gayton Bake Off and the crowds sampled the results.
There were traditional games, fairground rides, a chocolate fountain and a show-stealing troupe of morris dancers.
It was all capped off with a children’s water fight – an annual highlight of what is believed to be Hampstead’s longest-running street fair.
Lead organiser Denise Spreag, a school librarian who lives in Gayton Road, said: “It was a great day despite the weather. We managed to get a good few hours of sun in and it was a great, lovely and neighbourly atmosphere.”