Forty years of Hay Independence


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Forty years ago on 1st April 1977 (April Fool’s Day) Richard Booth declared Hay-On-Wye an Independent kingdom.

Richard had gained a certain notoriety, and with bookshops and a castle, he was gaining a number of new friends including the transsexual April Ashley, one of the earliest people to have a sex change. Marianne Faithfull had also moved to Hay. She had expressed a desire to become Chatelaine of the castle. It was an offer Richard couldn’t refuse. A journalist from The Sunday Mirror followed and it was probably in an attempt to get rid of him that Richard first announced that Hay was going independent of Britain. The journalist and Richard were in the pub, in what was then the Wheatsheaf but is now the Tapas bar Tomatitos.

Richard identified the need for a campaign strategy. A dinner party was held at the castle. At the end of a long and drunken evening, Major Bill Beere was hit on the head by a projectile banana shot from an aluminium cigar tube. Startled into a reaction, Major Beere suggested that Richard be made king.

Elsewhere the resistance had begun. Hay Town Council pinned a notice outside the Council Offices making it clear that they had nothing to do with Richard’s idea. The Chief Executive of Brecknock Borough Council stated: “It is perfectly obvious that Hay is an integral part of Brecknock Borough under the Local Government Act of 1972. No changes can be made except through Parliament.” Indignant letters were written to the local newspaper saying how they didn’t want people who were not born in Hay to come and tell them what to do. The press coverage grew. In an era before the Internet and Fake News, Richard had started to see how easy it was for the media and politicians to blind people to both logic and reality and how to get a lot of free publicity for the town.

For Richard monarchy was always about anarchy. April 1st 1977 was marked by an explosion of gunpowder in a drain-pipe on a gun boat on the river Wye. The boat soon drifted out of control but luckily the water was shallow. In the evening, Air Chief Marshall Griffiths looped the loop over Hay and almost crashed. The roasting of an entire ox failed dismally and when the wind changed direction the flames singed John Napper’s eyebrows. The raising of the new green and white Hay flag was followed by knighting of a few small boys and speeches. Afterwards Richard happily took questions from journalists. One asked him if he was serious about Independence. Richard replied of course not but that it was more serious than real politics.

To celebrate forty years of Independence, a weekend full of book-themed celebrations has been organised. In 2017 Hay is still independent, in attitude at least and though a little of the anarchic spirit still survives, the organisers promise that chaos will be kept in check.

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Credits

Photos from The Media Archive for Central England, taken from a short news sequence from 1977 : Hay on Wye Declares Independence

Artwork by James Mannox for Hay & Wye & Hay-on-Wye’s Chamber of Commerce

FRIDAY 31st MARCH

Welcome Reception for @bookstagram2017

Venue: Richard Booth’s Bookshop – 6:00p.m. – 7:30p.m. Free of charge

An evening reception to welcome the Bookstagram 2017 attendees to Hay-on-Wye at Richard Booth’s Bookshop on Friday 31st March from 6pm till 7:30p.m.

It promises to be a very special evening, providing the perfect opportunity to meet-up with fellow book enthusiasts travelling into Hay-on-Wye from far and wide.

Oliver Balch - Under the Tump: Sketches of Real Life on the Welsh Borders

6:30p.m. Talk and book signing

Author and journalist Oliver Balch will be joining us at Richard Booth’s Bookshop to give a talk on Hay-on-Wye and the experiences that inspired him to write his book.

Places for this event limited so in order to reserve your places please RSVP to ruth@boothbooks.co.uk

Literary-Themed Cocktail Evening

Venue: The Old Electric Shop – 7:30p.m. – Late

Join us, for literary-themed cocktails and live music, on this special weekend celebrating Hay-on-Wye’s independence and @bookstagram2017

Desert Island Picks featuring Deborah Moggach

Venue: The Globe at Hay – 8:00p.m. Free of charge

Desert Island Picks featuring Deborah Moggach; Novelist, Screen Writer and Author of ‘These Foolish Things’, the book which was adapted into The Best Marigold Hotel.

SATURDAY 1st APRIL

Hay History Group - Hay Bookshop Tour

Starts /ends outside Hay Cheese Market, Memorial Square, in the centre of Hay.

11.00am.  £5.00 Adult, Children u16 free with an adult,

Full-time locals /Students & OAPs – £4.00

1.2km /0.7m /60-90 mins.

Lead by Alan Nicholls this tour takes in many of the bookshops of Hay and tells the story of the development of the book trade in the town. The history of the buildings, often architectural gems,  which house the bookshops is also given.

To book this tour please email alan.j.nicholls@btinternet.

Please visit www.haytours.org.uk for more details.

Baskerville Wayzgoose

Venue: Baskerville Hall, Clyro (1.5 miles from Hay. Free parking.) – 10am-3pm Free entry

Waygooze and Project Lab for The Story of Books at Baskerville Hall. Drop in and test out ideas, join in with activities and be part of the plans for a new, working museum of books. Experts in the fields of letterpress and intaglio printing, foil blocking, book illustration and design, bookbinding, papermaking, and marbling will be showing off their work on table top stalls. Demonstrations, screenings and hands-on activities for all ages. Soup, pies, pastries and drinks.

Email thestoryofbooks@gmail.com for more details.

A touring exhibition from The Sidney Nolan Trust

Venue: Baskerville Hall, Clyro (1.5 miles from Hay. Free parking) – 10am-3pm Free entry

A 27-volume set of Halsbury’s Statutes was destined to be pulped. Instead, the trust invited artists from across the UK to create a piece of work that explored topics covered in a particular volume as well as ideas around law, society and 800 years of Magna Carta, with stunning results.

Bookplate and printmaking demonstration by John Watson

Venue: The Globe at Hay – 11:00a.m. Free of charge

John Watson @johnwatsonprintmaker will be hosting a demonstration of linocut printmaking and bookplate creation. No one will leave without a keepsake of the event.

Fun on the Square - Circus Skills

Venue: Market Square Car Park – 12:00p.m. – 5:00p.m. Free of charge

Drop in circus skills sessions in the Market Square car park (Undercover in a marquee).

Other events taking place in the square during the day include samba drumming, break-dancing and food stalls.

Fancydress Parade and 40th Anniversary of Independence Ceremonies

12:00p.m. The Starting point for the parade is Hay-on-Wye C.P. School

A Book themed fancy dress parade through the centre of town, ending with a town gathering at the Honesty Bookshop in the Castle grounds.

Further 40th Anniversary of Independence Celebrations will take place in the Honesty Bookshop in front of the castle during the afternoon. Including a ceremonial raising of the Hay Town flag, fanfares and the conferment of honours by the sovereign or his representative.

@bookstagram2017 Panel discussion

Venue: The Globe at Hay – 2:00p.m. Free entry

Chaired by Siobhan Graham @thehalcyondaysofsummer

An hour of interaction with some of our top #bookstagrammers. Insights into how they view what they do, building a large following, and how instagram has brought booklovers  together from every corner of the world.

Bruce Robinson presents The Rum Diary(15) - Introductory talk and Film Screening

Venue: The Globe at Hay – 4:00p.m. – 6:30p.m.  Free entry

Writer and director Bruce Robinson introduces the The Rum Diary (2011).

Jonny Depp stars in this adaptation of the classic Hunter S. Thompson book. A brilliant love story of jealousy, treachery, and violent lust in the Caribbean.

After hours book browsing

Venue: Addyman’s Bookshop – 6:00p.m. – 7:30p.m.

Literary-Themed Cocktail Evening

Venue: The Old Electric Shop – 7:30p.m. – Late

Join us, for literary-themed cocktails and live music, on this special weekend celebrating Hay-on-Wye’s independence and @bookstagram2017

Candlelit Wayzgoose Supper

Venue: Baskerville Hall, Clyro – 7.30pm £15

Candlelit Wayzgoose Supper (only six places left) Email thestoryofbooks@gmail.com for more details or to book a place).

Independence Ball

Venue: Hay Parish Hall – 8:00p.m. – Till late  £10.00

We are expecting you all to be going full Rebel Rebel for the Independence Ball! Get your tickets now from Eighteen Rabbit or Beer Revolution.

SUNDAY 2nd APRIL

#booksellersbreakfast

Venue: The Globe at Hay – 9:30a.m. – 11:30a.m. £10.00

Local chef Hugh Sawyer, founder of the sustainable food company, Off Grid Gourmet, will be providing a special Brunch using only the most delicious  locally sourced ingredients.

This will provide the perfect occasion for everyone to gather together before heading off on their separate journeys home.

In order for Hugh to cater for this event he would like to know how many people are interested in attending. Please RSVP to ruth@boothbooks.co.uk <mailto:ruth@boothbooks.co.uk> with the subject: #booksellersbreakfast

Hay History Group - Hay Bookshop Tour

Starts /ends outside Hay Cheese Market, Memorial Square, in the centre of Hay.

11.00am.  £5.00 Adult, Children u16 free with an adult,

Full-time locals /Students & OAPs – £4.00

1.2km /0.7m /60-90 mins.

Lead by Alan Nicholls this tour takes in many of the bookshops of Hay and tells the story of the development of the book trade in the town. The history of the buildings, often architectural gems,  which house the bookshops is also given.

To book this tour please email alan.j.nicholls@btinternet.com

Please visit www.haytours.org.uk for more details.

Book-themed circular walk

Venue: Meet at Hay Clocktower – 2pm Free

Book-themed circular walk around the Hay stretch of the Wye Valley, including the Warren and Boatside. Led by Oliver Balch, author of Under the Tump (paperback out March 2017). Easy walk on moderate terrain. No need to book, just turn up!

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