Illegal New Year rave held at old DIY store

Party goers damaged doors to gain access to the site.
Party goers damaged doors to gain access to the site.

More than 1,000 people descended on an disused Daventry store for an illegal rave in the early hours of New Year’s Day.

Revellers removed concrete barriers blocking the gate to the former Focus DIY store on Sopwith Way before forcing open a door and setting up speakers, lighting and a DJ set inside with the party starting at about 2am.

Because of the scale of the event, police were unable to clear the area till noon.

Jared Thompson, who lives on the Timken estate, was walking his dog along Sopwith Way at 6am. He said he saw at least 50 cars on the road leading to the Focus store, adding: “Both sides of the road around the unit were chock a block with cars and vans. I saw a lot of people asleep in their cars and some kids throwing up outside. By the time I got there my dog was getting really wound up. It wasn’t a good atmosphere; I wasn’t going to stick around.”

Mr Thompson, who works as a transport clerk at the nearby DHL Wetherspoons warehouse, said when he walked past the site again at 10.30am it had been blocked off by police.

He said: “There was still a mess there when I walked past. There were puddles of sick, bottles and empty boxes of beer. It was a bit of a pigsty really. I think it is disgraceful, maybe I’m a bit old fashioned but I never did something like this when was young.”

But one raver, who wished to remain unnamed, defended the party and said the events – which are also known as free parties – only took place because police forces make it so difficult and expensive to organise large scale events.

Currently, raves can be deemed illegal under section 58 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 if more than 20 people gather. Police have powers under the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 to clamp down on raves with more than 100 people in attendance. ASBOs have also been handed out to some organisers.

One of the people who attended the rave travelled from Rushden. Speaking to the Daventry Express he said: I have been going to raves for 12 years, and I think this will be my last. The rave was just a happy place.

It was for people who didn’t want to go to town and get involved in potential fights.

“There weren’t that many people drinking, and I didn’t see anyone taking drugs. At the end people were going round with black bags picking up rubbish.”

But while the atmosphere in the rave was apparently good, the reaction from some local residents was less positive.

He said: “I was speaking to the police and they said people were phoning in saying they were going to come up to destroy our speakers.

“We didn’t mean to cause any harm to anyone.”

Inspector Michael Smith of Northamptonshire Police said: “To date, no arrests have been made, however details of the organisers have been taken and further enquiries are taking place at this time.”