This film is part of Free

A Beatnik Community in St Agnes

A Beatnik community sets up in St Agnes against local wishes

News 1969 12 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


TV reporter Del Cooper visits St Agnes to talk to members of a beatnik community and locals to hear the juxtaposition of views. Forty or so Beatniks, among them twelve children rent holiday cottages for the winter season. The community is an artistic, literary and religious group of free thinkers, all vegetarian. Predictably, the villagers are not convinced and hope to oust the non-conformists and their antisocial behaviour before the all-important tourist season.

The portmanteau Beatnik was first coined in 1958 by San Francisco columnist Herb Caen when he combined Beat Generation with nik after the launch of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik I. Following on from the Jack Kerouac-inspired anti-materialistic literary movement, the unconventional clothing and burning of jos sticks have this group of Beatniks banned from the local pub. Long hair, berets, denim, sandals, single mums as well as new thinking towards society, marriage and employment mean our artists induce suspicion from Stagnesians and this film allows the viewer an insight into perceptions and society’s ability to stereotype constantly.