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The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 10:42 pm
by AndyM
This is bit of a strange one, maybe.

I'm in the early stages of researching something about the film 'Quadrophenia' and the use it makes of Brighton as a location. But my question for you is more to do with actual 1960s Mod culture. Putting it crudely, was 60s Mod a Southern-only phenomenon ?

I'm sure there must have been pill-popping, scooter-riding, bluebeat-listening kids in Birmingham & Manchester & all points north, but the received wisdom centres Mod culture very much on London and of course on those invaded, rioted-in seaside towns like Margate, Clacton, Hastings and Brighton.

Received wisdom is often wrong, however. So, anybody know anything I should look at, read or otherwise check out ? Did no Mods sweep scooter-led into Blackpool or Bridlington ?

(Offshoot thought, was Northern Soul a belated Mod variant ? I think in some ways it was. but that's another project.)
(Likewise, Two-Tone was Midlands-centred, and clearly has Mod connections, but again, a side issue for this query.)


So, 1960s Mod: south of Watford or what ?? All thoughts warmly welcomed, and if I am overlooking anything really obvious (a distinct possibility) I know you won't hesitate to tell me.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:51 pm
by Rob Hall
Personal anecdote.

Location: Stoke on Trent, Boothen Primary School playground.
Time: 1963/64, dinner break.
Participants: Church hall side, Rockers; Stoke side, Mods.
Reference: reports of Brighton riots on the front page of the Daily Mirror.

I was with the Mods, but the mists of time obscure the affiliations of the winners.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:05 am
by Rob Hall
Talking of Mods and geography (or rather, 'cyclogeography'): http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-enter ... 87744.html

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:11 am
by Adam Blake
Enjoyable research, Andy. Please do keep us up to date with what you discover. I think there was a Mod scene surrounding The Animals up in Newcastle in 1963 - but that may be just fond imaginings from old Nik Cohn books (a notoriously unreliable source of fact if not fiction).

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 12:59 am
by john poole
Memories of a 1960s Birmingham Mod -
http://jackthatcatwasclean.blogspot.co. ... ories.html

Bank Holiday misbehaviour at the seaside was a "South of Watford" thing, but I would think that Mods could be found in many cities and towns further afield by the time "Mods & Rockers" disturbances made the front pages in 1964.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 1:16 am
by Hugh Weldon
Like Rob we had mods v rockers fights at school, but as we were only six it meant as much as cowboys and indians. But it indicates awareness of the phenomenon. I was too young to know of any organised scene though do recall seeing scooters festooned with badges and bikers with leather jackets occasionally. What I do recall is the suedehead/smoothie thing around 1970/71 which as far as I was aware had grown out of the skinheads, which was quite big in Liverpool, especially at the football. I doubt a connection with Northern Soul though which only took off around 1975. Another thought: Epstein converted the Beatles from Rockers to Mods - discuss.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:04 am
by AndyM
Thanks all, that Birmingham Mod link is especially helpful. The little detail of them heading to Great Yarmouth is intriguing, but presumably no 'riots', or at least nothing covered very much in the media.

Re playground Mod/Rocker fights, I wonder what prompted little kids to join which side!

The Beatles being morphed from Rockers to Mods - interesting, particularly given the links between Mod culture & gay culture, at least in London.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:41 am
by NormanD
AndyM wrote:Re playground Mod/Rocker fights, I wonder what prompted little kids to join which side!
Whatever was in the news made up the playground 'sides'. Would you believe Jews & Arabs? That would have been around 1956. The one time in my whole school life that Jews were the popular ones. (I had to be an Arab)

Mods were in Northampton, too. Quite sizeable contingents. Local weekend scuffles with rockers, and inter-mod rivalries with places like Corby. Unless anything was big enough to make the local paper then there won't be much beyond anecdote. The sub-culture spawned its commercial mini-infrastructure: boutiques that sold clothes, tailors that were familiar with Italian suit cuts, barbers that knew the right haircuts, scooter accessory stores (and places that would do chroming), record shops that bought in US imports and West Indian 45s, and dance halls that booked the right bands or visiting bluesmen (like John Lee Hooker). And availability of and access to doobs - no mod culture could exist without them.

I guess you're familiar with all the early work done by Stan Cohen and other sociologists in the early 1970s - "Folk Devils and Moral Panics", etc. ?

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:46 am
by Chris P

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 9:57 am
by Adam Blake
Hugh Weldon wrote:Another thought: Epstein converted the Beatles from Rockers to Mods - discuss.


With those haircuts? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fl9k3gL6vxw

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 3:12 pm
by john poole
Hugh Weldon wrote:I doubt a connection with Northern Soul though which only took off around 1975
Northern Soul may not have appeared on Top of the Pops until 1975, but it had its origins many years earlier at venues such as the Twisted Wheel in Manchester, so I do think that Northern Soul was, initially at least, connected to Northern Mod. Dave Godin came up with the term in 1968 after becoming aware that visitors to his Soul City shop from the north tended to be looking for entirely different records to their southern counterparts.

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 4:07 pm
by uiwangmike
NormanD wrote:
AndyM wrote:Re playground Mod/Rocker fights, I wonder what prompted little kids to join which side!
Whatever was in the news made up the playground 'sides'. Would you believe Jews & Arabs? That would have been around 1956. . ?

In my young days, a little before that, we had to decide on an allegiance to either Oxford or Cambridge for the Boat Race, though I don't think any of us would have known what a university was. I was Light Blue supporter, maybe because they seemed to win more often at the time. I was a witness to history when I was working at Butlins Holiday Camp in Clacton at the time the first Mods and Rockers battle took place there in 1964. We were pretty well cut off from the outside world, but I did see a bunch of guys (I don't remember from what side) climbing over the heavily guarded front gate when I was coming off my shift in the dining hall one night. When I saw the front page of the Daily Mirror at breakfast the next day, I was impressed that the paper managed to turn out a local edition; I had no idea it was the big national news.
http://www.google.ie/imgres?sa=X&hl=ko& ... =0&ndsp=27

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 5:46 pm
by NormanD
Interesting that The Mirror in 1964 called the motor cycle and scooter gangs here "The Wild Ones". The iconic Brando movie of more or less that name was banned by the British Board of Film Censors in 1954, and was not given a certificate until 1967?68? Quite a few previously banned movies were finally given certificates around the mid-60s. I saw "Freaks" in 1966, thirty years after its ban. Other films - like Bunuel/Dali, and "Battleship Potemkin" were only ever allowed to be shown in film clubs.

Back to the mods....

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 7:37 pm
by AndyM
Interesting stuff, lads! Any more for any more ?

Re: The Geography of Mod Culture

PostPosted: Thu Mar 13, 2014 8:20 pm
by MartinOwen
Mohair Suits with 8" slits were the essence for male patrons of the Twisted Wheel in Manchester mid-late 60's.

Lambrettas or Vespas with fox tails and parkas from the Army and Navy Stores could be seen on Rhyl prom in 1964.

My evening in a police car with blood over my face and my "tab" shirt, and white strides was also testimony to trouble on the north Wales coast in '64 - couldn't run fast enough in my Cheslsea boots clearly.

There were several shops in Rhyl catering for mods in the mid 60's - most notably Benny Horish - who stocked Ben Sherman shirts and madras cotton jackets.

The Royal Lido in Prestatyn had sufficient draw for most "mod" bands to play there (not The Who though. Steam Packet with LJB and RS were the best I remember. Didn't get to this one though:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/music/sites/ ... 1124.shtml