Court In The Act: Ely Mods, Rockers & Skins

Image: Mark and Chris at Ely Magistrates Court (1982)

In an occasional feature Ely Online peeks into the archives of our local newspapers to discover just what trouble Ely’s teenagers got into with the police and the courts in the early-80s. This month we focus on the Ely Mods and their altercations with Soham Rockers and Lakenheath Skins.

Twenty Six years on and its hard convey the diffidence an Ely Mod lived with around 1979-1982. Going to Ely on a Saturday afternoon/evening could bring you unwanted attention (laughing at the way we dress – too smart and clean) from any number of clique’s: rockers, skins, punks, and even the occasional teddy boy. Back then it wasn’t uncommon for fights to break out in the street, disco or pub, that’s not to say the mods never started any trouble, of course they did. The mods went to the weekend discos at Little Downham, Ely and Littleport and trouble was never far away. Most of the mod’s hostility was aimed at Soham’s rockers and (to a lesser extent) Lakenheath Skins who crossed into the Ely neighborhood when they dated local girls.

Here are a few related court cases that were featured in the Ely Standard and Cambridge Evening News. The names have been abbreviated, if you were around back then you will know who’s who.

Be sure to check the footer of the page for an Ely Mod’s slideshow.

Ely Standard Thursday 27th November 1980.

Crackdown on the teenagers: Ely magistrates, determined to stamp out the problem of teenage misbehaviour in the city, imposed heavy fines on three youngsters on Thursday.

Two of the teenagers were convicted of breaches of the peace while the third admitted causing criminal damage and magistrates fined them a total of £290.

Miss JP (18) and 17-year-old Miss DM were involved in incidents during discos at Ely Maltings.

Miss P admitted chasing a group of “Mods” and shouting and swearing at them.

Insp. Keith Diver, prosecuting, said Police were outside the Maltings as youngsters turned out of the disco.

Come here you Mods, you’re no good, any of you.

A large group gathered round the entrance and PC George asked them to move on. As they moved off, he heard someone shout “Come here you Mods, you’re no good, any of you” and he saw a girl break from one group and run towards the other, still shouting and swearing.

“The officer realised that if the two groups confronted each other there would be a fight, so he went over and apprehended the girl, who turned out to be Miss P,” said Insp. Diver.

Miss P, a receptionist and telephonist, said she had been kicked by one of the boys in the hall, but she did not want to start a fight, only have a word with the boy responsible.

“It’s very hard for you to understand,” she told magistrates. “This is not my usual behaviour.” Magistrates fined her £90 and ordered her to pay it off within two months.

In another incident, Miss M broke one of the main glass doors at the Maltings after she was refused re-admittance to the hall.

Miss M had followed her boyfriend out of the hall when he was ejected by bouncers.

Insp. Diver said the boyfriend began fighting after a group of youths surrounded his group while they were dancing to “Skinhead” music, and started calling them names.

In a statement, Miss M said she tried to pull her boyfriend away, but she was restrained and then the boy was thrown out.

“I followed, and had a row with him outside,” she said.

“When I went to go back inside, they wouldn’t let me. I lost my temper and kicked the door four times until the glass broke.”

Miss M was fined £100 and ordered to pay £30.40 for repairs to the door.

Ely Standard Thursday May 21st 1981

Attacked: A group of “Rockers” approached an Ely youth as he took his girlfriend home after a party in the city.

One of the group began to talk to him about rock music, and said he should kneel at the name of former rock star Gene Vincent.

The youth, Mr. IT, of Ely refused to Kneel, and a fight broke out. He was punched to the ground, and kicked until he was gasping for breath.

The three youths who approached him then ran away and Mr. T took his girlfriend home. He later discovered he had suffered a cut lip, bruises to his arms, a cut hand, and an injured finger.

He should kneel at the name of former rock star Gene Vincent

Two of the “Rockers” who approached Mr. T appeared before Ely Magistrates on Thursday, when they both pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr. T, causing him actual bodily harm. Mr. NP, admitted punching Mr. T in the face, and kicking him when he was on the floor He was fined £50 for the offence, and was ordered to pay £20 compensation.

Mr. AL told the Police he kicked Mr. T once. The Court decided to adjourn his sentence for three weeks, so reports could be drawn up on Mr. Langford’s suitability to carry out community service.

Ely Standard Thursday 30th July 1981

Bailed: The case against four Soham men, charged with assault, was adjourned for three weeks by Ely Magistrates on Thursday.

AJ (17), GJ (20), PJ (21) and AS (18), all of Soham, were all given bail.

They are charged with assault and actual bodily harm, in Ely on June 21 st.

Ely Standard Thursday 20th August 1981

No Plates: Ely youth Mr. ML has admitted riding a motor scooter without “L” plates when only the holder of a provisional license.

Mr. L (17), pleaded guilty by letter when the case was heard by Ely Magistrates on Thursday.

Because Mr. L’s license had already been sent away for an endorsement to be entered on it, his case was adjourned for four weeks.

Ely Standard Thursday August 20th 1981

Youths Fought: An Ely youth attacked another youth during a disco at Little Downham Village Hall following a quarrel over a girl.

Mr. DY (18) attacked Mr. AH from behind, hitting him around the face and hitting him in the ribs.

A bouncer at the disco had to break up the fight, and then threw Mr. Y out of the premises.

At Ely Magistrates Court on Thursday, Mr. Y pleaded guilty to assaulting Mr. H, occasioning him actual bodily harm. He was fined £100, and ordered to pay £40 compensation to Mr. H.

Insp. David Grainger, prosecuting, said that Mr. H suffered large swelling on the left side of his face from the attack, and bruising on his ribs.

After a complaint was made to the Police, an officer went to Mr. Y’s home, when he admitted punching Mr. H.

He told the officer he hit Mr. H because earlier he had said he would “get” the girl he was with.

Ely Standard Thursday 1st October 1981

Mods in gang trouble: A group of young motorcyclists chased after two “Mods” who rode through Soham on their motor scooters.

When the motor cyclists caught up with them, one of them lashed out with his foot, knocking one of the “Mods” and his scooter down the bank of a dyke.

The chase ended when a farmer blocked the road with his car, a court was told on Tuesday.

Three of the motorcyclists appeared before Newmarket (Cambs) magistrates and admitted using threatening behavior.

They were Andrew Wells, 17, Michael Wilson, 17, and Peter Mann, 17, of Soham.

Mr Wells also admitted driving a motorcycle while disqualified and uninsured.

All three were remanded on bail for three weeks for reports.

The youth alleged to have kicked at the motor scooter did not appear in court. Sergeant David Robinson told the magistrates that the youth had been involved in a motorcycle accident and was expected to be in hospital for six weeks.

Sergeant Robinson said the incident which happened at about 6PM on July 19th, was part of a continuing saga of ill-feeling between youths from Soham and other youths from nearby towns and villages.

He said the “Mods” got the impression that something was going to happen when they passed a group of motorcyclists who were standing by the church at Soham.

This is a continuing battle that will go on for this generation and perhaps the next, said Sergeant Robinson.

They took the road towards Great Fen and saw a number of motorcyclists following. They were riding abreast across the road when one of the motorcyclists caught up with one of the “Mods” he kicked out, sending the motor scooter off the road.

The “Mod” suffered an injured leg and claimed that £100 of damage was caused to his machine.

In the meantime, the other “Mod” had managed to get away and stopped at a nearby farm. The farmer blocked the road with his car and “effectively detained” some of the motorcyclists until the police arrived.

“This is a continuing battle that will go on for this generation and perhaps the next,” said Sergeant Robinson. “How it will be solved is anybody’s guess.”

Mr Wells told the court that “Mods” had tried to do the same thing to them some time before the incident.

Cambridge Evening News Thursday 1st October 1981

‘Mod’ was kicked off scooter: A young motor-cyclist who kicked a mod’ off his scooter was yesterday given a three month suspended prison sentence and fined a total of £200.

Peter Attlesey, 17, said to be of Soham, and appeared before Newmarket magistrates for sentence. He had been convicted at an earlier hearing of assaulting causing actual bodily harm, criminal damage and threatening behavior.
Prosecuting solicitor Mr. Richard Hirst said Mr. Attlesey was one of a group of motor-cyclists who chased after two ‘mods’ who rode through Soham on their scooters.

Mr. Attlesey had ridden his motor cycle alongside the scooter of Karl Bedingfield, 18, and kicked out. The kick sent the scooter on the grass verge, and Mr. Bedingfield lost control and fell off.

The chase of the other mod was stopped when farmer Mr. Alan White intervened.
Chairman of the bench, Mr. Peter Taylor, said Mr. White should be commended for his public-spirited-action in intervening.

Ely Standard Thursday January 21st 1982

Graffiti Charges: Two people have been charged with daubing graffiti on properties in the centre of Ely this week.

Words such as “Ely Mods” and “Lambretta” appeared on walls at the White Hart Hotel, Peter Dominic’s wine shop, the Midland Bank, Woolworth’s and several other properties.

Chief Inspector Richard Blythe said the people would be charged with criminal damage, they are due to appear before magistrates on February 4th.

Ely Mod’s Slideshow

View the Ely Mods Slideshow

Click the image of Chris (above) for a slideshow of of Ely’s finest mods (circa 1980-82)

18 replies
  1. michael grindrod grinny
    michael grindrod grinny says:

    Mr fairhead always remember ur mk1 yellow escort,me,tut,steve bareham and Paul laggy lagadec always looked up to u guys.still have my jam shoes.

  2. shaun fairhead
    shaun fairhead says:

    hi paul lagadec , tried contacting you via your email but keeps getting returned , if you see this message contact me, shaun.

    PAUL LAGADEC says:

    I was a mod (or minimod) in the early 80s it was a real trip down memory lane to see these photos, and I remember a lot of the faces in them, and Shaun. Because I was so young I used to really idolise the older mods with scooters and be really scared of the thought of the skinheads coming to ‘Centre E’ on a Thursday night for a ruck. Most of my mod life revolved around the ‘Centre E’. They were great times. Hi Shaun!

  4. shaun fairhead
    shaun fairhead says:

    hi, come on stephen get that photo out, i met up with tanya a few years back and she got some photos of lots of scooters outside centre e in early 80s so if any of you see her try and get them on here , i remember someone taking a photo of all of the nightriders on scooters lined up on the market place , what about when lakenheath skins would ring up the phone box to let us know they were coming over , anyone remember when they came over in a transit van and when it kicked off charlie watson was singing “im a rocka billy rebel” while dancing on the transit roof?

  5. Stephen Geraty
    Stephen Geraty says:

    Great too see the photos of the early eighties, can always remember seeing Adam and Heidi riding by St Ovins Green and hanging around with Dave Youngman’s younger brother Alan, if we hadnt we may never have seen Quadrophenia at early age.

    Would be nice too see any old sixties ely or littleport mods, I have one photo of my dad and mum [ Paddy and Bubs ] on a SX200 outside centre E at Ely. Will eventually be able too work out how too scan photos on too my computer, so watch this space.

  6. Sally Hardingham
    Sally Hardingham says:

    It was so fun to look through this site and see some familiar faces and it seems like yesterday seeing you all buzzing around Ely. Where are you all now? Being terrified? (ha ha )

    Someone write back OK… in Seattle USA now.

  7. glasgowmod
    glasgowmod says:

    Brilliant to see these pics, takes me back a bit. I found an old friend of mine from the eighties when we were mods together, together we’re trying to find all the mods from Glasgow and surrounding at that time. He has brilliant videos on youtube, if you want to check them out just search for glasgow mods tribute and glasgow mods tribute 2. They’re really good.

    Anyway, just wanted to say hi and if you know anyone who came from Glasgow and was a mod in the eighties, please let them know we’re looking for them all.

  8. Shaun Fairhead
    Shaun Fairhead says:

    Great to see some photos of the Ely Mods, I was an Ely Mod between 1980 and up until I moved away in 1990, still riding scooters and have my own Lambretta restoration business up in Manchester, I used to hang out with Andy Kennedy and the younger lads from Littleport, didnt really hang out with your lot much so you might not remember me , I was more of a scooter boy later on and spent most of the time riding with Newmarket and Cambridge mods/scooterists.

    I still have all 3 copys of Shadows and Reflections, one came with free floppy record and i have a cutting from the Ely Standard when you got kicked off your scoot after riding through soham.

    I will sort some items out for you to include on website if you like, I come down to Ely every couple of months and usually go out somewhere with Andy Kennedy etc, a few of us put a reunion do on in the Kings Arms a few years back , Adam, Heidi, ‘Aggro’ Johnson, plus many others turned up and it was a top night until the end when ML kicked off fighting (some things never change).

    All the best, Shaun Fairhead.

  9. Phil Treble
    Phil Treble says:

    This is fascinating. Although never a mod, rocker or, for that matter, teddy boy, it’s interesting to see snippets of news about social tribes from years ago. The same on Goths please…

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