Stormy Margate

Stormy Margate

Friday, 7 October 2011

Margate, Mods and Rockers my view

It is a well known fact that nostalgia will always out perform history and the latest exhibition of Mods and Rockers in Margate is doing exactly that. As being someone who is part of a group that studies the history of Margate I do find it hard to view the subject of Mods and Rockers as nostalgic. In fact I believe that these gangs that descended on Margate during the sixties and seventies on bank holidays played a major contribution to the decline of Margate as a tourist resort.
The tourism product in Thanet has always been a very finite business as there is no reliance on the weather, therefore investment in the tourist industry relies more on bank holidays and events to coincide with nice weather more than anything else. In the past when there were good visitor numbers throughout the season but it was always the bank holidays, attractions and events that brought this huge surge of people into the town that made the real money. Just imagine if Folk Week, Dickens Week was to disappear from Broadstairs it would be a disaster. The same applied to Margate in the past, losing disrupted bank holiday weekends proved to be a tipping point when the Mods and Rockers descended on the town in 1964. This set a format for groups of youth gangs as they started to descend on the town throughout the sixties and seventies on bank holiday weekends looking for trouble and bragging rights.
Margate was soon to gain a terrible reputation for gang violence even egged on by national media in one case and families steered well clear of the place on bank holiday weekends. Which hardly inspires business confidence to invest.
I have many accounts of bank holiday violence in my archive and one from the early eighties is an article on a large gang of skinheads running from Margate station and along the seafront shouting racists slogan looking for coloured people, I suppose to beat up. Eye witnesses are reported as seeing some skinheads carry sticks with nails in them which is not a great advert for a tourist resort.
Living in Margate since I was born in1957 up until I moved a few years ago to Ramsgate, I have seen it all at Margate like most who read this blog. Somehow I just cannot warm up to the subject of Mods and Rockers, Skinhead, Punks, Teddy Boys, Soul Boys etc.,,

3 comments:

Peter Checksfield said...

I wonder if we'll have a similar rose-tinted view of the 2011 riots in 50 years time? I suspect so...

Thanetian in Herat said...

The Mods & Rockers clashes of the mid-60s didn't help but neither did the inability of the hotel trade to modernize assist and people's inability to change with the times, a blight in Thanet caused by an insular attitude.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Thanet in Herat,

Yep, you hit the nail right on the head.