Story of a picture: Ulla Street Boys

‘Ulla Street Boys’ by Robin Dale was conceived as part of an ethnographic study of a post-industrial Teesside already in decline by the early 1970s. Sometimes referred to alongside his ‘A Spot of Bother’ taken during a match at Middlesbrough’s Ayresome Park ground, it has since come to define a profoundly regional take on suedehead. The boys, found on a terraced street corner in central Middlesbrough (the street still largely exists, save for the odd demolished part here and there), examine the camera as intently as it surveys them. An all too rare perhaps depiction of skinheadism in one of its more multiethnic settings, Andrew Stevens spoke to the Billingham-based photographer. Continue reading

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Story of a picture: Police chase skinhead in Wood Green, 1981

In 1981, a series of youth riots broke out across Britain, starting in Brixton in April and spreading across the UK in July. Unlike in Southall, which saw the now famous standoff between Asian youths and skinheads, groups of mostly white skins joined the riots in Halifax and Bolton, or – as occurred in Hull and Sheffield – they started their own.

Ditto in the north London district of Wood Green, where according to local Labour MP Reg Race “crowds of 400 to 500 youths – black, white and of Mediterranean origin – roamed around Wood Green High Road”. Fights with the police and looting ensued, resulting in 50 arrests and – according to press reports at least – 26 injured cops.

The picture seen here was shot by photographer David Hoffman on Tuesday, 7th July 1981, when the riots reached both Wood Green and Manchester. The skinhead is being chased down the corner of Alfoxton Avenue and West Green Road in Harringay, which is close to Turnpike Lane tube station. Matt Crombieboy spoke to the photographer. Continue reading

Two-stroke in your veins and two fingers up at the law – Martin ‘Sticky’ Round

Dubbing yourself a “terrorist” of any sort may not strike many as particularly wise in the current climate, but for the ‘two-stroke terrorists’ of the 80s scooterboy movement, recognition of any kind would be welcome. Former Scootering magazine editor Martin ‘Sticky’ Round has made a living for himself documenting the scooter scene globally since those days. In his book Scooterboys: The Lost Tribe (Carpet Bombing Culture), he has set out to capture the hallmarks of one of Britain’s last truly working class subcultures which defies pigeon-holing on any other level.

Andrew Stevens (Vespa PX125) sat down with Sticky to discuss police harassment, flight jackets and the suedehead roots of 80s cut-down scooters. Continue reading

Everybody’s an Actor, Shakespeare Said: ‘pre-suedeheads’ in 1968

Flavio Frezza, author of Italia Skins and translator of George Marshall’s Spirit of 69 into Italian, introduces us to a rarely seen British gem. Originally published in Italian on Crombie Media.

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Anyone into skinhead, mod, and related youth styles knows Bronco Bullfrog (1969), which was largely shot round Stratford E15 by Barney Platts-Mills. As is commonly claimed, the movie documents the transition from skinhead to suedehead, which was completed at the beginning of the following decade. Continue reading

North East End’s All Around – The Scotswood Aggro Boys

“If we could persuade the youngsters concerned that they’re doing themselves an injury, in the sense that if they have convictions like this as they grow older, they’re to be ostracised by society. Because whether they like it or not, society is as it is and whether they change it, it will still remain that somebody has got to walk about the streets safely.”

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Cherry red DMs with red socks: Scotswood Aggro Boys

Continue reading

Down at the Vortex at midnight

40 years ago today, The Jam’s third album All Mod Cons hit the shelves.

The cover photograph saw Paul Weller sporting a French crop, white button-down shirt with sleeves turned up twice, steel grey cropped Sta Prest, white socks and chestnut brown monkey boots. A look that harked back to 1968 and screamed early skinhead — or ‘hard mod’ if you prefer that term. Continue reading

Skinheads in the Hong Kong Garden

On this day 40 years ago, Siouxsie and the Banshees released their debut single, ‘Hong Kong Garden’. Here’s what Siouxsie said about the song in an interview with Uncut magazine in 2005:

hong kong“I’ll never forget, there was a Chinese restaurant in Chislehurst called the ‘Hong Kong Garden’. Me and my friend were really upset that we used to go there and like, occasionally when the skinheads would turn up it would really turn really ugly. These gits would just go in en masse and just terrorise these Chinese people who were working there. We’d try and say ‘Leave them alone’, you know. It was a kind of tribute”. Continue reading

The faces of a football hooligan

Nowadays it’s all prawn sandwiches and latte, but there were times when people went to football carrying meathooks… Interview with ‘Peter’, a 17 years old Park Lane boy from a “housing estate in the heart of the East End”.

From the Sunday Times, 21 September 1969. Continue reading

Hardcore Hegelian: an interview with Stewart Home

The likes of the Cockney Rejects and East End Badoes have penned entire albums recently on the subject of East End gentrification, but for Stewart Home it’s a cause to fight. A one-time Neoist but always a novelist, a quick scan of his books since 1988 reveals a range of titles from The Assault on Culture to The Nine Lives of Ray the Cat Jones, via Blow Job and Cunt, naturally. Stevo met the crophead chronicler of pulp and punk at the foot of the Barbican and repaired to a nearby Spoons to talk Marx and mods. Continue reading

Another Rebel Thread: an interview with Roger K. Burton

Having dressed film stars (Quadrophenia, Absolute Beginners, Young Soul Rebels) and countless music videos, it’s unsurprising that Roger Burton sought to not only document his time in the business but also the vast attire he’s amassed along the way. Rebel Threads (Laurence King Publishing) is that book, spanning the range of British youth subcultures from the war onwards and delving into the fashions which gave them their name. Continue reading