Mods exhibition on display in Leicester

Leicester’s New Walk Museum is currently host to an exciting new exhibition.

The Modified exhibit, which is on display currently at both the New Walk Museum and the Soft Touch Arts Centre, is focused on the Mods subculture which took root in Britain in the 1960’s.

The Mods and Rockers were two unique subcultures consisting of teenagers and young adults, which arose in Britain along with the “baby boomer” generation of the late 1940’s to 1960’s.

The exhibition features articles of fashionable clothing collected from that generation, as well as a collection of modified scooters, which were popular with Mods at the time due to their affordability and comfort.

The exhibits were curated by the Shaun Knapp, the author of the book Mods: Two City Connection, a book which focused on the Mods movement in Leicester and Nottingham.

Shaun said: “It’s the 40th anniversary of Quadrophenia, which was a real cult Mod film that was released in 1979.

“I issued a book as well, called Mods: Two City Connection, which was all about the Mods in Leicester and Nottingham.

“So we put the both of them together, and we spoke to few other people who got a lot of exhibits they could loan us and we came up with the exhibition.”

Shaun collected the clothes put on display from Roger Burton, as well as other pieces that tell the story of the Mods scene in Leicester and Nottingham.

He also reached out to 40 people during his year-long research for the exhibits, who had been Mods the 60’s.

Tony Doyle was a Mod in the 60’s as well as a carpenter.

He was at the exhibition providing insight to observers and people who had come to see what life was like as a Mod.

When asked what being a Mod was about, Tony said: “Everything really, fashions, clothes, music, just great times.”

He also said: “I had a Vespa, I was a scooter Mod and I’ve still got a scooter nowadays.”

Tony was introduced to the Mods lifestyle in 1965 by an acquaintance he had met, and the clothes along with the other tenets of being a Mod instantly appealed to him.

Tony said that the defining traits of Mods were their smart suits and clothes, along with bowl cut or bouffant hairstyles.

Likewise, Maria Veall, a woman who had also been a Mod during the 1960’s said that for girls, the Mods look involved different styles.

Maria said: “In 1964, when we first started, the skirts was like a pencil shape and they’d be below the knee.

“But as you know, time went by and we got the mini-skirts and of course, we shortened all the skirts on our dresses.

“But the big thing we all wanted to wear was a leather coat, we loved the leather coat with the covered buttons.

“I had a green one.”

Public opinion of Mods wasn’t all that good, as newspapers then frequently wrote stories bemoaning them and the Rockers.

Tony himself recalled, with much chagrin, an incident which led to a Rocker throwing his scooter into a field.

Maria, who had been working as a shop assistant and then a factory worker to finance he Mod lifestyle during this era, attributed it to there being the “baby boomer” generation, a generation with no wars to fight, with the freedom to do as they pleased in their adolescence.

Maria said: “We were the first teenagers, in times before that, everybody was an image of their mother or father and then everything changed.

“So we had our own fashion, our own music our own dancing, everything was the beginning of something new, it had never been done before.”

“They just saw them as being petty hooligans and you know.

“The way that they were, they were very strict, but we wanted to do what we wanted to so it was out of order with them, it was rebellion.

Both Tony and Maria agree on the fact that the scooters were what defined being a Mod in the 1960’s.

The exhibition is on display in both sites until the 30th of June and is called Mods: Shaping a Generation.


Blast from the past: Former Mods, like Tony Doyle in this image, are present at the exhibitions to provide a first hand account of the highs and lows of the Mod lifestyle


  1. Linda Muxlow says:

    I remember Tony when we went to Montrose School together. Happy times. Linda Muxlow (Overton) x

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