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East End echoes to scooter roar as the Mods return

PUBLISHED: 20:02 29 July 2008 | UPDATED: 13:29 05 October 2010

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THE MODS were back in town at the weekend, invading the Isle of Dogs on their revved-up motor-scooters.

They rallied en mass in their black T-shirts with yellow smiley face’ skull-and-crossbones as the slow column of droning Vespa and Lambretta two-strokes roared through London’s East End along the A13 East India Dock Road from Essex.

The column of 300 machines sneaked a sharp left down through Canary Wharf banking and finance district

<ABOVE: Hoards of Mods pour through East London on Sunday, heading for the Spinaker pub on the Isle of Dogs

BELOW: Mods from an earlier era in East India Dock-road, by Poplar fire station, 1980, and (bottom) a display from the club’s earliest members at the 1957 Walthamstow town carnival

Mike Brooke

THE MODS were back in town at the weekend—invading the Isle of Dogs on their revved-up motor-scooters.

They rallied en mass in their black T-shirts with yellow smiley face’ skull-and-crossbones as the slow column of droning Lambretta and Vespa two-strokes roared through London’s East End along the A13 East India Dock Road from Essex.

The column of 300 roaring machines sneaked a sharp left down through Canary Wharf banking and finance district.

Pedestrians were caught by surprise at the nostalgic sight not witnessed since the days of Swinging London.

Motorists did a double take’ at these two-wheeled, chrome-plated steeds of the road’ with their flashy banks of headlights—warning any oncoming traffic that dare not to move aside.

The column reached the tip of the Island and parked up

The riders dismounted—a term affectionately borrowed from the equestrian world by those who love their machines like champion thoroughbreds—and packed into the Spinnaker pub.

This was the annual shindig by the East London Motor Scooter Club, with trophies dished out for best dressed’ Vespa and Lambretta.

The riders came from all over the South East to retrace the club’s ancient East End roots, which first sprouted in 1956 at Bethnal Green’s Oxford House community centre.

Oldest Mod is thought to be a 71-year-old named John, a founder-member from 1956 now living in Norfolk.

But rumour has it that he could be challenged. Someone heard of a man in an old folks’ home pushing 80 who also rode out’ with the club back in the Fifties.

It is the second oldest bikers’ club in Britain, even predating the famous 59 Club of motorbike rockers set up by the Ton Up Vicar’ of Hackney Wick, The Rev Bill Shergold, in 1959.

Sunday’s ride out’ raised £1,600 in aid of Help for Heroes charity, proving even harden Mods had hearts of gold.

The club never really left the East End. Some of its diehard members like club organiser Daron Humphreys, a 42-year-old cabbie from Bethnal Green now living in Dagenham, still meet up each month at the Young Prince pub in the Roman Road. He rides a bright red 200cc Vespa when he’s not at the wheel of his London black taxi.

But it’s not just ageing Mods. The scooter club has recruits from a new generation of teenagers.

The youngest only turned 16 on Tuesday, Billie Lynch from Harold Hill near Romford, the daughter of another taxi-driver club-member.

She passed her official Driving Test on Wednesday (July 30). Congratulations, young Billie.

The club has its own website:

www.elms-sc.com

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