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Rioting Between Mods and Rockers at British Resort

Mar. 29, 1964 - The Wild Ones invaded the season resort town of Clacton, England, today — 1,000 fighting, drinking, roaring, rampaging teenagers on scooters and motorcycles. By tonight, after a day of riots and battles with police, 90 of them had been arrested.

The horde had been attracted to Clacton for an Easter holiday show starring Freddie and the Dreamers, a singing group. A desperate SOS when out from the Clacton police, as “Rockers” attacked people in the streets, turned over parked cars, broke into beach huts, smashed windows, and fought with rival groups of “Mods.”

The “Mods” or “Moderns” wear sharply cut Italian-style suits and long, pointed shoes. They ride motor scooters fitted with scores of gleaming accessories. Opposing the “Mods,” who follow the stylistic example of the Beatles, are the traditionalists, or “Rockers,” who favor black leather jackets, some with metal studs in them, jeans, and motorcycle boots.

“‘Mods’ and ‘Rockers’ are like oil and water — they just don’t mix,” explained one teenager who belongs to neither group. “When they do mix…” He drove a fist into his open hand.

Police reinforcements from nearby towns raced to the shattered resort, where fearful residents had locked themselves indoors. The crowd was finally broken up by police and police dogs. Several policemen were injured as the teenagers fought them.

The cells at Clacton police station were crammed with youngsters under arrest. By tonight the score of arrests and charges was: 30 for assault on police and civilians; 30 for creating disturbances and fighting; 10 for theft; and 20 for other offenses, including drunk and disorderly, malicious damage, and using obscene language.

The Wild Ones — this was the title of a Marlon Brando film in which leather-jacketed motorcyclists terrorized a town — have caused trouble in Clacton before. But not on this scale. They began arriving Friday and Saturday, and many slept rough on the beach and pier and in promenade shelters.

Superintendent Norman Wood, the resort’s police chief, who sent the call for help, said: “For some reason, Clacton is attracting more than its fair share of these young thugs.”

Mr. James Malthouse, manager of a seafront hotel, said: “I’ve seen riots in South America, but this was almost mob rule.”

Said one police official: “The trouble here is a lack of discipline that starts in the homes and continues in the schools.”


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