Who were the Mods?

A Cultural Revolution

The Mods and their counterparts were the first post-war generation to reach their teenage years without suffering the combined misery of national service or austerity and they were going to make the most of it.

These young people, some of whom were now earning more money than their parents, were going to break and smash the mould that society had in place for them. Mod life provided an opportunity to rebel against the older generation and lay down a newfound financial and creative independence based around music, fashion and amphetamines.

Although none of them realised it at the time, the young people of Leicester and Nottingham and their rebellion in lifestyle, music, fashion, politics and aspiration really did change not only their home town but, together with others of their generation, the wider world forever.

Escapism and Independence

The Mods, with their smart clothes and disposable income, were seen by many as the acceptable face of British youth. This was all to change in March 1964 when two sets of bored teenagers, both miles apart in their outlook on life, set upon each other on Clacton sea front.

The media picked up on it and the creation of two warring factions was born – the Mods and the Rockers. The Mods were an incredible 1960’s youth sub-culture who shared a common desire to embrace a new found financial and parental freedom and to stand out above the crowd with regards to originality in fashion, music and social status and what they achieved still influences aspects of contemporary life.

The main elements of Mod life – fashion, music, drugs, transport, sociability, originality – provided a way out from the mundane lifestyle that their parents and older siblings had experienced. National service was out, escapism and independence, both financial and creative, were in.

The project will also look to change the perceptions of the Mod period and highlight the creativity and individualism which helped to shape a generation.

“We liked to congregate in the Old Market Square. Suddenly, everyone would leave to go nowhere in particular, and a large snake of scooters would wend its way through Nottingham.”

Maurice Moore

The Forgotten Cities

It’s been well documented how exciting Manchester, Liverpool and London were, but the music and fashion scene in Leicester and Nottingham during the 1960s was just as creative.

Leicester and Nottingham boasted eclectic mixes of aspiring bands, venues, musicians, agents and promoters. The cities saw the arrival of Beatlemania, Mods and rockers, the rise and fall of the psychedelic scene and their very own ‘Summer of Love’. The cities were awash with pubs, cafes and bars, some of which can still be seen today, though the majority of them have long since disappeared.

They had their creatives – the artists and graphic designers, the adventurous independents who shrugged the high street look and designed their own clothes and those who just wanted to look like everyone else. Drug culture was rife – purple hearts, LSD, cannabis and more, were all available if you knew where to look.

Shaping A Generation looks at some of the creatives from the 1960s that came from Leicester and Nottingham and became revered names in their own respective worlds of fashion, photography, music and literature.