Memoirs of a Burley Mod

During the 1950's it was era of the Teddy Boys and Rock & Roll. Some of them had motor bikes such as Triumph, BSA, Royal Enfield etc. Many became Rockers.

Turning into the 1960's came the Mod era with new lightweight designed cars, pop music, and clothing fashion even for men. Plus, to have a motor scooter such as a Lambretta or Vespa. Many were dressed up with chrome accessories such as extra mirrors, spot lamps, crash bars and so on. Lambretta owners from Burley included Tim Reed, Tim Lawford, John Small, Richard Shutler and myself.

My first scooter was a Lambretta LD bought from a Miss Cookman in Pound Lane, Burley. That was written off when I crashed into a herd of cows at the top of Crow Hill which had escaped at night, from a local farm and were all over the road. The lights on the LD, were not at all good.

I then got a Li 150, series 2 and the engine gave up on that, so I part exchanged it to get a new series 3 Lambretta SX200 on Hire Purchase. See the black and white photos above.
My friends and I would go off into Ringwood to meet up at the Trappers Cafe behind the then cinema. On one occasion, over 60 scooters were counted. Usually however the numbers would vary between 25 and 40. We, the mods, would also spill off into Pillys Fish and Chip shop in the market place, as that had a cafe, or occasionally the Coffee House, with its basement.

The cinema became a discotheque. And along came the skinheads. Mods would also call into the Burley Youth Club ran in the Village Hall, and at Greyfrairs in Ringwood.

By the early 1970's, when glam rock came into being, the mods seem to disappear. Some bought motor bikes but most, then had cars. There have been a few revivals since, but nothing like the 1960's. Contrary to belief, Mods and Rockers were not always fighting each other. They were after all, simply bikers. Today you can buy a new Lambretta based upon the series 3 and from Royal Alloy. But they seem to be hard to obtain.

I bought the Piaggio B500, as seen in the coloured photographs, in 2003. It turned out to be a bad purchase, it spent of its time in my garage as it was forever going wrong. I scrapped it 2 years ago, with only 6,000 miles on the clock.

I also arranged several Ringwood, Fordingbridge and Burley mod reunions, around the time of the new millennium (2000), and to start with, they were very well attended including scooters from Southampton, Bournemouth and even Yeovil. But people eventually lost interest and I was not going fork out to keep that running. Rather like my time on the New Forest Marathon Committee, New Milton Chamber of Trade, New Milton Ratepayers, and on one occasion, a Twynham School Reunion. They were fun at the time, but there is a limit as to how of my own money I could put towards them.

Wessex Attractions: West Green House

West Green House is an 18th century grade II listed house near Hartley Wintney in Hampshire by Henry Hawley, aka Hangman Hawley, a bloodthirsty imperialist who led the cavalry charge against the Scots at the Battle of Colluden. Whilst we have written before about Wessaxon support for the Jacobite cause, Hawley most emphatically did not share such sympathy, and was a leading figure in the destruction of the Jacobite rebellion.

Today, the house is better known for its gardens, and for its regular opera performances instituted by its current owner Marylyn Abbott, a former manager at Sydney Opera House.

The house and gardens are currently closed due to the coronavirus lockdown, but are scheduled to reopen on June 17th. The postcode, for satnav purposes, is RG27 8JB.

Essential Wessex: The Battle of Ellandun

The Battle of Ellandun, fought near Swindon in September 825, is the battle that ended Mercian overlordship in southern England, and established West Saxon dominance. The exact site is unknown, but the most likely of several contenders appears to be near Windmill Hill in the parish of Lydiard Tregoze.

The battle was fought between King Ecgbehrt of Wessex and Beornwulf of Mercia. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (ASC), it ended in a clear victory for Ecgbehrt, after which Kent, Surrey, Essex and Sussex submitted to him, whilst East Anglia petitioned him for aid against Mercian aggression. Sir Frank Stenton has called it "one of the most decisive battles of English history".

Beornwulf appears to have invaded Wiltshire to take advantage of Ecgberht being occupied with a campaign in the far West, in which (again according to the ASC), "a battle was fought between the Welsh in Cornwall and the people of Devonshire, at Camelford". The ASC is somewhat ambiguous about whether or not the two events were connected, though,

Ellandun marks the point at which Wessex became Top Nation, as Sellars and Yeatman might say, and saw Mercia collapse to roughly half its former size. One could argue that it led to a dilution of Wessex identity as the kingdom expanded to cover virtually all of Southern England, but that just shows the dangers of tying modern Wessex regionalism too closely to ancient history.

Grant Family History: Man About Town

John Peter Grant of Burley, aged 19 in 1936 used to go to a number of theatre shows in London. On the left is a menu card dated 12th September 1936, and on the right is a collection of autographs he managed to collect. At the bottom, is that of Douglas Fairbanks, above that is Marlene Dietrich. Both were huge Hollywood stars at the time. Perhaps readers can throw some light on the other signatures. The top one was that of my Father.

Wessex Attractions: Hidcote

Hidcote Manor and its gardens, located near Chipping Campden in the Gloucestershire Cotswolds. are a National Trust-owned property bought by the American-born Major Lawrence Johnston and his mother in the early years of the 20th century and restored according to the principles of the then-burgeoning Arts and Crafts movement. Charles Ashbee moved the Gild (sic) of Handicrafts from East London to Chipping Campden in 1902, and the area quickly became a centre for the movement.

The G(u)ild dissolved five years later, but Major Johnson continued its legacy, He spent the period up to 1914 remodelling the house and gardens according to Arts and Crafts principles, but progress was halted when he went off to fight in World War 1. After the war, a period of expansion began, and the estate was sold to the National Trust in 1948.

Like all National Trust properties, Hidcote Manor is currently closed. but their website allows visitors to experience a virtual tour.