Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Clapham History: Murder and Fashion

Feels a bit odd discovering a sensational murder took place virtually on my doorstep almost 60 years ago, one which propelled a youth phenomenon into the national consciousness to boot.

In the early 50s Londoners were still overcoming the legacy of World War II, with austerity still casting a baleful pall. Gangs of youths in South London started to adopt a flamboyant style of dress in rebellion against the depressing drabness. Apparently, they were inspired by upscale west end gay fashionistas. The look was flash and expensive.

On the evening of the 2nd July 1953 a fracas started near Clapham Common bandstand and spilled over to North Side, where two lads were dragged off the 137 bus and one of them, John Beckley, was fatally stabbed. The gang wore the cutting-edge fashionable teenage costume which referenced Edwardian style - newspapers found the word too long for headlines so shortened it to "Teddy" and the Teddy Boys were born.

Read Another Nickel in the Machine's great post on this incident.


Rob said...

Thanks for the link. Much appreciated.

Jan said...

Very interesting story Ed.
To quote my mother -
(back in the day, which I can just about recall)- to my (older) brother.
"You can't go out like that,
you look like a spiv".