An interesting little piece from an original Watford skinhead from 68 (pulled from the watford observer site):
Philip Ellisdon has sent in this picture of the Watford and Harrow skinheads on holiday at Butlins, Clacton, in 1968.
He said: “There were 20 of us – ten from Watford, ten from Harrow and Wealdstone. I am the one on the floor in the centre, third from the left with the striped shirt on. I had just won a reggae dance competition sponsored by Trojan Records, the big reggae record company at the time. The local guys are there, red are Watford, yellow are Harrow and Wealdstone. Next to me was Steve Hickman, behind with the white braces is Keith Munday and to his right is guy called John Warby who was a last minute replacement. Keith and I were born next door to each other, nine days apart, and are still friends today. In the front are Nicky and Charlie, and with the jacket and white socks is John Galley or Layo as he was called then. He was from Ruislip, but a friend I met at Butlins two years earlier. The rest of the boys were not in the photo – they were all at the bar.
“In the early days, all skinheads wore white socks. One day I went to the Co-op at Gade House with two friends, Barry Preston and his girlfriend at the time, Linda Howarth, to buy a new pair of white socks and they had sold out. I bought red socks, just to be different on the dance floor, then a few of my mates also bought the red socks and that was our Watford identity, not always welcome in some places like Wembley or Golders Green, as they knew where we came from and we were not always welcome.
“The prize at Butlins was a lifetime membership to the Trojan Record Club, a big gold medallion, a certificate and an invitation to dance in the next round at a club in London – but I never went. I used to dance in many clubs around our area and got to know loads of people from all over the place. Sometime we were welcome, sometime you could be classed as being ‘too flash’ and someone would take exception and start trouble. Time for us to leave. We use to dance in clubs in Hemel, Harrow, Greenford, Kingsbury, Ealing, Slough, Windsor, Wembley, Golders Green, Tottenham, Stevenage, Welwyn Garden and, of course, our own stamping ground, the Watford Top Rank, as it was in those days. The Top Rank was a safe haven for us, we could wear our red socks, be as ‘flash’ as we liked and dance all night with very little trouble. I had many regular girl dance partners who were great friends. I even met and married one, my wife Lori, and we can still mix it at a 60s/70s disco.
“In the skinhead days, you would never go out with a hair out of place. Tonic suits, Ben Sherman shirts ironed, Levi turn ups measured and pressed, Florshiem Imperial shoes shining, Doc Martin boots polished – everything immaculate, everything ready for The Top Rank. For us, this was the centre of our the universe in those days, a place where all the factions of Watford council estates congregated and because they either went to school, played football or supported Watford FC together, mostly they became friends and were Watford Boys as one. People used to travel from all the aforementioned places to spend a Saturday night “up the Top Rank”. It was amazing, how we all became friends, and my wife and I are still friends with many of the people we first met there.
“Many of the ‘faces’ from those days are still around the Watford area. A few are members at my golf club, West Herts. They have not changed, still smart, still looking like a ‘face’. The ‘ace face’ at the time was a guy called Roy Rumble. He was the best dancer around by a mile. People use to stop and watch him dance long before John Travolta could even walk. He was an inspiration to all those people who wanted to dance, me included, and for such a small guy, he could also look after himself if anyone started on him for being ‘too flash’. The Top Rank was open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights. They even opened a club on a Sunday night in later years after the skinhead era. The good days were gone and 70s music and clubs diversified into the suedehead and glam rock eras, so we all grew our hair down to our shoulders and moved on, an era gone, but certainly not forgotten. The music still lives and the memories flood back.”
Tip off on this came via the subbaculture facebook site from Watford Jon – Cheers Jon !