Sunday, 20 February 2011

Teddy Boys Original & Revisited

image from Covert Candy Blog here

Growing up the in the 1950s I was fairly terrified of Teddy Boys since news reached me that they all carried flick knives and were spoiling for a fight.  I was listening to The Laughing Policeman and Little White Bull on Uncle Mac's Children's Favourites and didn't have much notion of giving them the benefit of the doubt.  Me and my sister would give any Teds a wide berth as we walked up to Woolworths to spend our sixpence pocket money.

Truth be known, most of the working lads in this notorious post-war subculture were more likely to be carrying a comb in their back pocket.

 Mr Rose the hairdresser who claimed to have cut the first 'quiff'    © Getty Images

I have an image of them slouching against a wall running that comb through a bow wave of Brylcreamed hair, carefully past the ears and then, with a flourish round the back of the head, achieving what was graphically known as a DA (Duck's Arse). 

Tomas Maier for Bottega Veneta

 In the Elephant & Castle area of South London 1955   © Getty Images

At a street corner in London 1955      © Getty Images

Tomas Maier for Bottega Veneta

The drape suits with the velvet collar based on Edwardian styling, the string ties 1954.  Drainpipe trousers and big crepe-soled 'brothel creepers' were also favoured.  © Corbis Images

Tomas Maier for Bottega Veneta

Bottega Veneta photography by Terry Tsiolis
Thanks to Mr Toby Worthington for alerting me to the new breed of Teddy Boy.

Below is a video which can only be watched on You Tube. Just click on the link. 


  1. Very nicely done, dear Rose C'Est La Vie!
    But one tiny quibble about the lads on the street corner circa
    1955: in their waistcoats and dark city suits they don't seem to
    qualify as Teddy Boys. Or was it all about duck's arse haircuts
    in the end?

  2. Dear Rosie, I think Tomas Maier looks great and I love the Elephant and Castle smoking picture. How's the non smoking going?

    Hope all's good with you xx

  3. TW - I agree they aren't very teddyboy like. Hard to find any images on the web oddly enough and of course, not to be confused with the Showaddywaddy revival types in the 80s or whenever it was.

    Christina - the no smoking is a necessary evil!

  4. Gosh, what a hoot :) I haven't seen those photos for ages.

    In Australia we had teddy boys in my youth (middle 50s-early 60s) but the males were called Bodgies and the females were called Widgies. They were feared by parents everywhere because of their weird clothing, horrible hair and loutish behaviour. And apparently because the girls had loose morals!

    In 1959 I KNEW for certain that if I didn't study hard at school, I would come to a sticky end - with the other widgies ha ha

  5. Hels thank you for your delicious memoir of growing up in Australia. It is amazing to contemplate just how much consternation teddy boys caused; I'm sure most of them were just high-spirited and/or posing tough.

  6. Oh, dear. I never understood the appeal of the duck's arse coiffure.

  7. That's a nice three piece suit on the kid at the Old Kent Road picture house.
    I find it hard to reconcile the idea of these guys as toughs with the fact that many of them listened to Frankie Lane. It's just hard to imagine having your arse kicked by someone who's humming "My heart knows what the wild goose knows".

  8. And what do we have now? Beautiful James Andrew and, on the other side, guys with pants hanging below their butts.

  9. Tis was pre- mods & rockers wasn't it? I love London for trendy style. I see that the Boy George (Culture Club) look is coming back, worn perhaps by the same blokes who might have once been Teddies!


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