A Mod in the Sixties

Ann Waine

Market Place, Watford High Street 1950s
Watford Museum, Frith Series Postcard.

I was born in King Street maternity hospital in 1950 and have fond memories of Watford n the 50s and 60s. I remember draughty Watford market, and in particular the fish stall which stood on a really cold corner. Mum would buy winkles, muscles, cockles or shrimps and we would take them home for Saturday night tea. And of course, we couldn’t leave the market without our Gibsons sausages! I remember Cawdells too, which seemed like a somewhat poor relation of Clements then.

Wonderful cheese

In those days British Home Stores used to sell wonderful cheese from their food counter near the front of the shop and Marks and Spencer had assistants behind every counter. Can anybody remember the name of the bakery opposite Fine Fair at the then ‘posh’ top end of the town? I used to work opposite in shop in an insurance office. The first time I went into Top Rank (fibbing about my age) I was absolutely gobsmacked how luxurious it was – and that was only the ladies powder room (honest). We had never seen anything like it because up till then the only dances we had been to had been in somewhat grotty halls – the Trade, Kingham Hall, Hillside, Woodside etc. But they were great nights out with real bands, something we lost with the advent of discos.

A mod in the sixties

I was a mod in the sixties and every Saturday (via the 318 or 347 bus) it was important to get the very latest clothes (seen on Ready Steady Go the night before), to go out in. Martin Fords was my favourite, as it was the only shop I could afford to buy clothes in! Then of course, you had to stand about in the High Street, trying to look cool but hoping desperately everybody was looking at you! Once your boyfriend had a car, it was off to Old Redding for a snog and steamy windows! I think the rot set in when they knocked down the Park Gates, it was like a disease really, they just kept pulling things down until they had ripped out any semblance of character in Watford, now most of the shops are the same as can be seen in any other town, except good old Jacksons the jewellers. Happy days.

This page was added on 12/11/2010.

Comments about this page

  • So many memories
    For starters Charlie was the guy selling jeans in Watford market. You would walk up to him and he would tell you instantly what size you were. Lovely guy.

    The Stones did play the Gaumont they were part of a show with Swinging Blue Jeans, Billy J Kramer, Heinz, Freddie and the Dreamers, Mike Sarne (I think), Herman’s Hermits there were I believe more and I may have got some wrong apologies.
    Another good place for bands was the Chorley Wood memorial hall.
    Top rank Saturday morning was the place I went there with a guy called David Bates and his sister. Later when it was Baileys my friend Mick (Butch) Wilson was the DJ there at the time I was running the record shop next to the New Penny where you would find me most nights, a guy called Dave managed the club I think?
    Yes over the years they ripped the heart out of the town but J B Nunns book of Watford brings back memories of how it was.
    More memories another time but for now if anyone knows what happened to Mick Wilson be good to here I think he went to the states San Antonio I believe also another friend of mine John Sparrow who I believe went to Australia but last saw him in Surbiton Surrey.

    By Graham (09/02/2024)
  • Does anyone remember Charlie who ran a stall in the market ?

    By John Murray (14/10/2022)
  • I really enjoy the input from people about there time in and around Watford, thanks

    By Rob Aldred (18/08/2021)
  • So strange to see all these memories. I’m 69, living in Manchester, but between 61 & 71 lived in Croxley Green.
    Had a Saturday job whilst at school at the co-op where I sold hardware, then records! Then got hired by the store detective to work on the loading bay at Clements to try to discover who was stealing the stock.
    Got paid on a Saturday by the co-op, Clements, AND the store detective.
    Could go on forever, but will share that whilst in the sixth form at Ricky Grammar, I went to see some great live bands on a regular basis at Watford Tech.

    By Peter Longlands (08/12/2020)
  • Hi,
    I am doing some research about a Fish and Chip shop run by the De Luca family in the High Street in Watford – does anyone have any information on this. I think it was where the Electricity showroom used to be. Dominic De Luca a brother of Albert De Luca used to run a cafe in Market Street at the same time as the fish shop.


    By Julie Chandler (09/01/2020)
  • I remember being at the front at the Trade when the Who were on and watching them smash up their instruments – being afraid I’d be hit by flying debris.
    I lived in South Oxhey and attended Bushy Grammar school so too busy with homework to get out as much as I should have. Now living in southern France.

    By Carole Fogg (Walker) (21/09/2019)
  • Thi# is like talking about my life. Although I was born in Dulwich I came to the Watford area as a 1 year old in 1951 everything was as I remembered. I used to go to Kingham Hall where I saw the Small Faces ( I heard that they just got a no 1 but had already signed up for this gig and had to honour it )and Trade Union where I saw long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll and the steam Packet and Rod Stewart played there. Martin Ford I also visited weekly

    By Anne Henrich (22/03/2019)
  • l remember the Trade Hall in mid 1965. I lived in Berkhamsted & worked in Hemel. I had just bought my first (Vespa) scooter. A girl I worked with suggested I come to the Trade to see a new band she hooked up with (Keith Moon, I think) called The Who. When I arrived there must have been 300 scooters outside & the venue was packed. The condensation was running off the walls, but us Mods still kept our Parka’s on. The music was volume 10 & at the end there was total chaos. Fantastic. After this performance they went on to Ready, Steady Go, but it was called Ready, Steady Who. Remember that? I also remember seeing The Hollies and others at Top Rank

    By David (13/03/2019)
  • I saw the Yardbirds with Sonny Boy Williamson at the Trade also Them with Van Morrison. A band called The Stormsville Shakers ( mostly 60s sessions
    Men) also Zoot Money Band and Micky Finn and Blue Men. The main Watford act was Cops and Robbers. Ronnie Wood played there too in The Birds. Kingham Hall even featured Hawkwind with Stacia dancing.

    By John Geary (05/11/2018)
  • sometime in the early sixties at the Trade, The Animals and Sonny Boy Williamson?

    By Dave W (29/03/2018)
  • Living in Oz now but grew up in Rickmansworth. I have great memories and one or two a little haxy but I saw Johnny Winter, Free and Emmerson Lake a Palmer at the town hall and just about every other week we would catch Genisis, Caravan, Atomic Rooster, Alex Harvey Band a really brilliant time for live music.

    By Downrigger (26/03/2018)
  • The bakery opperset fine fare was the Chef patisserie.

    By Ken Beedom (10/02/2018)
  • Hi, I am researching gigs played at the old dance venues in and around Watford like The Trade Union hall, Oddfellows Hall, Town Hall, Labour Hall, South Oxhey, etc, etc. I am specifically looking for images/scans of flyers, adverts, reviews, personal diary entries etc. that confirm when a particular act was appearing at the venues. Unfortunately, the local Watford area newspapers tended not to report on pop music or advertise gigs so there’s a danger that so much information will be lost to time. I can be contacted at andy.neill@virgin.net

    By Andy Neill (02/02/2018)
  • Born in watford lived in Ricky. Went to top rank and worked at John Morley jewellers in the mid 60’s. Loved watford. Live now in Canada since 64 and have visited watford twice since leaving but not for many years.

    By Linda Roberts Pelletier (10/09/2017)
  • ( Parade Studios ) Can anyone help me to trace the history of Gregg Couper & Co. Photographer & Photographic Dealers, Watford, ( Parade Studios )

    By Navil (21/01/2017)
  • I remember all the places and bands from around 1964 up the slow sad death of them al once Top Rank opened. One venue not mention was “Walk Of The Mods” that had a shortish run on a Monday in an upstairs room at the Hertfordshire Arms. I don’t recall any major names just good blues bands not in the mainstream. The Trade had two nights I attended one had a green membership card the “20+1” I think and blue card on a Sunday. There were odd Monday gigs by bigger names I remember The Hollies and The Yardbirds. Some amazing nights with The Action, Mark Four, Sony Chile and TNT, Malcolm McGowan, Graham Bond later near the end of the Trade The Skatterlites. Great times glad I was young then, long live live music!

    By Mac Vaughan (18/01/2017)
  • Just found this website!

    By Pamela Kewley (19/06/2016)
  • Thanks you all from an old Aussie who lived in Watford until 1971″‘,I have been back about 26-28 times,6 in the last 8 years,loved the past worked the rank 67-70aprox,loved it,danced at the trade,new penny,leavesden,and Woodside,miss the times and the friends then,some never forgotten.now I am 69,then a whole lot younger,thank you Watford,was over in febuary 2016 what a change,charter place,we shall see,cheers,and g’day rob

    By Rob Aldred (21/03/2016)
  • I also was a mod in Watford in the 60s and have lots of flyers and tickets from mod venues in that era including The Trade Union Hall, the Oddfellows Hall and Woodside Community Centre. I have my ticket for the Rolling Stones at the Gaumont Cinema in 1964. If there was a facility I’d post them on this web site. They were printed on the Watford Observer nostalgia page some years ago,

    By Mike Jackson (28/01/2016)
  • This article really took me back to my youth. I remember and visited all the clubs mentioned. I used to love Friday and Saturday nights at the Trade, Tuesday at Top Rank Wednesday at Woodside, then there was Hillside and Kingham, the list seemed endless and we were so lucky to have all those top bands to see – doesn’t happen now! I left Watford in the 70’s but my parents still lived in Abbots so I visited quite often till ten years ago but it was never the same. Great to look back on the memories though.

    By Sandra Balderson (12/10/2015)
  • Watford a great place in the 60’s…The Trade, The Rank, The Clockhouse. Out of all the great bands I saw and I saw most…the Joyce Bond Set always springs to mind. Saw her once only at the Trade and they were fantastic. Also liked The Alan Bown set. They never seemed to quite get there but were brilliant live…Bown was a real showman with his trumpet and dancing. These were replaced by the New Penny & The Pickwick but were never quite the same ! Great chicks around in those days too…wished I’d gotten to know more of ’em ! Live in Western Australia now and have done for over 40 years ! Been back but its changed and is the poorer for it unfortunately ! I came from Carpenders Park and would love to hear from anyone from that era.
    Happy Days….
    Tom Bishop cartobi@iprimus.com.au

    By Tom Bishop (18/06/2015)
  • i just found this page and i can relate to most of the things people have spoken of,i lived in abbots langley hospital about 1955-1971,were my parents worked,i started work for alecs hairdressers in headstone lane,and sometimes in st albans rd watford,also michaels in apslay and dunstable,i worked at the top rank about 1967-1970,i enjoyed the people,the bands,and the whole place,i spent most of my time when younger at the woodside playing fields,my brother phil played and captained evergreen fc in the late sixties,he passed away 2-8-10,also i went too woodside community centre to dance etc,and on a thurday night there was a dance at levesden hospital,i remember gene and the cossacks,i have been back many times,too look at the town,the pond,dont like it,haliquin centre,like so many place in australia were i have lived since 1971,i went to francis combe school 59-63,dont blame them for my spelling,i went to the cubs/scouts abbots langley,so much more really,the shops in the village,dobsons the barber,liberty the chemist i think,rw sheffield,the hall,the main church,buying scraps from the chippy after cubs,318.347 bus to watford,or 306 from ganders ash,saturday morning flicks,i did a few gigs at the rank on saturday morning with the kids,when the dj was ill,sorry anyone who may read this and is confused,i am already,as it has no time line,i do agree with alot of other writers,watford is not the same,but in my case 42 years on why should it be,if it did,then it would not grow,yes i miss the old pond,the old high street,the coachmakers,but we all move on,but we all remember the town we new,the thoughts are fond,and are a time and place we all relate well too,i know i do,thats all for now folks,cheers

    By rob aldred (08/01/2013)
  • Great Memories, I remember Garston Youth Club had a band on Friday nights, Saturdays were Kingham Hall (Rockers) with the Mods using another Place, (the name escapes me at the moment) then on Sundays The Odd-fellows Hall. I am sure that The Rolling Stones were at the “Gaumont” which became the Odeon (or vis versa). There were plenty of cinemas “Odeon”, “Gaumont”, “Palace”, “Essoldo” and “Empire”. I worked at W.Wren & Sons in Exchange road from when I was 12 (after School) until I was 18.

    By Colin Delve (20/05/2012)
  • I would like to hear from anyone who remembers the music venues in Watford in the 60s, my first bands were at the Holywell Comunity Centre local bands playing rock n roll, Kingham Hall used to have a lot of local bands one l remember was a ryth’m & blues band called the Cops & Robbers the lead singer named Smudge sang great Howlin’ Wolf blues like Smokestack Lightnin’. l saw the Small Faces on one xmas eve, ten shillings to get in they came very late played for half an hour and left but they were great especially Steve Marriot. Another small hall hosting local and some out of town bands was the Oddfellows hall l saw the Pretty Things there but they didn’t go down too well, too heavy for the local mods. The Trade Union Hall was our biggest venue run by Joe Seabrook who became a very good friend of mine in later years and became personal bodyguard to Keith Richards in the late 70s until he died in March 2000. The Trade was host to many great names including The Birds, Ronnie Wood, The Herd, Peter Frampton, The Move, Roy Wood, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton, The Who, The Yardbirds,  Jimmy Page, The Creation, The Action, Four plus One, Long John Baldry, Rod ‘the mod’ Stewart, Brian Auger Trinity, Julie Driscoll, Graham Bond Organisation, The Artwoods lead by Artie Wood Ron’s brother, and many more including some of the old Chicago Bluesmen who came over to tour Europe. There were also many pubs who had live music from local bands but the Top Rank opened, end of all the local venues R.I.P.

    By Kenny Clarke (10/01/2012)
  • Well, yes, Queens Road Music. There was a guy there, a drummer, who had worked the cruise ships and told us younger musicians all sorts about the music scene. He must have acted as a DJ at some point and gave me a whole box of pre-release singles which I still have! As a member of an average band, we used these to fill our repetoire, although most of our gigs were in the youth clubs of Hemel. As far as the Trade was concerned, we used to have a couple of shandies at a pub on the corner of St, Johns Road and head off to the music. It was usually 2/6 to see a decent band like Cliff Bennet or Spencer Davis. Otherwise, they dropped it to two bob and we got the Who, Friday, Saturday and Sunday as I remember. What I do remember is having to sit very close to the front of class on a Monday morning, as I couldn’t hear much at all!

    By Chris Meggs (29/11/2010)

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