I’ve been trying to show that – or at least to find out how long – ted and rock’n’roll fashion styles subsisted amongst young men into 1960s Britain, in the ‘provinces’ if not in south-eastern England, the London hinterland. But, frankly, if you weren’t there, it can be impossible to grasp what was going on from this distance in time (such as how to interpret an undated photo, how to understand lacunary evidence, i.e. accounts lacking in evidence). An additional problem is what exactly defines a ted: the minimum requirement for being a ted is a quiff and a long drape jacket. Myself, I’d include a velvet collar (and, of course, a love of rock’n’roll – but that would be quite difficult challenge for the first wave of teds who were around before 1955, the year rock’n’roll spread in America and then worldwide under that name). Now for full-blown teds like us on this forum, those pictured in Pontypridd in 1963, in a previous thread, may not be, properly speaking, teds since they seem mostly to lack the classic ted gear, but we can be fairly certain that they were into rock’n’roll and beat music and were known as ‘teds’ locally (even if that term for many contemporaries was more-or-less shorthand for ‘young male hooligans’). And, indeed, in Pontypridd they seem to have been a force to be reckoned with (no mod styles apparent).
I’ve come across an account which suggests teds even some years later continued to be pretty strong on the ground in the Nelson area, the next district up the Taff valley from Pontypridd. Here follows an account, which I found in the Treharris and district local history website, from the memories of Ray Davies, an artist (not him from the Kinks). He must have beern born about 1951 for he left Pontypridd grammar school in 1969 to become the artist he subsequently became. Within a year or so, in 1970, he was sporting the fashionable long-haired hairstyle of that time, but we are interested in his account of growing up in his teens in the little mining village of Nelson.
Between the back lane to the bakers off the square and the old fish & chip shop used to be an external timber staircase which led up to Ira the barber’s shop. You could have any style you wanted as long as it would fit under a pudding bowl! The fringe was always cut from forehead to jaw in order for a quiff to easily form when combed back. When the Italian Barber arrived opposite the Cosy Cinema, you could have any hairstyle as long as it was an actor in Hollywood, and there was a black and white photo on the wall to point it out.
Of course the Teddy Boys were always leading one another on. Wrestling with Kent Walton IW [note ITV wrestling commentator] was on the telly and Billy Two Rivers [note a Canadian Mohawk Indian wrestler] was a favourite. So one day Gary Williams’ older brother decided to have a Mohican (long before David Beckham was ever thought of). When he walked into the Cosy Cinema, all the other Teds had to pay up as he had won the bet! Over the next few weeks more arrived.
The other wager I remember (before Health and safety and pc brigade were thought of), the same group decided it would be great fun to dive into the settling tank at the sewage farm in Mabon Road. I’m reasonably sure the same guy won the bet, but I suspect he lost a few friends until bath night!
Bobby Davies was another Ted game for a laugh. Living on a farm, he was familiar with lots of heavy equipment. So one night after a skin full he decided to drive an excavator through the village. For some time later, after spending the night in the cells in the police station, he was known as DROT!
On another page relating to the late 50s and early 60s, Ray mentions the annual Nelson fair: In my day it was always the local Teddy boys who ran the Dodgems, Elvis, Bethel, Tolley & Brynmor come to mind.
This period when his village seemed full of teds is not clearly dated, but the reference to Billy Two Rivers who was a regular wrestler in Britain between 1959–65, seems to imply no later than 1964–65 and because Ray himself would only have been 14 in 1965 the teds he was describing must have been slightly older boys than himself.
POSTED February 2016.