On a sunny Monday evening in the heart of Portsmouth, dozens of fanatics have come together to celebrate their love of scooters.
As they turn into the Moneyfields Football Club car park, there’s the noise of engines and a sea of colours and chrome.
Whether they ride heavily-customised modern scooters or 1960s Italian originals, everyone there is an enthusiast.
Many at the meet-up will also be at Portsmouth’s Scooter Weekend from July 12-14. The annual event has been going for five years at Moneyfields Sports and Social Club in Copnor and normally features more than 100 riders and their scooters. It’s open to the public and in past years has been a sell-out.
Jamie Steeves, 36, lives in Eastney and is the co-organiser of the event along with friend Paul Bever. They’re also both on the committee for Moneyfields.
Jamie says: ‘I got involved with the local scene after me and Paul decided to put on the event. I’ve always been interested in the music and now I would love to have my own scooter. I love it all really.
‘A few people with scooters mentioned it would be good to have a weekend all about it in Portsmouth. We’ve carried on with it because we enjoy it so much. There are so many similar events out there, just not in this area, so we want to make it bigger and better every year.’
Starting on the Friday, many attendees turn up to camp for free at the football pitch. Then there are live bands including The Racketeers and It Must Be Madness, a tribute act.
Jamie explains: ‘On the Saturday we’ll have a show with about 80 custom-built scooters. There are competitions for things like the best Vespa, the best Lambretta and the best vintage scooter.
‘We’ll also have other bands playing and a Paul Weller acoustic tribute act. There’ll be stalls too selling vinyl records and there’ll be spare parts available for people to buy for their scooters. There’s also a soul lounge which anyone can go into and listen to a DJ.’
On the Sunday, all the riders will meet up and go for a mass ride down to Southsea seafront and all the way to Wickham Square.
But it’s not just once a year that all the local fanatics meet. Jamie says: ‘Every Wednesday people meet up in Cosham and they go for a ride-out. Anyone can join in. It’s not an exclusive club for members. It’s just a Portsmouth scooter thing and they decide where they will go when they get there.
‘It’s very open in the city and they meet up together quite a lot.
‘I think that’s part of the attraction for a lot of people. It’s very open to anyone who has a scooter and wants to get involved.’
Scooters attract a variety of ages. Jamie says: ‘The youngsters are always welcomed in, especially as they are the next generation who will carry on with the scene. It’s not just about the older guys.’
He adds: ‘There are kids who are 16, 17 or 18 coming through and it’s important they feel like they have somewhere to go and get involved. It’s a great culture for everyone.’
Jamie says that more people buying scooters means the scene will always be popular.
He says: ‘It will have its peaks and troughs, but in general I believe the scene will carry on and new generations will come in and want to be part of it.’
The annual event in Portsmouth helps to bring them all together. He explains: ‘The past four years have all been sell-outs and we’ve never had any trouble from anyone. People just want to relax and have a good weekend.
‘There’s plenty of music and it’s just a good chilled vibe. It doesn’t matter what type of music people listen to or what they play, they enjoy the weekend because they all have something in common – their love of scooters.’
Completely organised by Jamie and Paul, it’s a big responsibilty for them both. Not that they would change it.
Jamie says: ‘We are there all the time, we don’t leave until the last person does. We’re already planning next year’s and hoping to have a national custom show there as well.
‘It’s all down to finance and making sure people attend it, but can also afford to go each year. We don’t make any profit, as any money goes to the bands and back into next year’s event.’
· For more information about the Portsmouth Scooter Weekend, which costs £10 for a night or £15 for the weekend, call (023) 9266 5260.
‘DIFFERENT TO ANYTHING ELSE OUT THERE’
Trevor Edney, 55, lives in Copnor and has been riding scooters since he saw his brothers and their friends riding round the city on them. Now he owns two.
He says: ‘I’ve been riding a long time because I knew a lot of people who did it too. The whole scene was interesting to me because you would see them having a lot of fun together and it’s different to anything else out there.
‘We always go out on a Wednesday in Portsmouth, ride together and we meet up for a chat too. I’ve met an awful lot of people that I never knew were here before.
Trevor adds: ‘I think I will always ride now.’
‘YOU MEET SO MANY PEOPLE WHEN YOU HAVE A SCOOTER’
Damon Vaughan has been riding scooters ever since he went to Portsmouth Grammar School and became interested in the mod scene.
Now 48 and living in Milton, he has two scooters on the road and around five that he’s working on at home.
Damon says: ‘It’s a lot to do with the music and the clothes. It was the kind of group that really appealed to me at the time.
‘I think a lot of what people love about it is the image that comes with it, but they are all a good bunch of people.
‘You meet so many people when you have a scooter, and you go to parties and to scooter runs.
‘I think people are starting to get interested in the culture of them again.’
HISTORY OF SCOOTER SCENE
Scooters such as Vespas and Lambrettas became a popular mode of transport for Mods in the 1960s and 1970s.
Scooters had provided inexpensive transportation for about a decade in Britain before the development of the mod subculture, but they stood out then as a fashion accessory.
Italian scooters were preferred due to their clean shapes and, for young mods, they were the embodiment of Continental style. They customised their scooters by painting them and having scores of mirrors and fog lights. The cover of The Who’s album Quadrophenia depicts a young man on a Vespa.
Scooters were also a practical way for teenagers in the 1960s to get around as public transport stopped early in the night. Having scooters allowed mods to stay out all night at dance clubs.
A mod revival started in the late 1970s with thousands of mod revivalists attending scooter rallies. This was partly inspired by the 1979 film Quadrophenia and by mod-influenced bands such as The Jam.
‘BUYING MY SCOOTER WAS THE BEST THING I EVER DID’
Katie Rose, 20, lives in Cosham and always had an interest in ska music. When she saw people on scooters two years ago, she decided it was time she bought her own.
She’s now the proud owner of a Vespa. She says: ‘I remember thinking “that’s my kind of transport”. I’ve been to scooter rallies in the past and we do Wednesday night ride -outs where we all meet up in Portsmouth.
‘It’s nice to be part of a group and around other people who have the same kind of interest as me. There are so many of us sometimes that the traffic stops to watch, and it’s a nice feeling.
Katie adds: ‘Buying my scooter was the best thing I ever did.’