‘Tonning it up’ to Skeggy, 56 years ago

Some years ago, our local paper the Leicester Mercury did an article about holidays and day trips to Skegness in the 1950s and 60s, and invited readers to send in their memories and photos.

As the route used to be a favourite bank holiday ride for Leicester’s ‘ton-up’ boys and girls, I put together a write-up of my own, and the Mercury was gracious enough to print it. Hopefully it brought back to its readers many happy memories of the way we were of those ‘best years’.

The accompanying carefree image was taken by a street photographer – remember them? – in 1962. Note the old vehicles and our basic attire of leather jackets and jeans (none of today’s fancy expensive riding gear back then), and considering that we’d just completed 90 miles riding on the edge, we must have been mad.

From the left in this carefree 1962 image are Dave’s ‘ton-up’ companions Marie and Tom, Dave himself and Dave Woodhead. In the absence of today’s various by-passes, it must have been quite a ride!

I’m now 76, but my present bike, a 1965 Bonneville, will still take me past the magic ‘three’ early on a
Sunday morning.

Oh, to have it all again!

Dave (Rod) Hall, Oadby, Leicester

Editor’s note: In the cutting from the Leicester Mercury, which Dave submitted after other readers’ Skegness memories had been published, he wrote: “Sadly omitted were the Leicester ‘ton-up’ boys who were regular visitors to Skeggy and well worth a mention. These lads and lasses were around prior to the Mods and Rockers around the late 1950s and early 60s.

“Skegness on Bank Holiday Mondays was paramount in the ‘ton-up’ boys’ diaries; anybody who was anybody would put in many hours, working late into the night, so that bikes would produce peak performances as part of this important pilgrimage.

“Waiting over at long last, Bank Holiday Monday came with bikers looking good. Leathers on and white silk scarf (a ‘must have’) flapping about.

“Time to go…a steady ride to Chad’s Cafe just outside Melton to meet the lads, a quick coffee and cigarette (Park Drive the order of the day), and then we were on our way.

“Twisting and turning, the snake-like line of bikes being pushed to the limit,
riders on the edge, the ultimate goal to be first to Skeggy. On a good day it took 90 minutes to Skeggy clock tower; there were no speed cameras then! Arrival in Skeggy meant more coffee and cigarettes and a chip lunch on the beach while raving about the events of the ride.

“Skegness will have happy memories for all sorts of people, but none more than the ‘ton-up’ lads and lassies.”

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