Please note that this text is an extract from a reference work written in 1990. As a result, some of the content may not reflect recent research, changes and events.
Two rival youth cultures that clashed several times at Brighton in the 1960s, the most infamous occasion being the so-called ‘Battle of Brighton’ at the Whitsun holiday, 17-18 May 1964. The Brighton police were prepared for trouble as there had been clashes at Clacton and Hastings at Easter, but the town was invaded by up to 3,000 youths. The leather-jacketed ‘Rockers’ arrived on their motor-bikes on the Sunday morning, but were challenged in the afternoon by a much larger number of the neatly-dressed ‘Mods’ on their motor-scooters.
Several small scuffles broke out, but the most serious trouble was around the Palace Pier where hundreds of deckchairs were broken, pebbles were used as missiles, and the Savoy (now Cannon ) Cinema windows were smashed. Eventually 150 police and a police horse quelled the disturbance, but the violence was repeated the following morning with several thousand spectators watching the confrontations from the Aquarium Sun Terrace and Marine Parade ; the sea-front traders, however, rapidly boarded up their properties. Twenty-six youths appeared in the juvenile court the following week and were handed stiff sentences, but fortunately no-one was seriously injured.
The events of the Whitsun holiday of 1964 were never repeated again in such magnitude, but trouble amongst youths has flared on several Bank Holiday weekends since, notably in 1969, 1970, 1974, 1977, 1980 and 1981. However, the worst violence seen in the town in recent years occurred after the English football team’s World Cup semi-final defeat on 4 July 1990 when mobs of youths ran through the town centre smashing windows and looting shops.
Any numerical cross-references in the text above refer to resources in the Sources and Bibliography section of the Encyclopaedia of Brighton by Tim Carder