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Modettes in West Street

Trying to look cool?

The photograph here, circa 1966, appeared on an invitation to a birthday celebration my wife and I received. I was drawn to iconic look and assumed it was a professional photo copied from a magazine or book. “Oh no, my wife said, that’s Isabella who I work with, third from the left, it’s her birthday”. The photo captures the look of that time and could easily have come from a Quadrophenia promotional advertisement.  I thought the girl second from the left had ‘attitude’; on closer examination I came to the conclusion they are all trying to look so cool.

‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’

At the celebration some weeks later I discovered more about the photograph. The girls had all just left school and were aged about fifteen to sixteen years old. One of their favourite haunts was The Barn in West Street, which hosted live music.  Of the many bands they saw at The Barn was the newly formed influential London mod group The Small Faces. One of their hits was ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’ which would seem to illustrate the girls attitude.  

The Barn in West Street

The Barn was near the bottom of West Street, on the left going down. Access was via a narrow alley way and steep staircase, which then opened out onto a big venue.  On the right of the photograph, the B of the word Barn can be seen, and on the left there is advertising for one of Brighton’s early take-a-ways.

Do you remember?

Were you a Mod? Did you ever go to The Barn in West Street? If you can share your memories with us, please leave a comment below.

Modettes, with Attitude, L to R, Janet ?, Pam Kirby, Isabella (Sue) Hudson, Sheila Webster
From the Private Collection of Isabella (Sue) Hudson

Comments about this page

  • I think those Modettes went to my old school – the Neville -they were a year above me I think.

    By Patricia Maggs (09/03/2014)
  • Hi. The Barn was the first club I ever set foot in, I had just left school at 15, probably wasn’t supposed to be there! I’m sure it was also called the 101 club. One of the girls – Sheila Webster – I worked with at Miss Selfridge. She was a window dresser. What a small world. Love this site, so many good memories.

    By Rosemary Appleton (08/04/2014)
  • Wow!!! Is that really Sheila from Miss Selfridge days? I would not have recognised her if Rosemary had not pointed it out. I too worked at Miss Selfridge and remember Kaye, Heather, and you Rosemary, amongst many others from the ’70s.
    As for looking cool in the photo…..I think they are doing a great job of it.

    By Sandra Bohtlingk (08/04/2014)
  • I used to go to The Barn or 101 Club in the Sixties! I saw Wilson Pickett there and also Davy Jones and the Lower Third alias David Bowie – it was 10 shillings, 50p today, to see them! Also used The Druids and The Sussex and Florida Rooms! Great days!

    By Anne Cullingford (10/10/2014)
  • Hello. I’m an author currently working on a UK youth fashion history book called ‘The Bag I’m In’. I’m looking for authentic photos to feature in it from the 60s, and noticed this fab shot by Isabella Sue Hudson that I’d love to include. Please get in touch for more details.

    By Sam Knee (22/03/2015)
  • Hi,
    I was telling my wife Cathy about the 60’s at the barn, I was a regular at the barn, parking my Vespa scooter with the other mods and their scooters, going in and having a good time, that was the best place to go. That was where I tried Purple Heart never again. Any way in the middle of 1974 I emigrated to Canada and have been here for over 40 years having a very successful life.

    By Alan Phillips (03/03/2019)
  • I hope nobody confuses the comment above, from the Alan Phillips who now lives in Canada, with one from me, the Alan Phillips who still lives in Brighton!

    By Alan Phillips (11/03/2019)
  • Hi, I saw Wilson Pickett at The Barn too. I used to go with my friend Mallory ( she used to look just like Twiggy) and another girl called Jane . Sometimes we we would go up to the Purley Orchid or Streatham Locarno to see Gino Washington, occasionally up to Carnaby Street but Brighton had it all. Must dig out some photos!

    I would love to see your photos. Mail me and we can get them online

    By Vivien Cunningham (13/03/2019)
  • Mods and Mowtown My fab era

    A night out in the 60’s, in Brighton felt the Beat
    us gangs of Mods, dressed to kill, walking down West Street
    Boys in Levi’s, Tonic suits, Desert boots, and Ties
    us Girls with Twiggy haircuts, fab makeup on our eyes.
    us Girls in mini skirts, and Dolly shoes, and that little black dress, whit whooo , Our feet would not stop dancing, to Motown and The Blues.
    Up roared the music from those magical stairs, as we entered the TOP Rank Suite,
    Such fab music, and always so many friends, , to greet.
    Danced to THE FOUR TOPS, bless our LEVI Stubbs
    then down to THE LANES, we’d go.
    Have a drink in The Sussex, go back to The Barn, or down to a fab Disco.
    Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Songs filled with Love, and pain,
    It’s where I met my husband Phil, of 48 yrs, we both wish we could live it again,
    Long live Motown and The Top Rank Suite.

    By Gill Read,nee Shephard, known as little Gill back then,

    By mrs Read (12/08/2019)
  • I was a mod in 1960 when I was eighteen.Does anyone remember the long pointed toe shoes. My friends and I would go up to London on a Saturday when we needed new shoes and we would go to Battersea park road to get our shoes made. We would catch the early morning train from Brighton to Clapham Junction then a bus to Battersea. We would order what long pointed shoes we wanted and they would be ready by lunchtime .They actually made them in about 4 or 5 hours. They cost £3.10shillings a pair which equivalent to £3.50 now! that was a lot of money for us about half our weekly wage. We would stay in London to go to the Lyceum or Locarno dancehalls and then get the early morning train back to Brighton.

    By Rosalind Hughes nee Sullivan (23/02/2021)
  • Hi there I remember the barn well but only went there a few times .. Well under age lol The Florida rooms was my favourite though with Jerry as DJ and amazing bands including local band The Motion. If anyone remembers them ? saw them several times there and at Saltdean lido ..I remember getting into a fight at the Florida with a group of guys who were part of the castle square gang later I became friends with them, Al Bell , Micky Griffin , Stevie Manchester and so many more a great bunch and I hope you are all well I still see a few .. I got into the mod scene in 67 although only 14 I bought my first Lambretta a series 2 Li 150 and drove under age and got caught haha! 5 quid fine! those were the days and to this day I still have a Li series 2 150 1961 not the same one though So
    still a mod and will be forever one .. Great memories great times.

    By Nigel Barrett (01/03/2021)
  • Does anyone remember the 101 in South St in the 60s? Also the Starlight in Montpelier Road.

    By Terence John Fitzpatrick (19/07/2021)
  • Hi Terence ,I remember the Starlights Rooms very well .I wasn’t allowed to go ,but went anyway and loved it .I wasn’t a mod I was a rocker with a touch of the beatnik 😁This was around 1964 .I thought I was the bees knees dressed all in black and white lipstick .Long hair with long fringe .Looking mean and moody of course .Smiling was uncool.Live bands in every room .My favourite place in the sixties .Then when older I used to go to the Top Rank Suite in West Street .Didn’t have the same atmosphere though .Brighton in the sixties was cool and groovy and just fab. 😃

    By Carol Offord (24/07/2021)
  • The pic is of the New Barn which was the same place then it became the 101 club, bank holiday weekends were great it was open almost non stop except for early mornings till about 2 pm for cleaning then away we went again, I call it my blue period !!! those who went there will know why !

    By francis cokayne (12/08/2023)
  • My late mother was a Mod in the 60s and I have recently found her membership card to The Barn.

    I will send you a scan of it if you have an email to send it to?

    By Gary Rees (16/02/2024)

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