The Mods and Rockers

1966, 11 March: Mods and Rockers youth gangs were at their height. Not many people owned their own cars and a day out on Box Hill by train was still a family outing. It was also a popular venue for motorcyclists who would race up and down the A24 dual carriageway and visit the café on the top of the hill. It became a popular venue for the Mods, the scooter riders and for the youth of South London who came out on the train looking for trouble.

On Sunday 11 March 1966 one thousand five hundred young people visited Box Hill causing damage, throwing stones at motorists, bent on attacking innocent bystanders. They were armed with sticks and stones as they marched along the top of the Hill in groups of two to three hundred strong, singing as they went. Some gangs would break off and run across the downs or into the woods, running over families and knocking walkers for six.

This became quite the normal Sunday activity in the summer and most of the Dorking and Leatherhead officers became experienced at policing the crowds, trying to reduce the level of damage and injury they caused.

Motorcycle police would chase the gangs on their motorcycle through the woods, to break up the gatherings by riding at them with lights on and finger on the horn. Not very subtle, but there were few police on duty and it seemed to work.

It was about this time that the Home Office introduced a leaflet describing how to make complaints against the police. The chief constable, Herman Rutherford refused to allow the leaflets in the police station.

Police spent the afternoon charging around dealing with the incidents as they came in. A car was smashed up; a man knocked from a motorcycle and beaten. During one Sunday afternoon as the calls came in thick and fast, Dorking PC Dave Hillman was knocked from his police motorcycle by a car on the A25 when answering one of the calls. He was badly hurt but eventually returned to work. He eventually left the Police.

The following week there were more police on duty and about half the numbers of yobs arrived. Most came by train to Box Hill station. There were so many that as they walked towards the Hill they completely covered the roadway like a football crowd. The police stopped them all as they left the station and they were searched for weapons. It took the railway station staff all day Monday to pick up the bottles and litter from the station.

One of the tactics was to stop all the scooters and ask for driving documents and to issue a ticket for the riders to produce. All motor offences were reported no matter how minor. Some of the vehicles were stopped several times in an afternoon and the riders got fed up and went elsewhere.

This went on for several weekends with about thirty police on duty which, in those days for Surrey was a great number. Eventually they moved off to other places as the pressure and trouble from the police made the day not worthwhile.

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