Who are they?
Teddy Boy (also known as Ted) is a British subculture
typified by young men wearing clothes that were partly
inspired by the styles worn by dandies in the Edwardian
period, styles which Saville Row tailors had attempted to re-
introduce in Britain after World War II. The subculture
started in London in the 1950s, and rapidly spread across the
UK, soon becoming strongly associated with rock and roll.
Originally known as Cosh Boys, the name Teddy Boy was
coined when a 1953 Daily Express newspaper headline
shortened Edwardian to Teddy.
Teddy Boy clothing included drape jackets reminiscent of 1940s American
zoot suits worn by Italian-American, Chicano and African-American
communities, usually in dark shades, sometimes with a velvet trim collar
and pocket flaps, and high-waist "drainpipe" trousers, often exposing the
The outfit also included a high-necked loose-collared white shirt, a narrow
"Slim Jim" tie or western "Maverick" tie, and a brocade waistcoat. The
clothes were mostly tailor-made at great expense, and paid for through
Favoured footwear included highly polished Oxfords, chunky brogues, and
crepe-soled shoes, often suede (known as brothel creepers).
Preferred hairstyles included long, strongly-moulded greased-up hair with a
quiff at the front and the side combed back to form a duck's arse at the
rear. Another style was the "Boston", in which the hair was greased straight
back and cut square across at the nape.
Although Teddy Boys became associated with rock and roll music, prior to
the advent of that genre, Teddy Boys mainly listened and danced to jazz
and skiffle music. A well-known dance that the Teddy Boys adopted was
The Creep, a slow shuffle that was so popular with Teddy Boys that it led
to their other nickname, Creepers. The song "The Creep" came out in
1953, and was written and recorded for HMV by Yorkshire-born big band
leader and saxophonist Ken Mackintosh.
Although this was not a rock and roll record, it was widely taken on by
the Teddy Boys of the time. From 1955, rock and roll was adopted by the
Teddy Boys when the film, Blackboard Jungle, was first shown in cinemas
in the UK, and Teddy Boys started listening to artists like Elvis
Presley, Bill Haley and Eddie Cochran.
Notting Hill Race Riots
The Notting Hill race riots were a series of racially motivated riots that took
place in London, England, over several nights in late August and early September
The end of World War II had seen a marked increase in Caribbean migrants to
Britain. By the 1950s white working-class "Teddy Boys" were beginning to display
hostility towards the black families in the area, a situation exploited and
inflamed by groups such as Sir Oswald Mosley's Union Movement and other far-
right groups such as the White Defence League, who urged disaffected white
residents to "Keep Britain White".
There was an increase in violent attacks on black people through summer. For
instance, on 24 August 1958 a group of ten white youths committed a series of
serious assaults on six West Indian men in four separate incidents. At
5.40am, their car was spotted by two police officers who pursued them into the
White City estate, where the gang abandoned the car. Using the car as a
lead, investigating detectives arrested nine of the gang the next day after
working non-stop for 20 hours.
Their violent lifestyle was sensationalised in the pulp novel Teddy Boy by Ernest
Ryman, first published in England in 1958.
Here's a clip of 1950's Teddy Boy being interviewed by a
news reporter about an attack on a Vicar.