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As work on a history-focused Conwy app moves up a gear, scooter riders have opened their photo albums to share unseen photographs which show Colwyn Bay’s days as a mecca for mods.

Coal Yard – 1980s

Drawing admiring glances and crowds of enthusiastic devotees during the early 80s, scooter groups would descend on the town’s old coal yard near Station Road. These get-togethers would attract people from across the country, sparking a lifelong love affair with two wheels for some.

Now, for the first time, those heady days are being explored in a new app dedicated to capturing the history behind famous landmarks, stories, events and places in Colwyn Bay and beyond.

Called Imagine Trail, the app is funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and being pulled together by a range of partners, including TAPE Community Music & Film, Colwyn Bay Heritage Group, and Conwy County Borough Council. It will bring some of Conwy’s area’s rich history to life through animated videos, sound recordings and interviews.

And for Llanfairfechan’s Frank Allison and Towyn’s Derek ‘Degzy’ McFee, taking part in the development of the app was a chance to take a trip down memory lane. Both are founder members of the Skull Snaps scooter group, which has been going for 10 years. But for Degzy and Frank, their love of scooters dates back to the 1960s and 1970s when they started riding.

Frank – 1975

63-year-old Frank, who still has his very first scooter, a Lambretta Li150, said having the Colwyn Bay scooter rallies included in the app meant local history would not be ‘forgotten or fabricated.’

Frank got his first scooter aged 17 but said it was the release of the film Quadrophenia, which sparked an explosion in the number of mods.

“In the early 80s, national scooter rallies were a massive thing in Colwyn Bay with thousands of scooter riders down at the old coal yard or up at Eirias Park. The rallies were opportunities to meet likeminded people, share tips on looking after your scooter and enjoy the northern soul music scene, particularly at Colwyn Bay pier,” says Frank.

Coal Yard – Mid 80s

Opening up his picture album publicly for the first time, Frank said the Colwyn Bay rallies were good-tempered affairs, something not always experienced outside of the area.

“There has always been talk about the conflict between mods and rockers, and it very definitely wasn’t an urban myth. Sometimes it was terrifying. In the early days, I was chased out of one North Wales town by bikers – or greasers as we called them – wielding chains, and on an outing to Frodsham, I had to ride into a poor guy’s garage to escape.

To this day, it’s hard to say what the animosity was about – clothes, music and bikes, I guess – but at the time, it was terrifying. We were young lads, and the greasers were often much older than us. Fortunately, the Colwyn Bay scooter rallies were better tempered, although the police still came out in force. To have the memories, sounds, and stories captured on the Imagine app means important parts of Colwyn Bay’s cultural history won’t be forgotten.”

Frank’s gallery of pictures shows the Colwyn Bay rallies through the years and trips to neighbouring resorts. When he is not helping as a volunteer at a Covid vaccination centre, Degzy, 71, is out and about with fellow riders.

 “Covid stopped us getting together, and only now are we starting to meet again. The Skull Snaps has around 70 members aged 30 upwards showing just how popular scooter riding still is locally.”

“For many of us, it is about enjoying the camaraderie, the clothes and the music. We still wear Parkas or Harrington jackets, have the haircuts, and enjoy the music. It’s the North Wales roads that draw people from outside the area so we’re lucky to have them on our doorstep.”

“Scooters are real conversation starters; people come over to see you and want to chat. I’ve still got a scooter – a 300cc blue Vespa – but also a Honda 500 Rebel motorbike, and am happiest on two wheels. To recreate some famous scooter moments for the app, such as the noise as the scooter rallies travelled down Station Road, brought back great memories. Those people who didn’t experience that time are in for a treat,”

he said.

TAPE’s Neil Dunsire said the Imagine app would be ‘packed’ with inspiring and exciting history.

Neil added:

“There is so much interesting heritage in the Bay of Colwyn that could be in danger of being forgotten. We’re working hard with our partners to create something new out of something old, bringing stories to life for people living or visiting the area.”

“From Colwyn Bay’s mechanical elephant to Rhos on Sea’s famous Jack the fisher dog, the app will be full of different ways to experience (or relive) moments from the past such as the amazing scooter rallies through film, art, animation and sound.”

The app will be released across all platforms in September.

Keep an eye on

Raliau Sgwteri

TAPE Community Music and Film

Tel: 01492 512109 Charity number: 1151513

TAPE Community Arts Centre,
Berthes Rd,
Old Colwyn.
LL29 9SD